Man freed, murder charges dropped after 27 years in prison

CHICAGO — The refusal of five former Chicago police officers to testify in the retrial of a man incarcerated for murder since 1990 has resulted Wednesday in the dropping of charges against the defendant.

Cook County prosecutors dropped murder charges against Jose Maysonet after lawyers for retired Detective Reynaldo Guevara and four former officers said they would take the 5th Amendment during Maysonet's retrial. Maysonet was later freed from Cook County Jail, where he was being held since his conviction was overturned last year.

Maysonet maintained Guevara beat him with a flashlight and a phone book, coercing his confession to the fatal shootings of brothers Torrence and Kevin Wiley. Similar allegations have surfaced in dozens of cases handled by Guevara, who worked for the police department for 30 years.

While Maysonet's lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said she was pleased with the prosecutor's decision to free Maysonet, she was critical of the decision to let Guevara take the stand with a grant of immunity.

"Officers who do their job, shouldn't have to plead the 5th Amendment," Bonjean said. "They shouldn't have to get immunity."

Guevara has in recent years declined to answer questions under oath. Last month he declined to answer two questions from a judge despite being granted immunity to testify in the case of Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes. The two men are serving life sentences for a double-murder. They men claim they were framed.

Guevera testified he didn't remember even basic details about the Solache and Reyes case, but did deny he beat them to get their confessions.

"It's something I would not have done," Guevara said last month.

Lawyers for Guevara's partner, Ernest Halvorsen, and supervisors Edward Mingey, Frank Montilla and Roland Paulmitsky said their clients also would take the Fifth if they were called to the stand.

Maysonet's conviction was overturned based on allegations of abuse and a conflict of interest by his defense lawyer. Maysonet's attorney also represented Guevara in a divorce case at the same time he was defending Maysonet from the murder charges.