IL appeals court tosses murder conviction on Burge-related case

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CHICAGO –  An Illinois appellate court threw out the murder conviction of a man who’s been imprisoned for 24 years.

Shawn Whirl said he was tortured by a detective who worked under former disgraced Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

Whirl was facing the death penalty when he pleaded guilty to the murder of a cabdriver in 1990.  But Whirl first told a judge he was innocent and claims his confession was coerced.

The court found evidence that the detective who took his confession, James Pienta, had been involved in “a pattern of torture” of suspects.

Whirl alleged that Pienta repeatedly slapped his face and dug a key into a wound he had on his leg, as he denied involvement in the murder.  Whirl said he finally agreed to confess as he was being fed details fed to him by the detective.

Whirl’s attorney may seek his release.