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Alleged Burge victim to be released on bond

CHICAGO — A man who says Chicago police tortured him into confessing to a crime he did not commit is about to walk out of prison for the first time in 30 years.

On Thursday, a judge set bond at $20,000 for James Gibson. He'll need to post 10 percent, or $2,000, to go free. The judge also set a special condition that Gibson wear an electronic monitor and live in Cook County. He will likely walk out of prison Friday.

In 1989, Gibson was accused of murdering two people during a botched armed robbery of an insurance agent in Englewood. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Even back then, prosecutors wrote in a memo seeking the death penalty that the only evidence against him was circumstantial. During the last 7 years he’s been fighting for a new trial, claiming former Chicago police Cmdr. John Burge tortured him into confessing.

The Illinois Appellate Court found he was tortured, and vacated his guilty sentence. He could now face a new trial.

The judge said Thursday he is aware of the history of the case, but special prosecutors have not shown enough evidence to hold him in jail. They have no eye witnesses or physical evidence.

"For 30 years, we have been waiting for this day," said Gibson's sister Sandra Wooten. "If my mother could only be here because she knew at the beginning that her child was innocent.”

{sarmarra burks, niece

"My prayers go out to the other families who were involved, because we knew the insurance man. He gave me candy, he gave dollars to go to the candy store. He would chat with me and my siblings, and he was very nice,' said Gibson's niece Sarmarra Burks. "I regret to say that CPD dropped the ball here. They messed up when they tortured someone that was not a part of it.”

Gibson faces a mandatory life sentence if he is convicted a second time. Prosecutors could still decide not to pursue this case. If they do go forward, the victim’s family says they will be at the new trial, but they don’t know how much more they can take.

 

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