People v. Weathers, 2015 IL App (1st) 133264 (November). Episode 116 (Duration: 3:21)
The 2012 Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) report confirms this defendant was tortured to confess.
Error for trial court to deny defendant leave to file a successive postconviction petition.
Defendant’s pro se petition clearly alleged that his confession was physically coerced by Detectives O’Brien and Halloran and that newly discovered evidence corroborated his claims.
His petition, while inartful, did allege a due process violation in the use of his allegedly coerced confession. Defendant states that the findings outlined a pattern of misconduct by Detectives Halloran and O’Brien.
Significantly, the TIRC entries contain similar allegations of abuse, including being struck by a flashlight as well as having clothing removed, left in a cold room, and denied food, all things he says they did to him as well.
Because this newly discovered evidence was not available at the time of defendant’s prior petitions, he has established the requisite cause, in that an objective factor impeded his ability to raise this claim at an earlier time.
The per se rule is that use of a defendant’s physically coerced confession as substantive evidence of his guilt is never harmless error. This petition gets to be filed, automatically advances to the second stage, and trial court must appoint counsel for the defendant.