No Verdict on Burge

Burge has pleaded not guilty to perjury, obstruction of justice

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCChicago
    Burge Breaks Down |
    Former police commander Jon Burge took the stand in his own defense and broke down in tears when recollecting the case of Andrew Wilson.

    Who is Jon Burge? Two distinct views emerged in federal court Thursday as closing arguments in the perjury and obstruction of justice trial began.

    According to federal prosecutors, the 62, year old Burge is a liar.

    According to defense attorney’s, Burge is a hero.

    Just before 3 p.m. Thursday, a federal jury took on the task of deciding which side is right.  They later adjourned for the day without reaching a verdict.

    Jon Burge: A History of Abuse

    [CHI] Jon Burge: A History of Abuse
    The former police commander faces perjury charges.

    Burge is accused of perjury and obstruction of justice, covering up years of torture of criminal suspects by Chicago police.

    "He was not afraid to confront evil out there," said defense attorney Richard Beuke, painting Burge and men under his command as defenders of law and order on the south side.

    But Assistant U.S. Attorney David Weisman said Burge operated above the law. "He lied about what happened then and he's lying now," Weisman said.

    During trial prosecutors presented the testimony of 5 men Burge and his officers allegedly tortured from 1973 to 1985.

    "All they had in common is that the defendant tortured them," Weisman told the jury.

    But Beuke described the government's witnesses as quote "garbage" and career criminals, who conspired to tell the same story.

    "Somewhere in the dark corner of hell"...Beuke said, "Andrew Wilson has to be sitting and laughing now."

    Wilson was convicted of killing two Chicago police officers in 1982.

    Prosecutors say police electro shocked, burned and placed a gun to Wilson's head to get him to confess.

    Photos after his arrest and interrogation show Wilson bruised and battered.

    Defense attorney Beuke said those injuries occurred as Wilson was being transported in a police wagon and that neither Burge nor his men were responsible.

    Burge sat placidly thru the closing arguments, supported by several friends, including a relative of one of the officers Andrew Wilson killed.

    Weisman said a code of silence kept the torture quiet over the years and that "today Chicago police officers are working hard to regain the trust of the criminal justice system."

    Beuke constantly attacked Weisman's closing, often sarcastically.

    Weisman objected to Beuke's arguments at least 6 times, all sustained by Judge Joan Lefkow.

    Beuke urged the jury to use quote common sense.

    "Jon Burge is a good man. He was a great police officer," he said.

    If convicted Burge could be sentenced to 20 years for each of two counts of obstruction of justice, five years for perjury and a $250,000 fine on each count.