Special prosecutors late Thursday dropped all charges against a man accused in the 1982 slaying of a Chicago police officer.
Dismissal of the charges against Jackie Wilson came near the end of his third trial for the killing of Officer Richard O’Brien. Another officer, William Fahey, was also killed.
The prosecutors announced the decision to drop the charges just after a current Cook County assistant state’s attorney, Nicholas Trutenko, testified during the defense case. Trutenko said he was a long-time friend with William Coleman, a central witness in Wilson’s 1989 trial. Wilson’s attorneys painted Coleman as a con man and well-known fraudster. But neither the defense nor the team of special prosecutors trying Wilson knew whether Coleman was alive or dead.
Trutenko testified he had been in touch with Coleman as recently as this week, noting he became godfather to one of Coleman’s daughters several years ago.
When pressed as to whether he had ever disclosed that friendship to the prosecutors’ office, Trutenko said he did not believe he had any obligation to do so.
Wilson, 59, was being tried again despite successfully arguing in prior hearings that he was tortured into confessing to taking part in the killings by ex-police commander Jon Burge.
Wilson’s 1989 conviction was thrown out in 2018 by Judge William Hooks after allegations that Wilson had been tortured by Burge, who is now deceased, into confessing to a role in the shooting. Hooks was hearing evidence in Wilson’s third trial.
Defense attorney Flint Taylor said his team was pleased Thursday night that the case was dismissed by the special prosecutor.
“It should have been dismissed and never gone to trial. But it did and it was a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money,” Taylor said.
Wilson’s first conviction was overturned by an appellate court. At a retrial in 1989, he was acquitted of Fahey’s murder but convicted of O’Brien’s.
Burge has never faced criminal charges for abuse. He was fired from the police department in 1993 over the 1982 beating and burning of Andrew Wilson. He died in prison in 2007, having been tried and convicted twice in the deaths of O’Brien and Fahey.