Martin Reeves was freed from prison last year after spending 21 years in jail for five murders he didn’t commit. In a lawsuit filed March 30, 2010, Reeves contends that he was put behind bars because of torture, destruction of evidence, and other gross misconduct by the Chicago police department.
According to the lawsuit, Reeves’ conviction was based in part on the confession of his co-defendant Ronnie Kitchen. The lawsuit says that indicted former cop Jon Burge and his infamous “Midnight Crew” beat Kitchen brutally until he confessed to the murders and implicated Reeves. According to the lawsuit, police beat Kitchen with a telephone, kicked and punched him repeatedly, and denied Kitchen access to a lawyer.
The conviction was also based on the testimony of convicted felon Willie Williams. Williams allegedly agreed to testify that Reeves and Kitchen committed the murders in exchange for early release from prison and other favors from the police.
The officers then allegedly recorded phone calls between Williams, Reeves and Kitchen, hoping to get the men to say something incriminating. They never did. In fact, Reeves repeatedly denied any involvement in the murders. So the officers simply destroyed the tapes, which would have exonerated the men, Reeves’ lawsuit alleges.
In July 2009, it came to light that police had agreed to let Willie Williams out of jail early in exchange for his testimony against Reeves and Kitchen. Police never disclosed that during the trial. Accordingly, Reeves and Kitchen’s convictions were overturned. The state decided not to retry the men.
Meanwhile, Burge faces trial in May on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Burge might also face additional charges based on an ongoing grand jury probe.