The Death Row Ten: Leonard Kidd’s Case

You’ve heard of the Death Row Ten. Here’s everything you need to know about Leonard Kidd’s case. Leonard Kidd endured a night of horror in an Area 2 police interrogation room. Leonard Kidd was chained to a ring on the wall, electro-shocked, beaten, and ultimately all around tortured by some of Chicago’s highly decorated detectives.

Kidd only confessed to the crime to end the abuse. Unfortunately, Kidd has been in prison for over 20 years, with most of them being on Illinois death row.

The Death Row Ten

Leonard Kidd is a part of the death row ten. The death row ten assembled in the summer of 1998. The death row ten asked for the help of Campaign to End the Death Penalty to be their driving force and voice on the outside of prison.

Then in January 2003 then Illinois Governor George Ryan ultimately pardoned four members of the infamous death row 10. The Campaign to End the Death Penalty is still working hard to win justice for the remaining death row ten inmates who are still sitting on Illinois death row.

Leonard Kidd’s Case

Leonard Kidd was convicted of 10 counts of murder along with one count of arson during a jury trial in the Cook County Circuit court.

Before the trial, Kidd was trying to waive a jury for the sentencing, but the judge presiding over the trial refused that motion. Kidd found out that he was going to be eligible for the death penalty because he fit the criteria. Kidd was over the age of 18 and he murdered more than 2 people.

During the second stage of Kidd’s sentencing, the jury found no factors that would allow them to exclude the death penalty. The trial court then decided to sentence Kidd to death. This sentence stayed put while there was a pending appeal to the court as well.

The appeal had around 17 issues, 9 of these issues consistent with the sentencing hearing. But the state of Illinois, did state that Kidd did not get a fair death penalty hearing and that alone should be enough cause for a new hearing. However, along with the other 8 issues were also related to the trial.

The Crime

It all started on October 28, 1980 when a fire caused extreme damage to a two-story residential building on East 65th Place in Chicago, Illinois. The three first floor apartments were vacant, but two of the second-floor apartments were occupied.

Emma Burt was one of the people who lived on the second floor along with her four children. While Brenda Boyd was the other one who lived in the second-floor apartment along with her five children.

When the fire broke out, Emma along with her sister, Gertrude and Gertrude’s five children were in the apartment. In total 10 children died in the fire.

Four years later after the fire broke out, on September 14, 1984, Kidd was interrogated regarding the crime scene. Joseph Murphy, Chicago Police Sergeant interrogated Kidd along with Detectives John Robertson and Richard Kobel. During this time Kidd was already in custody of the jail since he was first arrested on January 12, 1984 on an unrelated arson and murder charges.

During this time period, Kidd’s legal counsel was the James Stopka and Paul Stralka, Assistant Public Defenders. During this interrogation, Kidd allegedly made statements that would link him to the crime at hand. This is ultimately when he would be indicted on 32 counts of murder and along with one count of arson, and two count of aggravated arson.

At trial the prosecution brought up Gertrude, Brenda, Emma and Renee as their star witnesses. Upon cross-examination, the holes in Gertrude and Renee’s stories were becoming much bigger and more prevalent.

The prosecution also brought on the Assistant State’s Attorney Linn to testify on their behalf as well. Linn’s testimony would all about the interrogation that took place on September 14, 1984. During the time that the interrogation took place, Linn was working in the felony review unit at the office. Linn claimed that he advised Kidd of his Miranda rights before Sergeant Murphy showed Kidd the photos of the victims from the fire. This is when Linn stated that Kidd finally confessed to be the one who started the fire. Alongside Linn there was Detectives Kobel and Robertson along with Sergeant Murphy who witnessed these statements.

When the closing arguments were completed, the jury found Kidd guilty of all 10 counts of murder along with one count of arson. When the verdicts were officially entered, Kidd was able to renew his objection on his trial, but courts refused to ever accept Kidd’s pretrial waiver of jury for sentencing.

When the sentencing happened, the jury came back and Kidd received the death penalty.

Leonard Off of Illinois Death Row

Then in January of 2003, then Governor George Ryan reversed Kidd’s death sentenced along with over 160 other Illinois death row inmates. Ryan even gave out four full pardons to men on the Illinois death row as well. These four just like Kidd and his brother, Leroy Orange were a part of the infamous death row ten group. Due to suffering at the hands of the Chicago police department.

Even though, Kidd is no longer sitting on Illinois death row, he still will face life in prison without the possibility of parole. There has been an outrage because Kidd should be given a new trial since he confessed to the crime after he endured hours of abuse. Kidd’s brother Leroy has been traveling throughout the United States along with Europe to speak about this abuse since he was pardoned.

As of current, Kidd is currently in Pontiac Correctional Center in their protective custody unit. He is still treated like an animal. He is in his small cell for 23 hours a day, seven days a week, with little to no recreation time. However, that does not bring down Kidd’s attitude, he always maintains a good attitude as he fights for his freedom.

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