Stanley Howard Case: From Death Row to Settlement
When Stanley Howard was 23 years old, he was sentenced to death based on a confession that was fabricated by the Chicago’s Area 2 detectives. For the next 15 years, Stanley would live in a jail cell that was no bigger than a standard size bathroom. Throughout this time, Stanley has always maintained his innocence. His mother Jeanette Johnson has worked to clear Stanley’s name.
Death Row Ten
The Death Row Ten inmates are inmates who are on Illinois death row. These inmates were tortured and beaten by Jon Burge, the former Chicago Police Commander, and Burges detectives.
It was not until 1993 when Jon Burge was forced into early retirement. Currently, you can find Burge fishing on his boat down in Florida. Unfortunately, Burge and his detectives were never officially criminally charged.
However, in 1998, during the summer, the Death Row Ten inmates decided it was time to form a group and ask the Campaign to End the Death Penalty to help them organize events.
Of course, Dick Devine, the Cook County State’s Attorney did not want this issue of detectives torturing suspects into confessions. But with the local and national media outlets covering this story it was very hard for this to stay silent.
Stanley Howard Case
On May 20, 1984, during the evening hours 41-year-old, Oliver Ridgell along with Tecora Mullen both sat in a parked car in the Southside of Chicago. Tecora Mullen was a married woman, who was currently having an affair with Oliver Ridgell.
From Mullen’s memory, a man approached the car and asked them for a cigarette. This is when Ridgell refused to give the man a cigarette. This is when the man pulled out a gun and tried to rob them at gunpoint. Ultimately this man ended up fatally hurting Ridgell.
Mullen was able to give the detectives a description of the man in question, but Mullen was also intoxicated, and her vision was limited by the darkness.
Then on November 1, 1984, Chicago police officers took 21-year-old Stanley Howard into custody on charges that were unrelated to the murder. However, the Chicago police officers noted that Howard had very similar traits to what Mullen’s described the suspect had.
The Chicago police interrogated Howard, about the murder of Ridgell. The Area 2 detectives that included Sergeant John Byrne, Ronald Boffo, James Lotito, and Robert Dwyer were witnesses to Howard signing the confession that he attempted to rob Ridgell and Mullen and was the one who shot Ridgell.
However, Howard kept insisting that he was tortured, he was suffocated with a plastic bag and endured other physical abuse until he would confess to the crime. Even Wayne Kinzie, a paramedic even noticed the cuts and bruises on Howard’s chest and left leg to back up these claims.
Howard went to trial in 1987. The judge presiding over the case was John J. Mannion. Mannion was a former police officer, who worked in Area 2.
However, Howard’s defense team excluded the fabricated confession from their evidence reel, but Mannion ruled against that as he found the confession to be lawful and voluntary.
Mullen whose husband was the prime suspect in this murder case, picked out Howard in a police officer line up before the trial began. Mullen even went on the witness stand to testify that Howard the was murderer.
Ultimately, Howard was convicted, and he received the death penalty.
Howard’s Case Overturned & Settlement
On December 19, 1991, the Illinois Supreme Court denied Howard’s direct appeal because the evidence against Howard was overwhelming.
But on January 10, 2003, Illinois Governor George H. Ryan found the evidence in Howard’s case along with many other cases VERY underwhelming. He found the confessions to be fabricated with a side of police brutality, and the eyewitnesses to be unreliable. Ryan reviewed the cases and he believed these death row inmates were innocent.
Ryan pardoned Howard. Ryan even authorized an expungement of Howard’s criminal record for the crimes he was falsely accused of on May 20, 1984. On March 30, 2007, Howard’s record was fully expunged.
Unfortunately, Howard has still been convicted for a few other unrelated crimes. He still will be in prison until at least 2023
However, in the same year, the City of Chicago came to a decision that they will pay Howard along with three other inmates who were on Illinois death row $20 million to settle the claims of police brutality that ended up with their wrongful convictions. For this settlement, Howard received a share of $1,8 million. Howard also got another $161,000 for his state compensation statute as well.