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Ill. inmate who claimed torture is released

Eric Caine (center) talked with his attorney Russell Ainsworth of the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School as Caine walked with his girlfriend, Sara Bush. Eric Caine (center) talked with his attorney Russell Ainsworth of the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School as Caine walked with his girlfriend, Sara Bush. (Sid Hastings/Associated Press)
Associated Press / March 18, 2011

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CHESTER, Ill. — A man who contended that Chicago police tortured him into confessing to killing a Chicago couple and spent more than 25 years in prison walked out a free man yesterday, eight years after his codefendant was pardoned and freed from the state’s death row by a former Illinois governor.

Eric Caine’s release from southwestern Illinois’ Menard Correctional Center followed a judge’s dismissal Wednesday of charges that had landed him a life sentence.

“Let me breathe the air — I just want to enjoy this moment right now,’’ Caine, 45, said after walking out of Menard, the maximum-security lockup near the Mississippi River, about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis.

Cook County Judge William H. Hooks’s ruling came the same day a former Chicago police commander, Jon Burge, reported to a North Carolina federal prison to begin serving a 4 1/2-year sentence for lying about the torture of suspects. Caine had accused the commander of threatening him with a gun.

Caine said he isn’t bitter about his incarceration, but does plan to seek recourse. He said he hopes to marry his girlfriend and channel his efforts into a possible ministry.

Caine wore clothing and shoes provided by his attorney and carried a Bible and family pictures. He said what he’s really been craving is oxtail stew.

“This is the first day of the rest of my life,’’ Caine said, before letting out a loud, “Woo-hoo!’’

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