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Judge Throws Out Ruling Granting New Trial For Gerald Reed, Who Claims He Was Tortured Into False Confession To Double Murder

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Fourteen months after a Cook County Judge ruled Gerald Reed should get a new trial for a 1990 double murder, based on his claims of torture, another judge on Friday threw out that ruling, and ruled Reed will continue serving his life sentence.

Reed, 56, had been granted a new trial in December 2018, amid claims he had been tortured into falsely confessing to the slayings of Pamela Powers and Willie Williams by officers under the command of former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

Reed has claimed he was beaten so badly, detectives broke a titanium rod that was holding his fractured femur in place. He had to live with that injury for more than 25 years, taking pills to deal with the pain, until a federal lawsuit granted him surgery in 2016.

Judge Thomas Gainer overturned Reed's conviction in December 2018 and granted him a new trial, but has since retired and Judge Thomas Hennelly has taken over the case.

At a hearing on Friday, dozens of Reed's loved ones and supporters were hoping Hennelly would order Reed's release from custody and set a new trial date, but instead their hopes were dashed when Hennelly vacated Gainer's ruling overturning Reed's conviction, ruled Reed would stay behind bars for life.

Reed's mother, Amanda Shackleford, said she was stunned by Hennelly's ruling.

"I never would have thought that this judge would do what he did today," she said.

Aislinn Pulley, co-executive director of the Chicago Torture Justice Center, called the judge's decision an example of a continued coverup of torture committed by Burge and detectives under his command. Burge was fired in 1993 and served 3 years in prison nearly two decades later for lying about the torture of suspects.

"The era of Jon Burge is not over, it's continued to be covered up right now," Pulley said. "Everyone who was a part of that, from the legal system, from the judge, from the State's Attorney's office, are complicit in the continued brutality of our people. Gerald Reed should be freed. His conviction was vacated 14 months ago. There is no reason that he's in Cook County Jail right now."

Reed's supporters said they felt completely sideswiped by Hennelly's ruling. They said they're hoping the county's chief judge can do something about it.

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