By: Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune.
Kevin Bailey admits that there were moments during his 28 years in prison that he lost hope he would ever be cleared of murder.
“But I just kept fighting,” he said with a smile moments after his release Tuesday afternoon from Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet. “Just kept fighting.”
Hours earlier, with Bailey in a courtroom at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, a Cook County special prosecutor dropped charges against him and Corey Batchelor, who had been paroled in 2004. The two had long alleged that Chicago police detectives with ties to disgraced former Cmdr. Jon Burge had physically abused them into confessing to a brutal 1989 murder.
After Judge Alfredo Maldonado formally tossed out their convictions, Batchelor and Bailey, both 48, embraced in the courtroom.
Bailey then grinned, pumping his fists in the air as spectators in the courtroom applauded.
“I never, ever wanted to give up,” Batchelor, his voice at times emotional, later told reporters in the courthouse lobby. “At times, Kevin used to actually tell me that he was giving up, that he actually didn’t believe that we were ever going to get out. And all I did was motivate and motivate and motivate him, and let him know no matter what … the fight would continue.”
Batchelor and Bailey were 19-year-olds with no criminal history when they were arrested for the murder of Lula Mae Woods, the wife of a retired Chicago police officer, according to court records. Woods was found stabbed to death in her South Side garage in June 1989.
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