Alton Logan spent 26 years in prison for a murder that was actually committed by Andrew Wilson, who is remembered for killing two Chicago policemen in 1982 and for accusing Area Two detectives led by Jon Burge of torturing him after he was arrested.

Logan’s innocence was a secret kept by two of Wilson’s attorneys until Wilson died last year. Wilson had admitted to them that he was actually the gunman who’d shot down a McDonald’s security guard during a robbery on South Halstedon January 11, 1982 — the crime for which Logan was tried and convicted. But while Wilson lived, those attorneys believed the attorney-client privilege bound them to silence. They did no more than sign and set aside in a metal box a notorized affadavit that declared  they’d “obtained information through privileged sources” that Logan was innocent.

In November of 2007 the attorneys, Dale Coventry and Jamie Kunz, found out from reading a Reader cover story by John Conroy that Wilson had recently died. They unlocked the metal box and announced the affadavit to the world. Weeks later Logan was freed.

But it was only today that circuit judge Paul Biebel Jr. formally declared Logan innocent. 

Here’s a link to a column I wrote 15 months ago in the Reader on the moral dilemma Wilson’s lawyers found themselves in. Conroy interviewed Logan today for WBEZ, and that interview can be heard here.

Wilson’s original accusations, of course, opened a Pandora’s box, leading to accusations of mistreatment by more than a hundred other prisoners against Burge and detectives under his jurisdiction, to overturned convictions and multimillion-dollar lawsuits filed against the city, to Burge’s dismissal from the force (though on full pension), to an admission by the city that torture occurred, to a four-year investigation by a special prosecutor, and — at long last — to a federal indictment last October accusing Burge of perjury and obstruction of justice.

John Conroy covered police torture for the Reader from his first article in 1990 until he left this paper in 2007. Here’s a link to his full archive.