Chicago Tribune

2 pardoned ex-inmates urge interrogation taping

Former slaying suspects praise Ryan for pardons
By Amy E. Nevala
December 21, 2002

A day after Gov. George Ryan pardoned Gary Gauger and Steven Linscott, the two men wrongly convicted of murder called for mandatory videotaping of police interrogations to avoid false confessions that could lead to convictions.

"Nothing during my interrogation was recorded, nothing was written down," Gauger told reporters Friday at the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago.

Requiring police to videotape interrogations was recommended under Ryan's proposed death penalty reforms but has not become law.
"Let's put some heat on people who are shifting blame to innocent people," said Lawrence Marshall, an attorney for Gauger, of the call for police recordings.

Gauger, 50, who was sent to prison for the 1993 murder of his parents, said Friday he plans to continue growing organic vegetables on their McHenry County farm with his wife, Sue. They plan to continue to speak out against the death penalty at rallies around the state.

The prosecution centered on Gauger's willingness to tell investigators he might have blacked out when the murders occurred. Two members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang were implicated in the crime and have since been convicted.
"I'm just glad he's finally publicly free. Our family has lived a nightmare since Gary's parents were killed," Sue Gauger said at the news conference.

Gauger and Linscott lauded Ryan for his support in clearing their names. Gauger dismissed any notion the pardons were politically motivated. The pardons came one day after federal investigators said the governor knew aides were going to destroy documents that might be sought in the federal licenses-for-bribes scandal.

"It's an honorable thing, it's a message of humanity, not a political statement," Gauger said of his pardon.

Linscott was a 25-year-old student when he was convicted of murdering an Oak Park nursing student. He spent three years in prison before DNA evidence cleared him in 1992.

Police and prosecutors claimed that his recounting of a violent dream he had was a confession of guilt in the murder of Karen Anne Phillips, and a jury convicted him in 1982. The charges were later dropped.

"This has dominated my adult life, and the lives of my wife and children," he said. Now 48, he works in Springfield as a child abuse counselor.

The father of four children said he is still reconnecting with his family.

"You don't get over being in prison immediately. It produces distances with the people you love, " said Linscott, who during his remarks glanced occasionally at his youngest daughter, Rachel, 13.

Rolando Cruz, who was also pardoned Thursday in the 1983 murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville, did not attend the news conference.

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