Pretrial Detention for Seven Years, & Innocent
CHICAGO (CN) - A man spent seven years in jail before he was acquitted at trial, after police coerced him into falsely confessing to killing his 1-month-old niece, the man claims in court.
Barry J. Burrell sued Sauk Village and its police Officers Tim Holevis and R. Grossman, on Aug. 19 in Cook County Court.
Burrell's month-old niece Kalia was found dead in August 2006, suffering a fractured skill and ribs and a lacerated liver, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.
Burrell says in his lawsuit that he "was not involved in Kalia's death."
"No witnesses or other family members told the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) or the defendants that Barry was involved in Kalia's death.
"In addition, no physical evidence connected Barry to Kalia's injuries," the complaint states.
Burrell, then 24, was the only adult in the house when Kalia died. He was babysitting Kalia and five other children, according to the Tribune.
The defendant officers arrested Burrell and charged him with murder.
Burrell claims they knew that his 10-year-old niece "had told family members, neighbors, and DCFS that she was responsible for Kalia's injuries," according to the lawsuit.
He claims that the officers threatened him during his interrogation, which lasted nearly two days, telling him "that if he did not say something, his ten-year-old niece would have [to] be held responsible for Kalia's death."
"Fearing what could happen to his niece and fearing for his own future, Barry told the defendants about how Kalia could have been accidentally injured.
"The defendants knew that this statement was no consistent with Kalia's injuries," the complaint states.
In a videotaped statement, shown at his trial, Burrell claimed that he fell on the baby, the Tribune reported.
Burrell was found not guilty after a trial by jury in 2013, and released after spending seven years in jail. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, he was held under $5 million bond for those seven years.
He seeks damages for malicious prosecution and emotional distress.
He is represented by James Baranyk at Second City Law.