Mark Clements – 28 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit!
November 29, 2009
Mark Clements Released from Prison August 18, 2009!
Chicago Sun Times ran a full front page story on the case June 9
Clements accepted a plea in exchange for resentencing him to time served on August 18. He admitted to no crime in the plea, stipulating only to facts that were in evidence. Attorneys with the Northwester University Center on Wrongful Convictions are working with Clements to prepare a petition for Clemency.
Mark Clements was falsely convicted of an arson-murder 26 years ago on the basis of a confession made after he was beaten repeatedly by police detectives. His attorneys won the right to depose the detectives who interrogated him under oath. They also were granted permission to formally file their supplemental Post Conviction Petition for Relief, which had been placed before the court last February.
Cook County Criminal Court Judge Jorge Alonso accepted the plea which was not not opposed by the Special Prosecutor assigned to represent the State in the Chicago Police Torture cases, former Judge Stuart Nudelman.
Clements has claimed since the time of his trial that he was repeatedly beaten by Detective McCann at Area Three Violent Crimes headquarters when he was arrested until he agreed to sign a “confession.” He was 16 years old at that time. Four people died in the fire that he was accused of setting.
The only evidence against Clements at his trial was the “confession.” Since then, McWeeny and McCann have both been implicated in the torture of suspects under Commander Jon Burge.
The action came on the same day that the Chicago Sun Times ran a full front page story on the case, headlined, “Did He Do It?” (For the latest, see http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/1613930,clements-judge-appeal-060909.article)
For more information contact Ted Pearson, Co-Chairperson of the Chicago Branch, NAARPR (312-927-2689), or Clements’ attorney, Tim Nelson (312-407-0700).
Copies of Clements’ Supplemental Petition may be requested by sending an email to [email protected], subject: Mark Clements Case.
Click here for Downloadable Fact Sheet on the case
Facts of the case
According to Chicago Police reports, on June 17, 1981, at 2:00 AM a fire broke out in a building owned by Eleanor Scott at 6602 S. Wentworth Ave. in Chicago. Four people, Robert T. Watson, James and Annabelle Moore, and Isadore Tucker, died in that fire, all of carbon monoxide asphyxiation and smoke inhalation. They were in an apartment on the 2nd floor. Fire investigators determined that the fire was a result of arson. One of the victims’ clothes smelled of gasoline. His body had suffered abrasions and a laceration, which according to the medical examiner, was not a stab wound.
Newly discovered evidence implicates the members of a motorcycle gang “The Munsters” as the ones who set the fire. It was a revenge attempt to kill drug-dealing tenant Rufus Scott (The building owner’s son) who sold them Vitamin B-12 instead of the cocaine they wanted.
However, On June 25, 1981, after a superficial investigation police arrested, Mark Clements, aged 16, during a “disturbance” in the neighborhood. Detectives Daniel McWeeny and James Higgins had been investigating the fire. At Clements’ trial they testified that they had spoken to Derrick Banks, Ramona Patton and James Robinson and that they were looking for Clements based on things Banks and Patton had said. Banks and Patton were not called to testify.
Fire officials testified that there were two fires going when they arrived at the building, one in the front stairway and one outside on the 2nd floor back porch. The two fires were not connected in any way. They found two bottles filled with gasoline on the rear porch of the building, one on the second floor and one on the ground floor. These were the only containers found containing gasoline. The second floor rear was inaccessible from the ground level because of another fire that had burned the stairs two weeks earlier.
Important Points to Note:
• Although only 16, Mark Clements was tried as an adult and sentenced to four life sentences plus 30 years in the state penitentiary.
• He was beaten and tortured by Detective John McCann , Star # 8137, and interrogated by Detective Daniel McWeeny. McWeeny taking on the role of Good cop and McCann taking on the role of Bad cop.
• McWeeny and McCann have long histories of physically and psychologically abusing suspects. Both have been implicated in the Jon Burge Police Torture Case.
• In 1999 U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur said:
“It is common knowledge that Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and many officers working under him regularly engaged in physical abuse and torture…it was a well established practice, not just an isolated incident”
• An investigation launched in 2002 by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Paul Biebel into the claims of police torture highlighted the names of many officers, including McWeeny and McCann, who played an active role.
• After over 10 hours of abuse he made a “confession” to involvement in the fire.
• At his trial Clements repudiated this “confession,” proclaimed his innocence, and recounted the beatings he had received from the police.
• There were no witnesses and no material evidence presented against Clements at his trial linking him to the crime.
• Clements was functionally illiterate at the time of his arrest.
• Mark Clements’ case is currently on appeal in the Cook County Criminal Court.
The Interrogation and Trial of Mark Clements
Mark Clements was taken to Area Three:Violent Crimes by the arresting officers when they learned he was being sought by detectives there. He was placed in a small interview room, and handcuffed to a ring embedded in the wall. He was not allowed to call his mother or his legal guardian. Even though he was 16, he was not allowed to see a youth officer until after he had “confessed.”
McWeeny and Higgins left Clements in this room, and another white detective, John McCann, Star # 8137, came in. McCann beat Clements on his arms, shoulders, legs and back. At that time Clements weighed 120 pounds. McCann grabbed Clements’ privates and inflicted excruciating pain. He slapped his face, repeatedly. After hours of such abuse, all while being chained to the wall, Clements agreed to make a statement telling the story constructed by the police.
Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Moore, together with McWeeny, was called in to take Clements’ statement. Clements told Moore, however, that he’d been beaten by McCann and that he did not have anything to do with the fire.
Moore left and McCann came back and subjected Clements to another round of beatings, torture, verbal abuse and racist insults. Again, Clements agreed to say what he was told to say, to end the torture. Moore and McWeeny were called back in. Clements answered a series of leading questions from Moore. He repeated the story the police had told him as best he could. Where details had not been provided to him, Clements made them up to satisfy the police and avoid another beating. A court reporter was present and took down the statement. The transcript of the statement was typed up, and Clements signed it, although he could barely read or write at the time.
The “confession” is filled with contradictions and inconsistent with other findings in police reports. Significantly, two of the three others implicated in the “confession” were picked up by police and held many hours during the time Clements was in custody. They were all released. Only one was called to testify at Clements’ trial, called by the defense, and he testified that he, too had been beaten by the police, that he had seen Mark Clements at Area 3 and that he has face was swollen and had been crying. Tommy Jackson, an attendant at a neighborhood gas station, was also picked up by the police, questioned for hours, and beaten. He went to the hospital after he was finally released to care for his injuries. He steadfastly denied selling anyone gasoline in a can that night.
Mark Clements’ “confession” reads like a badly acted, poorly written script. It contains many “facts” that reveal it’s author wasn’t familiar with what happened in the fire, and which contradict other known facts.
Clements told Judge William Cousins, Jr., that the “confession” was false and that the police had beaten him. James Robinson testified at Clements’ trial that he saw Clements at the police station and that he appeared to have been beaten.
Based only on the “confession,” Mark Clements was convicted and sentenced to four life sentences on four counts of first-degree murder, and 30 years in prison for arson.
Mark Clements has been incarcerated since 1981. He is in Pontiac Correctional Center in Pontiac, Illinois. People who know about this case or the fire at 6602 S. Wentworth on June 17, 1981, at about 2:00 AM, or knowing the whereabouts of Ramona Patton or Derrick Banks, a.k.a. John Evans, are urged to contact one of the offices below and help end this ordeal.
Attorney Timothy Nelsen NAARPR-Chicago Jane Raley, Senior Staff Attorney
333 W. Wacker Dr. 1325 S. Wabash Ave. Suite 105 Northwestern University Center on Wrongful Convictions
Chicago IL 60606 Chicago IL 60605 357 East Chicago Avenue Chicago, IL 60611
312- 407-0950 312-939-2750 312-503-3100
Letters may be addressed to Mark Clements, N23123, Pontiac Correction Center, P.O. Box 99, Pontiac IL 61764
1. McWeeny has been implicated in torture of suspects in numerous cases, including those of Danny Young and Harold Hill, Aaron Patterson, and Madison Hobley. During that period McWeeny was assigned variously between Area Two and Three. After Jon Burge was found to have tortured suspects and fired by the Chicago Police Department, McWeeny went to Area Four. He resigned from the force there after being accused of denying a suspect his medication. McWeeny is now a Chief Investigator for States Attorney Richard Devine.
2. McCann has been implicated in the 1991 torture of Tyshawn Ross, a case he also worked with McWeeny.