Gerald Reed, man who claims he was tortured into double murder confession, has sentenced commuted by Pritzker

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Gerald Reed, life sentence commuted,
Gerald Reed

By Rob Elgas and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team

Gerald Reed will walk out of a Joliet prison a free man after Gov. JB Pritzker commuted his life sentence late Thursday.

Reed has served decades behind bars while fighting for freedom after he says he was forced to confess to a double murder.

Armanda Shackelford, 78, has been tireless in her insistence that her son is innocent. She said he would not take a plea deal because he didn’t want everyone to think his mother is a liar.

“Whatever day he’s coming home! That’s the thing! He’s coming home!!!” Reed’s mother, Armanda Shackelford, said on the night her three-decade fight for her son’s freedom ended.

“They never had any evidence to prove that he did those crimes. The only thing they had was a signed statement that they tortured him so bad into signing,” she said.

Gerald Reed was convicted in 1990 of a double murder and sentenced to life in prison. The detectives on the case were working for disgraced Commander Jon Burge. In 2018, a judge granted Reed a new trial but he has remained in prison.

“He could have been out. Because they had offered him plea deals to let him go. And he said ‘Mama, I can’t do that. Because if I take a plea deal, those crimes will be on me for the rest of my life. I would make you out to be a liar. Cause that’s something you don’t do.'” she said.

Shackelford spoke to her son in prison Thursday. It was brief, but they shared words she has waited 30 years to hear.

“He said, ‘Mama, I’m coming home. I’m coming home. I’m coming home,'” she said.

Shackelford said she believes Reed will be released either Friday or Monday.

Robert J. Milan, the special prosecutor in Reed’s case, said in a statement: “On behalf of murdered victims Pamela Powers, Willie Williams, and their loved ones, we are very disappointed by Governor Pritzker’s actions today. The victims’ families and the Special Prosecutor’s Office were never notified by the Governor’s Office of today’s decision. Clearly, in Illinois, violent offenders are treated with more respect than the victims of crime.”

This article originally appeared on ABC7 Chicago.

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