Exonerated man is back in jail

Burge torture victim Eric Caine charged with felony DUI

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By BOB UPHUES, JEAN LOTUS and TIM INKLEBARGER

Since being exonerated of a crime he didn't commit, life has been complicated for 48-year-old Eric A. Caine, who spent 25 years behind bars fighting his conviction. 

On New Year's Eve of 2013, it took a turn for the worse.

The new Riverside resident is back behind bars, held without bond at Cook County Jail and charged with felony drunken driving for allegedly sideswiping two vehicles on Desplaines Avenue near 31st Street in North Riverside.

Caine was one of two people convicted in 1989 of home invasion and the murder of an elderly Chicago couple in 1986. He was sentenced to life in prison, but steadfastly maintained his innocence. The confession prosecutors pinned their case on, he maintained, was obtained via torture.

In March 2011, a Cook County judge ordered Caine released from prison, ruling that Caine was tortured by police officers under the command of notorious Chicago Police Det. Jon Burge. More than two years later, in August 2013, the Chicago City Council awarded Caine $10 million to settle a lawsuit he filed against the city.

The settlement allowed Caine to begin rebuilding his life, one that had been unsettled since his release from prison. Initially, Caine moved into the Oak Park YMCA and later moved to an apartment in River Forest, courtesy of a church group.

After receiving his settlement money, Caine was able to buy his own home. On Sept. 27, 2013 he paid $630,000 in cash for a previously foreclosed home in the 400 block of North Delaplaine Road in Riverside.

On Dec. 18, 2013, the Facebook page of the Chicago Innocence Project announced that Caine was getting married to his girlfriend, Tina.

And in late 2013, word began circulating in nearby Forest Park that Caine was interested in buying a business — a tavern in the 1500 block of Harlem Avenue (see accompanying story).

But since being released from prison in 2011, Caine has had repeated run-ins with police, particularly in River Forest, where he claims police specifically targeted him. 

He was arrested by Forest Park police in 2012 for driving under the influence and again by Oak Park police in 2013 for driving on a suspended license.

In the summer of 2013, Caine turned to the media over what he said was harassment by the River Forest Police Department. Caine was a guest on the daytime talk show "Windy City Live" on Aug. 6, telling host Val Warner that police were harassing him and repeatedly pulling him over without cause.

Caine claimed the harassment began in River Forest in March, when he said police attempted to arrest him for driving with a suspended license. He was released without charge after producing a restricted driving permit. 

About a week later, Caine was pulled over again outside his apartment and ticketed for failure to signal and detouring through a parking lot to avoid a red light. In March, River Forest Police visited his home on a domestic disturbance call, which Caine said was unfounded.

He was arrested by River Forest Police on the morning of July 15, when police reported they found him asleep in a friend's car in front of Caine's house at about 3 a.m. Police report that Caine was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and aggravated assault of a police officer.

"They claim that I actually, literally swung at him and that's absolutely not true," Caine said in August.

He was arrested again on July 30 on the 700 block of North Harlem Avenue. River Forest Police pulled him over for playing his car stereo too loud and subsequently arrested him for driving with a suspended license and carrying an open container of alcohol.

After August things quieted down until about 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2013 when a 911 caller phoned North Riverside police to report a hit-and-run accident on Desplaines Avenue near 31st Street.

A white Cadillac, said the caller, was heading southbound when it veered out of control and struck some vehicles parked on Desplaines Avenue. The impact of the crash launched a third parked vehicle into a bus shelter, damaging it.

The driver of the Cadillac allegedly left the scene southbound on Woodside Road. Police located the heavily damaged Cadillac traveling back northbound on Woodside Road and stopped it there.

Initially arrested for driving on a suspended license, Caine was later charged with felony DUI, although he refused to submit to sobriety tests and refused a breath test on two occasions.

Apparently despondent over the arrest, Caine allegedly tried to hang himself in the North Riverside Police Department lockup, but was prevented from doing so by police. He was later transported to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn for evaluation before being released back into police custody and formally charged.

Reader Comments

14 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Bill D  

Posted: February 4th, 2014 7:50 PM

And as usual, Q gets it wrong. Mr. Caine didn't win the lottery. He won a civil lawsuit, and was legally compensated by the state to the tune of more than $10 million. People who win lotteries may blow all their winnings, but they don't get a pass from police and the court system for repeated instances of drunk driving and other felonies.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: February 4th, 2014 6:46 PM

Uncommon Sense, if you were wrongly accused, and knew you never would be released, something not to unlike what has happened to the people picked up during the invasion into Afghanistan, you wouldn't give much thought about the money. Give some thought to the people who win the lottery, several have quickly spent all of the money.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 4th, 2014 5:24 PM

I wouldn't doubt that Mr. Caine has suffered some sort of post traumatic stress from his experience. Being locked up for 20 years is not something that you just "get over". It appears he has taken solace in alcohol and does not appreciate nor recognize the good fortune he has been given in return for his suffering. Ten large in the bank can buy an awfully nice and quiet life.

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 4th, 2014 4:08 PM

The question becomes, at this point, whether Caine's past mistreatment by police buys him some sort of "free pass" for crimes committed in the present and the future. I'm inclined to say no, but then I think people of every race are capable of being responsible for their own actions, a belief not shared by all Oak Parkers.

Bill D  

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 8:03 PM

Get a proof reader, Neikisha.

Which one is the victim from North Riverside  

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 7:37 PM

Speaking as one of the parties that got hit, it was not the way that I wanted to end 2013. And he has 10 million dollars and flees the scene of the crime? He deserves whatever he gets. Big deal, he has a drinking problem. Be an adult and get help. Killing yourself is the coward's way out.

Nekisha   

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 9:20 AM

Hell if I was locked up all them years I will have a drinking problem to the man need help

Marshall from Palatine  

Posted: January 20th, 2014 11:54 AM

I am sure the people who own the cars that he hit on New Years Eve are so heart broken that a guy with 10 Mil in the bank does not have the common sense to call a damn cab to take him home. Stop blaming society, he now has more opportunity than most do.

Tom from Oak Park from Oak Park  

Posted: January 14th, 2014 4:12 PM

What goes unsaid is that this guy was suspected by the police for some reason in the murder torture case. And he got out not because he was innocent, but because his confession was illegally pulled. So he could easily be gulity and out on a technicality, and now he drives around us drunk and boo hoo if he gets pulled over. This ends with him killing someone, and he already tried to kill himself.

Wishing you well, Mr. Caine  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 6:46 PM

Is it any wonder that someone who was wrongly incarcerated for 25 years might have developed a substance abuse problem? Lord have mercy! Mr. Caine, consider that you have to give up the sauce, or your future life will be one of torment when you deserve peace and respect. A life of sobriety is a great gift, There are a great many people who should give sobriety a chance and get to know people who are living sober. Those are some of the strongest people I know. It changes lives...for the better.

Kurt from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 12:32 PM

Good grief, what a mess. (Good reporting, by the way!)

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 11:13 AM

This man should stay away from the bar business. Given his drinking problems, the less he is around alcohol the better for all society. AA programs are available through Cook County Jail, according to it's website. Attending meeting would be a first step towards a better life.

The Brad from OP  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 10:07 AM

White Cadillac. Love it.

Interesting from Riverside  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 9:11 AM

Can or Caine you say KARMA?

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