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Aaron Patterson Looks Gift Horse in Mouth, Gets 30 Years in Prison

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 15, 2007 2:30PM

2007_08_patterson.jpgHow many of you remember Aaron Patterson? He was one of the infamous "Death Row 10" who spent 13 years on Illinois' Death Row for a murder he insisted cops, led by former commander Jon Burge, framed him for? Four years ago, in his final official acts, former Governor George Ryan pardoned Patterson and three others while commuting the sentences of all other Death Row inmates to life in prison. After his release and pardon, Patterson unsuccessfully ran for State Legislature, turned down a $4 million settlement offer from the city for his incarceration, and spoke wherever he could about wrongful imprisonment and his time on Death Row.

Then Patterson was arrested and convicted in 2005 on gun and drug charges. Even though prosecutors and police have tape of him arranging drug and gun sales to undercover agents, Patterson insists that he's innocent and instead was trying to engineer a "reverse sting" of the cops. During the trial, Patterson was repeatedly removed from the courtroom for being disruptive, swore at Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer and prosecutors, and caused one of his own attorneys to be released from the case after verbally abusing her to the point of tears and walking out of the trial.

Well, Pallmeyer sentenced Patterson to 30 years in prison yesterday, after sitting through another 45-minute curse-filled tirade where he said he'd "be back. Back with a vengeance." Patterson was removed from the courtroom before Pallmeyer handed down the sentence, citing his long history of violence. Patterson's behavior during his trial would have been enough for us, if we were sitting on the bench. We wish we could say that he looked at his pardon as a true second chance, but we can't. The word "penitentiary" comes from the word "penitent," which is defined as "feeling or expressing humble or regretful pain or sorrow for sins or offenses."

We doubt it'll happen, but here's hoping that Patterson doesn't need 30 more years to figure that out.