Son of Murdered Couple Receives Settlement From Murderer
Grown son gets Burge award from murderer
By Lauraann Wood
Law Bulletin staff writer
A man serving life in prison was awarded a $100,000 reparation for his claims he was tortured by Chicago police, but that money will go directly to the surviving son of a couple he killed 34 years ago.
At a July prove-up hearing, Cook County Circuit Judge James M. McGing awarded $18.5 million to plaintiff Richard Pueschel in a civil suit he filed against Jerry Mahaffey, one of two brothers convicted for the 1983 murder of Dean and Jo Ellen Pueschel.
Most of that eight-figure judgment will be unrecoverable, Pueschel’s attorney acknowledged. But the order allowed Pueschel to recover the award Mahaffey received in a torture settlement from the city of Chicago.
“What was important to Richard was that as soon as he learned that there may be $100,000 available to Jerry Mahaffey—the man who murdered his father, murdered and raped his mother and tried to murder him—he contacted me to find out if there’s a way he could block it,” said Thomas H. Murphy, a partner at Cogan & Power P.C. who represented Pueschel.
In 1983, Mahaffey and his brother Reginald entered the Pueschels’ West Rogers Park home through an open bathroom window, struck then-11-year-old Richard in the head with a baseball bat and stabbed him before entering his parents’ room—where they beat and killed Dean, 26, before raping 30-year-old Jo Ellen in the kitchen, then killed her.
A Cook County jury in 1985 found the two guilty of murder, attempted murder, home invasion, rape, armed robbery, residential burglary, aggravated battery and theft. They were sentenced to death, but former Gov. George Ryan commuted their sentences to life in prison when he cleared the state’s death row in January 2003.
While affirming Jerry Mahaffey’s convictions and sentencing a split Illinois Supreme Court in 1989 reversed Reginald’s convictions and remanded his case for a new trial, finding his brother’s confession—which he contended was coerced through torture tactics under former Chicago police commander Jon Burge’s regime—was unfairly used against him at trial.
Reginald represented himself in his new trial in 1991. A jury again convicted him of the murders and attempted murder after two hours of deliberation, and it again sentenced him to death after deliberating for only 13 minutes.
In light of Jeffrey Mahaffey’s claims that his confession had been tortured out of him, the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission in July 2013 found sufficient evidence of such claims.
That finding was later vacated because the Pueschel family was not notified of the commission’s proceedings. After a new hearing was conducted in November 2015, the commission found insufficient evidence of torture in its new report issued Jan. 22, 2016.
Around the same time of Mahaffey’s new torture commission hearing, those in charge of reviewing torture reparation claims for the city of Chicago also found insufficient evidence of Mahaffey’s torture claim.
But his was one of eight claims the city referred to since-retired federal judge David H. Coar for review, Murphy said. Coar ruled Mahaffey’s claim had merit, and upon approval the city allocated $100,000—the maximum amount available to a torture claimant—to him from its reparations fund.
Murphy said Pueschel first contacted him in spring 2016, which prompted the personal-injury suit filed against Mahaffey last April.
After McGing’s prove-up judgment, Circuit Judge Alexander P. White in September ordered the city to turn that money over to Pueschel, Murphy said his client received payment this month.
Since the attacks, Murphy said, Pueschel has led a “remarkable life, all things considered.”
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At the July prove-up hearing, the Cook County Circuit Judge awarded $18.5 million to plaintiff Richard Pueschel in a civil suit he filed against Jerry Mahaffey, one of two brothers convicted for the 1983 murder of Dean and Jo Ellen Pueschel. While most of that eight figure judgment will be unrecoverable it does allow Pueschel to recover the award Mahaffey received in the torture settlement from the city of Chicago.
In 1983, Mahaffey and his brother Reginald entered the Pueshels’ West Rogers Park home through an open bathroom window, struck then 11-year-old Richard in the head with a baseball bat and stabbed him before entering his parents’ room — where they beat and killed Dean,26, before raping and killing Jo Ellen in the kitchen.
The two brothers were convicted of murder, attempted murder, home invasion, rape, armed robbery, residential burglary, aggravated battery, and theft. They were sentenced to death but their sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2003.