[Hpn] Another homeless brother killed by police and the cop walks where is justice?
Tue, 10 Dec 2002 18:43:39 -0500
Ex-cop to plead guilty in death, now you all know this is a cut and dry
done deal,do you remember Margarite Mitchell? And many others whom have been
brutally beat,shot and killed by the persons whom should protecting the
rights of the poor not harassing them, or committing the crime of murder and
trying to cover it up.
A Brother In The Struggle
Bid to skip retrial in vendor killing
By Jeff Coen
Tribune staff reporter
December 10, 2002
Former Chicago police officer Gregory Becker, whose 1997 conviction in the
fatal shooting of a StreetWise vendor was overturned on appeal, has told a
Cook County judge he intends to plead guilty to a charge of armed violence
next month to avoid a retrial.
The plea, which is expected Jan. 8, will come without any agreement for a
recommendation of leniency from prosecutors. Becker's attorney, Patrick
O'Brien, said his client agonized over going back on trial for the 1995
shooting death of Joseph Gould.
After he was found guilty, Becker became distressed at the defense table
and was taken from the Criminal Courts Building on a stretcher.
"Most people thought this was over with, but he's been anxious thinking
about another two-or three-week trial," O'Brien said. "At this point, he
just wants to stop it."
The victim's sister, Gwendolyn Gould, said Monday's announcement would
bring her no peace.
"My brother's not here, so I'll never be happy no matter how it turns out,"
A spotlight was put on the case immediately after the shooting in the River
North neighborhood, as police and prosecutors determined how to handle the
apparent shooting of a homeless black newspaper salesman by an off-duty
white police officer.
Authorities said the men got into a confrontation as Becker left a
nightclub with a girlfriend and Joseph Gould asked the couple for money.
Becker's handgun discharged as he allegedly pistol-whipped Gould.
Becker was charged with armed violence, involuntary manslaughter and
official misconduct, seen as slaps on the wrist by the victim's family and
advocacy groups for the homeless.
John Donahue, executive director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless,
said the act was disturbing and the handling of the case nearly as much so.
"A man of the law who violates the law should be doubly responsible,"
Donahue said Monday. "We went to (then-Cook County State's Atty. Jack)
O'Malley and told him Becker should be tried for murder." Gould was killed
in cold blood, Donahue said, but prosecutors have long stood by the charges.
"There were burns on his head, which means he was shot at point-blank
range," he said. "And Becker had to go to the trunk of his car to get the
Defense attorneys for Becker have argued that there was a fight between the
men, but that the shooting was accidental.
Becker was convicted of the charges and sentenced to 15 years in prison, a
sentence later reduced to 10 years when the Illinois Supreme Court declared
unconstitutional the Safe Neighborhoods Act, under which Becker had been
sentenced. Then, in 2000, the Illinois Appellate Court overturned the jury's
verdict on the most serious counts, calling it inconsistent.
The court determined that the levels of intent in the charges were
contradictory. The jury could have found that Becker "acted either knowingly
or recklessly," the court ruled, but not guilty of both manslaughter and
armed violence. When Becker was released on bond in January 2001, he had
spent most of the previous four years in prison.
He now faces a return trip, but O'Brien said he should not be incarcerated
for long, if at all. Prosecutors said Becker faces a sentence of between 6
and 10 years, but they agree he is eligible for credit for time already
spent in prison.
Even if he received another 10-year sentence, he would likely be
incarcerated for a little more than a year. "That factored into the
decision," said O'Brien, who added he plans to ask Judge Fred Suria to
sentence Becker to time already served.
Becker, 42, walked briskly from the Criminal Courts Building on Monday,
declining to comment. He remains married and has been working trades jobs,
his attorney said.
As recently as late last month, O'Brien said Becker was committed to
pressing forward in the case and that Becker again planned to take the stand
in his own defense.
The trial was attended by a number of representatives of StreetWise. The
newspaper's president, Anthony Oliver, on Monday said those who remember the
case still feel Becker was "severely undercharged," but he welcomed news of
"We're glad Mr. Becker has seen it within himself to tell the truth,"
Oliver said. Gould's sister said she plans to be in court next month. "As
long as I'm breathing, I'm going to follow this through," she said.
Copyright (c) 2002, Chicago Tribune