Stop The Violence


I covered the recent trial of the man accused of raping Girl X in room 400 of the federal court building downtown.

Girl X, now 14, was assaulted, raped and given some type of poison in a Cabrini-Green hallway in 1997. This incident left the girl mentally damaged and blind. She was marked with gang signs on her stomach.

Most of the time, the courtroom only had reporters present in the audience as the trial went on. The girl herself was in the courtroom. During the cross-examination, the girl was urged to answer questions by the attorneys. Though she was able to give them the information, I had a doubt in my mind whether or not the girl actually knew what was going on.
The girl was so horribly assaulted that someone must pay for it. It should be the one who committed the crime.

Besides the assault, the girl was given the insect poison and sexually molested. The evidence found at the crime scene got lost and no other physical evidence has been discovered to connect the suspect to the crime. There was one witness who swore that Patrick Sykes, the defendant, was in his apartment at the time and others who said they saw him going in the building about the same time as the assault took place. But there was no eyewitness that saw anything else.

Marv Dyson, a radio station president who manages a trust fund for Girl-X, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Belinda Bolhar, Girl-X’s mother, had said to him before the trial that she believed that Sykes wasn’t the attacker.

Mary L. Johnson, a neighbor who testified, said that James Alexander, the first suspect in the case, had come to her door about a half hour before, asking about a tenant’s apartment. Johnson thought it was unusual because she was certain that Alexander already knew where the person lived.

One more suspect was James McGee, who had answered his door with a knife in his sock and another one in the wrapped towel. The detective became suspicious that he was high on something but found no reason to investigate him further. The life of Patrick Sykes is at stake in this trial. The media reported the stone face that Sykes wore daily in the courtroom. I saw it another way: I saw pain.

I had a brother who was one of the bad boys of his day back in the ’60s. The way he explained the face to me is that they wear the face to show the white man that they can’t hurt them, that the white man can’t break them.

My brother also explained to me that the way he was able to do his time in prison was to pretend that he was at a spa. Exercise was all he concentrated on inside the joint. He finished college inside the joint. He stayed in prison. One day, he begged us to get him out so that he wouldn’t lose his mind. He had never done that before. He got out and in three days he was dead from an alleged hot shot.

My second brother had to leave town to escape constant harassment. My youngest brother has been in a nursing home for 10 of the 12 years he has been out of incarceration. He was in there for burglary one time only.

The fact is that Patrick Sykes has epilepsy. It also came out that he had signed two confessions. Sykes said he had been having seizures in the station and he would have signed anything.

One lady testified that Sykes came to her and pulled his pants down to show her that he had shaved his pubic hair. This was to show that he wouldn’t have been able to leave any hairs at the scene; this testimony was apparently aimed at the problem of not being able to find any of Sykes’ pubic hair on the child or at the crime scene.

The testimony that was given said that the pubic hair found did not match Sykes’. The missing evidence was a bloody bag and clothing. The gang markings on Girl X’s body did not remain.

For rebuttal, the defense brought back a detective who had signed two papers that he had interviewed Sykes but couldn’t remember one until the lawyers showed it to him.

The case is now being investigated by professor David Protess of Northwestern University and his law students. Protess and his students retraced the case of Anthony Porter, a death row inmate, and helped to prove his innocence and set him free.

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