The Chicago Rippers
One More Legal Fight
Spreitzer's bid for mercy failed to work. He was convicted on March 4 of aggravated kidnapping and murder. Two weeks later on March 20, a jury deliberated for an hour before giving him the death penalty for this crime. He wound up on Death Row in Pontiac State Correctional facility in Joliet, Illinois.
He exhausted all of his appeals, despite claims by his attorney Gary Prichard that he had been denied due process and that an examination after the trial indicated that he had brain damage. Prichard argued that the jury had not been correctly instructed. Yet, despite the appearance that this case was now at an end, there was one more unexpected development.
In October 2002, when Spreitzer was 41, he was among 140 of Illinois's 159 Death Row inmates having their cases heard, influenced by the moratorium on capital punishment. Prichard sought mercy on his behalf, saying that his low IQ of 76 and his troubled history had been instrumental in making him easy for a person like Robin Gecht to manipulate. However, the victims' families gathered in force to oppose a change in Spreitzer's sentence. As quoted in the Daily Herald, some viewed him as the "personification of evil." Prosecutor Michael Wolfe agreed, saying that his crimes were "the worst of the worst."
While clemency was not granted to Spreitzer at that time, the Chicago Tribune noted that as Governor Ryan was leaving office in January 2003, he pardoned four of the 164 Death Row inmates and offered blanket clemency to the rest, including Edward Spreitzer. The families were outraged and vowed to fight for restoring justice. But Spreitzer had at last won his hard-earned reprieve.