Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Chicago Rippers

One More Legal Fight

Sandra Delaware
Sandra Delaware
Spreitzer pleaded guilty on April 2, 1984, to murdering Rose Davis, Sandra Delaware, Shui Mak, and a drug dealer named Rafael Torado.   He received life sentences for each murder, as well as time for a multitude of charges, from rape to deviant sexual assault.  Yet he still had to go to trial for the Linda Sutton murder.  He appeared in a bench trial in front of Judge Edward Kowal on February 25, 1986, but retained his right to have a jury decide his sentence.  He admitted that he and his comrades had abducted Linda Sutton as she was walking near Wrigley Field and took her to a wooded field near a hotel where he was staying. He then handcuffed her, raped her, and removed her breasts.  Then she was raped again and left to die. 

Robin Gecht
Robin Gecht
His public defender, Carol Anfinson, presented him as immature, impulsive and simplistic---a young man just following orders of a gang leader.   She asked the jury to spare his life.  In support, his relatives and associates testified that he was a docile young man with a history of being bullied.  But a friend of Spreitzer's, the Chicago Tribune reported, testified that he had bragged about what he had done, referring to the women as "broads" and laughing over the fact that he had mutilated and killed several of them.  The ADA insisted that Spreitzer was "every woman's nightmare" and that he was one of a "pack of weasels."

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.

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