The Chicago Rippers
What Happened to the Crew?
At his second trial, Kokoraleis decided to recant everything he had confessed (four different times) and to deny that he had killed or raped anyone. He claimed that the police had coerced each of his confessions, had made false promises, and had even beaten him into admitting what they wanted him to say. Prosecutor Brian Telander went through the interrogations performed by six separate detectives and two prosecutors, but , Kokoraleis insisted they had told him exactly what to say. He also indicated that one police officer had told him the details of the crime scene, giving him all that he needed to confess. Yet when Detective Warren Wilcosz took the stand to describe his interrogation, he said that when he had shown Kokoraleis a line of photos, Kokoraleis had picked out Loraine Borowski and said, "That's the girl Eddie Spreitzer and I killed in the cemetery."
So his attorneys tried a different tack. They argued that Kokoraleis was a killer suffering from schizophrenia, so that he had not known what he was doing when he committed the murder. They claimed that the trial lawyers should have entered an insanity defense, but had not. They had not even had him psychiatrically evaluated, which was a significant oversight on their part. The appeals attorneys also argued that when those lawyers had failed to see the need for an evaluation, the trial judge should have ordered one for the court. He had not, however. In fact, a prison psychiatrist had diagnosed Kokoraleis with borderline personality disorder and found him incompetent to stand trial. (However, psychiatric diagnosis would not make him incompetent or insane, so it was a weak argument at best.) They argued that Kokoraleis had been "vulnerable" to a strong influence and was therefore not entirely responsible for what he had done.
When the district judge queried the trial attorneys about these issues, they claimed that no pattern of aberrant behavior had made anyone who knew the defendant suspect a psychiatric disorder. That satisfied the judge that the pending affidavit was unpersuasive. Yet the appeals attorneys pointed to Kokoraleis's bizarre behavior as proof of his aberrant condition. The court considered this and decided that abnormal behavior does not imply the type of mental impairment required for a finding of insanity. In a 41-page opinion, the court said that it found no reversible error and affirmed the sentence again.
But that was not the end of the story, for a movement was afoot to overturn all death sentences in the state.