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Gauger civil trial to start Monday

WOODSTOCK – Gary Gauger will get his day in court Monday.

Again.

Gauger was convicted of his parents’ 1993 double-homicide on their Richmond area farm, sent to death row and later exonerated. Former Gov. George Ryan pardoned Gauger after his conviction was overturned, and federal authorities secured convictions against two Outlaw motorcycle gang members for the murders of Morris and Ruth Gauger.

Gary Gauger is suing three sheriff’s investigators, as well as the sheriff’s office and McHenry County, for malicious prosecution. He seeks more than $50,000 in damages. The civil trial is scheduled to start Monday.

The original criminal case hung on a confession that police claimed Gauger made after a long interview shortly after his parents’ bodies were discovered. But Gauger, who was a 40-year-old organic farmer at the time of the slayings, has maintained that he only had been discussing a hypothetical account of how he might have committed the murders in an alcoholic blackout.

Gauger was sentenced to die by lethal injection and spent 20 months at Stateville Correctional Center.

About half of Gauger’s cellmates were convicted murderers, and nine inmates died while he was there – five by execution and four at the hands of other inmates, Gauger said. Prison officials dealt with the pall that executions brought by locking prisoners down early and passing out boxes of cookies, Gauger said.

In March 1996, an appellate court threw out Gauger’s “confession” to sheriff’s detectives after law professor Larry Marshall and Northwestern University School of Law’s Center on Wrongful Convictions took up his case.

Gauger filed his lawsuit in 2003, but Judge Maureen McIntyre dismissed his allegations of false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress because the legal deadline for filing those claims had expired. The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.

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