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Ex-Death Row Inmate Quiet, Cuffed in Court

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An exonerated death row inmate who lost his temper in federal court last week returned in manacles today. He awaits sentencing on gun and drug charges. Chicago Public Radio’s Gabriel Spitzer reports.

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On Friday, Aaron Patterson was dragged from a Chicago courtroom after bellowing at the judge and refusing to leave. Today he sat quietly in an orange jumpsuit and heavy chain restraints, while a series of character witnesses took the stand. Most, like Wilbur Wright College teacher Stephanie Weiner, painted Patterson as a principled activist, not a thug.

WEINER: He didn’t lead a duel life. Everyone who knew him in his entire time out, he worked for justice.

Among Patterson’s supporters in court today was hip-hop artist and movie star Mos Def, who described the impact of Patterson’s activism in music circles across the country. Prosecutors say even as Patterson crusaded against corruption, he was dealing in illegal guns and drugs. He was pardoned of an unrelated double-murder conviction by former governor George Ryan.

I’m Gabriel Spitzer, Chicago Public Radio.

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