OUT OF JAIL | Fled to Toronto area in '74, now he wants to return to
wife after serving time here
April 14, 2010
BY FRANK MAIN
On his Web site, Joseph Pannell says he was a "well-loved and
respected member of the community" in suburban Toronto, where he
lived for more than two decades and was a research librarian and poet
under the assumed name Gary Freeman.
But in 2004, the librarian was unmasked as the suspect in the 1969
shooting of Chicago Police Officer Terrence Knox. After fighting
extradition for four years, he returned to Chicago in 2008 and
pleaded guilty to aggravated battery.
Now that he has served his Cook County sentence, Pannell wants to
return to Canada, where his wife lives.
Apparently, though, Canada doesn't want him back.
Canadian authorities and Pannell declined to comment, but his Web
site, www.web.net/~freemandrum, says he's barred from Canada on
grounds of "serious criminality" and for being a national-security
threat. He's urging supporters to sign a petition for Canada to grant
him a temporary resident permit on humanitarian grounds.
Pannell, 60, a father of four, is living with his mother in
Washington, D.C. He last saw his wife at Christmas.
Pannell was 19 when he shot Knox three times on June 7, 1969, after
the rookie cop asked him if was playing hooky. Pannell skipped bail
and fled to Canada in 1974, later saying he feared he would be harmed
Knox, now 62, was wounded in the right arm and suffered severe nerve
damage, eventually prompting him to retire from the force. The
Chicago Police cold-case squad tracked Pannell to Canada in 2004
using fingerprint records.
At sentencing, the judge took into account the time Pannell already
spent in jail as well as the nearly four years he was held in Canada
as he fought extradition. Pannell wound up spending 30 days in jail,
agreed to give $250,000 to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation and
has completed two years of probation.
Canada deems him "inadmissable" on national-security grounds because
of an allegation that he was a member of a "terrorist" organization,
the Black Panther Party, according to Pannell's Web site.
Pannell and his attorneys denied he was a Panther. But at the time of
the shooting, Pannell, a Navy deserter, told investigators he was a
Black Panther, according to law enforcement officials here.
Canadian authorities said they could not comment on Pannell's
immigration status for privacy reasons. But they pointed to the
country's guidelines for refusing admission to non-citizens.
Among the reasons is "serious criminality," meaning a person has
committed -- or there are reasonable grounds to believe a person has
committed -- a crime punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Pannell's aggravated battery conviction was based on the law on the
books in the 1960s, and at that time, such a conviction would have
carried a prison term of less than 10 years, a source said.
But Pannell also faced an attempted murder charge, which has been
dismissed. A conviction for that crime would have carried a sentence
of more than 10 years in prison, the source noted.