After decades of delays, legal battles and three judges, Roosevelt Myles, the wrongfully convicted Chicago man who was granted a hearing 22 years ago by an appeals court, will finally have his day in court next week.
The three-day evidentiary hearing will take place at 10:30 a.m. at the Leighton Criminal Courts building under Judge Carol Howard in courtroom 702.
Myles’ case is a story that the Crusader has been following for the last five years, as Cook County prosecutors, under State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, fought Myles’ post-conviction case with endless motions that went nowhere under two biased judges.
One of them, Judge Dennis Porter, recused himself from the case and retired from the bench after an appeals court reversed his faulty ruling that dismissed Myles’ case.
The other judge, William Raines, is a former cop who allowed Cook County Prosecutor Tom Dombrowski to make false statements in court and granted him numerous hearings to serve subpoenas to news organizations that fought them during a legal battle, which kept Myles’ case in limbo for an entire year.
In late 2021, Judge Raines was caught on a hot mic (live microphone) making alleged sexist remarks against Myles’ attorneys, Jennifer Bonjean and Sam Kennedy. He was suspended from the bench and eventually charged with five counts of judicial misconduct after he made “derogatory, injudicious and demeaning statements” about Bonjean and Kennedy, while his comments were livestreamed on the bench.
After Judge Raines was removed from the bench, Judge Howard took over the case last January. Under her, things began to change in Myles’ favor. In July, Judge Howard denied Prosecutor Dombrowski’s year-long effort to subpoena the Discovery Channel and Buzzfeed, saying he failed to meet the standards of an
Illinois law that require one to use alternative options before subpoenaing news organizations.
Judge Howard originally scheduled Myles’ hearing for August 29. It was pushed back to December 5 after Bonjean and her legal team had a scheduling conflict. In August, they represented R. Kelly in his federal trial in Chicago, where the singer was found guilty of six counts of child pornography and soliciting minors for sex.
Myles served 28 years in prison after a jury convicted him in 1996 for killing teenager Shaharian “Tony” Brandon on Chicago’s West Side in 1992. No DNA, fingerprints or gunpowder were found that linked Myles to the crime.
Michael Hooker, an alibi for Myles who wasn’t allowed to testify, said he saw Myles exiting a building several blocks away when the shooting occurred. The state’s main witness, teenager Octavia Morris, said that disgraced Chicago Police Detective Anthony Wojcik and several officers—during six visits to her home—pressured her on two occasions to falsely confess that Myles killed her friend.
Myles said Wojcik and other police officers tortured and tried to force him into confessing to the crime, but Myles never did. ‘Reasonable Doubt,’ an investigative real-life drama digital [online] series, concluded that Myles was not the killer based on the lack of evidence in the case.
Incarcerated in a state prison in Canton, Illinois, for decades Myles sought to clear his name while being represented by a string of public defenders who racked up over 70 continuances under Judge Porter.
In 2017, Myles, with the help of his now-wife, Tanya, retained Bonjean, a private New York attorney whose national profile grew after she helped actor Bill Cosby be released from prison in 2020.
After retaining Bonjean, State’s Attorney Foxx’s Conviction Integrity Unit dropped Myles’ case with no explanation. Foxx’s office then fought successfully to have his case dismissed in 2019, saying that Myles’ post-conviction claims of receiving ineffective legal representation had no merit.
In response, Bonjean filed an emergency motion to an Illinois Appeals Court.
Some 73 days passed before Foxx’s office then asked for another 60 days to respond to Myles’ appeal, citing a “clerical error” as reason for the delinquent filing.
In May 2020, that appeals court sided with Myles and reinstated his case.
It’s unclear why Foxx’s office fought Myles’ appeals, considering she was elected as a candidate who sought to reform the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the criminal justice system she often describes as the “False Confession Capitol” of America.
Her office had at least 220 convictions thrown out for men who were framed by disgraced police detective Ronald Watts. In August, Foxx’s office had a judge throw out eight convictions against individuals who were framed by police detective Reynaldo Guevara.
Foxx is up for re-election for a third term in 2024.
Two months after an appeals court reinstated his post-conviction case, Myles was released from prison after serving 28 years behind bars.
Still scarred by his conviction and incarceration, Myles refuses to return to Chicago where he grew up. He has struggled to get on with his life as a convicted murderer. In July, he married his fiancée Tanya, who was introduced to her future husband through Myles’ sister.