Discovery Network investigative show hosts say a wrongfully-convicted man is in jail for a murder he did not commit on the West Side nearly three decades ago
By Erick Johnson
Two hosts of The Discovery Network’s investigative series say they believe Roosevelt Myles is a wrongfully-convicted man who has spent 28 years in prison for a murder that he did not commit.
The two are the latest to speak out on a case that for decades has dragged out in Cook County criminal court. The Crusader has written extensively about Myles’ legal woes during his fight to have his conviction overturned.
Chris Anderson is a former Birmingham, Alabama homicide investigator. Fatima Silver is a criminal defense attorney. Both are co-hosts of the network investigative series “Unreasonable Doubt.” On May 5, the series’ latest docudrama, “It Wasn’t Me” examined the murder that changed Myles’ life forever.
The hosts say they believe that the murder was a surprise hit by someone who was never caught for killing a teenager decades ago. With little to no evidence, Myles, who was in the area with an alibi, was arrested and immediately placed behind bars. Myles has spent 28 years in jail.
Silver said Chicago police “failed” Myles in a murder case where Myles’ fiancée and sister believe the crime was committed by another person. At the end of the docudrama, the hosts pledged to provide a detective to help clear Myles’ name, decades after he was sentenced to 60 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
The docudrama included several re-enactments and interviews with crime experts, friends and Myles’ alibi, who said Chicago Police never interviewed him before they arrested Myles. Tanya Crowder, Myles fiancée and his sister, Sharon Myles Stephens were guests on the docudrama, which helps relatives free loved ones wrongfully-convicted of crimes.
The show aimed to provide fresh insight into a murder that happened on Chicago’s West Side on November 16, 1992.
Octavia Morris, a 15-year-old, was leaving a house with her 16-year-old boyfriend, Tony Brandon at 2:45 a.m. when a man surprised them and said, “This is a stick up.” Brandon was shot twice. He later died at an area hospital.
Police reports show that Sandra Burch, a prostitute, who reportedly saw the murder from a car, initially told police that Myles was not the shooter.
Initially, Morris also said Myles didn’t murder her boyfriend.
But documents show their statements changed after several interviews with the police, who visited Morris’ house six times.
During the show, Anderson, after conducting re-enactments of the murder, disputed the belief that the killer was taller than Myles. Crowder and Stephens believe the person had to be taller than the victim because of the trajectory of one gunshot wound in Brandon’s shoulder. With a ballistics expert, Anderson said the victim was shot a second time while kneeling in pain from the first gunshot.
After conducting several tests with another crime expert, Anderson concluded that it was possible that Burch could have accurately identified Myles while sitting in the car under dark skies. They also pointed out Myles’ past of using and selling drugs and stealing credit cards when he lived in Chicago.
But after reviewing Myles’ background and talking to his friends, Anderson and Silver agreed that Myles is not the type of person who would murder someone. They also believe that Myles did not have a motive for killing a teenager at 2:45 in the morning and that he had a credible alibi.
Silver said that Myles was not the killer and that his conviction was “unjust.” She and Anderson say they believe the murder was actually planned and even though police described the crime as a robbery, nothing was actually taken from the victim or Morris.
“Think about it,” said Anderson. “At 2:45 in the morning, the suspect in this case is waiting under a stairwell when someone comes out of the house. Who does that? Nobody does that unless they absolutely know that there will be someone coming out of that house at 2:45 in the morning. That spells set up. The person jumps out, says what he says, then immediately shoots the victim. That says setup. The entire shooting in itself all spells setup.”
Anderson said Morris refused their request to participate in the docudrama. Morris was the state’s main eyewitness who in 2018 signed a sworn affidavit, saying she was pressured by disgraced cop Anthony Wojcik to say Myles murdered her boyfriend.
Myles in 1996 was convicted of first-degree murder and armed robbery. He remains behind bars at the Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton, Illinois. Throughout this incarceration, Myles has maintained his innocence.
Burch, the prostitute who changed her story to say Myles committed the murder has since died.
Police never found any DNA or physical evidence to link Myles to Brandon’s murder. During the docudrama, Silver said she was “disturbed” that police did not interview Michael Hooker, who said he and his brother saw Myles leaving a building of a friend several minutes away as the murder unfolded.
“There’s no way he could have done it,“ Hooker told Silver during an interview on the docudrama.
Silver also interviewed two of Myles’ friends, who described him as a fun-loving, carefree person who would not shoot or kill anyone.
At the end of the nearly one-hour docudrama, Silver says, “We do believe his conviction was unjust, so we want to join your fight. We will hire an aggressive investigator.”
Sources say the investigator is working with Jennifer Bonjean, Myles’ attorney.
The docudrama did not examine Myles’ long legal battle that has become a story in itself.
After he was convicted in 1996, an Illinois appeals court in 2000 granted Myles an evidentiary hearing that he never got after waiting for nearly two decades. A string of public defenders racked up over 70 continuances or delays before Myles and his fiancée persuaded Attorney Bonjean to take the case in 2017.
Last year, after waiting 19 years, Judge Dennis Porter ruled that Myles did not deserve the evidentiary hearing that the appeals court granted him in 2000. Porter said Myles’ claims of having new evidence were without merit. The case is back in an Illinois appeals court, which is reviewing Porter’s ruling.