By Erick Johnson
Roosevelt Myles, the wrongfully-convicted man whose story has been reported by the Crusader, will be featured in a documentary at 9 p.m. Tuesday on Investigative Discovery on the Discovery channel.
Viewers can see the documentary ”Reasonable Doubt” for free by downloading the app ID GO from investigationdiscovery.com.
Myles has been in prison since 1992 after police arrested him for fatally shooting a teenager on Chicago’s West Side. In 1996, Myles was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted robbery largely on the false testimony of Octavia Morris, a 15-year girl who twice later confessed that she was pressured by a Chicago police officer who visited her six times at her mother’s house.
There was no DNA found at the house linking Myles to the victim. Myles also had several alibis who said he was at another location during the shooting. Myles’ attorneys presented none of this information during his trial. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison. Myles spent most of his prison time at the Canton River Correctional Center in Canton, IL, which is over three hours south of Chicago.
In 2000, Myles was granted an evidentiary hearing from an Illinois appeals court after he argued that his constitutional rights were violated as he was given ineffective counsel. Myles also argued that he had new evidence to prove his innocence.
Myles has been waiting 20 years for that hearing. Myles then had a string of public defenders that racked up over 70 continuances or delays before Judge Dennis Porter. As his post-conviction case dragged on, Myles’ mother and father died while he remained behind bars.
In 2017, Myles retained New York lawyer Jennifer Bonjean, who accepted to argue his case pro bono. In February, 2019, Judge Porter agreed with the Cook County States’ Attorney office and said Myles claims had no merit in his post-conviction case. At that ruling, Myles was denied the evidentiary hearing he had been waiting for nearly two decades. After more delays, Myles’ attorneys appealed Judge Porter’s decision to the state’s appellate court.
While they wait for that decision, Myles’ attorneys have submitted a petition to Governor J.B. Pritzker, asking for his early release. Bonjean said she is concerned that the coronavirus pandemic threatens her client, who in recent weeks has experienced increased health problems from diabetes and high blood pressure while under quarantine behind bars.