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Wrongfully-convicted man not giving up

Roosevelt Myles files appeal after being denied hearing he waited for 19 years

Crusader Staff Report

Roosevelt Myles, the wrongfully-convicted man who was denied an evidentiary hearing after waiting 19 years, has filed an appeal in a murder case that happened in 1992 seeking to overturn a murder case conviction that occurred 27 years ago.

Myles also requests a new judge after Judge Dennis Porter denied him a hearing earlier this year.

Myles has been in prison for nearly three decades for the murder of 16-year on Shaharain “Tony” Brandon during an attempted robbery on Chicago’s West Side on November 16, 1992. Fifteen-year-old Octavia Morris, who was with Brandon, was the only eyewitness to the murder.

Myles has maintained his innocence since then and accused Chicago police of trying, but failing, to beat a confession out of him.

Without a strong defense attorney, a jury convicted him of first degree murder on April 1, 1996 based on the testimony of a weak main witness and no physical evidence linking Myles to the case.

In 2000, an appeals court granted Myles an evidentiary hearing, saying Myles received ineffective counsel. One of Myles’ public defenders, Jeffrey Walker, obtained an affidavit from Michael Hooker, who said he saw Myles at another location at the time of the murder.

The state’s main and only witness to the murder, then 15-year-old Octavius Morris, had twice recanted her testimony saying Myles was the killer. She identified Myles after retired Detective Anthony Wojcik visited her mother’s house six times.

In his latest appeal, Myles’ attorney said this new evidence would have acquitted her client in a trial where he was given little to no defense by an ineffective public defender.

He was sentenced to a total of 60 years in prison for murder and attempted robbery.

Myles’ attorney said her client’s constitutional rights were not only violated during his trial, but also during his post-conviction appeal where he was forced to wait 19 years for that hearing.

A series of public defenders racked up a string of delays under Cook County Judge Dennis Porter.

The Crusader has written extensively on Myles’ case.

The Discovery network’s “Reasonable Doubt” show will air a story on Myles when the season premieres in January. A private investigator has taken Myles’ case after learning about it during the taping of the story.

Myles’ current attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, took Myles’ case in 2017 after hearing about it. Bonjean filed a motion for the evidentiary hearing that the appeals court had granted in 2000.

The Cook County State’s Attorney Conviction Integrity Unit dropped Myles’s case on June 13, 2018 as he moved forward with his post-conviction appeal.

After more delays, Judge Porter in February, agreed with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and dismissed Myles’ appeal, saying there was nothing new about his claims and that his appeals had no merit.

Bonjean, Myles’ attorney, is asking an appeals court to reverse the dismissal and give her client the evidentiary hearing that the state granted in 2000.

In her 54-page appeal, Bonjean said that Porter “engaged in investigative misconduct” when he conducted a Google search in his chambers to determine the distance between the crime scene and 4741 West End, the location of the apartment where Myles’ alibi saw him when the shooting occurred.

According to Myles’ appeal, Porter determined that Myles committed the murder and went to the other location, which he determined was five minutes away.

In her appeal, Bonjean said Porter’s argument assumes that Myles entered the building at 4741 West End which had multiple entrances and that Myles entered the structure without Hooker, his alibi, noticing.

Bonjean said Porter’s argument also assumes that Myles was “capable of running to the location of the shooting, committing the crime, disposing of the weapon, returning to the building and then exiting again, all within a very short period of time.”

Despite those assumptions, Bonjean, citing an appellate ruling that granted Myles an appeal in 2000, argues that Porter should have accepted Myles’ claims as true and any fact-finding should have been done in the evidentiary hearing.

Bonjean said Myles should get an evidentiary hearing because Morris, the state’s main witness, signed a sworn affidavit, swearing that she was forced to falsely identify Myles as Brandon’s killer by Detective Wojcik.

Bonjean said Wojcik engaged “in a pattern of practice of investigative misconduct similar to the conduct alleged in Myles’ case.”

Wojcik racked up 41 complaints on his record before he retired in 2016.

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