Articles Posted in Criminal defense

fabio-bracht-e3oE-l-rtpA-unsplash-copy-300x225In 2018, Alex Cordell Hughs was charged with shooting a victim in a Hobart Walmart. The incident began when Hughs and his girlfriend, Shaqueta Wright, were trying to put their cart back. The victim’s car veered into them prompting some kind of skirmish during which the victim was shot three times, allegedly by Hughs. 

After being charged, Wright pled the Fifth and was given “use immunity” by prosecutors. Afterward, Wright provided the police with some information during a deposition which prosecutors requested be read into the record. Use immunity prevents a defendant’s testimony from being entered against them in a trial. 

Wright’s attorney is also representing Hughs in the case against a false reporting charge.  Naturally, Hugh’s defense attorney (who is also representing Wright) objected to the request on the grounds that the prosecution must give her use immunity while she is on the stand as well, the testimony might be able to open her up to other charges.

rawpixel-1055781-unsplash-1-300x201A 1991 case involving Reynaldo Guevera has been overturned amid allegations of misconduct. Indeed, there are attorneys right now who only handle cases related to disgraced Chicago detectives and their shoddy and criminal police work.

Most recently, Demetrius Johnson will be allowed to move forward with a new trial after an appellate judge granted his request. Yet this time, Cook County prosecutors will move forward with retrying the case as opposed to dropping the charges against Johnson. 

The defendant’s criminal defense attorney express confusion over the decision to press forward with the trial. Not only is it a major cost to the taxpayers, but it also depletes the resources of the prosecutor’s office. Any evidence that was presented by Guevera will be considered tainted. This will require the prosecution to present evidence at trial that is either not linked to Guevera or is linked to Guevera, but the defense will have the opportunity to attack the credibility of that evidence.

2204277278_cbf43f4146_b-300x200Federal agents are accusing Illinois state representative, Luis Arroyo, of paying a $2,500/month in kickbacks to a state senator for his vote to support legislation involving video gambling sweepstakes that would benefit one of his lobbying clients. I know what you are thinking: That is illegal? Does that not happen every day in politics? Is that not how American politics works?

Yes and no. Suffice it to say, there is a correct way of going about it, but directly paying bribes to state senators is not it. 

Senator Not Named in Complaint

david-von-diemar-745969-unsplash-copy-200x300Lowell Houser calmly called the police, identified himself as an off-duty Chicago police officer, and told the dispatcher that he had to shoot the man who just came after him. The man was Jose Nieves, a neighbor who was not found with a weapon, and the two were known to have issues with one another in the past. When prosecutors caught wind of that, they charged Houser with first-degree murder.

Now, another disgraced Chicago police officer will stand trial for abusing the public trust and tarnishing the badge. If convicted, Houser could face life in prison without parole. 

Houser will claim that he was acting in self-defense and that the shooting was justified. He claims that Nieves threatened to shoot him and reached for his waistband. 

hajran-pambudi-403848-copy-300x199In 2014, Shamiya Adams went over to her friend’s house for a sleepover on Chicago’s West Side. It was a completely random event. Calculating the odds that something like this could happen would drive a person insane. No doubt her family is wondering how or why such a tragedy could happen.

The shot missed its intended targets and left no trace that it had struck the building where the 11-year-old was. It made its way through an open window that was up a few inches just to let the air in. It then proceeded to travel through a closet wall, went into the bedroom where Shamiya was, and struck her in the head.

Now, a 24-year-old, Tevin Lee, has been charged with her murder. He is the one who police say fired the bullet that entered the skull of Shamiya Adams.

matt-popovich-60437-copy-300x162Based on the strength of testimony from other Chicago cops and a Chicago judge, police officers Xavier Elizondo and David Salgado were recently found guilty of stealing cash and drugs and otherwise profiting on the drug trade they were supposed to be eliminating. The federal trial made national headlines because it detailed the type of corruption that goes on every day in Chicago. These police were accused and then convicted of lying on search warrants, using money and drugs from seizures to pay off informants who would provide anonymous information to judges who would then authorize illegal searches.

If you are concerned that this is a civil rights violation, then you are thinking about this the right way. So-called John Doe search warrants that have anonymous informants tattling on suspects were at the heart of the problem these two Chicago police officers caused. Nonetheless, these search warrants will continue to be used long after this trial has concluded.

Officers Remain Free

alex-boyd-260321-copy-300x200Krysztof Marek entered a neighboring apartment and killed four people who were gathered around the table for dinner. Then he went upstairs into another apartment and executed a fifth. Why? According to police, the man was being evicted from his Chicago condo. Marek left behind a note in his native Polish: “Tomorrow!! No Mercy! Enough!! They have to pay for it!!”

After executing the five people, Marek went back to his own apartment and greeted officers as they came to his door. He told them that he thought they were looking for him and then he confessed to the murders. 

Investigators later found multiple grievances against his neighbors although it was not clear specifically which neighbors had incited Marek’s anger. Marek had accused one neighbor of walking too loudly on the floor above his apartment. He left behind a series of unhinged messages that seem to be gearing himself up for the attack.

nicolas-barbier-garreau-256433-copy-300x240In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled on a case known as Brady v. Maryland. The criminal case involved a defendant, Brady, who was accused along with another defendant of murdering a third man. Brady told police that he was involved in the murder, but he had no intention of killing the man and his partner had been solely responsible for the murder. The two men were tried separately and both were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.

Brady appealed his conviction on the grounds that the prosecution withheld evidence that the other defendant confessed to being solely responsible for the murder. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court where the justices decided in favor of Brady, saying the conviction should be vacated on the grounds that the prosecution did not turn over exculpatory evidence that would have resulted in a not guilty verdict. 

The legacy of Brady v. Maryland is that it forces prosecutors to turn over any evidence that may help the defense at trial. Does this always happen? Of course, not. More disturbingly, according to one USA Today investigation, many police officers who have been sanctioned for on-the-job problems are still called to testify in cases in which their testimony is relied upon to convict defendants.

matt-popovich-60437-copy-300x162Two Chicago police officers, Sgt. Xavier Elizondo and David Salgado, are facing federal charges for obstruction of justice, lying on affidavits, and lying to the FBI. The two allegedly falsified information on search warrant petitions to judges to execute no-knock warrants in Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods. They are also accused of stealing drugs and money recovered from the raids. 

In early 2018, the FBI set Elizondo and Salgado up. They had stolen what they believed was drug money from a vehicle that the FBI towed away. Later that day, the FBI raided Salgado’s home. Both men have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and obstruction charges. The most serious charge against the men carries at 20-year sentence.

Search Warrants at the Heart of This Trial 

sam-poullain-435864-unsplash-copy-300x169A 9-year-old stands accused of starting a fire that killed five people, including three other children. He has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of arson, and one count of aggravated arson. Cases like this are rare. The youngest child ever to be sentenced to life in prison was Lionel Tate, when he was 13. This child, whose name has been withheld by authorities will be among the youngest ever to stand trial for murder.

More confusing still is that fact that the majority of children who were tried as adults did not commit some other crime that resulted in a death, but murdered someone else with a direct weapon. This child is accused of starting a fire that led to five deaths.

Prosecutors say that they have enough evidence to prove that the child started the fire intentionally and knew that the fire could result in the deaths or injury of other people. However, child psychologists argue that the 9-year-old brain has not fully developed enough to understand the consequences of those actions.