Aldwin T. Mc Neal, petitioner, moves for an Executive Reprieve, pursuant to Art.5,§12 of the Illinois Constitution, of his conviction and sentence of death.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF CASE HISTORY
The petitioner Aldwin T. Mc Neal, was charged by indictment with first degree murder, armed robbery, and other offenses in connection with the April 7, 1994, shooting deaths of Corey Gerlach and Perry Austin at Maude's Pizza restaurant in Waukegan, Illinois/Lake County.
Petitioner's trial commenced in January of 1995. Petitioner was tried and convicted of both murders, and sentenced to death on the State's theory that he was the shooter. On direct appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed petitioner's conviction and sentence of death, People v. Mc Neal, 677 N.E.2d 841 (1997). On February 8, 1996, petitioner filed a pro se petition for post conviction relief. On November 10, 1997, Circuit Court dismissed the post conviction petition in its entirety. Subsequently, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the Circuit Court's ruling on October 13, 2000, rehearing on this matter was denied January 29, 2001. Petitioner, on January 15, 2002 filed a second post conviction, see page 6 of this petition, which is currently before Circuit Court Judge Raymond Mc Koski.
The State's case was constructed from circumstances born of unethical and unconstitutional means. Furthermore, the State, in procuring this wrongful conviction, violated numerous statues of the Illinois Criminal Code, specifically: 720 ILCS 5/12-6 Intimidation, 720 ILCS 5/32-2 Perjury, 720 ILCS 5/32-3 Subornation Of Perjury. 720 ILCS 5/32-4 Communicating With Jurors and Witnesses, 720 ILCS 5/32-8 Tampering With Public Records, 720 ILCS 5/33-3 Official Misconduct. And in addition to violating petitioner's constitutional rights to fair trial, to present evidence, to call witnesses, due process and equal protection. And since the State was allowed to proceed, unabated, in prosecuting their case against the petitioner in violation of the laws they are sworn to uphold, then a wrongful conviction is definitely the end result.
Petitioner asserts that through the diligent work and efforts of the Capital Litigation Division 9f the State Appellate Defenders Office, specifically Jonathan B. Lyons, investigator. Petitioner was able to find certain evidence, but has since been handcuffed by uncooperative trial counsel (refusing to turn over trial records/discovery and even refusing to speak with investigator Lyons) and legal loopholes. However, what Mr. Lyons was able to uncover, is attached hereto. Missing police reports, forensic reports and other important documents not tendered to the petitioner, have been repeatedly requested, but have yet to surface.
Mr. Lyons has worked on this case doing stringent investigation work. If you have any questions regarding reports, witnesses or important missing evidence, please contact:
C. L. D.
600 w. Jackson Suite 600
Chicago, Il 60661 (312) 814-5100
On May 31, 1994, and before the court, State.s Attorney Mc Collum requested blood samples from the petitioner, Mc Collum stated as follows, "I would specifically note to the court that we have a laboratory--laboratory reports back indicating blood was found at the scene. They need samples from the suspects in the case. And, also, there was blood on the gun linked to the crime. And that gun was linked ballistically to the crime. And under Supreme Court Rule 413 we would ask for the motion to be granted. After the result were returned, the State elected not to turn the results over to defense. However, the State opted to take a noble approach and concede that the blood tested, DID NOT MATCH THE PETITIONERS. Though the State's noble approach is acknowledged, it is without merit. And is merely a ploy to divert attention away from this PERTINENT EVIDENCE. The State's tired admission that the blood tested belongs to the victims, is highly suspect. Being the State knew or should have known if the blood belonged to the victims, considering they had in their possession reports from the medical examiner, pathologist and toxicologist. This being the case, there was no need to test blood of the petitioner against “blood stains” whose origins was already established. Further, why would the State test the blood of the victims, where it has already been established by police reports (evidence technicians) and the report of the medical examiner, that the victims were found lying face down in a pool of their own blood, then concede the blood is that of the victims? This is remarkably unbelievable. You must take into consideration the States motion for additional discovery, filed March 26, 1994, a copy of which is attached and marked as Exhibit A. The motion, at paragraph 2, clearly states, "certain blood stains were recovered from the scene of the crime”, emphasis added. Certain, in this instance meaning: unspecified, blood stains were recovered from the crime scene. From the language of this motion it easy to conceive the blood stains were not of the victims, but more so not of the petitioner. A request for copies of the blood test result, has been requested at every stage of the proceedings. The State has yet to reply.
Trial counsel presented no affirmative defense at trial.
Trial counsel relied on their theory/strategy, that petitioner never entered into Maude’s Pizza (crime scene), had no participation in the murders of Corey Gerlach or Perry Austin, and had no knowledge that the murders were going to take place. (It should be noted, trial counsel wrongly concede petitioner had knowledge of murder in their closing arguments).
Trial counsel knew or should have known the State's case in chief, before petitioner went to trial. As trial counsel had three months to prepare and perfect the basis of their theory/strategy. However, trial counsel failed to ensure that their theory/strategy would prevail or even have chance, when they neglected to hit-the-bricks to investigate the evidence, or interview witnesses to support their proposed theory/strategy. Instead, trial counsel incoherently argued theory/strategy without the support of evidence or defense witnesses. Trial counsel did not even bother to do the basic investigation or interviewing of the State.s witnesses. So, there is no way the petitioner received adequate representation or a competent defense.
Clearly, the attached affidavits of Andrea Green, Delores Smith, Gloria Lomack, Evelyn Castro, Cynthia Taylor, Carnell Taylor, Lorenzo Mc Neal, Errol Flynn demonstrates that evidence was available to greatly assist the defense. Had these people been called to testify on behalf of the petitioner. It would have been discovered that petitioner was ACTUALLY INNOCENT of these murder charges. The testimony of these witnesses would have revealed that petitioner was not the owner of the alleged murder weapon, that petitioner never entered Maude's Pizza, and that the co.- defendant, James Woods, was bragging that he in effect was the perpetrator of the crime. Surely, this information would have helped, if not for the shiftless incompetence of trial counsel.
Trial counsel was blatantly incompetent for waiving petitioner's constitutional right to a jury trial, right to call witnesses, right to confront the evidence against hirn, right to equal protection of the law. Trial counsel presented NO coherent defense or strategy, called NO witnesses in support of their incoherent theory/strategy, and presented NO readily available evidence in support of their incoherent theory/strategy. Trial counsel had NO interest in challenging the State's case. But, trial counsel derived great pleasure in bailing out and leaving the jury with only the State's version of what was alleged to have happened.
In May of 1995, approximately two months after the conclusion of the petitioner's case at the circuit court level, Richard Kopsick (supposed lead defense counsel) and State.s Attorney Steve Mc Collum began working together in the same law firm in Waukegan, Illinois. Actually, Steve Mc Collum purchased the law firm from Richard Kopsick, and renamed it Staben, Kopsick and Mc Collum. Steve Mc Collum was one the prosecutors who prosecuted the petitioner, and who had sought and obtained a death sentence. Petitioner believes that based on the extremely short amount time between the conclusion of his case in March of 1995, and Mc Collum's actual start of work with Kopsick in May of 1995, that negotiations and an agreement, written or verbal, to form this partnership existed at the time Kopsick was still representing the petitioner in March of 1995, and prior thereto. Of course, Mr. Kopsick made no such disclosure of the deal to the petitioner or of any such pending relationship between himself and prosecutor Mc Collum. Needless to say, an impending relationship constitutes a per se and actual conflict of interest. Finally, Valerie Ceckowski, second chair for the defense, was actively pursuing a vacant seat on the bench at the time she was representing the petitioner. A position that depended upon the recommendation of her colleagues, including the State's Attorneys prosecuting the petitioner. Though petitioner has been denied the access to the records confirming these allegations for now, it is the hope of the thirteen men who have been released from death row, that someone will come forward and help uncover, what is now hidden.
Co-defendant, James Woods, beaten and coerced into confessing. In the process of Mr. Woods being beaten he was instructed to implicate the petitioner in these offenses. The Illinois Supreme Court on September 24, 1998. Since, the State used parts of Mr. Woods coerced confession at the petitioner's trial in order to wrongly link hirn to the crime. The petitioner, by his present attorneys, have presented a second post conviction appeal to the circuit court to determine whether the petitioner's trial was tainted by the corrupt evidence. Petitioner is presently awaiting a ruling from the circuit court regarding this issue.
Tanya Olgesby testified at petitioner's trial. Her testimony consist of her and boyfriend Ronald Harris being near Maude's Pizza on the night of the murders. She claims that will her boyfriend Ronald Harris was inside Tewe's Bar, approximately 100ft. from Maude's Pizza, she heard a gun shot. Her testimony is that she heard the gun shot at 11:34p.m., and that the time was precise, as she had a digital clock mounted on the dashboard of her car. However, Marshall Harris, the younger brother of Ronald Harris, in his statement to the police at 9:00a.m. the next morning of the murders, states that it was Modena Stinette who was with Ronald Harris the night Tanya Olgesby claims she heard the gun shot, it was Modena Stinette who was driving (Tanya Olgesby's car), and after returning from Tewe's Bar, he noticed that Modena Stinette, and his brother Ronald Harris had blood on their clothing, further, Ronald Harris had scratches around his neck. The perjured testimony of Tanya Olgesby was intentionally injected into the petitioner's trial. As the State could not call Modena Stinette, she was facing charges in Kenosha, Wisconsin for giving birth to a cocaine addicted baby, hardly the consummate witness. The State was allowed to present this illegal testimony into the trial because of the listless representation by trial counsel.
WHEREFORE, petitioner respectfully request a fair and impartial review of his conviction, not excluding all briefs on appeal filed in this matter, including direct appeal, first post conviction appeal and now pending second post conviction appeal. Further, petitioner prays this Honorable Governor GRANTS this reprieve by PARDON or in the alternative, finding that petitioner has served a sufficient amount of time and GRANT his immediate release.
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