The case number was 93-CF-307. I was charged with two counts of armed robbery. My life, my future, everything I had, and would ever have, was at stake.

The city of Quicy, Illinois, was the theatre where this little drama would play out. I believed in the U.S. Criminal Justice System. I was no rookie here. I had been around the block a few times. Hell, I had done five years in the big house for a foolish act of vengeance in the eighties.

Still, I firmly believed an innocent man had nothing to fear. The system did not send a man to prison that was not guilty. At 34 years of age I thought I knew how the world worked, but I did not have a clue. I was playing in “The Man’s” world, and he doesn’t play fair.

At first, the public defenders assigned to the case only wanted me to plead guilty. They looked at me, read about my past prison sentence, and automatically wrote me off guilty. No one investigated the facts – to interview a few witnesses was a waste of time to them

After refusing to take a plea deal, I was rewarded with a great lawyer. Talmadge Brenner was appointed to my case. Together we actively went about preparing a defense against the state’s case, based upon “circumstantial evidence” and a jailhouse informant’s testimony who offered his services in exchange for a reduced sentence. The state’s witness was facing 60 years in Missouri on charges of a stolen truck, assault and attempted murder of a police officer, and cocaine possession. The state’s attorney in Illinois needed a witness against the defendant here. Why? Because he had no case and he needed to pin these cases on somebody.

The state’s attorney was worried about Mr. Brenner, a lawyer who believed his client was innocent. The first unethical act in the case was put to work. The Friday before the trial was to start, the defendant was called in to court – late in the afternoon. The judge explained that there was a conflict of interest and that he was dismissing Mr. Brenner from the case. Judge explained that the State would call a “crucial witness” in their case that Mr. Brenner also represented. It would be a conflict for Mr. Brenner to cross-examine his own client on the stand, as he would be privy to inside information on his own client. The judge just could not allow this to happen. Jason Whitaker was a 16 year old kid who was a friend of the defendant’s fifteen year old son. He knew nothing about the crimes, was not even in the case presented by the state’s attorney. Still, this move got Talmadge Brenner sidelined and Jonathan Barnard appointed to represent the defendant.

The public defender would go to trial 17 days later and sell me down the river. The state’s witness would receive several 15 year sentences for his testimony. The years in Missouri were dropped to 12 and ran concurrent with the 15 he received as a deal to testify against me. He was transferred from the Missouri Prison system to Illinois. He would serve his time in his home facilities he knew so well.

Every man is promised a chance to find justice in a court of law. Justice however, is not a guarantee. Several factors must fall in to place.

The attorney is the most important key when a man’s life is at stake. When the Public Defender looks at his client and decides he is guilty, the system fails him right there. Jonathan Barnard did this very thing.

There are 7 points of law that clearly violate the defendant’s right to a fair trial in this case at bar.

First and foremost is the fact that the public defender did not call one witness or produce one piece of evidence to rebut the false testimony presented by the state.

I had given him all these pieces to go after. He did not investigate my defense, or produce one at trails.

Second, phone records would have proven that chief investigator and witness took the stand and knowingly gave false evidence to convict an innocent man.

Both testified that they called the defendant’s residence, or he called them from that house in December of 1992. Both these witnesses took the stand knowing I did not have a phone. The testimony that I received a call to my home in December and that the witness answered my phone, stating he was staying at my house – which linked him to me – was not true.

The witness testified that I called him on November 29, 1992, and invited him over to my house late at night. Then I dressed him and forced him to help me rob the Silver Dollar Tavern. My defense was to expose these lies to the jury by producing my phone records showing I had no phone service in November and December of 1992. Any good lawyer would have done this. 

Third, my witness was not interviewed or called to testify for the defense. Her testimony was crucial to show why the defendant had an outstanding bill she created. This large bill, $2,000, was charged to the defendant by the girls at the Peoria Work Release Center.

She (my witness) had been sentenced to a term there in the summer of 1992, and had been in trouble because an addiction to cocaine.  I helped her with clothes, shoes, and money. I went to see her in June of 1992. She said she was clean, but it was all a lie. She lifted my AT&T phone card, and sold calls to the girls for money.

I received a bill for $2,000 in July of 1992. I was not a woman, nor was I residing at the Peoria Work Release Center, so when I refused to pay,  my phone service was quickly terminated. I did not pay it off until March of 1993. In March of 1993 I settled a civil case with Titan Wheel Manufacturing and started my own business. I needed my phone service and paid the outstanding bill. This was crucial evidence the jury needed to hear. Again Public Defender failed to produce this evidence to rebut the false testimony given here.

Fourth, the proprietor of J&J Marine in Quincy was crucial to the defense of the case at bar here. The state’s witness had lied repeatedly about his involvement with me and my business. I needed to expose these lies to the jury. The proprietor of J&J Marine was the man I bought my chain saws from, and he serviced them. The state’s witness testified he was a partner in the business and that he quit working with me in April of 1992 because he was not satisfied with the money he was making.

I had actually fired him on May 13, 1993 for stealing a chain saw from J&J Marine on his lunch hour. He was driving one of my trucks when he did it. His father came to my home threatening me over this saw I knew nothing about. When he showed up and admitted to stealing it, his father took it back to J&J Marine and talked the proprietor out of having him arrested. J&J Marine terminated my service contract and held his theft against me. On this day of May 13th, 1993 I had my wife write him a check for his remaining pay. I was done with him. These facts exposed to the jury would have shown the state’s witness lied about me from the minute he opened his mouth to get the deal offered by state’s attorney. This was crucial to my defense, but the public defender failed to produce this witness, or the paychecks to the witness up to May 13, 1993.         

The fifth was a Brady violation. The prosecutor must turn over all evidence that it possesses that shows that the defendant is innocent, or that rebuts the case that he is presenting.

The prosecutor had my business records and bank accounts pulled. He withheld the evidence because it contradicted his statements that I was fired from my job, had no income, and was committing these crimes in order to supplement what income I did have. It showed that I received unemployment checks from the week that I was fired at Titan Wheel. It also showed that I had started my own business and was making a living at it. This shot holes in his theory that I was committing these crimes because I had no income after being terminated for union organizing while at Titan Wheel. One would wonder why the public defender did not raise this.

Sixth, the public defender failed to expose false statements written by a juvenile officer. This was a juvenile statement taken from my son while he was incarcerated at the Quincy Youth Home. This statement was written in the third person by the officer, and it stated “he saw his dad with a gun… his dad gave him money from the crimes.”

This would have been a damning piece of evidence if it were true. Any good defense lawyer would have been all over it, because it was illegal from conception and was false. There are several steps set up in the Illinois Criminal Statuses to prevent a juvenile from being coerced into signing a false statement created by a police officer. The public defender did not expose one of these violations to the judge or the jury.

  1. The juvenile officer wrote the statement in his own hand. He never gave my son, a 15 year old boy locked up in a juvenile detention center – and who could read and write – any chance to write his own statement. The statement mirrored the statement given by the state’s witness two days earlier in a Missouri Jail
  2. No recording device was used to verify that this is in fact what my son said said, and not the words of the juvenile office.
  3. No video camera was used to record the taking of this statement, and to verify what was happening in the room when the officer wrote the statement and had the juvenile sign it. The juvenile officer had access to all of this equipment, and it was required by law.
  4. The law states clearly that a parent or lawyer must be present when a statement is taken from a juvenile. This is to prevent an officer from coercing a juvenile into signing a statement that is not true. As head juvenile officer, he knew the law. The public defender never raised this fact.
  5. No court stenographer was present to record this statement.
  6. Every week before the defendant’s trial, the state’s attorney called his son into his office. He then threatened this juvenile with prison time if he did not testify to the statement that juvenile officer had created and tricked him into signing. At 15 years old, this young man was placed in hell. It was either lie for the state or tell the truth and go to jail. This very act by the state’s attorney was illegal – intimidating a juvenile witness because he will not testify in the manner that the State wants is a gross violation of his office.
  7. The state’s attorney called my son to the stand knowing that he would not testify to the statement that the juvenile officer had created. The state’s attorney did this for the sole purpose of impeaching his own witness to introduce the fabricated as a prior inconsistent statement by my son. This violated my right to the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution: the right to a fair and fundamental trial.
  8. The public defender failed to produce bank records, which would have shown the state’s witness to be a prevaricator. This man’s testimony was the state’s entire case. There were no eyewitnesses to the crimes. No money was tied to the defendant. There was nothing but circumstantial evidence generated by an overzealous State Prosecutor.

Was I given a fair trial? I have exposed seven points here, but I can show many more points of perjury by the State witnesses in my trial.

Would the outcome have been different if my public defender investigated my defense and actually presented it at trial?

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