Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 97 CR 19288 Honorable James Obbish, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rochford
JUSTICE ROCHFORD delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Hall and Justice Hoffman concur in the judgment and opinion.
A jury convicted defendant, Leonard Logan, of first-degree murder and the circuit court imposed a 45-year sentence. Defendant now appeals the order of the circuit court denying his petition for post-conviction relief following an evidentiary hearing. Defendant contends: (1) his appellate and trial counsels committed ineffective assistance; and (2) the circuit court erred by failing to grant an evidentiary hearing on all of his post-conviction claims. We affirm.
Testimony at trial established that, on March 18, 1997, between 11 and 11:30 p.m., L.C. Robinson was driving north on Yates Boulevard in Chicago. As he crossed through the intersection at Yates Boulevard and 75th Street, he saw his friend, Charles Jenkins, talking on a pay phone at an Amoco station located on the corner of that intersection. He also saw the victim, Timothy Jones, talking on a second pay phone. Mr. Robinson watched as a "short, about 5' 9", 5' 10", kind of heavy-set" African-American man got out of a sport utility vehicle (SUV) that was parked approximately 20 feet from the pay phones. The man approached the pay phones. When he was two or three feet away, he pulled a gun from his waistband and aimed it at the victim's head. Mr. Robinson watched as the man shot the victim. He saw the victim fall to the ground and then saw the shooter fire two or three more shots at other people in the vicinity.
Mr. Robinson watched as the shooter entered the front passenger side of the SUV, which then drove down 75th Street. Mr. Robinson made a U-turn and followed the SUV westbound on 75th Street. He wrote down the vehicle's license plate number and dialed 911 and gave the 911 operator this information. Mr. Robinson followed the SUV until it turned into an alley and then he returned to the Amoco station, where he told the police what he had seen.
The Chicago police traced the license plate to a Budget Rent-A-Car rental agency and determined that the SUV had been rented to an L. Payton. Detectives Alejandro Almazon, William Higgins and Edward O'Boyle went to the apartment of Latonya Payton at approximately 6:30 p.m. on March 19, 1997. The detectives first asked Ms. Payton about two men they had seen in the hallway as they approached her apartment. Ms. Payton denied knowing the men. The detectives then asked Ms. Payton about the SUV. Ms. Payton told them that she had rented it and that it had been parked in front of her building from the evening of March 18, 1997, to March 19, 1997. When the detectives told Ms. Payton that the SUV was involved in a shooting, she again told them that it had been parked in front of her building and she had no knowledge of what they were talking about.
The detectives asked Ms. Payton about the beer bottles and the two large pizzas in her apartment and she admitted that the two men that the police had seen walking down the hallway were friends of hers and had been in her apartment. Ms. Payton told the detectives that another friend of hers borrowed the SUV on March 18, but this person was not either of the two men who had just left her apartment. Ms. Payton did not give the detectives the names of the two men who had just left her apartment. The detectives told her that the shooting was a homicide and Ms. Payton agreed to go to the police station to speak with the detectives about the shooting. The detectives also brought the SUV to the police station for evidence processing. They left Ms. Payton's apartment at approximately 6:45 p.m. on March 19, 1997.
At the police station, Ms. Payton initially stated that a man named Rodman had borrowed the SUV on the night of the murder and returned it 20 minutes later. Ms. Payton later stated that Rodman and defendant had borrowed the SUV on the night of the murder and returned with it at approximately 2 a.m. Ms. Payton eventually gave a different statement implicating defendant. During this statement, Ms. Payton told the detectives that, on March 18, 1997, defendant was driving the SUV down 75th Street, while she sat in the front seat and Rodman sat in the backseat. They were approaching Yates Boulevard when defendant pulled into a gas station and exited the SUV. He pulled a gun out of his waistband and started shooting at a man who was on the telephone. Defendant then turned, shot down the alley at another person, got back into the vehicle and sped away. As he was driving, defendant noticed another car following them so he pulled into an alley to elude the vehicle. Then he drove to Stateway Gardens. There, defendant went into one of the apartment buildings and returned after about 10 minutes. Defendant had changed his clothes and he no longer had the gun with him.
Ms. Payton commemorated this account in a handwritten statement to assistant State's Attorney Kent Sinson at approximately 7:50 a.m. on March 21, 1997. Ms. Payton subsequently testified before the grand jury consistent with her statement.
At trial, Ms. Payton testified that her grand jury testimony and her written statement had been coerced by the officers' threats to charge her with the murder unless she implicated defendant. Ms. Payton also testified that the officers prevented her from eating or sleeping for three days until she agreed to make the statement implicating defendant. The officers testified that Ms. Payton was not threatened with being charged for the murder and that no one ever told her the facts or any details surrounding the shooting of the victim.
To rebut Ms. Payton's claim that her written statement and grand jury testimony had been coerced by the officers' threats to charge her with the murder, the State sought to elicit testimony from her that she made her written statement and testified before the grand jury only after being confronted with results of two polygraph examinations. During a sidebar outside the presence of the jury, defense counsel "vigorously" objected to the admission of the polygraph evidence on the basis that such evidence is unreliable. The State assured the court that it would limit its questioning to how the results of the polygraph examinations affected Ms. Payton's decision to implicate defendant in her written statement and grand jury testimony, and that it would not ask Ms. Payton what the results of her polygraph examinations were. The court ruled that the evidence was admissible to rebut Ms. Payton's allegation that her statement and grand jury testimony were coerced. The court stated it would give a limited instruction at the close of trial.
Ms. Payton subsequently testified that, after confronting her with the results of the second polygraph examination, the officers told her to make a statement implicating defendant. The State did not question Ms. Payton about the results of the polygraph tests, and Ms. Payton never specifically testified what the results of the polygraph tests were.
Following Ms. Payton's testimony, defense counsel questioned a detective about the accuracy of the polygraph tests and elicited testimony that they "are not admissible in a court of law." Defense counsel then asked whether this was because the tests were "proven to be inaccurate." The court sustained the prosecutor's objection and instructed the jury:
"These questions, ladies and gentlemen, the testimony concerning the polygraph is to be utilized by you only as to how it explains how the police conducted their investigation and why they asked certain questions of the witness. And the results of the polygraph are not relevant and not pertinent, and are not going to be revealed to you. And you are not to speculate or guess what the polygraph results are, and the polygraph results themselves are not relevant in this case. It only explains how the detectives conducted their investigation and their interviews and what they did with that examination and how it was utilized in interviewing Miss Payton."
Charles Jenkins testified he was talking on a pay phone next to the victim at the Amoco Station at 75th and Yates Boulevard on March 18, 1997, at about 11:30 p.m, when a truck pulled into the Amoco station and stopped five or six feet away from them. A young man exited the truck and walked toward them as though he was going to use a pay phone. Mr. Jenkins kept turning to look at the man as he approached and he saw the man pull a gun. He watched as the man put the gun to the victim's head and shot him. Mr. Jenkins then dropped the phone and started to run through an alley, when he was shot in the back by the same man who shot the victim. At trial he described the shooter as 5 feet 6 inches or 5 feet 7 inches tall and 160 to 170 pounds. Mr. Jenkins testified that the shooter's complexion was darker than his own and that defendant is not the man who shot him.
The State presented evidence that police removed two compact discs and three compact disc cases from the SUV. A fingerprint on one of the compact discs belonged to defendant. Defendant's fingerprint was on one of the beer bottles that was in Ms. Payton's apartment on March 19.
Chicago police officer Hasan Al-Amin testified that defendant was arrested on June 20, 1997. The jury convicted defendant of murder and the trial court sentenced him to 45 years' imprisonment. Defendant filed a posttrial motion alleging, in pertinent part, that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call available witnesses Princess Thomas, Chevelle Thomas, and Earlene Logan, who purportedly would have testified that defendant was in Milwaukee at the time of the shooting. The circuit court held an evidentiary hearing on defendant's posttrial motion. At the hearing, defendant's sister, Earlene Logan, testified that, the day before the murder, she drove defendant to Milwaukee and dropped him off at her aunt's house. Ms. Logan believed defendant still was in Milwaukee on the day of the murder. Ms. Logan testified she had been unable to relay this information to defendant's trial counsel because he refused to talk to her.
John Miraglia testified at the posttrial hearing that, at the time of defendant's trial, he was a law student extern with the public defender's office. Mr. Miraglia assisted defendant's trial counsel, who asked him to speak with defendant's family members at the close of the State's case and tell them that defense counsel did not think calling alibi witnesses would be beneficial to defendant. Mr. Miraglia so informed the family members, who voiced no objections.
Martin Kelly, the first chair in defendant's defense team, testified at the posttrial hearing that the decision not to present the alibi witnesses was one of trial strategy. Mr. Kelly testified he believed the defense case was strong even without the alibi witnesses because Mr. Jenkins had testified that defendant was not the shooter and because Ms. Payton had recanted her statement and grand jury testimony against defendant. Mr. Kelly testified that the alibi witnesses told him they did not want to testify because they were afraid "other things would come out," specifically, "some past domestic violence issue with [Ms. Payton]." Mr. Kelly further explained that "if the defense puts on an alibi, even though it is not suppose[d] to happen legally, realistically the burden shifts. All of a sudden, the jury is not focused on the reasonable doubt issue of making the State prove their case, but did the defense prove him innocent, if they proved their alibi." Mr. Kelly explained that he wanted the jury "to remain focused on the State's case, and what [he] perceived to be its weakness." Finally, Mr. Kelly stated that he did not want to provide the State the opportunity to call rebuttal witnesses as a result of testimony provided by the alibi witnesses. The rebuttal witnesses would have testified that, at the time of his arrest for the murder, defendant had in his possession a substantial amount of cash and drugs. Mr. Kelly stated he explained all this to defendant, who agreed not to call the alibi witnesses.
Following the hearing, the circuit court denied defendant's posttrial motion. Defendant filed a direct appeal, arguing that: (1) the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the State made improper remarks during closing argument; (3) the State failed to prove he was fit for trial; and (4) his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to call the alibi witnesses who would have testified he was in Milwaukee at the time of the murder and by forcing him to waive his right to testify. We affirmed ...