Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 00 CR 3807
Honorable Matthew E. Coghlan, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE NEVILLE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justice Mason concurred in the judgment and opinion.
Presiding Justice Hyman specially concurred, with opinion.
1 Halik Williams, the defendant, appeals from the circuit
court's dismissal, upon the State's motion, of his
petition and supplemental petition for relief pursuant to the
Post-Conviction Hearing Act (the Act) (725 ILCS 5/122-1
et seq. (West 2004)). On appeal, defendant contends
that the court erred in dismissing the petitions because they
made a substantial showing that he was denied effective
assistance of trial and appellate counsel. He also contends
that the court erred because the petitions made a substantial
showing of actual innocence based upon new evidence that
establishes that no one that defendant was accountable for
caused the victim's death, and, therefore, the
victim's death was not first degree murder. We affirm.
2 Following simultaneous, but severed, bench trials with
codefendants Warren Hardy and David Sapp, defendant was found
guilty of first degree murder based upon a theory of
accountability. Defendant was sentenced to 30 years in
3 The evidence at defendant's trial established that the
victim, Anthony King, died from electrocution on the
"third rail" of Chicago Transit Authority train
tracks on September 5, 1999. The victim's death arose out
of confrontation at the Morse Station platform between a
group of Gangster Disciples consisting of defendant,
codefendants and Jason Moody, and a group of current and
former Vice Lords consisting of the victim, Jonathan Lejman,
Dennis Myles, and Dwayne Johnson.
4 At trial, Jason Moody testified that he was walking when he
heard a "woo, woo" so he looked up and saw
codefendant Sapp on the "el" platform
"waving" him up. As Moody continued walking, he saw
Lawrence Brooks sitting in a parked car and codefendant Hardy
on the street. Codefendant Hardy said that some
"Hooks" were on the platform. Moody explained that
"Hooks" was a "disrespectful term" for
members of the Vice Lords gang. Moody was a member of the
Gangster Disciples and the Morse "el" stop was part
of the gang's "territory."
5 Once on the platform, Moody saw the victim and codefendant
Hardy fighting on the train tracks. Codefendant Hardy was
punching the victim and the victim was trying to push
codefendant Hardy away. At one point, Moody "heard
sparks." The victim was on the "third rail"
and codefendant Hardy was on the platform. Moody then saw
defendant hit the victim on the head with a cane five times.
After the fifth blow, the cane broke.
6 Jonathan Lejman testified that he was a former member of
the Vice Lords and grew up with the victim. On the night of
the victim's death, he, the victim, Myles and Johnson
were celebrating both the victim's release from prison
and the victim's birthday. Although the group exited the
train at the Morse stop, they "had no business over
there" because it was Gangster Disciple territory, so
they went back up to the platform. Lejman, Myles and the
victim sat on a bench. Johnson went to the other entrance to
7 Defendant, who was holding a cane, and codefendant Sapp
then approached. Defendant asked if Lejman was "White
C." Lejman stood up and replied that White C was dead.
He stated that his group was not "on any gang banging or
none of that, " that is, they were not looking for
trouble. Codefendant Sapp replied "we're hook
killers." Lejman understood this to mean that
codefendant Sapp's group belonged to the Vice Lords. As
Lejman continued to say that his group was just trying to get
home, he moved closer to defendant, who was "being
fidgety" so that defendant would not be able to swing
the cane at him. As Lejman moved closer, defendant said
"man didn't I tell your bitch ass to back up off
me." Lejman backed up. Shortly thereafter, defendant
swung the cane at Lejman. Lejman, the victim and Myles all
ran to the end of the platform. Lejman jumped on the tracks
and kept running. He stopped when he did not hear anyone
behind him. When Lejman turned around, he saw defendant
swinging a cane at someone on the tracks. He ran back and
discovered the victim on the tracks.
8 Dennis Myles testified that although he was in a gang, he
was not "gang banging" that night. When defendant
took a swing at Lejman with the cane, Lejman ran away. Myles
and the victim followed. When Myles saw Lejman jump onto the
tracks and defendant "fixing to go after him, "
Myles turned around. Although the victim initially turned
around, the victim then jumped onto the tracks. Myles
followed the victim onto the tracks and ran past him. Myles
then heard "oh we got one, " and turned around to
see the victim "on the floor." Defendant was on the
tracks, and he hit the victim three times in the head with
the cane. During cross-examination, Myles acknowledged that
he had made a statement to police which indicated that the
victim jumped off the platform. However, he testified that
the person who transcribed his statement "didn't
hear [him] all the way right, " and that the statement
9 Detective Steve Schorsch testified that he and another
detective spoke with defendant on September 7, 1999, in an
interview room at Area 3. He was also present when defendant
later spoke to an assistant State's Attorney. Defendant
declined to make a written or videotaped statement; rather,
defendant agreed to say what had happened. Schorsch took
notes as defendant spoke. Defendant later reviewed these
notes and agreed that they were accurate.
10 Defendant stated that he was driving with codefendant Sapp
and Sapp's cousin Lawrence Brooks when he looked up and
saw "White C." He told Brooks to pull over.
Defendant and codefendant Sapp got out of the car. Defendant
was holding a cane. Once up on the platform, codefendant Sapp
stated "they were Vice Lord Killers, Hook Killers."
Codefendant Hardy and Moody were also on the platform.
Defendant asked one of the men if he was White C. At one
point White C. and the two men with him began to run.
Defendant chased White C. The other two men ran toward
codefendant Hardy. As defendant turned, he saw codefendant
Hardy grab one of the men. He watched as codefendant Hardy
and this man fell onto the train tracks. Codefendant Hardy
pushed the other man onto the tracks and this man was
11 Assistant Chief Medical Examiner Mitra Kalelkar testified
that she performed an autopsy on the victim. She noted
electrical burns on the victim's abdomen, hands, and left
wrist. There were also lacerations and cuts on the
victim's head and face. After an internal and external
examination, she concluded that the victim died as the result
12 In finding defendant and codefendants guilty of first
degree murder, the trial court relied on the common design
rule as stated in People v. Terry, 99 Ill.2d 508,
514-15 (1984). In denying defendant's motion for a new
trial which argued, in pertinent part, that the victim's
fall to the tracks was an accident after the completion of
the underlying felony of assault or battery, the trial court
stated that when two or more persons join together to commit
an offense, even "a minor offense which involves
violence, " the parties are responsible for
"everything" that occurs as a result of the
agreement. The court stated that the circumstances of the
case "all lead to the conclusion that these parties
entered into an agreement to at least commit an assault or
misdemeanor battery on the victim in this case, which
resulted in his death." The court "agreed"
that "perhaps" defendant and codefendants did not
set out to commit a murder, "but they are responsible
for all of the consequences of that which they did set out to
do." The court then sentenced defendant to 30 years in
13 On appeal, defendant contended that the evidence was
insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was
guilty of first degree murder pursuant to an accountability
theory. Defendant argued, inter alia, that he did
not have the intent or knowledge required to support a murder
14 In rejecting defendant's argument this court found
that the evidence "clearly established" that
defendant was not only present during the crime, but that he
"actively devised and initiated the encounter" with
the victim. See People v. Williams, No 1-03-0292
(2005), order at 9-10 (unpublished order under Supreme Court
Rule 23). This court noted that defendant was the first to
notice the Vice Lords on the platform, he directed Brooks to
park, he confronted the Vice Lords on the platform, and he
struck the victim five times on the head with a cane after
the victim was electrocuted. Id. We therefore
concluded that the trial court did not err in finding that
there was a common design to establish defendant's
intent, and properly held defendant accountable for the
victim's death. Id. at 9.
15 In 2005, defendant filed a pro se petition for
postconviction relief alleging, inter alia, that he
was denied the effective assistance of trial counsel by
counsel's failure to impeach Jason Moody with an
affidavit in which Moody averred that he struck the victim on
the head with a cane, and to argue at trial that defendant
was actually innocent because it was Moody, rather than
defendant, who struck the victim on the head with a cane.
Attached to the petition in support was defendant's
16 In his affidavit, defendant averred that Moody met with
trial counsel's investigator sometime in 2000. Defendant
further averred that trial counsel told him that during this
meeting Moody admitted that Moody was the person who struck
the victim with a cane after the victim was electrocuted.
Defendant then averred that trial counsel "assured"
him that counsel would subpoena the investigator to testify
at trial regarding this meeting, and that counsel would
submit Moody's affidavit as evidence at trial. However,
trial counsel did not submit the affidavit at trial. When
defendant asked trial counsel why the affidavit was not
submitted at trial and why counsel did not cross-examine
Moody about the affidavit, counsel replied that he did not
believe that the State had sufficient evidence to convict
defendant and he therefore did not think that he needed to
present the testimony of the investigator at trial.
17 Defendant also averred that Moody came to visit him twice
before trial. During the first meeting, Moody stated that if
defendant wanted him to "tell the truth" defendant
had to pay him $5, 000 before trial and $5, 000 after trial.
During the second meeting, defendant told Moody that he
needed more time to get the money. Moody responded that
defendant's "time was up" and left. Defendant
averred that although he told trial counsel and the
jail's Office of Internal Affairs about the first
meeting, so that the second meeting could be recorded, he did
not receive a response from either the jail or trial counsel.
18 Defendant finally averred that he had tried unsuccessfully
to obtain a copy of Moody's affidavit and the name of the
investigator from trial counsel. However, trial counsel
refused to disclose the name of the investigator, or to give
defendant a copy of Moody's ...