Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 08 CR 3180,
Honorable James B. Linn, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Presiding Justice Mason and Justice Pierce concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Ismael Morales was convicted, along with five codefendants,
of the 2007 murder and robbery of Francisco Reyes. We have
decided a number of appeals involving this offense. See
People v. Roman, 2016 IL App (1st) 141740 (affirming
first-stage dismissal of Daniel Roman's postconviction
petition); In re Omar M., 2014 IL App (1st) 100866-B
(direct appeal of minor codefendant, affirming adjudication
and disposition); People v. Lopez, 2014 IL App (1st)
102938-B (direct appeal of codefendant Carlos Lopez,
remanding for a new trial); People v. Roman, 2013 IL
App (1st) 102853 (direct appeal of codefendant Daniel Roman,
affirming conviction and sentence); People v. Roman,
2013 IL App (1st) 110882 (direct appeal of codefendant Martin
Roman, remanding for a new trial); People v.
Morales, 2012 IL App (1st) 101911 (Morales's direct
appeal, affirming conviction and sentence). Here, we are
concerned with Morales's appeal from the circuit
court's first-stage dismissal of his postconviction
2 In that petition, Morales claimed that the State violated
Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by failing to
disclose the existence of an agreement between the State and
its main witness, Francisco Garcia, for the State's
assistance in Garcia's immigration matters in exchange
for his trial testimony. The petition also raises a claim of
actual innocence based on the affidavit of Victor Redding,
who claimed to have witnessed the attack on Reyes and claimed
to know that Morales was not one of the participants.
3 We find the petition makes an arguable claim of a
Brady violation. We reverse the first-stage
dismissal of Morales's postconviction petition and remand
for second-stage proceedings consistent with the
Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Act) (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et
seq. (West 2016)).
5 Our decision in Morales's direct appeal (and the
appeals in his codefendants' cases) sets out the details
of the offense and the case history in detail.
Morales, 2012 IL App (1st) 101911, ¶¶
3-15. We reiterate only the facts necessary to understand the
claims in Morales's postconviction petition.
6 At trial, Garcia and his wife, Sylvia Ortiz, testified
that, in the early morning hours of December 23, 2007, they
saw Morales, Daniel Roman, Martin Roman, Omar M., and Carlos
Lopez congregate beneath their second-story apartment window.
They watched as the group went across the street to the
parking lot of a tortilla factory where the victim was
driving a forklift.
7 Garcia and Ortiz saw several members of the group pull the
victim off the forklift. All five of the assailants started
to kick and punch the victim. During the attack, a sixth
person, known to Garcia only as "Menace," arrived
and joined the group. Eventually, they took the victim's
billfold from his pocket.
8 Garcia testified that Martin Roman then went across the
street and picked up a concrete rock and brought it back to
the parking lot of the tortilla factory. He saw Martin Roman
drop the rock on the victim the first time, but could not
tell who did it the second time "because there are three
who have [a] similar slim build." On cross-examination,
Garcia described a prior statement he had given to an
assistant state's attorney, asserting that Carlos dropped
the rock on the victim one time and Morales dropped it
another time. He also explained his involvement in Omar
M.'s trial where he had testified that "[i]t was
Carlos and another one [who hit the victim with the rock]
which I can't indentify because they were all
9 In November 2015, Morales filed this postconviction
petition, claiming a violation of Brady v. Maryland,
373 U.S. 83 (1963), for the State's failure to disclose
an agreement with Garcia that the state's attorney's
office would assist him in his immigration matters if he
testified in the prosecutions against Morales and his
codefendants. In support of his claim, Morales attached two
documents: a letter from the state's attorney's
office to the Immigration and Nationality Service (INS) and a
transcribed voicemail from Garcia to the state's
10 The letter from the State to the INS reads, in its
"Immigration and Nationality Service Re: Fernando Garcia
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to you in connection with Mr. Garcia's