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Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied: James Evans Praying To Federal Court For Relief From Embattled Madison County Illinois Judicial Grasp

Disclaimer: The links associated with this blog article are only copies and excerpts extracted from official court records, and do not in any way represent the entirety of those records. A complete copy should be obtained for full context. Additionally, some content may be of an opinionated nature, and doesn’t necessarily represent all of the facts pertaining to the subject matter contained here in.

When the 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush went to Madison County Illinois in 2005, he was there to support “Tort” reform in the state, and highlighted the fact that for the second consecutive year, Madison County was ranked as the nation’s #1 “judicial hellhole.” The county is known for its questionable and frivolous civil lawsuits resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars being awarded in shaky and relatively non existent claims. The former president could easily have made a similar assessment of the county’s criminal courts as well. Legal observers and citizens who have been embroiled in the county’s court process, say the way things are done in Madison County Illinois should have sparked a federal investigation decades ago.

Many former and current defendants have claimed shady dealings such as corruption, malicious prosecution, and manufacturing of evidence by state prosecutors, to send people (mostly black and brown) to state prison for decades. Those claims began to raise eyebrows when legitimacy was added to the outcry toward injustice in Madison County, when the 5th District Appellate Court of Illinois began hearing oral arguments in the People vs. Brown case (831 N.E. 2d 1113) which focused on notorious jail house snitch Demond Spruil.

Brown vs. Illinois Impact

The case resulted in defendant Jeramey R. Brown’s murder conviction being overturned, because of Madison County prosecutor Keith Jensen’s constant recycled use of Spruill to curiously testify for Jensen in 6 other unrelated murder cases that resulted in convictions of those defendants. Those proceedings revealed a very suspicious pattern and practice in murder cases prosecuted by Jensen. Somehow jailhouse informant Spruill would make a showing and produce a confessional testimony allegedly given to him by defendants who were being prosecuted in separate cases, and while most of them say they had never spoken to Spruill. Mysteriously though, Spruill would know details about cases prosecuted by Jensen, implicating defendants while on the stand barking out details that only the prosecutor and police should know about the cases. Click link to view a news article related to Brown’s murder conviction being overturned due to Spruill’s suspicious use by Madison County prosecutors.

In part 3 of “Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied” related to the James Evans case (Nekemar Pearson murder), TPC demonstrated through court transcripts how a man name Micheal Hooks’ erroneous alleged eyewitness account of the Nekemar Pearson murder (that implicated Evans), and Spruill’s initial grand jury testimony of Evans alleged jail house confession regarding the Pearson killing, matched identically. Mysteriously, both Hooks and Spruill who were each facing charges for serious crimes, and were then subsequently allowed to walk free from Madison County Jail after giving (false) testimony to the Evans grand jury.

In the Brown Appellate ruling, judges mentioned how Demond Spruill had been given an 8 year prison term for armed robbery in 1997, and arrested in 1999 while again being found on the streets in possession of a firearm. Court documents show that Spruill was released from his 8 year armed robbery stint for his testimony at the Evans grand jury hearing. Records also show that Spruill was again released from his 1999 criminal case in exchange for his testimony at the Evans prosecution trials, and despite such discovery being a Brady vs. Maryland violation in the Evans case, the record will show that it was never disclosed to the trial jury nor the Evans defense team. Click the link to view an excerpt from a Post Trial Appellate matter in the case of Jeffrey Ewing, where prosecutors admit to having given Demond Spruill a deal related to his criminal charges, in exchange for his testimony in the Evans murder, and the Evans conspiracy to commit murder trials.

Failure to disclose such detail to the court and a defendant’s legal counsel is a direct violation of the law (Maryland vs. Brady, and People vs.Giglio) which gurantees a right to a fair and impartial trial (U S. Constitution 6th Amendment). So, when we look at Spruill’s suspicious use as a star witness by Madison County prosecutor Jensen (which a state Appellate Court agrees with), coupled with the fact that Spruill is the exact same person that 6-8 other defendants just so happened to confess their alleged crimes to and considering Spruill’s apparent reoccurring “get out of jail free” card, it’s a clear indication that he was acting as an agent for the state.

Mean while the state admittedly was making back door deals with Spruill that not only repeatedly allowed him to get out of prison, but essentially gave him a license to commit more crimes. Hell, Spruill was even an initial suspect in the Pearson killing himself before he fingered James Evans for for that murder (some in Alton believe Spruill was very capable of murder and his lengthy criminal record speaks to that belief). More importantly, it raises serious issue with the state’s (Keith Jensen) prosecution of other cases where Spruill was utilized repeatedly as a star witness, especially if those cases had or have other glaring elements that are problematic to the extent that sufficient doubt exist as to whether or not defendants were unjustly prosecuted and convicted (James Evans, Jeffery Ewing, and Jordan Valdez all are others that Spruill helped Jensen send to prison). The James Evans case is one of those exceptionally funky cases though, that should raise more than just a few eye brows. Click the link to view the People vs. Brown Appellate Ruling.

Given the Spruill dynamic as it relates to the convience and coincidence of his having acted as an arm of the prosecution, it should be noted that Spruill who was a key state witness in the Brown case, claimed that Brown confessed to him of having allegedly killed a man name Michael Keller, and that Brown also allegedly solicited him to kill a witness name Mary Weaver. It’s simply incredulous that Spruill was a star witness, and again suspected of acting as an arm of the prosecution in the Evans case who faced similar charges as Brown did (the murder of Nekemar Pearson, and conspiring to kill co-defendant and witnesses). Spruill’s testimony in Evans cases and that of others, should be sufficient to at least grant new trials in all of those respective cases. Madison County won’t adjudicate the post convictions of Evans, Ewing, nor Valdez because those cases were all casualties of a forbidden fruit from a poisonous tree, in the form of Demond Spruill. Those cases have been stuck in post conviction and not allowed to adjudicate through the Appellate process for decades.

Another glaring fact about Demond Spruill in relationship to his cooperation with prosecutors in the Evans cases, is the unmistakable difference in how his testimony changed from his Evans grand jury appearance for the state, juxtapose to his testimony as a witness for the prosecution before the Evans trial jury. Spruill gave a nearly identical account to that of a man name Michael Hooks regarding what allegedly happened to Nekemar Pearson, only Spruil’s account slightly differed by suggesting that Pearson was shot, brought into Evans’ house, and was stored in the basement for at least a day. Spruill even claims that a female who visited Evans’ residence alleges that Evans home smelled like a dead person.

Interestingly though, staying true to form in a Keith Jensen prosecution case, his old star witness standby, Demond Spruill was on the witness stand in the Evans trial to save the day with yet another story of alleged culpable hearsay evidence, claiming like he did in the Brown case, that Evans too had confessed to him, which proved extremely damaging to the Evans defense. Keep in mind that during the time of the grand jury indictment hearings and subsequent prosecution trials of James Evans, Spruill was on the hook for robbery and weapons charges. You literally have to read the grand jury transcripts of Michael Hooks, Demond Spruil, and Madison County police detective Bradley Wells to understand how Spruill’s trial testimony account shifted from what he told a grand jury, and how it suddenly morphed into the prosecution’s version (Detective Wells’ version) of what they claim happened. The entire indictment against Evans was founded on a lie told to the grand jury by Detective Bradly Wells, that Pearson Hadn’t been seen alive since June 24, 1995. Read their individual testimonies related to the Evans case below here:

Michael Hooks grand jury testimony

Demond Spruill grand jury testimony

Detective Bradley Wells grand jury testimony

Demond Spruill trial testimony .

Prosecutor Jensen A Deal Maker

That’s just the very tip of the iceberg in the Evans case. From what we have learned regarding the merits of his case, it seems that a first year law student could easily navigate the extremely complex and misleading specifics of the state’s prosecution of Evans that led to his conviction and subsequent incarceration. One key element that makes an exoneration for Evans achievable, is the fact that State of Illinois prosecutors have already conceded to reversible violations in open court while referencing Evans cases during proceedings of other defendants who are not Evans’ co-defendants in their respective post trial litigations (like in the Jeffrey Ewing and Valdez Jordan cases).|

Also, in TPC blog article “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” part 6, we provided compelling evidence showing how prosecutor Keith Jensen agreed to pay a man named Larry Greer for his false testimony (subordination of perjury), prior to him testifying before three grand juries, and the Evans’ trial jury for the murder of Nekemar Pearson. We presented Greer’s sworn affidavit, and other court records supporting how Jensen appears to have instructed Greer to reply “no” when asked on the witness stand, if he received anything in exchange for his testimony, despite Greer actually having been paid over a thousand dollars and being granted his liberty. Click to view the Affidavit of Larry Greer. Also, click to read excerpts from transcripts that verify as a matter of fact that prosecutor Jensen and another official admitted to paying Larry Greer (by giving him his bail money back) $1500 dollars prior to testifying before the Evans grand jury. It was never disclosed to the Evans defense team nor his trial jury, that Greer was given money in a deal (People vs. Giglio) involving state prosecutor Keith Jensen and Greer’s attorney. Court record shows that Jensen himself admitted in open court that it was liency being given toward Greer by giving him the money. Such a perk being afforded to a defendant by a prosecutor while the defendant is facing criminal charges just before he is to testify on behalf of the state in a grand jury indictment hearing, doesn’t take rocket science to conclude that Greer’s testimony was paid for by the state prosecutor’s office.

However, there are other records that demonstrate how Greer, just like Demond Spruill, was acting as an agent for state prosecutors (in the Evans case at least). The evidence is compiled in a judge’s ruling pertaining to a federal habeas filed by a man named Robert Fletcher. Fletcher was convicted of killing James Evans’ best friend Brian Warr, who is also an alleged Evans co-defendant in the murder of Nekemar Pearson. In the habeas response the judge cites that Larry Greer along with a man named Jodi Wesley are included in an affidavit contained inside Fletcher’s habeas and also confirmed through testimony by Wesley himself, that not only did Wesley get benefit related to his pending federal criminal charges for testifying against James Evans, but the two (Greer & Wesley) were even quoted in the judge’s response that reveals how they both were joking and boasting while riding together in a prisoner transport van, that they were going to “say whatever prosecutor Keith Jensen and Detective Brad Wells wanted” them to, so they could get out of jail. Greer and Wesley both testified on behalf of the state against Evans at his murder trial, and their deals with the state were never disclosed to the defense nor the jury in Evans cases. Click the link to read an excerpt from Robert Fletcher’s federal habeas response.

Robert Fletcher is also a very key proponent in James Evans’ conspiracy to commit murder convction, as the state alleged that Evans hired Fletcher to kill his best friend’s (Brian Warr) father (Lester Warr). These allegations are probably the most ridiculous and outlandish aspect of this entire ordeal pertaining to the state’s theory against Evans having conspired to kill Lester Warr and other witnesses. During the interviews that were conducted with sources connected to the street culture in Alton during the time of the Pearson and Warr murders, we learned that not only were Pearson and Fletcher close friends, they were both “Crip” gang members. Fletcher was reportedly the leader of the local gang set, and it was widely believed that he killed Warr in retaliation for his alleged involvement in Pearson’s murder. Also, a source told TPC that “if James Evans had been standing on the street with Warr that night, he more than likely would have been shot also.” Court records show that Fletcher was locked up for unrelated charges, when Madison County detectives Brady and Wells visited him in jail, advised him of who they believed killed his best friend, and eventually released him to confront those responsible for the murder according to a sworn affidavit.

“The state’s case against James Evans can easily be dismissed as a convoluted tale meticulously crafted to distort the truth by dirty cops, and a corrupt prosecutor.” — TPC

Fletcher alleges that he was approached by the two detectives who advised him that they were investigating the Pearson murder, presented him with photos (post mortem) of Pearson, and told him that they believed James Evans, Brian Warr, and a man named Clifton Wheeler were responsible for his murder. Then according to Fletcher’s sworn affidavit, detectives Brady and Wells released him from custody, with the permission of the state proprosecutor’s office, and solely for the purpose of allowing him to confront Evans and others who were suspected of killing his friend. Fletcher also claims in his affidavit that the state tried to broker a deal with him through his lawyer, to finger Evans for Pearson and Warr’s murders, and he claimed to have refused to lie for the state against Evans. Now if you follow the Madison County prosecutors office pattern and practice of shady dealings with known criminals to secure them as state witnesses against defendants they aggressively prosecuted, Fletcher’s affidavit on its face appears believable. Additionally, sources told TPC that police officials and state prosecutors knew that by releasing Fletcher that he would violently retaliate against those who police told him were the suspects in Pearson’s killing. “In actuality, the blood of Brian Warr’s killing his on their hands,” the source said. Why would these cops tell Fletcher this crucial aspect of their murder investigation, and then let him out of jail? That seems crazy, but not as crazy as their theory of Evans having solicited and hired the best friend of the person he allegedly killed for the purpose of killing his own best friend. Given many of the facts that we now know, the state’s case against James Evans can easily be dismissed as a convoluted tale meticulously crafted to distort the truth by dirty cops, and a corrupt prosecutor. Click to read the sworn affidavit of Robert Fletcher.

Moreover, there were other pieces of forbidden fruit that fell from the poisonous tree, that also aligned themselves with state prosecutor Keith Jensen, who were violent criminals that did short prison terms after being convicted of murder and other serious violent crimes such as rape and sodomy, and made deals with prosecutors in their own criminal cases in exchange for testifying against James Evans in his trials. For example, Clifton Wheeler was believed to be a co-defendant with James Evans and Brian Warr in the Nekemar Pearson case, according to court records. Wheeler was also convicted of killing a man named Dwight Riddlespriger. He was able to broker a deal with state prosecutor Keith Jensen (for testifying against Evans, Ewing, and others) that allowed him to only go to prison for a 23 year prison term for murder (Riddlespriger), of which he only served roughly 12 years, and is currently back on the streets of Alton Illinois this very day. Click to read an excerpt of a court transcript from the plea arrangement of Clifton Wheeler.

During the murder trial of James Evans, Clifton Wheeler testified that Evans killed Nekemar Pearson and gave other testimony that implicated Evans in the crime, but the state failed to reveal that Wheeler had brokered a deal with prosecutor Keith Jensen to accept a 23 year sentence for an unrelated murder (again the state had and obligation considering case law such as Maryland vs. Brady and People vs. Giglio, to inform the Evans defense of such a plea deal). When asked on the stand at Evans’ trial under cross examination by the defense council, if he had made a deal for liency in exchange for his testimony, Wheeler denied having made a deal with the state. Wheeler was asked again under direct examination by prosecutor Keith Jensen, whether he had received anything for his testimony, and Wheeler again denied having received a deal by answering “no.” The crucial error made by the state is that Wheeler did in fact broker a deal for a 23 year sentence, and not only did he commit perjury, but prosecutor Jensen did as well, as Jensen was in fact the very state official who pled the deal to the judge during Wheeler’s sentencing. That’s also a violation of the law, as Evans’ trial jury was prejudiced by Wheeler’s testimony. Omitting his plea deal violated Evans’ right to a fair and impartial trial. Click the link to read an excerpt from a court transcript during a plea agreement hearing on the sentencing of Clifton Wheeler.

It’s also believed that a man named William Jenkins made deals with Jensen and also received a get out of jail free card for his testimony against James Evans. Sadly though, the state’s fanatical thirst for Evans’ complete soul turned into a sacrifice that would be paid for by a rape victim, who Jenkins sexually attacked and sodomized after prosecutors allegedly set him free for testifying against Evans..

Bending The Law

The fact that prosecutors appear to bend the law in a custom fashion to execute their brand of justice probably isn’t a new phenomenon within the American criminal justice system, but the blatant disregard for the law while trampling the constitutional rights of defendants with impunity by those sworn to uphold the law, just seems mere common place in Madison County Illinois, and is textbook for “judicial hellhole” just as former U.S. President George W. Bush rightfully once dubbed the embattled county’s courts.

Suppression Of Evidence

Mr. Evans began his post conviction process in 2003 after having been sentenced to more than a century in the Illinois Division of Corrections, he was blind sided by a communication he received from an Appellate defense attorney who alerted Evans of a police report that had been sent to his office. The document was highly exculpatory for Evans. An Alton High School liaison police officer who had several past dealings with Pearson, saw him walking down the street on July 3, 1995, which is 9 days after the date that police and state prosecutors claim that James Evans an others were supposed to have killed Pearson. Moreover, Madison County Detective Bradley Wells testified during a grand jury indictment hearing that Pearson was never seen alive again after June 24, 1995. The very existence of Detective Cooley’s report indicates that Pearson was more than likely still alive. In fact, the grand jury was never made aware of this report, nor was Evans’ trial jury. Based on the state’s theory that Evans and others accosted Pearson on the 24th of June and subsequently murdered him, is clearly a theory which implodes related to their entire case against Evans from the gate, but they pursued prosecution of Evans anyway. It is very reasonable to assume that police knew about Detective Cooley’s report of having seen Pearson alive on July 3, 1995, but the indictment hearings against James Evans took place after that date, and Cooley’s report somehow became invisible and irrelavent, only to mysteriously resurface years later in 2003 after Evans had already been tried and convicted. Click the link to read these highly exculpatory documents in the James Evans case, and another exculpatory document from the same Appellate Defender who advised Evans how he obtained the document (in the discovery documents of Larry Greer), demonstrating as a matter of fact that Madison County prosecutor Keith Jensen, who prosecuted both Evans and Greer, had knowledge of Cooley’s report and suppressed the document in the Evans case.

Highly exculpatory evidence in a murder case is an extremely big deal, and the prosecutor has a duty to reveal it to a defendant and his legal counsel. It’s quite possible that the police failed to disclose Cooley’s report of having seen Pearson alive after the date he was supposedly killed, it’s unlikely (since the report is in the record of another defendant’s case records related to Evans’ conspiracy to commit murder case) but quite plausible. However, there is still the matter of the audio tapes from the Evans trial that were played before the jury, and are suppose to be jailhouse overhears between a man named Tommy Rounds and James Evans. Rounds who is Evans’ first cousin, supposedly wore a wired recorder to secretly tape conversations of him and Evans conspiring to kill Lester Warr, the father of Evans’ best friend (Brian Warr) and other witnesses to prevent them from testifying against him in the Pearson murder case. Evans has always and repeatedly argued that the audio recordings are not authentic, because they are recordings of multiple conversations that were spliced and edited to appear as just one conversation. This claim is a serious charge Evans is making, which would mean police, prosecutors, or both manufactured evidence, and fabricated the entire murder conspiracy elements of their case against Evans. It’s very easy to make a claim of this nature against law enforcement, and it’s seldom given any weight or credibility when the allegations are being made by defendants who have been convicted of serious crimes.

“The culture within the judicial system in Madison County Illinois appears to completely void the rights of a volume of black men who are embroiled within its justice system.” — TPC

So, when Evans began his post conviction Appellate process, he claimed actual innocence in his case, cited prosecutorial misconduct based on manufactured evidence, and made a discovery request to obtain the audio tapes played before the jury at his trial, so they could be forensicsly tested. The original trial court in Madison County has dragged its feet in Evans’ request for post conviction relief. The State of Illinois has long established that post convictions shouldn’t take no more than a little over a year to complete. The initial appeall is reviewed by the original court where a defendant was convicted, and rarely are cases overturned at that Appellate level. That’s why the process should be adjudicated swiftly to allow convicted defendants the opportunity to pray to a higher court of law. Evans has been in an Appellate holding pattern (post conviction) for at least 18 years now. Why is that? That’s not a rhetorical question and some watchdog arm of either the Illinois state judicial system, or the media should be seeking answers to the inordinate delay of a plethora of Appellate cases like Evans’ that are problematic for Madison County prosecutors pertaining to the violation of Constitutional rights of those seeking post conviction relief in decisions that originated in that jurisdiction.

Our justice system was designed to afford even those who are condemned for the most heinous crimes against the American Society, the right to appeal their sentencing. There were major Constitutional violations in the Evans cases that are in fact reversible, but the culture within the judicial system in Madison County Illinois appears to completely void the rights of a volume of black men who are embroiled within its justice system. During an interview with Evans he advised me of a conversation he had with an Appellate Defender, who once told him that “his case isn’t an anomaly because that’s just the way it is here. This system doesn’t care about a black man.” That perspective very well may have some validity but there also may be some other underlying dynamic that Madison County is hiding that directly impacts the Evans Appeal. Furthermore, there very well may be something funky regarding the audio tapes that Evans requested from his trial discovery. His claim of the audios being altered isn’t just hot air. Evans has been requesting those tapes from the very initial stages of his post conviction process, and despite a volume of court orders directing the state to turn the tapes over to Evans, the state has never complied. Click the link to view various court orders directing the state prosecutor’s office in Madison Couty to turn over audio tapes played during the trial to James Evans. Failure by the state to turn over the tapes creates tremendous suspicion, due to the fact that Evans has already been convicted and serving his sentence. Why wouldn’t state officials want to follow the law since they believe in his guilt? They should reasonably know that stalling tactics could eventually cause Evans to win his appeal by default judgements.

However, many believe that it’s a strategic maneuver by the Madison County courts to purposefully delay adjudication of his appellate process for as long as possible. The fact that after 18 years Evans is still in post conviction speaks volumes and demonstrates that his case is extradinary, and deliberately being held in a holding pattern. As long as Evans remains under the thumb of Madison County as it relates to his appeal to the original trial court, he can’t ever pray his claims for appeal to a higher court, and that’s a violation of the law. It’s as clear as day what may be happening here in Evans’ case, and the cases of other defendants similarly situated who are seeking post conviction relief in cases born out of the Madison County courts.

Legal Betrayal

It was roughly three years ago that Evans said he held a conference with his hired attorney from the law offices of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry. Evans says he was advised by attorney Jessica Hathaway, that the state was willing to “grant him time served if he accepted a deal by pleading guilty to his charges, and he could then go home,” according to Evans. He went on to say that “the deal she offered me by the state was only for the conspiracy to commit murder count. I would still be serving time for the murder count, if I had lied, took the deal, and just accepted time served. It was a clever move by either Hathaway, the state, or both to get me to plead,” Evans said. He says that he refused to plead guilty to something he didn’t do and wanted his claims, especially the prosecutorial misconduct and the manufacturing of evidence claims adjudicated. Evans says that Hathaway advised him that “the state would never do that,” according to Evans. He also argues that there have been several attempts by his attorney to get him to “lesson my claims, by requesting that I omit certain aspects of my appeal, such as the allegations that state prosecutors broke the law in my case,” Evans said. When he refused to take the plea deal that attorney Hathaway had suggested, Evans said she advised him that she had been informed by the judge that “the tapes have been lost,” according to Evans. He then stated that “I told her, well if the tapes are lost then immediately file a motion to have my case reversed based on Constitutional grounds. She became angry, stormed out of the conference, and I hadn’t spoken to her or heard from anyone in the law firm in over three years. They simply abandoned me,” Evans told me (Evans’ lawyer, Attorney Mike Mettes was contacted for comment regarding this article related to the Evans case, but cited attorney client confidentiality, and advised TPC that Mr. Evans’ consent is required for his comment. No confirmation of consent was obtained at time of publishing).

Around the time that Evans says his lawyer cut him off, he hadn’t had a hearing or a court date scheduled during that entire time frame. It was also around that time that his mother, who was his primary source of support financially, became very ill. Evans family and friends began searching for alternative sources for assistance since his lawyer was absent, and failed to return a volume of calls he put out to her office. Then, through an unsolicited email, TPC became aware of his plight, and hundreds of court documents were forwarded and researched at Evans request. The inordinate delay in his case was so exceptional that Evans sought to circumvent the normal Appellate procedure in Illinois state courts, and he filed a federal habeas for relief. In a rare achievement accomplished in cases not heard in lower courts first, bypassing the normal state court process, and without the assistance of his lawyer he was able to have a federal court accept his habeas. If successful, Evans’ case could leapfrog into the federal Appellate system where he could be granted a new trial. This is something that Evans and his supporters believe that Madison County officials never wanted to occur, and a basic purview of the case record adds tremendous credibility to such a belief.

Federal Habeas

The state of Illinois cases against James Evans in my opinion appears very problematic for the various foremention reasons. Now that officials in Madison County have been made aware of the pending federal habeas, the Illinois State Attorney General has filed a response in an attempt to block and prevent Evans’ habeas from being heard by a higher court. The lower court has now began having hearings to complete Evans’ post conviction process after all of these years, which has basically been lying dormant within a troubled and unfair judicial system that has repeatedly illustrated a pattern and practice of trampling the rights of defendants who pray to their magistrates for relief.

How is it possible for a state attorney’s office to have multiple court orders directing them to release discovery to a defendant, and they repeatedly fail to comply to those orders with impunity? Allowing such conduct by state officials without sanctions from the bench could be deemed as complicity to deny a defendant due process under the United States Constution, an error which appears to be culturally acceptable in the judicial system of Madison County Illinois when it largely pertains to defendants of color. Strangely though, Evans has been contacted by an attorney from the law firm which represents him and now it (appears) that work is finally being done to move his case forward.

It remains to be seen how this case all plays out considering there may actually have been crimes committed by the law enforcement officials who indicted, prosecuted, and had James Evans convicted and sent to the slammer for a term greater than a century. Sadly though, his case isn’t an anomaly by Madison County standards. I implore anyone to make sense of this audio transcription that was allegedly recorded when state prosecutors had Tommy Rounds wear a hidden wired recorder during a jailhouse conversation with James Evans. The transcription doesn’t follow a logical conversation pattern, and the physical hard recording should match the transcription of the recorded conversation. Ironically, the state still hasn’t complied with multiple court orders to turn over a hard copy of the audio recordings to the defendant. Click the link to view a copy of the actual transcription of a jailhouse secret wired recorded conversation between James Evans and Tommy Rounds.

The audio tapes arent just the nut and bolts of Evans’ appeal, but rather literally of greater significance of his entire life. Most government agents have a responsibility to preserve evidence. These range from police and prosecutors to detectives and investigators working for the prosecutor’s office, administrative staff, and the Attorney General’s Office. The duty to preserve evidence starts as soon as the evidence is obtained and continues after a conviction to cover any exculpatory evidence that might assist a defendant in an appeal. The consequence in violating the duty to preserve evidence, in some extreme cases, the court might dismiss the case. If the issue does not arise until after a conviction, an appellate court might overturn the conviction and order a new trial. James Evans is aware of these possibilities and it’s almost certain that Madison County officials are well aware also. If the case against Evans is solid, then there should be no hesitancy in moving forward but that’s easier said than done.

Finally, there is credible cause for concern for Evans’ safety within IDOC (Illinois Division of Corrections) and that of his family and friends, who have reported claims of being followed by suspicious vehicles on a regular basis during commutes to and from work in early morning hours, traveling from Menard Correctional Center where Evans is housed, basic fears from the memory of police tactics that some say they endured during the initial investigations into the crimes Evans was convicted of, and legitimate concern for Evans’ safety upon the execution of a writ of habeas corpus requiring the Warden of Menard Correctional Center in Chester Illinois, to produce James Evans’ physical body before his original trial court, for the purpose of an evidentiary hearing related to his original post conviction appeal that began over 18 years ago. In most cases these proceedings are done in person, and to comply with the writ, it may be required for Evans to be housed at the Madison County Jail Division in Edwardsville Ilinois, the origins of his incarceration, and it’s feared that the environment may be very unwelcoming for him. Evans has conveyed to TPC personally, of his concerns that he will be cut off from access to the outside world by being placed in solitary confinement, or worse, that he could be silenced permanently through violence orchestrated by jail officials. Therefore, vigilance and prayer for James Evans and his family is being requested, that his decades old bondage will soon be over. You can help James Evans in various ways, by first contacting the state of Illinois Attorney General’s Office and request an immediate investigation be conducted into the inordinate delay of Evans’ Appellate post conviction, by contacting local Illinois State Delegates and request advocacy in the interest of justice, for defendants whose rights have been violated pertaining to appeals, and by contributing to the James Evans “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” relief fund to cover legal expenses to help regain his liberty. On behalf of the entire Evans family, TPC thanks you all for your support. God speed.

You can aid the Evans Legal Fund by donating here: The Framing of James Evans

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Disclaimer: The links associated with this blog article are only copies and excerpts extracted from official court records, and do not in any way represent the entirety of those records. A complete copy should be obtained for full context. Additionally, some content may be of an opinionated nature, and doesn’t necessarily represent all of the facts pertaining to the subject matter contained here in.

When the 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush went to Madison County Illinois in 2005, he was there to support “Tort” reform in the state, and highlighted the fact that for the second consecutive year, Madison County was ranked as the nation’s #1 “judicial hellhole.” The county is known for its questionable and frivolous civil lawsuits resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars being awarded in shaky and relatively non existent claims. The former president could easily have made a similar assessment of the county’s criminal courts as well. Legal observers and citizens who have been embroiled in the county’s court process, say the way things are done in Madison County Illinois should have sparked a federal investigation decades ago.

Many former and current defendants have claimed shady dealings such as corruption, malicious prosecution, and manufacturing of evidence by state prosecutors, to send people (mostly black and brown) to state prison for decades. Those claims began to raise eyebrows when legitimacy was added to the outcry toward injustice in Madison County, when the 5th District Appellate Court of Illinois began hearing oral arguments in the People vs. Brown case (831 N.E. 2d 1113) which focused on notorious jail house snitch Demond Spruil.

Brown vs. Illinois Impact

The case resulted in defendant Jeramey R. Brown’s murder conviction being overturned, because of Madison County prosecutor Keith Jensen’s constant recycled use of Spruill to curiously testify for Jensen in 6 other unrelated murder cases that resulted in convictions of those defendants. Those proceedings revealed a very suspicious pattern and practice in murder cases prosecuted by Jensen. Somehow jailhouse informant Spruill would make a showing and produce a confessional testimony allegedly given to him by defendants who were being prosecuted in separate cases, and while most of them say they had never spoken to Spruill. Mysteriously though, Spruill would know details about cases prosecuted by Jensen, implicating defendants while on the stand barking out details that only the prosecutor and police should know about the cases. Click link to view a news article related to Brown’s murder conviction being overturned due to Spruill’s suspicious use by Madison County prosecutors.

In part 3 of “Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied” related to the James Evans case (Nekemar Pearson murder), TPC demonstrated through court transcripts how a man name Micheal Hooks’ erroneous alleged eyewitness account of the Nekemar Pearson murder (that implicated Evans), and Spruill’s initial grand jury testimony of Evans alleged jail house confession regarding the Pearson killing, matched identically. Mysteriously, both Hooks and Spruill who were each facing charges for serious crimes, and were then subsequently allowed to walk free from Madison County Jail after giving (false) testimony to the Evans grand jury.

In the Brown Appellate ruling, judges mentioned how Demond Spruill had been given an 8 year prison term for armed robbery in 1997, and arrested in 1999 while again being found on the streets in possession of a firearm. Court documents show that Spruill was released from his 8 year armed robbery stint for his testimony at the Evans grand jury hearing. Records also show that Spruill was again released from his 1999 criminal case in exchange for his testimony at the Evans prosecution trials, and despite such discovery being a Brady vs. Maryland violation in the Evans case, the record will show that it was never disclosed to the trial jury nor the Evans defense team. Click the link to view an excerpt from a Post Trial Appellate matter in the case of Jeffrey Ewing, where prosecutors admit to having given Demond Spruill a deal related to his criminal charges, in exchange for his testimony in the Evans murder, and the Evans conspiracy to commit murder trials.

Failure to disclose such detail to the court and a defendant’s legal counsel is a direct violation of the law (Maryland vs. Brady, and People vs.Giglio) which gurantees a right to a fair and impartial trial (U S. Constitution 6th Amendment). So, when we look at Spruill’s suspicious use as a star witness by Madison County prosecutor Jensen (which a state Appellate Court agrees with), coupled with the fact that Spruill is the exact same person that 6-8 other defendants just so happened to confess their alleged crimes to and considering Spruill’s apparent reoccurring “get out of jail free” card, it’s a clear indication that he was acting as an agent for the state.

Mean while the state admittedly was making back door deals with Spruill that not only repeatedly allowed him to get out of prison, but essentially gave him a license to commit more crimes. Hell, Spruill was even an initial suspect in the Pearson killing himself before he fingered James Evans for for that murder (some in Alton believe Spruill was very capable of murder and his lengthy criminal record speaks to that belief). More importantly, it raises serious issue with the state’s (Keith Jensen) prosecution of other cases where Spruill was utilized repeatedly as a star witness, especially if those cases had or have other glaring elements that are problematic to the extent that sufficient doubt exist as to whether or not defendants were unjustly prosecuted and convicted (James Evans, Jeffery Ewing, and Jordan Valdez all are others that Spruill helped Jensen send to prison). The James Evans case is one of those exceptionally funky cases though, that should raise more than just a few eye brows. Click the link to view the People vs. Brown Appellate Ruling.

Given the Spruill dynamic as it relates to the convience and coincidence of his having acted as an arm of the prosecution, it should be noted that Spruill who was a key state witness in the Brown case, claimed that Brown confessed to him of having allegedly killed a man name Michael Keller, and that Brown also allegedly solicited him to kill a witness name Mary Weaver. It’s simply incredulous that Spruill was a star witness, and again suspected of acting as an arm of the prosecution in the Evans case who faced similar charges as Brown did (the murder of Nekemar Pearson, and conspiring to kill co-defendant and witnesses). Spruill’s testimony in Evans cases and that of others, should be sufficient to at least grant new trials in all of those respective cases. Madison County won’t adjudicate the post convictions of Evans, Ewing, nor Valdez because those cases were all casualties of a forbidden fruit from a poisonous tree, in the form of Demond Spruill. Those cases have been stuck in post conviction and not allowed to adjudicate through the Appellate process for decades.

Another glaring fact about Demond Spruill in relationship to his cooperation with prosecutors in the Evans cases, is the unmistakable difference in how his testimony changed from his Evans grand jury appearance for the state, juxtapose to his testimony as a witness for the prosecution before the Evans trial jury. Spruill gave a nearly identical account to that of a man name Michael Hooks regarding what allegedly happened to Nekemar Pearson, only Spruil’s account slightly differed by suggesting that Pearson was shot, brought into Evans’ house, and was stored in the basement for at least a day. Spruill even claims that a female who visited Evans’ residence alleges that Evans home smelled like a dead person.

Interestingly though, staying true to form in a Keith Jensen prosecution case, his old star witness standby, Demond Spruill was on the witness stand in the Evans trial to save the day with yet another story of alleged culpable hearsay evidence, claiming like he did in the Brown case, that Evans too had confessed to him, which proved extremely damaging to the Evans defense. Keep in mind that during the time of the grand jury indictment hearings and subsequent prosecution trials of James Evans, Spruill was on the hook for robbery and weapons charges. You literally have to read the grand jury transcripts of Michael Hooks, Demond Spruil, and Madison County police detective Bradley Wells to understand how Spruill’s trial testimony account shifted from what he told a grand jury, and how it suddenly morphed into the prosecution’s version (Detective Wells’ version) of what they claim happened. The entire indictment against Evans was founded on a lie told to the grand jury by Detective Bradly Wells, that Pearson Hadn’t been seen alive since June 24, 1995. Read their individual testimonies related to the Evans case below here:

Michael Hooks grand jury testimony

Demond Spruill grand jury testimony

Detective Bradley Wells grand jury testimony

Demond Spruill trial testimony .

Prosecutor Jensen A Deal Maker

That’s just the very tip of the iceberg in the Evans case. From what we have learned regarding the merits of his case, it seems that a first year law student could easily navigate the extremely complex and misleading specifics of the state’s prosecution of Evans that led to his conviction and subsequent incarceration. One key element that makes an exoneration for Evans achievable, is the fact that State of Illinois prosecutors have already conceded to reversible violations in open court while referencing Evans cases during proceedings of other defendants who are not Evans’ co-defendants in their respective post trial litigations (like in the Jeffrey Ewing and Valdez Jordan cases).|

Also, in TPC blog article “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” part 6, we provided compelling evidence showing how prosecutor Keith Jensen agreed to pay a man named Larry Greer for his false testimony (subordination of perjury), prior to him testifying before three grand juries, and the Evans’ trial jury for the murder of Nekemar Pearson. We presented Greer’s sworn affidavit, and other court records supporting how Jensen appears to have instructed Greer to reply “no” when asked on the witness stand, if he received anything in exchange for his testimony, despite Greer actually having been paid over a thousand dollars and being granted his liberty. Click to view the Affidavit of Larry Greer. Also, click to read excerpts from transcripts that verify as a matter of fact that prosecutor Jensen and another official admitted to paying Larry Greer (by giving him his bail money back) $1500 dollars prior to testifying before the Evans grand jury. It was never disclosed to the Evans defense team nor his trial jury, that Greer was given money in a deal (People vs. Giglio) involving state prosecutor Keith Jensen and Greer’s attorney. Court record shows that Jensen himself admitted in open court that it was liency being given toward Greer by giving him the money. Such a perk being afforded to a defendant by a prosecutor while the defendant is facing criminal charges just before he is to testify on behalf of the state in a grand jury indictment hearing, doesn’t take rocket science to conclude that Greer’s testimony was paid for by the state prosecutor’s office.

However, there are other records that demonstrate how Greer, just like Demond Spruill, was acting as an agent for state prosecutors (in the Evans case at least). The evidence is compiled in a judge’s ruling pertaining to a federal habeas filed by a man named Robert Fletcher. Fletcher was convicted of killing James Evans’ best friend Brian Warr, who is also an alleged Evans co-defendant in the murder of Nekemar Pearson. In the habeas response the judge cites that Larry Greer along with a man named Jodi Wesley are included in an affidavit contained inside Fletcher’s habeas and also confirmed through testimony by Wesley himself, that not only did Wesley get benefit related to his pending federal criminal charges for testifying against James Evans, but the two (Greer & Wesley) were even quoted in the judge’s response that reveals how they both were joking and boasting while riding together in a prisoner transport van, that they were going to “say whatever prosecutor Keith Jensen and Detective Brad Wells wanted” them to, so they could get out of jail. Greer and Wesley both testified on behalf of the state against Evans at his murder trial, and their deals with the state were never disclosed to the defense nor the jury in Evans cases. Click the link to read an excerpt from Robert Fletcher’s federal habeas response.

Robert Fletcher is also a very key proponent in James Evans’ conspiracy to commit murder convction, as the state alleged that Evans hired Fletcher to kill his best friend’s (Brian Warr) father (Lester Warr). These allegations are probably the most ridiculous and outlandish aspect of this entire ordeal pertaining to the state’s theory against Evans having conspired to kill Lester Warr and other witnesses. During the interviews that were conducted with sources connected to the street culture in Alton during the time of the Pearson and Warr murders, we learned that not only were Pearson and Fletcher close friends, they were both “Crip” gang members. Fletcher was reportedly the leader of the local gang set, and it was widely believed that he killed Warr in retaliation for his alleged involvement in Pearson’s murder. Also, a source told TPC that “if James Evans had been standing on the street with Warr that night, he more than likely would have been shot also.” Court records show that Fletcher was locked up for unrelated charges, when Madison County detectives Brady and Wells visited him in jail, advised him of who they believed killed his best friend, and eventually released him to confront those responsible for the murder according to a sworn affidavit.

“The state’s case against James Evans can easily be dismissed as a convoluted tale meticulously crafted to distort the truth by dirty cops, and a corrupt prosecutor.” — TPC

Fletcher alleges that he was approached by the two detectives who advised him that they were investigating the Pearson murder, presented him with photos (post mortem) of Pearson, and told him that they believed James Evans, Brian Warr, and a man named Clifton Wheeler were responsible for his murder. Then according to Fletcher’s sworn affidavit, detectives Brady and Wells released him from custody, with the permission of the state proprosecutor’s office, and solely for the purpose of allowing him to confront Evans and others who were suspected of killing his friend. Fletcher also claims in his affidavit that the state tried to broker a deal with him through his lawyer, to finger Evans for Pearson and Warr’s murders, and he claimed to have refused to lie for the state against Evans. Now if you follow the Madison County prosecutors office pattern and practice of shady dealings with known criminals to secure them as state witnesses against defendants they aggressively prosecuted, Fletcher’s affidavit on its face appears believable. Additionally, sources told TPC that police officials and state prosecutors knew that by releasing Fletcher that he would violently retaliate against those who police told him were the suspects in Pearson’s killing. “In actuality, the blood of Brian Warr’s killing his on their hands,” the source said. Why would these cops tell Fletcher this crucial aspect of their murder investigation, and then let him out of jail? That seems crazy, but not as crazy as their theory of Evans having solicited and hired the best friend of the person he allegedly killed for the purpose of killing his own best friend. Given many of the facts that we now know, the state’s case against James Evans can easily be dismissed as a convoluted tale meticulously crafted to distort the truth by dirty cops, and a corrupt prosecutor. Click to read the sworn affidavit of Robert Fletcher.

Moreover, there were other pieces of forbidden fruit that fell from the poisonous tree, that also aligned themselves with state prosecutor Keith Jensen, who were violent criminals that did short prison terms after being convicted of murder and other serious violent crimes such as rape and sodomy, and made deals with prosecutors in their own criminal cases in exchange for testifying against James Evans in his trials. For example, Clifton Wheeler was believed to be a co-defendant with James Evans and Brian Warr in the Nekemar Pearson case, according to court records. Wheeler was also convicted of killing a man named Dwight Riddlespriger. He was able to broker a deal with state prosecutor Keith Jensen (for testifying against Evans, Ewing, and others) that allowed him to only go to prison for a 23 year prison term for murder (Riddlespriger), of which he only served roughly 12 years, and is currently back on the streets of Alton Illinois this very day. Click to read an excerpt of a court transcript from the plea arrangement of Clifton Wheeler.

During the murder trial of James Evans, Clifton Wheeler testified that Evans killed Nekemar Pearson and gave other testimony that implicated Evans in the crime, but the state failed to reveal that Wheeler had brokered a deal with prosecutor Keith Jensen to accept a 23 year sentence for an unrelated murder (again the state had and obligation considering case law such as Maryland vs. Brady and People vs. Giglio, to inform the Evans defense of such a plea deal). When asked on the stand at Evans’ trial under cross examination by the defense council, if he had made a deal for liency in exchange for his testimony, Wheeler denied having made a deal with the state. Wheeler was asked again under direct examination by prosecutor Keith Jensen, whether he had received anything for his testimony, and Wheeler again denied having received a deal by answering “no.” The crucial error made by the state is that Wheeler did in fact broker a deal for a 23 year sentence, and not only did he commit perjury, but prosecutor Jensen did as well, as Jensen was in fact the very state official who pled the deal to the judge during Wheeler’s sentencing. That’s also a violation of the law, as Evans’ trial jury was prejudiced by Wheeler’s testimony. Omitting his plea deal violated Evans’ right to a fair and impartial trial. Click the link to read an excerpt from a court transcript during a plea agreement hearing on the sentencing of Clifton Wheeler.

It’s also believed that a man named William Jenkins made deals with Jensen and also received a get out of jail free card for his testimony against James Evans. Sadly though, the state’s fanatical thirst for Evans’ complete soul turned into a sacrifice that would be paid for by a rape victim, who Jenkins sexually attacked and sodomized after prosecutors allegedly set him free for testifying against Evans..

Bending The Law

The fact that prosecutors appear to bend the law in a custom fashion to execute their brand of justice probably isn’t a new phenomenon within the American criminal justice system, but the blatant disregard for the law while trampling the constitutional rights of defendants with impunity by those sworn to uphold the law, just seems mere common place in Madison County Illinois, and is textbook for “judicial hellhole” just as former U.S. President George W. Bush rightfully once dubbed the embattled county’s courts.

Suppression Of Evidence

Mr. Evans began his post conviction process in 2003 after having been sentenced to more than a century in the Illinois Division of Corrections, he was blind sided by a communication he received from an Appellate defense attorney who alerted Evans of a police report that had been sent to his office. The document was highly exculpatory for Evans. An Alton High School liaison police officer who had several past dealings with Pearson, saw him walking down the street on July 3, 1995, which is 9 days after the date that police and state prosecutors claim that James Evans an others were supposed to have killed Pearson. Moreover, Madison County Detective Bradley Wells testified during a grand jury indictment hearing that Pearson was never seen alive again after June 24, 1995. The very existence of Detective Cooley’s report indicates that Pearson was more than likely still alive. In fact, the grand jury was never made aware of this report, nor was Evans’ trial jury. Based on the state’s theory that Evans and others accosted Pearson on the 24th of June and subsequently murdered him, is clearly a theory which implodes related to their entire case against Evans from the gate, but they pursued prosecution of Evans anyway. It is very reasonable to assume that police knew about Detective Cooley’s report of having seen Pearson alive on July 3, 1995, but the indictment hearings against James Evans took place after that date, and Cooley’s report somehow became invisible and irrelavent, only to mysteriously resurface years later in 2003 after Evans had already been tried and convicted. Click the link to read these highly exculpatory documents in the James Evans case, and another exculpatory document from the same Appellate Defender who advised Evans how he obtained the document (in the discovery documents of Larry Greer), demonstrating as a matter of fact that Madison County prosecutor Keith Jensen, who prosecuted both Evans and Greer, had knowledge of Cooley’s report and suppressed the document in the Evans case.

Highly exculpatory evidence in a murder case is an extremely big deal, and the prosecutor has a duty to reveal it to a defendant and his legal counsel. It’s quite possible that the police failed to disclose Cooley’s report of having seen Pearson alive after the date he was supposedly killed, it’s unlikely (since the report is in the record of another defendant’s case records related to Evans’ conspiracy to commit murder case) but quite plausible. However, there is still the matter of the audio tapes from the Evans trial that were played before the jury, and are suppose to be jailhouse overhears between a man named Tommy Rounds and James Evans. Rounds who is Evans’ first cousin, supposedly wore a wired recorder to secretly tape conversations of him and Evans conspiring to kill Lester Warr, the father of Evans’ best friend (Brian Warr) and other witnesses to prevent them from testifying against him in the Pearson murder case. Evans has always and repeatedly argued that the audio recordings are not authentic, because they are recordings of multiple conversations that were spliced and edited to appear as just one conversation. This claim is a serious charge Evans is making, which would mean police, prosecutors, or both manufactured evidence, and fabricated the entire murder conspiracy elements of their case against Evans. It’s very easy to make a claim of this nature against law enforcement, and it’s seldom given any weight or credibility when the allegations are being made by defendants who have been convicted of serious crimes.

“The culture within the judicial system in Madison County Illinois appears to completely void the rights of a volume of black men who are embroiled within its justice system.” — TPC

So, when Evans began his post conviction Appellate process, he claimed actual innocence in his case, cited prosecutorial misconduct based on manufactured evidence, and made a discovery request to obtain the audio tapes played before the jury at his trial, so they could be forensicsly tested. The original trial court in Madison County has dragged its feet in Evans’ request for post conviction relief. The State of Illinois has long established that post convictions shouldn’t take no more than a little over a year to complete. The initial appeall is reviewed by the original court where a defendant was convicted, and rarely are cases overturned at that Appellate level. That’s why the process should be adjudicated swiftly to allow convicted defendants the opportunity to pray to a higher court of law. Evans has been in an Appellate holding pattern (post conviction) for at least 18 years now. Why is that? That’s not a rhetorical question and some watchdog arm of either the Illinois state judicial system, or the media should be seeking answers to the inordinate delay of a plethora of Appellate cases like Evans’ that are problematic for Madison County prosecutors pertaining to the violation of Constitutional rights of those seeking post conviction relief in decisions that originated in that jurisdiction.

Our justice system was designed to afford even those who are condemned for the most heinous crimes against the American Society, the right to appeal their sentencing. There were major Constitutional violations in the Evans cases that are in fact reversible, but the culture within the judicial system in Madison County Illinois appears to completely void the rights of a volume of black men who are embroiled within its justice system. During an interview with Evans he advised me of a conversation he had with an Appellate Defender, who once told him that “his case isn’t an anomaly because that’s just the way it is here. This system doesn’t care about a black man.” That perspective very well may have some validity but there also may be some other underlying dynamic that Madison County is hiding that directly impacts the Evans Appeal. Furthermore, there very well may be something funky regarding the audio tapes that Evans requested from his trial discovery. His claim of the audios being altered isn’t just hot air. Evans has been requesting those tapes from the very initial stages of his post conviction process, and despite a volume of court orders directing the state to turn the tapes over to Evans, the state has never complied. Click the link to view various court orders directing the state prosecutor’s office in Madison Couty to turn over audio tapes played during the trial to James Evans. Failure by the state to turn over the tapes creates tremendous suspicion, due to the fact that Evans has already been convicted and serving his sentence. Why wouldn’t state officials want to follow the law since they believe in his guilt? They should reasonably know that stalling tactics could eventually cause Evans to win his appeal by default judgements.

However, many believe that it’s a strategic maneuver by the Madison County courts to purposefully delay adjudication of his appellate process for as long as possible. The fact that after 18 years Evans is still in post conviction speaks volumes and demonstrates that his case is extradinary, and deliberately being held in a holding pattern. As long as Evans remains under the thumb of Madison County as it relates to his appeal to the original trial court, he can’t ever pray his claims for appeal to a higher court, and that’s a violation of the law. It’s as clear as day what may be happening here in Evans’ case, and the cases of other defendants similarly situated who are seeking post conviction relief in cases born out of the Madison County courts.

Legal Betrayal

It was roughly three years ago that Evans said he held a conference with his hired attorney from the law offices of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry. Evans says he was advised by attorney Jessica Hathaway, that the state was willing to “grant him time served if he accepted a deal by pleading guilty to his charges, and he could then go home,” according to Evans. He went on to say that “the deal she offered me by the state was only for the conspiracy to commit murder count. I would still be serving time for the murder count, if I had lied, took the deal, and just accepted time served. It was a clever move by either Hathaway, the state, or both to get me to plead,” Evans said. He says that he refused to plead guilty to something he didn’t do and wanted his claims, especially the prosecutorial misconduct and the manufacturing of evidence claims adjudicated. Evans says that Hathaway advised him that “the state would never do that,” according to Evans. He also argues that there have been several attempts by his attorney to get him to “lesson my claims, by requesting that I omit certain aspects of my appeal, such as the allegations that state prosecutors broke the law in my case,” Evans said. When he refused to take the plea deal that attorney Hathaway had suggested, Evans said she advised him that she had been informed by the judge that “the tapes have been lost,” according to Evans. He then stated that “I told her, well if the tapes are lost then immediately file a motion to have my case reversed based on Constitutional grounds. She became angry, stormed out of the conference, and I hadn’t spoken to her or heard from anyone in the law firm in over three years. They simply abandoned me,” Evans told me (Evans’ lawyer, Attorney Mike Mettes was contacted for comment regarding this article related to the Evans case, but cited attorney client confidentiality, and advised TPC that Mr. Evans’ consent is required for his comment. No confirmation of consent was obtained at time of publishing).

Around the time that Evans says his lawyer cut him off, he hadn’t had a hearing or a court date scheduled during that entire time frame. It was also around that time that his mother, who was his primary source of support financially, became very ill. Evans family and friends began searching for alternative sources for assistance since his lawyer was absent, and failed to return a volume of calls he put out to her office. Then, through an unsolicited email, TPC became aware of his plight, and hundreds of court documents were forwarded and researched at Evans request. The inordinate delay in his case was so exceptional that Evans sought to circumvent the normal Appellate procedure in Illinois state courts, and he filed a federal habeas for relief. In a rare achievement accomplished in cases not heard in lower courts first, bypassing the normal state court process, and without the assistance of his lawyer he was able to have a federal court accept his habeas. If successful, Evans’ case could leapfrog into the federal Appellate system where he could be granted a new trial. This is something that Evans and his supporters believe that Madison County officials never wanted to occur, and a basic purview of the case record adds tremendous credibility to such a belief.

Federal Habeas

The state of Illinois cases against James Evans in my opinion appears very problematic for the various foremention reasons. Now that officials in Madison County have been made aware of the pending federal habeas, the Illinois State Attorney General has filed a response in an attempt to block and prevent Evans’ habeas from being heard by a higher court. The lower court has now began having hearings to complete Evans’ post conviction process after all of these years, which has basically been lying dormant within a troubled and unfair judicial system that has repeatedly illustrated a pattern and practice of trampling the rights of defendants who pray to their magistrates for relief.

How is it possible for a state attorney’s office to have multiple court orders directing them to release discovery to a defendant, and they repeatedly fail to comply to those orders with impunity? Allowing such conduct by state officials without sanctions from the bench could be deemed as complicity to deny a defendant due process under the United States Constution, an error which appears to be culturally acceptable in the judicial system of Madison County Illinois when it largely pertains to defendants of color. Strangely though, Evans has been contacted by an attorney from the law firm which represents him and now it (appears) that work is finally being done to move his case forward.

It remains to be seen how this case all plays out considering there may actually have been crimes committed by the law enforcement officials who indicted, prosecuted, and had James Evans convicted and sent to the slammer for a term greater than a century. Sadly though, his case isn’t an anomaly by Madison County standards. I implore anyone to make sense of this audio transcription that was allegedly recorded when state prosecutors had Tommy Rounds wear a hidden wired recorder during a jailhouse conversation with James Evans. The transcription doesn’t follow a logical conversation pattern, and the physical hard recording should match the transcription of the recorded conversation. Ironically, the state still hasn’t complied with multiple court orders to turn over a hard copy of the audio recordings to the defendant. Click the link to view a copy of the actual transcription of a jailhouse secret wired recorded conversation between James Evans and Tommy Rounds.

The audio tapes arent just the nut and bolts of Evans’ appeal, but rather literally of greater significance of his entire life. Most government agents have a responsibility to preserve evidence. These range from police and prosecutors to detectives and investigators working for the prosecutor’s office, administrative staff, and the Attorney General’s Office. The duty to preserve evidence starts as soon as the evidence is obtained and continues after a conviction to cover any exculpatory evidence that might assist a defendant in an appeal. The consequence in violating the duty to preserve evidence, in some extreme cases, the court might dismiss the case. If the issue does not arise until after a conviction, an appellate court might overturn the conviction and order a new trial. James Evans is aware of these possibilities and it’s almost certain that Madison County officials are well aware also. If the case against Evans is solid, then there should be no hesitancy in moving forward but that’s easier said than done.

Finally, there is credible cause for concern for Evans’ safety within IDOC (Illinois Division of Corrections) and that of his family and friends, who have reported claims of being followed by suspicious vehicles on a regular basis during commutes to and from work in early morning hours, traveling from Menard Correctional Center where Evans is housed, basic fears from the memory of police tactics that some say they endured during the initial investigations into the crimes Evans was convicted of, and legitimate concern for Evans’ safety upon the execution of a writ of habeas corpus requiring the Warden of Menard Correctional Center in Chester Illinois, to produce James Evans’ physical body before his original trial court, for the purpose of an evidentiary hearing related to his original post conviction appeal that began over 18 years ago. In most cases these proceedings are done in person, and to comply with the writ, it may be required for Evans to be housed at the Madison County Jail Division in Edwardsville Ilinois, the origins of his incarceration, and it’s feared that the environment may be very unwelcoming for him. Evans has conveyed to TPC personally, of his concerns that he will be cut off from access to the outside world by being placed in solitary confinement, or worse, that he could be silenced permanently through violence orchestrated by jail officials. Therefore, vigilance and prayer for James Evans and his family is being requested, that his decades old bondage will soon be over. You can help James Evans in various ways, by first contacting the state of Illinois Attorney General’s Office and request an immediate investigation be conducted into the inordinate delay of Evans’ Appellate post conviction, by contacting local Illinois State Delegates and request advocacy in the interest of justice, for defendants whose rights have been violated pertaining to appeals, and by contributing to the James Evans “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” relief fund to cover legal expenses to help regain his liberty. On behalf of the entire Evans family, TPC thanks you all for your support. God speed.

You can aid the Evans Legal Fund by donating here: The Framing of James Evans

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I’m Journalist and Crime Blogger David Adams

David Adams

Self proclaimed geek, Advocate for the homeless, Social Change, Crime Blogger, and mobile technology enthusiast. A recognized Journalist and Human Interest Writer championing the plight of the masses whom are without a voice of their own.

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