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Norman McIntosh

Other Cook County Cases with Official Misconduct
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In the early morning of November 24, 2001, 21-year-old Devon Hobson and his 27-year-old brother, James Hobson, along with their 12-year-old cousin, Darius Thompson, and Thompson’s 12-year-old friend, Aaron Smith, went out to commit a robbery on the South Side of Chicago.

Armed with a handgun, they went to the intersection of 70th and Throop Streets where they pretended to be selling drugs. The driver of a gray car stopped and asked for marijuana.  Devon Hobson walked to a gangway as if he was getting the marijuana, but when he returned to the car, he pulled out the handgun and pointed it at the driver.

Thompson and Smith opened the car door and took $20 from the driver’s pants pocket as well as some packets of crack cocaine and about 20 compact discs. The driver jumped out of the car and told them to take it. When Devon Hobson said they didn’t want the car, the driver got back in. Before driving off, he said that he was a member of the Vice Lords street gang and that he would come back to kill them.

The group then walked back to Hobson’s mother’s house, where they left the CDs and then headed to a friend’s house. They were on 60th Street when Thompson said, “Here comes the guy we robbed earlier.”

The same gray car pulled up and the driver said, “What’s up now?” He began firing a gun out of the car window, striking Devon Hobson who fell to the ground. James Hobson yelled at the driver to stop shooting, but the driver shot James Hobson in the chest. Devon was crawling in the street to try to escape, but the driver backed up the car, reached out and shot Devon in the back of the head before driving off.

James Hobson survived, but Devon died. James, Thompson, and Smith all said the shooter’s car was a gray four-door vehicle. A 911 caller who heard the shots and looked out a window reported the car had four doors. Police took the CDs from the Hobson home as evidence.

On December 20, 2001, Chicago police detectives brought in 23-year-old Norman McIntosh for questioning in a shooting that occurred on November 12, 2001—12 days before the Hobsons were shot. At the time, McIntosh was driving a black four-door Oldsmobile.

Detectives asked the two victims of the November 12 shooting to view a lineup. One declined, saying he was unable to identify the gunman. The other viewed the lineup and did not identify McIntosh, so McIntosh was released.

But almost immediately, the detectives concluded that McIntosh was responsible for the Hobson shooting, later saying that he resembled the description of the gunman given by James Hobson, Thompson and Smith. On January 9, 2002, detectives interviewed James Hobson and said they had identified the gunman who shot him and his brother. Police reports indicated that Hobson viewed a photographic lineup at the police station and identified McIntosh as the gunman who wounded him and killed Devon.

On January 16, detectives interviewed McIntosh again and asked him about the Hobson shooting. He denied any involvement. Asked what kind of car he drove, McIntosh said he previously owned a two-door gray Oldsmobile, but he abandoned it without license plates in an alley and the city had towed it away.

Detectives compared McIntosh’s fingerprints to those found on the CDs, but there was no match.

After the interview with McIntosh, a detective wrote up a supplemental report of an interview with Thompson that for the first time identified the gunman’s car as a gray older model Oldsmobile. No police reports written after that ever again referred to the gunman’s car as a four-door model.

Police reports indicated that on January 17, Thompson and Smith came to the station and in separate lineup procedures, each identified McIntosh as the gunman. Reports also indicated that on January 18, James Hobson came to the station and identified McIntosh in a lineup.

McIntosh was then charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

In December 2003, McIntosh went to trial in Cook County Circuit Court. He chose to have a judge decide the case without a jury.

James Hobson, Thompson and Smith testified and identified McIntosh as the gunman. A detective testified that each of them identified McIntosh in separate lineups. Another detective testified that McIntosh admitted driving a car similar to that driven by the gunman.  He stated that although he checked city towing records from November 24, 2001—the day of the shooting—until the day McIntosh was arrested, no record of the car being towed could be found.

McIntosh presented evidence that on the morning of the shooting, he was being treated for an illness at Mercy Hospital. Iashiskala Sims, McIntosh’s girlfriend, testified that she drove him to the hospital between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. A nurse testified that hospital records showed McIntosh was treated at 6:10 a.m. and discharged at 7:05 a.m. Sims testified she drove McIntosh home where they both remained for the rest of the day.

The prosecution argued that the Hobson shooting occurred about 8 a.m. and that Sims was providing a false alibi for the time after McIntosh left the hospital. The defense noted that there were multiple fingerprints on the CDs, but none belonged to McIntosh.

On December 18, 2003, the judge convicted McIntosh of first-degree murder, aggravated battery, and aggravated discharge of a firearm. The judge cited McIntosh’s admission to a detective that he owned a gray car that he had abandoned, that McIntosh had been identified in three separate lineups, and that his alibi did not hold up past 7:05 a.m. when he was discharged from the hospital and the shooting occurred around 8 a.m. McIntosh was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

In 2013, after McIntosh’s appeals had been rejected, James Hobson was arrested. While he was in Cook County Jail, he learned that the gunman was a Vice Lords gang member known as “Eggy.” Hobson provided a sworn statement for McIntosh that “police told me that Norman McIntosh was the individual that shot me and killed my brother, Devon Hobson. I believed them, although I wasn’t sure.”

McIntosh’s attorney, Jennifer Blagg, filed a motion requesting that the unidentified fingerprints on the CDs be submitted to the automated fingerprint identification system. The prints were matched to member of the Vice Lords street gang named Charles “Eggy” Smith.

Hobson then gave another sworn statement that detectives came to his house and showed him McIntosh’s photograph. They told him that McIntosh had been arrested in a gray car and that McIntosh had beaten a prior accusation of involvement in a shooting. Hobson said that when he told police he didn’t think McIntosh was the gunman, the detectives insisted he was. Hobson said he then identified McIntosh even though he knew McIntosh was not the gunman.

Hobson further said that he went to the station, where detectives showed him McIntosh’s photograph.  The photograph had a circle around it and detectives told him McIntosh was the gunman. Hobson said he was taken to a lineup where he identified McIntosh, who was wearing a red shirt, because he recognized McIntosh from the photograph he had seen earlier. Hobson said that when he left the lineup room, Thompson and Smith were waiting to view the lineup. Hobson advised them to pick the person wearing the red shirt.

Hobson said that at one point, detectives threatened to charge him instead of McIntosh with shooting his brother unless he identified McIntosh.

Blagg located Thompson and Smith and both recanted their identifications of McIntosh. Thompson said that after the shooting, police arrested him for possession of the handgun that Devon Hobson used to rob the man who wound up shooting Devon and James Hobson. He said police showed him a photograph of McIntosh and told him he was the gunman and that he had just beaten a murder charge. Thompson said that before he went into the lineup, James Hobson told him to pick the man in the red shirt.

Smith also recanted his testimony and said he picked McIntosh because James Hobson and Thompson told him to pick the man in the red shirt.

Blagg filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city of Chicago and obtained records showing that on September 9, 2001—more than two months before the Hobson shooting—city workers towed a gray, two-door 1985 Oldsmobile with no license plates from the location that McIntosh had initially identified to police in his 2002 interview. Blagg also located a ticket issued to McIntosh while driving that Oldsmobile on September 1, 2001—eight days before it was towed.

The examination of the fingerprints on the CDs also turned up prints belonging to Vernon Clay. Blagg found Clay in prison and he confirmed that he was a friend of Charles “Eggy” Smith and that in 2001 Smith drove a four-door gray Oldsmobile.

In April 2014, lawyers involved in a lawsuit against the city of Chicago discovered records from nearly 3,000 cases dating back to the 1940s. These records were known as “street files” and contained reports by homicide detectives that were not disclosed to prosecutors or defense attorneys. Some of the reports contained evidence favorable to defendants that was never revealed.

Among the records was a file on McIntosh’s case that included 56 pages of documents that had not been disclosed to McIntosh’s trial lawyer. The file contained a note from the prosecutor in the case asking the detectives to bring the entire “street file” to court—which apparently detectives ignored.

The reports revealed how the detectives had prepared false reports of the lineups and that Hobson’s identification of McIntosh did not happen when the detectives testified that it did. Blagg noted in a subsequent motion that “comparison of Hobson’s lineup reports with Thompson’s and Smith’s reports warrants a determination that Hobson’s lineup reports were falsified.”

At trial, the detectives had testified that Hobson identified McIntosh after Thompson and Smith identified him. But the reports, Blagg claimed, offered “compelling evidence” that the detectives falsely claimed Hobson identified McIntosh on January 18, 2002 to “cover up the fact that they allowed Hobson (a day earlier) to tell the younger boys whom to identify after he viewed the lineup.”

Blagg discovered that the detectives had been accused of similar manipulative lineup tactics in two other homicide cases and they had been sued for engaging in similar conduct in yet other cases. One of the detectives had since been fired after a photograph surfaced of the officer holding a shotgun while standing over a black suspect wearing antlers. Another detective in the case had since been sent to prison for killing two people while driving drunk.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit investigated Blagg’s claims. On October 4, 2016, it requested that McIntosh’s convictions be vacated and then moved to dismiss the charges.

A statement issued by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said the decision to dismiss the charges was made after “additional evidence” was discovered and not because of the disclosure of the “street files.”

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Evelyn Clay, who convicted McIntosh in 2002, granted the motion to dismiss the charges and apologized to McIntosh’s family, saying “an injustice has been corrected.”

In September 2017, McIntosh filed a federl civil rights lawsuit seeking damages for his wrongful convcition.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 10/26/2016
Last Updated: 9/6/2017
State:Illinois
County:Cook
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Assault, Illegal Use of a Weapon
Reported Crime Date:2001
Convicted:2003
Exonerated:2016
Sentence:45 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:23
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No