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Terrence Haynes

Other Murder Exonerations Where No Crime Happened
On May 27, 1999, 22-year-old Terrence Haynes was standing on the porch of a friend, Gary Hammond Jr., in Kankakee, Illinois, when 18-year-old Cezaire Murrell walked up the sidewalk, shoved a man out of the way, and came onto the porch to confront Haynes. A week earlier, Murrell had assaulted Haynes at a shopping mall in an attempt to collect a debt owed to Murrell by a friend of Haynes.

What happened next was the subject of dispute and led to Haynes’s conviction and imprisonment for more than 18 years before he was exonerated in 2019.

Haynes said Murrell raised his shirt and put his hand on a handgun, so he grabbed a handgun that belonged to Hammond that was under a blanket. There were numerous people on the porch and all scattered as Murrell and Haynes exchanged words. When the two were about five or six feet apart, Haynes pointed the gun at Murrell. In response, Murrell moved toward Haynes.

Haynes later said he closed his eyes and fired twice. Murrell was shot in the chest and shoulder. He died not long after.

On September 8, 1999, Haynes was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

In August 2000, Haynes went to trial in Kankakee County Circuit Court. The prosecution’s chief witness was Marcus Hammond, the 11-year-old brother of Gary Hammond. Marcus, who was 10 at the time of the shooting, testified that Murrell came up the sidewalk, shoved a man named Willie Turner out of the way, and came onto the porch. Everyone but Haynes scattered, he said, and when Murrell approached, Haynes shot him twice.

Under questioning by assistant state’s attorney Frank Astrella, Marcus said he saw Haynes pull a gun out from “the back of his body,” extend his right hand, and pull the top of the gun back with his left hand.

“When you saw the defendant holding the gun like that, what did (Murrell) do?” Astrella asked.

“Came towards him,” Marcus said.

“Okay. Did you see anything in (Murrell’s) hands?” Astrella asked.

“No,” Marcus said.

“Did you see him holding a gun?”

“No,” Marcus testified.

Eight-year-old Penny Hammond, Marcus's younger sister, testified that she looked out the front door and saw Haynes and Murrell arguing. Haynes yelled at her to get back in the house and when she did, she heard a gunshot.

Haynes testified that Murrell was demanding money that he claimed Haynes owed him. Haynes said he told Murrell he didn’t know what he was talking about. Murrell then made a motion as if he was going to hit him, raised his shirt, and put his hand on a handgun in the waistband.

Haynes told the jury that Murrell threatened to kill him and ran toward him with his hand on the gun. He said he was afraid that Murrell was going to shoot him, so he fired first. After he shot Murrell, Haynes said he picked up Murrell’s gun and fled. He said he gave both guns to Willie Turner, who was subsequently murdered without having told Haynes what he did with the weapons.

No guns were recovered at the scene.

During closing argument, the prosecution emphasized that the evidence showed Murrell was unarmed, saying eight different times that Haynes shot an “unarmed” man.

On August 16, 2000, the jury convicted Haynes of first-degree murder. At his sentencing hearing, Haynes filed a hand-written motion for a new trial, claiming his defense attorney had failed to present testimony from witnesses, including his cousin, Darryl Haynes, and his brother, Jemiko Bates, who would have supported his version of the events. At a hearing, Haynes’s attorney testified that by that time, those two witnesses were in custody and he was concerned about calling a witness with a “significant criminal history.” More significantly, he said that the witnesses had given statements to police at the time of the shooting that contradicted parts of Haynes’s version.

“I believed I would have been impeaching my client’s version of the story and assuring a first-degree murder conviction,” the lawyer said.

Judge Kathy Bradshaw-Elliott denied the motion for a new trial and ruled that the defense lawyer’s decisions were matters of trial strategy or tactics, and that the witnesses that Haynes cited would not have been helpful to his case. She then sentenced Haynes to 45 years in prison.

Haynes appealed and in 2002, the Illinois Appellate Court set aside the denial of the motion for new trial and remanded the case back to the trial court for appointment of a new attorney to investigate the claims that Haynes’s trial lawyer had provided an inadequate legal defense.

At a subsequent hearing, one of the proposed defense witnesses, Gary Hammond, said he would have testified that Haynes shot Murrell before Murrell pulled a gun from his waistband. Judge Bradshaw-Elliott denied the motion, reasoning that because Murrell had not pulled out the weapon before he was shot, Haynes was not acting in self-defense. Haynes appealed, then asked that the appeals court remand the case back to Bradshaw-Elliott so he could file a motion to reconsider. That motion was denied as well and Haynes again appealed.

In the meantime, a Haynes family member discovered that the co-prosecutor at the trial, Michael Jeneary, was a first-cousin to Marcus Hammond—information that had not been disclosed to the defense.

While Haynes’s appeal was pending, he filed a petition, acting without a lawyer, to vacate his conviction because the prosecution had failed to disclose the relationship between Marcus and Jeneary. Attached to the motion was a letter from Jeneary saying that he had discussed the relationship with co-prosecutor Astrella and they decided that disclosure was not required. Also attached was a handwritten statement from Marcus that said: “I testified in open court that there was only one gun, but it really was two. The guy that got shot also had a gun…but I was told not to say that he had a gun.”

Bradshaw-Elliott, while saying that Jeneary “probably should have” disclosed the relationship, denied the motion for new trial without a hearing and without asking the prosecution to respond, ruling that it concerned only bias and witness credibility.

Haynes’s appealed again and in May 2013, the Illinois Appellate Court upheld the denial in a 2-to-1 decision. The court concluded that the relationship could have been used to impeach Marcus, and that the prosecution “should have disclosed it” and “willfully withheld the information.”

But the appeals court found that disclosure would not have resulted in a different verdict. Appellate Judge Mary McDade dissented, saying that Marcus was “the only witness who claimed to have actually seen the defendant pull a gun and shoot the victim and who contradicted defendant’s testimony that the victim had a gun. He was an 11-year-old boy and his cousin was sitting at the prosecution table as the second chair. A child witness could be suggestible and eager to please a cousin involved in the prosecution of a criminal case—and perhaps even in awe of him.”

Subsequently, Haynes filed another petition for a new trial—still acting without a lawyer, claiming that Jeneary had suborned perjury based on Marcus’s recantation. Judge Bradshaw-Elliott dismissed that petition as well. The judge concluded there was no reasonable probability that the outcome of Haynes’s trial would have been different if Marcus had testified to seeing Murrell with a gun.

In January 2015, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the dismissal and sent the case back for appointment of an attorney and a hearing on the petition.

Lawyers at Hale Law LLC in Chicago saw the ruling and offered to represent Haynes without charge.

At a hearing on the petition in 2016, Marcus, then 27 years old, testified that on the night of the shooting, he told police that Murrell had a gun in his hand, but the officers refused to believe him because no weapon had been found at the scene. Marcus did not know what happened to the weapon after Murrell was shot and before police arrived. He went along with the police and signed a statement that did not mention a gun in Murrell’s hand.

Prior to trial, Marcus said he told Jeneary and Astrella, the prosecutors, that he saw Murrell with a gun, but they told him he had to stick with the statement that he signed for police. “(T)hey told me I was the key to putting a murderer away,” Marcus testified.

Debra Williams testified that she talked to Murrell prior to the shooting. She said he showed her a gun and said he was going to collect some money. “I told him he can’t go over there,” she testified. “And he said he (was going) to see if them dudes got his money and he showed me the gun. It was inside his pants,” Williams said.

Gary Hammond testified that he saw Murrell running toward the porch and as he ran toward Terrence, he was reaching for something on his right side. Gary said he heard two shots and Murrell started to fall down the stairs. Gary said Murrell held the banister with his left hand and had a gun in his right hand.

Darryl Haynes testified that he was on the porch when Murrell ran up the sidewalk. As he was running, he could see that Murrell had a gun in his waistband. Darryl said Murrell pulled it out of his waistband and Terrence shot him. Darryl admitted that in the statement he gave to police a few days after the shooting, he said that the gun was still in Murrell’s waistband when defendant shot him. He claimed that he told the officers that Murrell was pulling the gun out when defendant shot him, but they failed to include that information in his written statement.

Jackie Speed, sister of Gary and Marcus Hammond, was one of the witnesses that Terrence said his trial lawyer declined to call at the trial. Speed testified that she was standing on the sidewalk at the corner with friends, and saw Murrell approach Terrence and start an argument. She saw Murrell “pulling up his shirt and he had a gun” on the back right side of his pants. Jackie said she turned back to talk to her friends and heard shots.

Terrence Haynes testified that Murrell was demanding $4,000 to repair his car because someone had shot it. Terrence said he had no knowledge of the shooting, but Murrell threatened to kill him.

Jeneary, who would go on to become a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent in Michigan, denied that he and Astrella told Marcus leave out any testimony that Murrell had a gun. “We told him to tell the truth,” Jeneary said.

Jeneary admitted that Willie Turner, Gary Hammond, Darryl Haynes, and Terrence Haynes all told police on the night of the shooting that Murrell had a gun. Jeneary did not think they were lying, but he also noted that defendant’s trial testimony was that Murrell still had his hand on the gun in his waistband when he shot him. Jeneary said that the prosecution’s theory at trial was that Terrence shot an “unarmed” man because he and Astrella did not think any of the witnesses who said Murrell had a gun were credible.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Bradshaw-Elliott again denied the petition for a new trial. The judge ruled there was no evidence that the prosecution had suborned perjury and there was no credible evidence establishing Haynes’s innocence.

The judge also noted that Dr. Bryan Mitchell, the pathologist who had performed the autopsy on Murrell, testified at the trial that Murrell was bending over when he was shot in the shoulder and standing upright when he was shot in the chest. Although Dr. Mitchell could not tell which wound was inflicted first, Judge Bradshaw-Elliott said the fact that Murrell was bent over when one of the shots struck him rendered the testimony of the witnesses that Murrell was rushing toward Terrence “not credible and not corroborated by the physical evidence.”

In May 2018, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed Haynes’s conviction and ordered a new trial. The court ruled there was sufficient new evidence to warrant a new trial without addressing the claim that the prosecution suborned perjury.

Not only did the appeals court find the witnesses credible, the court said that Judge Bradshaw-Elliott’s finding regarding bullet wounds was “manifestly erroneous.”

“Contrary to the trial court, this court is not persuaded that the witnesses who testified at the evidentiary hearing lacked credibility based on Dr. Mitchell’s testimony at trial,” the appeals court said. “His testimony is entirely consistent with defendant shooting Murrell as Murrell came toward him. The trajectory of the shoulder wound is consistent with Murrell leaning forward as he reached for defendant, as the witnesses described. Moreover, Dr. Mitchell’s trial testimony confirmed that Murrell was standing up, facing the shooter, when the chest wound was inflicted.”

On January 11, 2019, Haynes was released on bond after his mother and a sister pledged their homes as collateral. On June 3, 2019, the prosecution dismissed the case.

In October 2019, Haynes filed a federal lawsuit against the prosecutors and his trial defense lawyer seeking compensation. In November 2019, Haynes was granted a certificate of innocence, and in 2020 was awarded $236,095 in compensation from the state of Illinois. In January 2023, the federal lawsuit was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 6/11/2019
Last Updated: 6/29/2023
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1999
Sentence:45 years
Age at the date of reported crime:22
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No