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Leonard Logan

Other Cook County homicide exonerations
On March 18, 1997, shortly before 11:30 p.m. 23-year-old Timothy Jones was talking on a pay phone at a gas station at the intersection of 75th Street and Yates Boulevard on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, when a sport utility vehicle (SUV) pulled into the station and parked about 20 feet away from the phone booth. A man got out, walked toward the phone and when he was about two or three feet away, pulled out a handgun and shot Jones in the head.

L.C. Robinson, who was driving on Yates Boulevard, later told police he saw the man then fire several shots at another man who was at an adjacent phone booth and ran away as the first shot was fired.

Robinson said the man got back in the front passenger side of the SUV and the vehicle sped off. Robinson told police that the gunman was a Black man about 5 feet 9 inches or 5 feet 10 inches tall and “heavy-set.”

Robinson followed the SUV westbound on 75th Street. He wrote down the vehicle’s license plate number and called 911. He followed the vehicle until it turned into an alley, then returned to the gas station where he told police what he had seen.

The man who fled from the other pay phone, Charles Jenkins, said the shooter was 5 feet 6 inches or 5 feet 7 inches tall and about 160 to 170 pounds. Jenkins was shot in the back, but survived.

Police traced the license plate to a Budget Rent-A-Car facility and determined the car had been rented by Latonya Payton. On March 19, 1997, police went to Payton’s apartment at about 6:30 p.m. As they arrived, they saw two men walking in the hallway. Payton denied knowing them. She told the police that she had rented the SUV and it had been parked in front of her building from the evening of March 18 constantly until that moment. When police told her it was linked to a shooting, she said the vehicle had not been moved and she didn’t know what the police were talking about.

Asked about the beer bottles and two large pizzas in her apartment, Payton then conceded that the two men seen in the hallway were friends of hers—though she did not identify them—and had just left her apartment. She then said that a different friend of hers had borrowed the vehicle.

At 6:45 p.m., Payton went to the police station after the police said the shooting was a murder. The vehicle was impounded for evidence processing.

At the station, Payton, according to police, said that on March 18, at about 11 p.m., a friend of hers named Rodman came over, accompanied by another man named either Keith or Kevin. She said they came to assemble an entertainment center, but didn’t do it because it was too late. She said Rodman asked to borrow the car. She said she gave him the keys. He left and returned about 20 minutes later, she said. This would be the first of eight different statements police said Payton gave.

At 10 p.m., Payton was taken for a polygraph examination. She returned to the station at about 12:30 a.m. on March 20. Informed she was found to be untruthful, Payton said that the two men who were leaving the apartment were a friend she knew as “Dino,” and a friend of his.

At 8 a.m., police said Payton told them that Rodman had been accompanied by Dino when he came to the apartment. She said that they left about 11 p.m. and returned about 2 a.m. She said that Dino returned at 7 a.m. and borrowed the car again. She told police she thought that Dino’s first name was Leonard or Anthony and that his last name was Logan. She then identified a photograph of 24-year-old Leonard Logan as Dino.

Six hours later, at 2 p.m. on March 20, Payton told detectives that Rodman had been at her apartment, but denied that he borrowed the car. Instead, she said that Logan was the only person who took her car. Two hours later, at 4 p.m., Payton took a second polygraph examination.

At 7 p.m., when she returned to the interrogation room, Payton said that she had been in the SUV and that Logan was driving. Rodman was in the back seat. She said they were driving down 75th Street near Yates Boulevard, when Logan pulled into the station. She said he got out of the vehicle, pulled out a gun, and began shooting at a man on the pay phone. She said Logan turned and fired shots down an alley at someone else, then got back into the SUV, and they drove away.

She said Logan pulled into an alley when he noticed someone following them, then drove to Stateway Gardens, a public housing development near 36th and Federal Streets on the city’s south side. Payton said Logan went into one of the apartment buildings. When he emerged about 10 minutes later, he had changed clothes and no longer had his gun, she said.

At 7 a.m. on March 21, Payton gave a statement which was written out by an assistant Cook County state’s attorney. In that statement, Payton said she rented the vehicle on March 15, 1997, so she could bring the entertainment center to her home. On March 16, while at Stateway Gardens, she saw Logan, whom she identified as Dino. She said that on March 17, he borrowed the vehicle for about 90 minutes. She said he borrowed in again on March 18, picked her up from work, and ran some errands. She said they went to Stateway Gardens where they picked up Rodman. A few hours later, as they drove down 75th Street, Logan pulled into the gas station, got out, and shot Jones. In the statement, she recounted how they drove away, eluded the car following them, and that Logan changed clothes and left the gun at Stateway Gardens.

Subsequently, Payton testified to a Cook County grand jury. Her account changed slightly. She said that on March 19, the day after the shooting, Logan and another man came to her home to set up the entertainment center. She said they were eating pizza when police arrived, so Logan left through the back door.

Police looked, but were unable to immediately locate Logan. Ultimately, he was arrested on June 20, 1997. Logan was charged with first-degree murder for the shooting of Jones and aggravated battery with a firearm for the shots fired at Jenkins.

By the time Logan came to trial in November 2000 in Cook County Circuit Court, Logan had been represented by several lawyers, eventually settling upon Martin Kelly, who was assisted by Anthony Thomas. Even so, Kelly and Thomas would later describe their relationship with Logan as “hostile…discourteous.” Logan, they would later say, was “a difficult client.”

Several months prior to trial, Kelly had learned that Princess and Chevelle Thomas were potential alibi witnesses. Both told Kelly that Logan had visited them in Milwaukee around the time of their mother’s birthday, which was March 15—three days prior to the shooting. They could not give exact dates.

After a jury was selected, Thomas gave the opening statement and told the jury that the “evidence will show that on the date that the murder took place, Leonard Logan was not in Chicago. He was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.”

When Payton was called to testify, she recanted her statement. She claimed that her statement was coerced and that the police had told her what to say. Payton said Logan’s nickname was “Dash.” She denied ever telling police that Logan’s nickname was Dino. Payton testified that the police told her that if she did not come up with something, she would be charged with murder. She said she was not allowed to eat or sleep for three days.

The prosecution was allowed to introduce Payton’s handwritten statement as well as her grand jury testimony as substantive evidence to impeach her recanted testimony.

The detectives testified, denied that Payton was threatened with murder, and asserted that no one ever told her the facts or any details relating to the shooting.

Hasan Al-Amin testified that on June 20, 1997, he arrested Logan. He said he saw Logan trying to hide underneath a landing, and then began to run away. Logan eventually wound up on the roof of a building. Rather than jump, the man stopped and was arrested. Assisting in the arrest was officer Glenn Evans.

The prosecution presented evidence that two compact discs and three compact disc cases were found in the SUV. Logan was the source of a fingerprint on one of the compact discs. In addition, the prosecution presented evidence that Logan’s fingerprint was found on a beer bottle in Payton’s home.

Charles Jenkins testified for the defense that he was talking on a pay phone next to Jones when Jones was fatally shot. Jenkins said that a vehicle came into the station and a young man got out.

The man pulled a gun, walked up to Jones, put the gun to his head and shot him, Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he dropped the phone and began to run down the alley. He said he was shot in the back and survived. Jenkins said Logan was not the gunman. The shooter had darker skin than Logan, Jenkins said. Logan was 6 feet tall and at least 200 pounds—taller and heavier than any description.

The defense did not call any alibi witnesses.

On November 17, 2000, the jury convicted Logan of first-degree murder. He was acquitted of the aggravated battery with a firearm.

During the sentencing hearing, officer Evans testified about an incident on November 17, 1996—prior to the shooting—when Evans was assigned to locate Logan. Evans testified that when he found Logan in a Chicago public housing development, Logan fled up a flight of stairs. Evans said he caught up to Logan, who turned around and punched Evans.

Evans said they grappled, and he took out his gun and pointed it at Logan. Evans said Logan grabbed the gun out of his hand. Evans said he punched Logan and recovered his gun. During the ensuing struggle, Evans shot Logan once in the groin. When Logan ran up another flight of stairs, Evans shot again and hit Logan in the forearm. Logan survived and later filed a lawsuit against Evans for excessive force. That lawsuit had been dismissed.

Logan filed a motion for a new trial claiming his trial defense lawyers provided an inadequate legal defense for failing to call his sister, Earlene Logan, as well as Princess and Chevelle Thomas to testify that he was in Milwaukee at the time of the shooting. At an evidentiary hearing, Kelly testified that he didn’t call them as witnesses for several reasons including that he believed the jury would not find them credible and would blame the defense for failing to deliver on the promise in the opening statement.

Earlene Logan testified that she drove Logan to Milwaukee the day before the shooting and that he could not have been in Chicago the next day because she dropped him off at their aunt’s home in Milwaukee. She also testified that she never told Logan’s trial counsel this information because when she tried to talk to them, they told her to wait.

Princess and Chevelle did not testify at the hearing because they were working in Milwaukee, and the judge denied a defense motion for a continuance.

Judge Henry Simmons denied the motion and sentenced Logan to 45 years in prison.

In August 2004, the First District Illinois Appellate Court upheld the conviction and sentence.

Logan filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming he had been denied a fair trial because Kelly and Thomas failed to call the alibi witnesses. He filed a supplemental petition saying his trial was unfair because the evidence of Payton’s polygraph examinations was introduced; the results–that she had been found deceptive—had been clear to the jury and no limiting jury instruction had been given.

Ultimately, Logan was granted a new trial based on the admission of the polygraph evidence without a limiting jury instruction. At the time, the court said that the failure to call the alibi witnesses factored into the ruling. The prosecution appealed. In 2008, the First District Illinois Appellate Court reversed. The court held that the judge had failed to give the state an opportunity to file an answer and had granted the new trial without conducting an evidentiary hearing.

The case was remanded and assigned to a different judge—Judge James Obbish. Following a hearing, Judge Obbish denied the petition for a new trial. Logan appealed, and the denial was upheld in 2011.

In August 2012, Logan, represented by Tara Thompson, an attorney with the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School, filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The petition was based on previously raised claims: failure to call the alibi witnesses; and that evidence had been presented that Payton had taken polygraph examinations (the results were not presented) without a limiting instruction to the jury. In addition, the petition said the defense had failed to introduce a 911 call from the night of the shooting during which a description of the gunman was broadcast to police. The description was of a man who was much shorter and slighter in build than Logan.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly denied all of Logan’s claims except for the issue of whether Kelly and Thomas had provided inadequate assistance at Logan’s trial by promising to call the alibi witnesses and failing to present them. Kennelly ordered a hearing on that issue. After the hearing, but before he could rule, Kennelly granted a motion by Logan to put his federal habeas case on hold so Logan could investigate potential new claims after Evans was indicted on charges of official misconduct. Evans was accused of putting his gun into an arrestee’s mouth, putting a Taser to the arrestee’s crotch, and threatening to kill him. Evans ultimately was acquitted.

In February 2015, Logan filed a motion seeking permission to file a successive post-conviction petition based on an affidavit from a witness to the shooting, Erven Walls. Walls said that at the time of the shooting, he was at a barbeque stand on the southeast corner of 75th Street and Yates Boulevard. Walls, who was a member of the Gangster Disciples street gang, said that corner was in territory controlled by the Blackstones street gang. The territory was known as “Terror Town.”

Walls said that he saw a fellow Gangster Disciples gang member, Kenneth Mosby, in the passenger seat of a vehicle that pulled into the gas station across the street from the barbeque stand. Walls said Mosby was part of a crew in the gang that handled shootings and security. Mosby was 17 or 18 years old, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall and had a cross-eye. Walls said the driver was a woma

n named Tonya who hung out with Disciples gang members. Walls said that he drove to the station to talk to Mosby, but before that could happen, Mosby got out of the vehicle and began shooting at a group of people by the pay phones. Walls said that one man ran into the alley and Mosby shot at him before getting back into the passenger side of the vehicle and fleeing.

Walls said that in January 1998, he was at Tonya’s apartment with Mosby. Mosby told him that the shooting had been “taken care of” because Tonya had talked to the police and “put the shooting on some guy.”

The petition also asserted that Evans, the police officer who had testified at Logan’s sentencing, had a previously unknown pattern of using excessive force. The petition said that at the time of Logan's arrest for the murder, Evans had 48 complaints against him. Logan said he learned of them in 2014 in a newspaper article. Logan contended that the evidence of the numerous complaints showed Evans’s capability to assist other officers in an effort to frame him for the murder. The petition said that police reports indicated that Evans, although he was not assigned to the investigation of the gas station shooting, had inserted himself in the case. The petition said that Logan believed Evans had tried to frame him for the shooting in retaliation for his civil lawsuit against Evans. That lawsuit had been dismissed, but not until after Logan was convicted.

The petition contained an affidavit from Logan’s mother, Ezzie, who said that about a year before Evans shot Logan, he had repeatedly harassed Logan, stopped, and frisked him, allegedly to find drugs, though none were found. She said that when she asked Evans why he wouldn’t let Logan alone, Evans replied that he was “going to get him.” She also said that Logan never had the nickname Dino.

The petition also claimed that the description of the gunman on the 911 call closely resembled Mosby. The petition also said that police reports showed that a cell phone had been recovered from the rented SUV. The petition said the defense had failed to investigate the phone to determine whether it contained evidence that could show Logan was never in the SUV.

Ultimately, Judge Obbish granted permission to file the petition and granted a hearing, but only on the issue of Walls’s claims that Mosby was the gunman.

At the time of the hearing, Walls was in prison for armed robbery, armed violence, and aggravated kidnapping. Walls said he had grown up with Mosby and that his nickname was Dino. Walls identified Mosby as the gunman. He said he remembered the date because it was the same day that Disciples gang members had gathered at the Willie Mays lounge at 75th Street and Dorchester Avenue, about a mile east of where the shooting occurred, to discuss an upcoming gang picnic. Walls said that after the meeting, he and his girlfriend drove to the barbeque stand to get something to eat.

Walls described how he saw Mosby pull into the station and decided to drive over to chat with him. But before he could get out of his car, Mosby got out, shot at the crowd, and fled. Walls said he fled as well. He said he didn’t realize that anyone had been shot. Walls testified to being in Tonya’s apartment when Mosby said not to worry about the shooting because the police had told Tonya who to identify as the gunman.

Walls testified that he saw Logan in the library at the Dixon Correctional Center. When Logan said he was in prison for the shooting at the gas station, Walls said he decided to come forward.

Logan’s defense subsequently sought to supplement the petition with a transcript of the 911 recordings which had been turned over to Logan’s trial defense attorneys, but had not been introduced. The tapes from which the transcript was prepared had gone missing for years until the prosecution discovered them during the post-conviction proceedings. According to the tapes, at one point, the gunman was described as a Black male, 5 feet 7 inches tall, 130 pounds and dark-skinned—significantly smaller than Logan. The judge refused to consider that evidence, ruling that it was not newly discovered.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge denied the post-conviction petition. The judge ruled that Walls’s testimony was not credible and would not have resulted in an acquittal of Logan. The judge concluded that Walls’s testimony was “orchestrated’ and did not have “a shred of credibility.”

On November 12, 2019, Logan was released from prison on parole.

In June 2022, the First district Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the denial of the petition.

By then, Logan, now represented by Exoneration Project lawyer Karl Leonard as well as David Owens from the law firm of Loevy & Loevy, had returned to federal court. On June 30, 2023, Judge Kennelly finally—after apologizing for the delay—ruled on Logan’s habeas claim based on the evidentiary hearing held more than nine years earlier in February 2014. Judge Kennelly ruled that defense attorneys Kelly and Thomas, by promising to present alibi testimony and then failing to present it, had provided an inadequate legal defense for Logan at trial.

The reasons that Kelly and Thomas presented for not calling the alibi witnesses, Judge Kennelly declared, were known before the trial. Both Thomas and Kelly claimed that the alibi witnesses had told them they didn’t want to testify after all.

However, Judge Kennelly said the witnesses credibly testified they were at the trial and were ready to testify, but were not called to testify.

Judge Kennelly ruled that the witnesses “did not tell Kelly—or anyone else—during Logan’s trial that they did not wish to testify.” The judge noted that the case against Logan relied heavily on Payton who had recanted at trial.

“[G]iven the weakness of the prosecution’s case against Logan, there is a reasonable probability that the trial would have come out differently absent trial counsel’s broken promise,” the judge ruled.

On July 17, 2023, Judge Kennelly entered an order directing the Cook County Circuit Court to vacate Logan’s conviction.

On September 14, 2023, the prosecution dismissed the case.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 10/26/2023
Last Updated: 10/26/2023
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1997
Sentence:45 years
Age at the date of reported crime:24
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No