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Danyale Gill

Other Oregon exonerations
At about 8 p.m. on March 25, 1994, 22-year-old Tommy Felix, a member of the Crips street gang, was talking to a woman near the intersection of NE 15TH Avenue and NE Albert Street in northeast Portland, Oregon, when a group of teenagers approached. An argument broke out, one of the teenagers pointed a handgun at Felix. Felix turned and ran west on Alberta Street. He heard five gunshots, and one bullet pierced his left wrist.

At about the same time, Charles Moose, chief of Portland police, happened to be driving an unmarked police car westbound on Alberta Street through the intersection of 15th Avenue. He had seen the confrontation spilling into the street and radioed that the gunman was a Black male wearing a black and white plaid shirt with tan or grayish pants.” Moore saw the gunman head north on 15th Avenue, so he backed up in the intersection and followed the gunman.

He reported that the gunman began to run when a marked police squad car “rolled into the area.” Moose said the gunman jumped over a fence on NE Sumner Street, one block north of Alberta Street, and he lost sight of him.

Also at the time of the shooting, officers Mark McGlaughlin and Arthur Walgren were in a marked police squad car at the intersection of 15th Avenue and Alberta Street. They were behind a city bus. They heard the shots and saw people running away. When they heard Moose’s radio message, they followed his car. Moose pointed to where he saw the gunman jump the fence, and both cars turned the corner, heading north on 16th Avenue.

About two-thirds of the way up the block, Moose saw 18-year-old Danyale Gill standing with a few other people. Moose and McGlaughlin got out of their cars, drew their weapons, and ordered everyone to put their hands up. In response, Gill and the others bolted.

Gill ran one block north on 16th Avenue and hid in the basement of an abandoned duplex. Police swarmed the area to create a perimeter and called in a canine unit. The handler said the dog, Gus, found a plaid shirt on the back porch of a nearby house. After nearly 20 minutes, the dog found Gill, who was wearing a white t-shirt, white sweatpants, and cut-off shorts. When Moose arrived, he identified Gill as the gunman.

No gun was recovered. Five .22-caliber shell casings were recovered. Meanwhile, police had learned that Felix was being treated at Emmanuel Hospital. Officer Duane Smiley interviewed Felix there. Felix said that about 10 to 15 teenagers, who he said were members of the opposing Bloods street gang, confronted him as a rival gang member. He said one of the group pulled out a gun and chambered a round. He said he turned and ran and was shot. Felix said the gunman was 5 feet 5 inches tall and about 140 pounds. He said the gunman was wearing a black coat, a red t-shirt, and a black dickey.

Officer Walgren said he handcuffed Gill and took him to a police car. Walgren said he stood with the door open and read Gill his Miranda warnings. Walgren would later testify that Gill volunteered “that he didn’t have anything to do with shooting somebody.” Walgren said, “I told him that nobody said anything [about a shooting] and he said he thought somebody had said something.”

Walgren said he told Gill that two police officers had seen him fire the shots. Walgren said that Gill replied, “They couldn’t have because they didn’t get a good enough look at me.”

Later that night, police presented a photographic lineup to Felix, who said that photo number one “kind of” looked like the gunman. Gill was number six in the array.

Detective Brian Grose interviewed Gill at the Multnomah County Justice Center. Gill told him that he had been at the home of his uncle, Darnell, at 16th Avenue and NE Wygant Street that evening. He said he left at about 7:45 p.m. to return to his home at 1625 NE Ainsworth Street. On the way, he ran into some people including someone he knew as “Lil Tone.” He said that when the police ran up with guns, everyone ran. Grose falsely told Gill that he had been identified as the gunman from a photographic lineup, but Gill denied he was the gunman.

Gill was taken to jail. When an officer attempted to give him a property receipt for the plaid shirt, Gill refused to accept it. “That’s not mine,” he said.

On April 4, Gill was charged with one count of attempted murder, one count of assault, and one count of unlawful use of a weapon.

In July 1994, he went to trial in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The evidence largely consisted of Chief Moose’s identification, although he admitted he never got a clear look at the gunman’s face. He also said that the plaid shirt was a different “tint of color” than the shirt he first identified the gunman as wearing.

Eric Blake, who was getting his car worked on at a garage on Alberta Street, testified that Felix ran past him as he fled the shooting. Although Blake was unable to identify Gill as the gunman, Blake said the shooter was wearing “darker clothing.”

Officer McGlaughlin testified that when he approached the youths with his gun drawn, the youths were wearing “mostly black…black coats, sagging black pants.”

Dog handler Officer Michael Kemp testified that his dog was able to track people that “are scared of being caught” because they give off “a rather unique scent. The best way to describe it is it’s a scent of maybe fear, hostility, resentment all combined. Fear of possibly being caught. Hostility towards the people that are chasing them. And resentment maybe from being in a situation he’s in.”

Grose testified and admitted that he never tried to contact Gill’s uncle, Darnell Gill, to see if Gill’s alibi checked out, saying, “I don’t see the point of calling him the next day.”

Grose testified that Gill had requested that a gunshot residue test (GSR) be performed on his hands to show that he had not fired a gun. Grose testified that he spoke with another officer about such a test, but was told that the test would likely not return useful results since a .22-caliber weapon had been used. Grose testified that, based on that information, the $300 test was too expensive.

Felix was not called to testify, so the jury did not hear that his description of the gunman’s clothes was different from the clothing that Gill was wearing.

The defense called one witness: Greg Hockerd of Intermountain Forensic Laboratories, a private laboratory hired by the defense. Hockerd testtifiedabout GSR tests which had been performed on the plaid shirt and on the clothing Gill was wearing when arrested and had worn for several days in jail. Hockerd testified that GSR tests by Portland police did not exclude results from .22-caliber shells. He said the items of clothing did not have elements consistent with GSR. During cross-examination by the prosecution, Hockerd said that the length of time and repeated handling of the shirt and clothing rendered the testing essentially meaningless.

Hockerd also testified that Dr. Raymond Grimsbo at Intermountain had performed a DNA test on hairs found on the plaid shirt.

Although the report was not introduced into evidence, it showed that a sample from Gill revealed he was DQ-alpha (DQa) type 1.2,3. The report said, “The hair from the surface originated from a person with a DQa type 1.2,3. DQa type 1.2,3 represents 8.4% of the general population.”

Gill's attorney asked, "And do you know the results of those tests?"

Hockerd replied, "According to Dr. Grimsbo's report here, the hairs recovered from the shirt were consistent with Mr. Gill's blood."

The jury did not hear that only one hair had given that result. All the rest of hairs found in the pockets of the shirt and on the shirt produced inconclusive results.

On July 18, 1994, the jury convicted Gill on the attempted murder charge by a vote of 10-2. The jury convicted him by a vote of 11-1 on the assault and unlawful use of a weapon charges.

In August 1994, a motion for a new trial was filed, supported by an affidavit from Felix. He said that he had recently been incarcerated in the Multnomah County jail where he saw the person who had pointed the gun at him. Felix identified him as Gable Chiles, who also was in the jail. Subsequently, a defense investigator showed a photographic lineup to Felix, and he picked Chiles. In the affidavit, Felix also said he had not seen Gill in the group of teenagers who confronted him.

At a hearing in September 1994, Felix testified that he did not see Gill at the scene. He also testified that the person who pulled a gun on him had a darker complexion than Gill. He also said that no one in the group was wearing a plaid shirt. Judge James Ellis denied the motion. He said that in gang cases “there is nothing usual about the victim of the current cases not cooperating with the State.” The judge said he did not find Felix “to be a particularly persuasive witness.”

Judge Ellis sentenced Gill to three years and four months in prison. Gill’s convictions were upheld on appeal.

Gill was released on parole January 17, 1997. He struggled to get by. On May 25, 1998, Gill was living in his car when he was stopped by police. He fled on foot and shot at police. In November 1998, Gill was convicted of that shooting. He was sentenced as a dangerous offender based on his conviction for shooting at Felix. He was sentenced to 14 years and eight months to 40 years in prison.

In 2007, Chiles wrote and signed a sworn affidavit in which he admitted that he shot Felix in 1994.

Also, McKeever Thompson, a rival gang member to Felix, signed a sworn affidavit saying that he saw Chiles with a .22-caliber pistol earlier on the day of the shooting. Thompson said that on the night of the shooting, he saw Felix talking with a female member of Thompson’s family. Thompson said he and a few others confronted Felix and surrounded him, and eventually Chiles pulled out the gun and shot at Felix. Thompson said he knew that Gill was not involved.

In 2008, Gill submitted the affidavits to support a new trial motion. The prosecution did not file a response, and the court denied the motion without a hearing.

In 2022, Oregon Innocence Project attorney Alex Meggitt filed an amended petition for post-conviction relief, citing the affidavits from Chiles and Thompson. The petition contended that Gill’s trial defense had provided an inadequate legal defense by failing to call Gill’s uncle, Darnell Gill, as an alibi witness.

The case was reinvestigated by the Justice Integrity Unit of the Multnomah District Attorney’s Office. On July 14, 2023, the prosecution agreed to the motion to vacate Gill’s 1994 conviction. Because Gill’s sentence in the 1998 shooting had been enhanced by the 1994 conviction, the prosecution agreed that Gill’s sentence in the 1998 case would be reduced to 20 years in prison.

On September 26, the 1994 case was dismissed, and Gill was released, having completed his reduced sentence in the 1998 case.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 11/1/2023
Last Updated: 11/1/2023
Most Serious Crime:Attempted Murder
Additional Convictions:Assault, Illegal Use of a Weapon
Reported Crime Date:1994
Sentence:3 years and 4 months
Age at the date of reported crime:18
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, False Confession, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No