KANKAKEE — Attorneys for Terrence Haynes, a Kankakee man released from prison last June after serving 20 years for murder, have filed a federal lawsuit regarding the 1999 case.
The wrongful conviction lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Urbana on Thursday by Hale and Monico, a Chicago firm representing Haynes. It seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, costs and for “any additional relief that is just and proper.”
They argue that Haynes’ constitutional rights were violated, including the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizures) and 14th Amendment (due process).
The other four counts deal with Illinois state law (malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, legal malpractice and compensation).
It names as defendants the Kankakee State’s Attorney Office; Frank Astrella and Michael Jeneary; County of Kankakee; then-public defender Jamie Boyd; the Kankakee County Public Defender’s Office; Kankakee police officers Kenneth Lowman, Samuel Miller and Susan Wagner; and the city of Kankakee.
Astrella and Jeneary prosecuted the case. Lowman, Miller and Wagner investigated the case. Boyd was Haynes’ public defender.
The lawsuit claims Jeneary and Astrella concealed a family relationship between Jeneary and a key witness, and Astrella instructed an eyewitness to lie so he could convict Haynes.
It also claims Boyd did not “zealously represent” Haynes. He did not personally or have any staff interview witnesses who could support Haynes’ self-defense strategy, the suit claims.
Lowman, Miller and Wagner are alleged to have fabricated police reports and concealed exculpatory evidence from Haynes.
“What happened to Terrence Haynes is such a tragedy that could have easily been avoided. This man lost almost 20 years of his life,” attorney Andrew Hale said.
“It’s pretty stunning that the State’s Attorneys thought it was OK not to disclose the familial relationship between the young eyewitness and one of the prosecutors. This is a case that should have never been charged. The judicial system completely failed Terrence.”
Haynes was released June 3 after current Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe dropped all charges after an investigation of the case and facts.
Haynes was convicted in August 2000 of shooting and killing Cezaire Murrell on May 27, 1999, in Kankakee. He was sentenced to 45 years by Judge Kathy Bradshaw-Elliott.
It had been sent back to Elliott after the Illinois State Court of Appeals Third District reversed Haynes’ guilty verdict.
Marcus Hammond, who the state used as its key witness, recanted his testimony that Murrell did not have a gun when Haynes fired two shots hitting Murrell.
Hammond was 10 years old when the shooting occurred on the porch of his brother’s (Gary Hammond) house.
According to court documents, Hammond told investigators Murrell was armed and going for his gun. Hammond said prosecutors told him to say he did not see Murrell with a gun.
Jeneary and Marcus Hammond are cousins. This fact was brought up when Haynes filed a motion in 2008 that his due process rights were violated.
Several witnesses to the shooting did not testify during the 2000 trial.
Other evidence came to light when Debra Williams said Murrell left her apartment before the shooting a few blocks away. Williams said Murrell told her he was going to someone’s house to collect some money and showed her he had a gun in his waistband.
A version of this story appeared in the Friday digital edition of the Daily Journal.