People v. Ward, 012221 ILCA1, 1-18-1509

Docket Nº:1-18-1509
Party Name:THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. WILLIAM WARD, Defendant-Appellant.
Judge Panel:JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the judgment of the court. Presiding Justice Delort and Justice Cunningham concurred in the judgment.
Case Date:January 22, 2021
Court:Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District

2021 IL App (1st) 181509-U



WILLIAM WARD, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 1-18-1509

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

January 22, 2021

This order was filed under Supreme Court Rule 23 and is not precedent except in the limited circumstances allowed under Rule 23(e)(1).

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 01 CR690 Honorable Carl B. Boyd, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the judgment of the court. Presiding Justice Delort and Justice Cunningham concurred in the judgment.



¶ 1 Held: We affirm the circuit court's denial of the defendant's third successive postconviction petition at the third stage of proceedings.

¶ 2 The defendant, William Ward, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County, denying his third successive postconviction petition filed pursuant to the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Act) (725 ILCS 5/122 et. seq. (West 2012)) after a third-stage evidentiary hearing. On appeal, he contends that the circuit court erred when it denied repeated discovery requests. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

¶ 3 The following facts and procedural history were derived from the limited record, the parties' briefs on appeal, and the prior decisions of this court.

¶ 4 The defendant was charged by indictment with, inter alia, attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, stemming from the shootings of Michael Walker and J.C. Johnson in Harvey, Illinois, on September 24, 2000.

¶ 5 At trial, Harvey Police Officer Montague Hall testified that, on September 24, 2000, he responded to a call of shots fired in an alley around 150th Street and Honore Avenue. At the scene, Officer Hall recovered two bullet casings. He spoke with Johnson, who was lying on the ground, having been shot in the leg. Officer Hall also spoke with James Tolbert and Terrance Coprich, who provided him with descriptions of two possible offenders. Officer Hall recorded the descriptions of both offenders as "male Black, unknown height, unknown weight, unknown complexion."

¶ 6 Harvey Police Detective Samuel White testified that he interviewed Tyrone Moten on October 29, 2000, and subsequently began to look for the defendant. On November 17, 2000, he went to the defendant's residence and knocked on the door, but no one answered. As Detective White turned to leave, he saw the defendant driving toward the house. Detective White made eye contact with the defendant, who then drove away. He pursued the defendant to 164th and Halsted, where the defendant exited his car. Detective White attempted to take the defendant into custody and the defendant punched him. Detective White was able to subdue the defendant and take him into custody.

¶ 7 Detective White returned to the defendant's home with an Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) parole agent. Detective White watched the agent search the bedroom, where he recovered a safe and ammunition. At the police station, they opened the safe and discovered a loaded gun, ammunition, and a magazine. Later, Detective White met with Walker and presented him with a photo array. He testified that Walker identified another individual as the shooter.

¶ 8 Terrence Coprich, a convicted felon, testified that on September 24, 2000, he was in the backyard of James and Michael Tolbert's house at 150th and Honore. At some point, he, Moten, and others drove to 158th and Vine Streets. There, Moten, a woman named Sakina, and the defendant got into a physical altercation. The defendant ran to the back of the house at 158th and Vine. Moten picked up a brick and used it to shatter the windows of the defendant's truck and take a hat worth $150 from the front seat. Coprich's group then returned to the Tolberts' residence.

¶ 9 After returning to the Tolberts' home, Coprich and some others decided to get some beer. He walked towards his car in front of the house, where he noticed a gray station wagon "ride by" with the defendant sitting in the front passenger seat of the vehicle. Coprich and the others got into his car and followed the station wagon. Coprich turned into the alley adjacent to the Tolbert residence to warn his friends who were gathered there. However, as he approached them, the station wagon entered the alley from the other direction. Coprich again saw the defendant and another man in the station wagon as the cars were "side to side" with the passenger doors right next to each other. He then saw the defendant shoot across the driver's seat of the station wagon. Coprich drove away from the scene, but then returned to check on his friends. On November 19, 2000, Coprich viewed a lineup at the Harvey Police Department where he identified the defendant as the shooter.

¶ 10 On cross-examination, Coprich testified that, on the same day he observed the lineup, he gave a statement to Detective White and ASA Alzetta Bozeman. He explained that he declined to write the statement out himself, leaving it to ASA Bozeman to record what he said; however, he checked over her recording of his statement, made no corrections, and signed it, along with Detective White and ASA Bozeman.

¶ 11 Forensic scientist Jeffrey Parise was the final witness for the State. After being qualified as an expert in firearms identification, Parise testified that he conducted testing on the recovered casings and the firearm found in the safe in the defendant's bedroom. He stated that he formed the opinion to "a reasonable degree of scientific [and] technical certainty" that the casings recovered by the police at the scene of the shooting had been fired from the gun recovered from the defendant's bedroom, "to the exclusion of all others."

¶ 12 During deliberations, the jury sent several notes to the court, requesting both the "written Statement from Terrance Coprich and also a transcript of his testimony ***." Each time, the circuit court responded by telling the jury to consider only the exhibits they had already received and their recollection of the testimony. Eventually, the jury reached a verdict, finding the defendant guilty on both counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. The jury also found that Johnson and Walker both suffered severe bodily injury. After a sentencing hearing, the court sentenced the defendant to consecutive terms of 20 and 15 years' imprisonment.

¶ 13 On direct appeal, the defendant argued, inter alia, that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to introduce Coprich's handwritten statement into evidence, "or to otherwise clarify the information contained in the statement." People v. Ward, 371 Ill.App.3d 382, 435 (2007). We affirmed the defendant's conviction and sentence, finding that his trial counsel was not ineffective because the decision to not introduce the handwritten statement was not "objectively unreasonable" and did not result in prejudice. Id.

¶ 14 The defendant's postconviction procedural history is lengthy and convoluted. Therefore, we include only the facts relevant to the issue on appeal.

¶ 15 On March 30, 2007, the defendant filed his initial pro se postconviction petition pursuant to the Act, which he subsequently amended several times. His initial petition was dismissed by the circuit court on the State's motion. The defendant filed an appeal, but his appeal was dismissed due to his failure to return the record to the appellate court. People v. Ward, No. 01-09-3349 (2010) (dispositional order).

¶ 16 On January 2, 2013, the defendant sought leave to file a successive pro se postconviction petition pursuant to the Act, in which he asserted newly discovered evidence showing that he was never admonished regarding the required three-year term of mandatory supervised release (MSR). He requested that his sentence be reduced to 32 years' imprisonment. The circuit court denied him leave to file the petition, and on appeal, we granted the state appellate defender's motion to withdraw pursuant to Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551 (1987). People v. Ward, 1-13-1082 (unpublished summary order under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23(c)).

¶ 17 On August 1, 2013, the defendant attempted to file his second successive pro se postconviction petition pursuant to the Act. This petition was once again predicated on a claim that the MSR term was improper. The circuit court denied the defendant's petition because he did not request leave of court to file it, as is required by the Act. On May 14, 2014, we granted appellate counsel's motion to withdraw pursuant to Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551 (1987). People v. Ward, 1-13-3370 (unpublished summary order under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23(c)).

¶ 18 On June 29, 2015, the defendant sought leave from the circuit court to file his third successive pro se postconviction petition pursuant to the Act, raising a claim of actual innocence based on the testimony of Richard Listenbee and Richard Tyson. The defendant attached affidavits from both Listenbee and Tyson, who both averred that they were present at the scene of the shooting, saw the face of the shooter, and the shooter was not the defendant.

¶ 19 On January 28, 2016, the defendant filed a pro se "Motion for Evidentiary Hearing Based on Due Process Violations," arguing that his claims should advance to a third-stage evidentiary hearing because the State failed to timely file a motion to dismiss his petition. The motion referenced his claim of actual innocence and also faulted his trial counsel for failing to "investigate the crime scene" because, if he had, he would have learned of the existence of Listenbee and Tyson.

¶ 20 On May 20, 2016, the State filed its answer to the defendant's third successive postconviction petition,...

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