Lawyers for man charged in 2011 cop killing ask for sanctions against prosecutors

Lawyers for getaway driver in murder of CPD Officer Clifton Lewis say prosecutors hid evidence from trial team, judge.

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The star of Chicago Police Officer Clifton Lewis, who was killed while working off-duty as a security guard at an Austin convenience store in 2011, is retired at a ceremony in 2012.

Sun-Times Media

Lawyers for one of the men charged in the 2011 murder of a Chicago police officer say misconduct by police and prosecutors in the case has passed a “tipping point” and called on a judge to either dismiss the charges or sanction the Cook County state’s attorney.

In a motion filed last week, lawyers for Edgardo Colon said that recently discovered emails show that prosecutors were aware for more than a decade of cell phone data that showed Colon and his two co-defendants were miles away from the scene when CPD Officer Clifton Lewis was gunned down during a convenience store robbery.

In a murder case that already has been marred by allegations of misconduct — Colon was convicted in Lewis’ murder in 2017, but an appeals court granted him a new trial because police secured his confession after he had asked for a lawyer — Colon’s lawyers claim messages sent from personal email accounts by Assistant State’s Attorney Andrew Varga show he was aware of the cell phone report in 2012 and never turned over the information to the defense, even after Colon’s trial attorney asked about it in 2013.

“Prosecutors’ misconduct has extended well beyond the tipping point, and this court should dismiss the pending charge against Mr. Colon,” lawyer Paul Vickrey wrote in the motion, filed Friday. “The unlawful machinations of the [state’s attorney’s office] and the CPD have already cost Mr. Colon over ten years of incarceration and a ‘stacked deck’ trial in which his counsel had no idea of the mountain of exculpatory evidence which had been hidden or destroyed.” 

At a hearing Monday, Judge Erica Reddick set a January date for Varga and his co-chair on the case, Nancy Adduci, to respond to Colon’s motion. The motion also claims Varga and Adduci told Reddick earlier this year they could not find emails that showed when they had gotten the cell tower information, asserting that records show they exchanged messages with investigators using personal accounts. 

Throughout the hearing, Reddick grew impatient with lawyers for CPD, who had been ordered last week to turn over records on the investigation by Monday. The judge took a short recess, apparently to collect herself, after a city attorney said they had found no records of any tips CPD received from a tip line, only to have Vickrey step forward moments later with a CPD record that defendant Alexander Villa’s lawyers had located that showed the department had received several submissions to the tip line.

“It would appear that there are some irregularities in the representation you made to this court,” Reddick said to city attorney Christina Hake when she returned to the bench.

Lawyers for Colon and co-defendants Tyrone Clay and Villa became aware of the cell phone report this year, after Villa’s lawyers issued new subpoenas and public records requests from CPD ahead of his sentencing hearing. Villa was convicted at trial in 2019, but his lawyers have asked Judge James Linn to overturn that conviction based on a “mountain” of evidence that police hid from Villa’s trial attorneys. Clay is still awaiting trial, and his lawyer said Monday that she would seek to have him freed on bond in light of the new evidence.

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