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Hearsay Proves Prejudcial in Cook County Weapons Appeal

A Chicago man charged with being an armed habitual offender will get a new trial after an appeals court agreed that bodycam footage he sought to introduce as evidence of his innocence contained the hearsay that played a role in his conviction. Jodon Collins contends the weapon cops said they found after a foot chase in 2017 was not his. He sought to prove that claim by calling on the footage, in which arresting Officer Martin Hernandez repeats that Collins had dropped the gun even as the act is not recorded.

Despite Hernandez admitting that he started the camera only after Collins took flight — a violation of CPD protocol — the state argued that introduction of the footage at the defendant’s behest made it admissible as evidence at trial. Cook County Judge Charles P. Burns sided with the prosecution that the audio provided the jury with proximal information that the gun found blocks away from the site of the arrest belonged to Collins. However, the panel in the 1st District Appellate Court reversed the ruling and remanded the case, saying that Hernandez’s repeated claims of Collins having dropped the gun were prejudicial to his defense.

This case demonstrates both the possibilities that can arise from calling into question evidence that can potentially exonerate defendants and the extent to which prosecutors will go to obtain convictions in district court. The Cook County Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Chicagoland Law Firm defend clients charged with weapons offenses, including on appeal of convictions and sentences. We can help expunge and seal court records, too. Our team of skilled defense lawyers is well-versed in the tactics used by prosecutors and uses that knowledge to help clients achieve the best outcomes possible for the facts in their case in courts around the state of Illinois. To learn more, contact our offices in Downers Grove and downtown Chicago for a free consultation. We are your best defense.