New prosecutors assigned in case of 2011 slaying of CPD officer amid increasing scrutiny newstrendslive

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office assigned new prosecutors to try three men charged in the 2011 slaying of an off-duty Chicago police officer amid increasing scrutiny of the decadelong prosecution, accusations of prosecutorial and police misconduct and a tangled battle over evidence production.

During a hearing Friday morning at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Assistant State’s Attorneys Craig Engebretson and Kevin DeBoni told Cook County Judge Erica Reddick that they were trying the defendants in the shooting death of Officer Clifton Lewis, replacing Andrew Varga and Nancy Adduci, who is also the head of the Conviction Integrity Unit.

Chicago police Officer Clifton Lewis.

Lewis was shot and killed by two masked men in December 2011 while working a second job as security at a West Side convenience store. Cook County prosecutors charged Tyrone Clay, Alexander Villa and Edgardo Colon in the case that has dragged on for more than 10 years.

Prosecutors allege that Clay and Alexander Villa shot Lewis while Edgardo Colon was their getaway driver.

“The length of time this case has been going on is unconscionable,” Reddick said during the hearing, after the newly-assigned prosecutors asked for more time to respond to a defense motion.

A spokesperson for the state’s attorney’s office confirmed the case had been reassigned to new prosecutors for each of the three defendants.

“Motions alleging prosecutorial misconduct are pending, and the court has not made any rulings,” the office said in a statement. “The new attorneys assigned to the case will be reviewing the matter and responding appropriately.”

Defense attorneys had in recent months accused Varga and Adduci of deliberately trying to withhold evidence by using personal email addresses — not subject to disclosure under public record laws — in communications with the Chicago Police Department. They filed a motion asking Reddick to levy sanctions against the prosecutors.

The state’s attorney’s office has not yet filed a response to the motion.

Marijane Placek, who is defending Clay, said the appearance of Adduci and Varga handling the case “was terrible.”

“It had to happen,” she said of the reassignment.

Clay has been awaiting trial while attorneys have argued over whether his videotaped statements should be shown to a jury. His attorneys have said he couldn’t waive his Miranda rights due to “limited intelligence and verbal comprehension.”

Reddick last week denied bail for Clay after his attorneys asked her to review the matter, dashing the hopes of his family members, who have maintained his innocence.

Colon is awaiting a new trial after his conviction was thrown out by an Illinois appellate court, which said his constitutional rights were violated when police continued questioning him after he indicated he wanted a lawyer. A Cook County judge and an appellate court agreed that the statements should be thrown out.

Villa was convicted in 2019 but has not been sentenced and has a pending motion for a new trial.

During Friday’s hearing, the attorneys continued to tussle over ongoing evidence issues, with defense attorneys maintaining that police and prosecutors are not properly turning over evidence they need to defend their clients. Prosecutors and city attorneys argued that some of the materials sought by the defense are entangled with a federal investigation and might not be disclosable under federal law, and they told the judge they are going through the documents.

The federal investigation in question, called Operation Snake Doctor, targeted the Spanish Cobras street gang and was done jointly with the Chicago Police Department.

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