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Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005 02:28 pm

Yesterday’s news

Rapist who figured in Frazier controversy rebuffed in request for new trial

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Shawn Greene: “It was like he was trying to get me to cop out.”
PHOTO FROM THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

In February 2004, Shawn Greene was the star of local TV. From his prison cell at Graham Correctional Center, he appeared in the final segments of an eight-part series to say that he shouldn’t have pleaded guilty to rape, that he only had consensual sex with the girl, and that his lawyer had not represented him adequately.

In that WICS (Channel 20) series, Greene’s perspective was supported by attorneys Jon Gray Noll and Courtney Cox. Noll was interviewed as a criminal-defense specialist, poking holes in the state’s case against Greene, and Cox was heavily featured, explaining to reporter Glenn McEntyre how Springfield Police Department had bungled this rape case and falsely imprisoned Greene, all in a rush to force Renatta Frazier out of the police department.

Weeks after the series aired, the city of Springfield announced a settlement in Frazier’s racial-discrimination lawsuit, paying her and Cox together more than $850,000.

But none of Greene’s co-stars in the TV report was present in Judge Leslie Graves’ courtroom on Tuesday when Greene appeared to make the same arguments again — this time asking for a new trial. Cox and Noll weren’t there; Frazier and her former fellow plaintiffs, the Black Guardians, weren’t there. No TV reporters. No family, no friends.

Greene, 34, wore shackles that kept his stride short and his hands clipped securely to his waist. Two guards accompanied him.

On the witness stand, he testified that he initially pleaded guilty because Chief Public Defender Brian Otwell told him that he didn’t have much of a case. The prosecution had Greene’s original statement — that he didn’t know who lived in the girl’s apartment — which was directly contradicted by his DNA found on her body. At that time, Greene was on parole for a Class X felony home-invasion robbery conviction. Another conviction could have meant a 30-year sentence.

“It was like he was trying to get me to cop out,” Greene testified.

The only other witness was Otwell, who testified that he and Greene had planned to present a “consent defense,” (arguing that the girl agreed to have sex with him) and were preparing to go to trial when Green pleaded guilty.

The fact that the girl had identified a different man in the police mug book and had failed to pick Greene out of a photo lineup were things that Greene says he knew before he pleaded guilty. The one new piece of info he gleaned from the Channel 20 report was that an SPD detective failed to log one man’s DNA sample into evidence promptly. But that fact didn’t much matter to Greene’s case, Otwell testified, because they weren’t claiming any identity issues.

Graves ultimately agreed, denying Greene’s request. His attorney, Mike Vonnahmen, says that Greene would appeal.

Contacted after the hearing, the girl Greene raped says that she is grateful he’s back in prison.

“I’m glad the state’s attorney’s office did what they’re supposed to do,” she says.

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