Alton Logan was innocent of murder, U.S. Chess Trust CEO, Harold Winston who is also a Chicago Public Defender, sought justice.
Harold Winston was made President of the U.S. Chess Trust, a national chess charity, in 1999, and has served diligently as CEO of the Trust since the following year. What is perhaps not as well known in the chess world is a certain accomplishment of Winston as a public defender in Chicago. So we will talk about it.
In January 1982, two men burst into a MacDonald’s in Chicago, shot and killed a security guard there and shot but missed killing a second guard. Shortly thereafter one Edgar Hope was arrested for the murder, having been found with possession of one of the guard’s guns. Alton Logan was also arrested for the murder on flimsy evidence, although he was not known to be a friend or associate of Hope. In fact, police had found evidence linking one Andrew Wilson, an associate of Hope, to the crime, but did nothing about it.
Logan and Hope were tried together and convicted but Andrew Wilson was never charged. Hope got the death penalty and Logan received life, courtesy of two jurors who would not vote for death. Both got a second trial and were again convicted many years later. Hope had committed a second murder to which he pleaded guilty but appealed his death sentences. He managed to stay alive until Illinois Governor George Ryan commuted his death sentence and emptied out Illinois’ death row.
Alton Logan always insisted on his own innocence in the MacDonald’s murder and in fact Andrew Wilson was the real second killer. After the second trial, Winston’s Cook County Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent Logan. The case lingered on, as Winston’s office uncovered facts questioning Logan’s guilt. Winston had been told by some one to contact attorneys of Andrew Wilson if Wilson ever died. Wilson had been serving a life sentence for another crime.
In late November of 2007, Winston opened the Chicago Reader to find that Andrew Wilson had departed this earth. The next morning Winston sought out Wilson’s former attorneys and by coincidence was in touch with one of them, Attorney Jamie Kunz, and asked to have a talk. Kunz agreed and advised Winston that he would make disclosures about the Alton Logan case if authorized by a Court. Winston filed an appropriate motion, and Kunz and Dale Coventry, the other attorney, then revealed an old affidavit of theirs that Andrew Wilson had told him that Alton Logan had not committed the crime. Wilson’s attorneys were orally authorized to disclose this fact on Wilson’s death and they later testified that Wilson had, with considerable amusement, confessed the murder of the MacDonald’s guard. After further hearings, Alton Logan was convincingly exonerated and released from prison in 2008.
For chess players everywhere, that is the story of the efforts of the CEO of the U.S. Chess Trust in the cause of justice.