Green awaits June 19 court date

768420.png

Green awaits June 19 court date

It has been almost 17 years since her son was sent to prison for a crime that the key witness in the case has since testified he didn't commit. But Helen Boatner remains cheerful and optimistic as she awaits the latest court date that could trigger his release.

Yarmo Green was an outstanding football player at Mather High School. A running back, he had the size, speed, talent and potential to earn a scholarship to a major college. He was an All-Chicago Public League selection as a junior in 1994. He led his team to an 11-3 record and second place in the city playoff. He dreamed of playing at Notre Dame and the NFL.

In 1995, he was convicted of attempted first-degree murder of one person and aggravated battery of another. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

On June 19, a judge will rule on Green's latest appeal based on recent testimony by a key witness in the case, a married woman with five children who currently is in jail for retail theft, who recanted her original testimony and now insists that Green wasn't present when the beatings took place and that a Chicago policeman had paid her 2,200 to lie about the matter.

The judge could order Green's immediate release. His scheduled release day is 2014. This is his 10th appeal. He currently is imprisoned in Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Illinois, after serving previously in Pontiac, Danville and Pinckneyville. He still signs his letters as No. 42, his football uniform number. But he answers to B71883.

"He is doing fine. We hope and pray that his last court day is June 19," his mother said. "They put (the key witness) on the stand a few weeks ago and she told everything. She was reluctant. But she said a policeman had paid her to tell lies about Yarmo. I have a feeling that the judge will let him go."

Green, now 35, calls his mother every week. He earned his General Equivalency Degree (GED), was taking a culinary arts class to learn to become a cook and was involved in a ceramics class. However, because of budget cutbacks over the last five years, he hasn't been able to sign up for any more classes. At Logan, he does participate in basketball tournaments.

"I don't know what he wants to do when he comes back," his mother said. "I told him I would like for him to get involved with neighborhood kids and teach them football. Kids in the city don't have anywhere to go. They have no money. Yarmo could be a mentor to them."

Mrs. Boatner remains busy. She will be 65 in August. For seven hours every day, she babysits for two one-year-old boys. One is a neighbor's grandson. The other is her granddaughter's cousin. "They were born 12 days apart. They are in their terrible ones," she said.

While she no longer can make the long trips Downstate to visit her son, she attends every one of his court dates in Chicago. She is so appreciative and grateful for the work of attorney Liz Wang, who has spearheaded a group called the Exoneration Project that is working on Green's release.

"It is such shame, a waste," said Ed Miller, Green's coach at Mather. "I believe he is a good kid. We did everything we could to help him. But you can't be with a kid for 24 hours a day. He just couldn't get away from the gangs."

Green wasn't an angel. He was a member of the Maniac Latin Disciples street gang. Police perceived him as a neighborhood bully. He admits he once hit a kid who was spray-painting a wall.

But he always has insisted that he didn't hit the victim, whom he claimed was laying on the ground after being attacked by others. Forty-eight hours later, after the key witness told police that Green was the attacker, he was arrested at his home.

The key witness originally recanted in a signed affidavit on May 14, 2008, but the appeal was turned down. She said she did what the police told her to do because she was a runaway from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), a ward of the state. She said she didn't want to be locked up and lose her children.

In her recent testimony, she said she could no longer live with her original accusation that sent Green to jail. "I basically wanted everyone to know it was a lie, that he didn't do it," she said.

Now, in the wake of her recantation in court, Yarmo Green hopes to become a free man on June 19. His mother is counting the hours.

Bears: One-time starter Christian Jones willing to forge a new role in changing D

Bears: One-time starter Christian Jones willing to forge a new role in changing D

What’s wrong with this picture? Or maybe, what’s right?

Over the past two years, no Bear made more tackles than Christian Jones’ 196 – a total accomplished in spite of being shunted around in a death-spiraling 4-3 scheme under the Marc Trestman staff in 2014 and then moved inside as part of the John Fox/Vic Fangio 3-4 last season.

An undrafted free agent picked up by the Phil Emery regime out of Florida State, Jones also was third in special-teams tackles (11) in 2014 and contributed four last season along with four pass breakups and four quarterback pressures.

Then this offseason Jones could only watch as the Bears made replacing him (and Shea McClellin) a priority, signing inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan. And suddenly Jones finds himself in a battle for a roster spot. He even saw his number (59) taken to one of the new guys (Trevathan).

It is not often that teams put replacing one of their leading tacklers high on their offseason to-do lists. But there it was.

“You can’t really get surprised,” said Jones, still among the most upbeat players to be found anywhere on the roster. “It’s the NFL, and they brought in two good players, and that’s going to help the team, the defense. I was all in for that.

“So it’s taking my role and doing the best I can with that.”

The trouble is, that “role” is fluid.

[MORE: Bears now losing players to rampant stomach virus]

Coaches came to Jones early in the offseason and said they were moving him back to the outside. Fine. He was comfortable there before. Except that since the start of training camp, Jones has been something of a “Where’s Waldo?” character – inside, outside, try finding him.

If there’s an irony, it lies in the fact that not finding Jones a clear role sets him up as a piece of roster versatility that teams crave.

“We went and signed two inside linebackers in free agency and moved him to outside, and now we’ve kind of moved him back inside, so he’s kind of a hybrid,” said coach John Fox. “And sometimes you have to be that.

“There’s the old adage, ‘The more you can do… ,’ and there are a lot of those hybrid guys in different spots. It gives him an advantage, too, as far as offensive recognition.”

Fox and the Bears staff have placed a premium on attitude as well, and Jones has continued to be a factor on special teams, something not every three-year veteran and former starter embraces.

Jones thinks clearly: “You want to have a job,” he said, laughing. “That’s the main thing.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The bumping around between positions has not set Jones’ development back. Indeed, “I think it’s been somewhat smooth, and playing both, I’m getting a sense of the defense,” Jones said. “That helps a lot. It’s a good thing to know both spots because you never know with injuries, so in the long run it helps me and helps the team.”

When Jones was tasked with calling defensive signals in McClellin’s absence last season, it did not go overly well. Jones was benched by Fangio in Week 15 for inconsistency.

Indications are that something has changed. “I think there is a maturity difference, in my opinion,” Fox said.

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

If all continues to go well, Miguel Gonzalez could pitch in a rehab start as soon as Friday.

On the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, the White Sox starter said he felt good during a second bullpen session on Wednesday.

Gonzalez, who is 2-6 with a 4.05 ERA in 19 games (18 starts), threw 30 pitches. He previously threw a bullpen session on Friday and felt some discomfort the following day. But Gonzalez said he has made progress since he received treatment on Saturday.

“A lot better,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t feel anything while I was throwing my bullpen, which is great. I’m happy with the results today and come back tomorrow and we’ll see.”

Gonzalez left an Aug. 11 start at Kansas City in the bottom of the second inning. Though he wasn’t yet sure if he’d head out on a rehab assignment, Gonzalez said he was on the third day of a five-day schedule in which he was supposed to start. But it’s also possible the White Sox could have Gonzalez first throw a simulated game.

“We're going to have him go back out there again and do a little bit more, that looks more like starting in a game where he's going to throw for a little while, sit down, get back up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Simulate some innings and hopefully after he does that a couple time he can go out for a rehab assignment.”

North Carolina head coach 'very comfortable' with Tim Beckman as assistant

tim-beckman-illini-0824.jpg

North Carolina head coach 'very comfortable' with Tim Beckman as assistant

Tim Beckman is coaching Power Five conference football again, something that came as a big surprise to many a year after Beckman was fired for mistreating players at Illinois.

But his new "boss" — Beckman is a volunteer assistant at North Carolina — doesn't seem to have any problem with Beckman being a part of his staff.

North Carolina head Larry Fedora — who worked alongside Beckman when the two were coordinators at Oklahoma State in 2007 — was asked about Beckman on Wednesday, and had some comments that seemed to show he doesn't care about the reasoning behind Beckman's firing.

"I don't believe everything I read, all right," Fedora told reporters, his quotes tweeted by Andrew Carter of the News & Observer. "I know Tim. I know his side of the story, also. So I was comfortable with it. If I wouldn't have been, obviously I wouldn't have brought him. I wouldn't have allowed him to be in our program. But I was very comfortable with it. I don't have any issues with it at all."

When asked about criticism and questions surrounding Beckman's presence, Fedora responded, "I know it's going to happen, and then a couple of days from now it won't be news. I mean, I promise you, I didn't see anywhere where the NCAA said that he should be banished from the game of football. You know? I mean, the guy didn't win enough games. That's all it was."

Well, coach, that's not all it was.

Beckman was fired a week before the start of last season when an investigation found evidence supporting social-media accusations months earlier that Beckman mistreated players by forcing them to play injured, demeaning players with injuries and threatening to take away players' scholarships.

While it's true Beckman was on the hot seat for winning just four Big Ten games in three seasons, he would've been the coach to start last season had it not been for the results of that investigation.

Now, in his role at North Carolina, it was reported Wednesday, Beckman is relegated to scouting and film study. But he is allowed to travel with the team, meaning he could show up in Champaign on Sept. 10, when North Carolina plays Illinois at Memorial Stadium.