APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES
BAILEY, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE STAMOS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendant Ike Taylor and two co-defendants were charged with three counts of aggravated battery and one count of the attempt murder of Albert Harris. Defendant Taylor and one co-defendant, Ronald Lawson, chose to be tried by the court while their co-defendant, Henry Hearan, took a simultaneous jury trial. After defendant Taylor and Lawson had rested their cases, but before Hearan had rested his case, the trial court acquitted Lawson of all charges, but found Taylor guilty of all charges. The jury continued to hear evidence and then found Hearan guilty of all charges. Defendant Taylor was sentenced to 10 to 20 years for attempt murder, 8 to 10 years on one of the aggravated battery charges, and 3 to 5 years on another of the aggravated battery charges, all sentences to run concurrently. Defendant Taylor separately appeals.
On appeal defendant contends that he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as evidenced by the trial court's acquittal of his co-defendant, Lawson; that the trial court erred in finding him guilty after he had rested, but before his co-defendant, Hearan, had rested; that he was improperly sentenced on the aggravated battery charges; and that the sentences imposed were excessive.
Defendant's contentions that the inconsistent verdicts as to Lawson and himself evidence a reasonable doubt as to his guilt, and that the trial court erred in finding him guilty before co-defendant Hearan had rested, necessitate a summary of the testimony adduced at trial and the order of that testimony.
Albert Harris testified that on the date he was attacked he was 16 years old, and at approximately 9 P.M., he left his home and began walking to a friend's house. While less than one block from his home, he heard something click, turned, and saw defendant Taylor with a pistol in his hand. Taylor said, "It ain't nothing but a Gangster thing." *fn1 On hearing another sound, Harris turned to see another individual behind him in a doorway holding a shotgun. Harris turned back to Taylor and noticed that now Henry Hearan, holding a pistol, was on one side of Taylor and that Ronald Lawson, holding a shotgun, was on Taylor's other side. Taylor told Harris, "You're busted," *fn2 and then shot Harris in the throat from a distance of 10 to 15 feet. The individual in the doorway behind Harris then fired his shotgun, hitting Harris in the right side. A fifth individual then twice fired a 12-gauge shotgun at Harris, the second time hitting him in the face. As Harris was falling, he turned back to Taylor, Hearan, and Lawson, and saw fire coming from the guns of all three. As Harris was attempting to crawl away, a sixth individual emerged and fired a 12-gauge shotgun into him. Harris was finally able to drag himself under a car, and, as pellets continued to hit the car, to cry for his mother. Harris then heard his mother screaming, "Where are you?" and heard defendant Taylor say, "His mother is coming, let's get out of here." After his mother arrived, Harris told her, "Mama, get Ike, get Ike, Ike shot me, Ike shot me." Harris testified that he had known Ike Taylor for 3 or 4 years, that he had known Henry Hearan since sixth grade, but that he had only seen Ronald Lawson a few times in the last 2 years. Harris further testified that as a result of the shooting he was blinded, had difficulty talking, had lost six teeth, and had numerous scars on his body.
Clementine White, the mother of Albert Harris, also testified for the State. Shortly after Albert left home at 9 P.M., Mrs. White heard "a lot of guns going off." Upon going to her window, she heard a voice, which she recognized as that of her son, crying, "Help, help me, mama, help me." As Mrs. White raced out of her house, she saw Taylor and Hearan, with something short and black in their hands, standing next to where she later found her son lying. She heard Taylor say, "Let's go, here comes his mother." Although she saw other persons running away, she was not able to identify them. Although Mrs. White testified that after the shooting her son told her to get Taylor and Hearan, he never said to get Lawson. The State then rested.
Robert McGaha, a Chicago police officer, testified on behalf of Ronald Lawson. Two days following the shooting, he talked to Albert's mother after being informed that Albert was unable to answer any questions. Mrs. White told Officer McGaha that her son had said Ike Taylor was one of the individuals who had shot him. Mrs. White also informed him that she had seen Ike Taylor and Henry Hearan running from the scene of the shooting. McGaha also testified that Mrs. White told him that her son stated that Ronald Lawson was involved in the shooting. However, this last reference to Ronald Lawson was not contained in this police report; indeed, Ronald Lawson was never even mentioned in that report. He further testified that, although he arrested Taylor and Hearan, he made no more than routine attempts to arrest Lawson and never informed any other police officers of his knowledge concerning Lawson. In fact, he did not know if Lawson was ever arrested in this case.
Rosie Mae Sweezer, Henry Hearan's mother, testified on his behalf. Hearan was at home with her from 2 P.M. on the afternoon of the shooting until 12:30 A.M. the next morning. Louise Hubbard, Henry's girlfriend, had arrived at the Hearan house at about 5 or 6 that evening. Henry, Louise, and the rest of the Hearan children played cards that evening. At 10:30, the whole family was watching a television show on Channel 32 with Sammy Davis Jr. and Louis Armstrong.
Annie Coleman, Henry's aunt, also testified on his behalf. She lived with the Hearan family and from about 2 P.M. until 10 P.M. on the day of the shooting, she and Henry were together most of the time. The longest time Henry was out of her sight that afternoon and evening was 5 or 10 minutes. Although she could remember that Henry was home that day, she could not remember where her husband was.
At this point, Hearan's counsel informed the court that two additional important witnesses in Hearan's defense were presently unavailable and asked for a continuance in order to present their testimony to the jury. Although the State called such a request dilatory and unwarranted, defendant Taylor's counsel, who was present, neither made any objection to nor joined in the motion for a continuance, but instead remained silent. The court then granted a 2-day continuance and released the jury, directing them however to return in 2 days to hear the balance of Hearan's case. The court then informed counsel that it would proceed with the bench trials of Taylor and Lawson. Again, Taylor's counsel raised no objection.
Clinton Lee was then called as a witness on behalf of defendant Ike Taylor. Mr. Lee was the bartender at the VanKeeler Lounge on the day of the shooting and stated that Taylor was at the bar from approximately 6:45 P.M. until 11:30 P.M. Although Mr. Lee had a vivid recollection of that night and recalled that only two people were sitting at the bar that night, he could not remember the name of the regular patron that was there with Taylor. Defendant Taylor then rested his case.
Thomas Murphy, a Chicago police officer, testified on behalf of Ronald Lawson. Officer Murphy talked to Albert Harris at the hospital the night of the shooting. Although the victim's language was hardly understandable, he testified that Harris told him that Taylor and Lawson were involved in the shooting. However, Officer Murphy admitted that his police report did not state that Lawson was involved, but merely that Lawson had been there at the scene. Moreover, Officer Murphy testified that to his knowledge there were no police reports indicating that an individual named Lawson was being sought for the shooting.
Ronald Lawson testified in his own behalf. He denied being involved in the shooting, being present at the shooting, or knowing who was involved in the shooting. Moreover, he was never arrested in this case, but voluntarily appeared in court in response to a letter from the State's Attorney's office. Lawson then rested his case.
After the State offered nothing in rebuttal, the court heard closing arguments for the State, Taylor, and Lawson. Without any objection by either defendant, the court then made its findings: Lawson ...