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People v. Hattery





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. James M. Bailey, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied February 4, 1986.

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, Charles Hattery, was convicted of the murders of Trenette Anderson and her two children, Reshonda and Albert, Jr. (A co-defendant, Rufus Mister, was found not guilty in a bench trial conducted simultaneously with defendant's jury trial.) Pursuant to section 9-1(d) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1(d)), the State requested a death penalty hearing, which was heard by the same jury. The jury found that the necessary aggravating factors existed, and that there were no mitigating circumstances sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty. The court thereupon sentenced defendant to death on the murder convictions. Defendant brings a direct appeal to this court (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 4(b); 87 Ill.2d R. 603), alleging numerous errors in all stages of the proceedings.

The record discloses that on December 4, 1982, at about 1 a.m., Albert Anderson left his Chicago apartment and walked to a nearby store to purchase a pack of cigarettes. The store was closed. While walking home, he met the defendant, and "Smooth," whom Anderson identified as Rufus Mister. Mister immediately began arguing with Anderson about drugs. Mister claimed that he had supplied Anderson with drugs before, and wanted him to reciprocate. Anderson, in an effort to calm Mister, said he was willing to discuss the matter and invited the men to his apartment.

Upon arriving at the apartment, they were met by Anderson's wife, Trenette. The couple's two children, Reshonda, age 7 months, and Albert, Jr., who was 22 months old, were asleep in the bedroom. Anderson testified that Mister again started "hollering about drugs." Anderson offered to give him money, but Mister insisted that Anderson help him find drugs. He agreed to accompany Mister to the home of "Fluky," a local drug supplier. Mister told defendant to stay in the apartment with Trenette and the two children. Anderson also overheard Mister tell defendant that if he did not return in five minutes, defendant "knows what to do." Anderson and Mister then left the apartment.

The men's initial effort to obtain drugs was unsuccessful, and Mister insisted that they continue to search for drugs. Anderson testified that they arrived back at his apartment at about 6 a.m. They were accompanied by Mister's girlfriend, Kathy Robinson, and two other women, whom Anderson identified only as Penny and Pearl. Anderson knocked at the back door several times. When no one answered, Mister kicked the door down. They walked through the kitchen into the living room. Anderson noticed that there was blood on the living room floor. They then walked into the bedroom, where they found Trenette's body on the bed. Anderson observed that her night gown was pulled up over her breasts and that her wrist had been cut. The body of his son, Albert, Jr., also was on the bed. Pearl walked over to the crib and picked up Reshonda. As she did so, the baby's head fell backwards. Anderson stated, "[O]h, my God, no, not my kids too." He then placed Reshonda's dead body on the bed next to the body of her mother.

In a statement taken by an assistant State's Attorney and transcribed by a court reporter, defendant, age 22, said that Mister ordered him to stay behind in the apartment while Mister and Anderson searched for drugs. Mister told him that if he did not return in five minutes, defendant was to kill Anderson's wife and two children. Mister threatened to harm defendant and his family if defendant did not comply with Mister's orders. After they left, defendant set his digital watch and proceeded to keep track of the time. When five minutes passed, he told Trenette that he planned to kill her. Trenette screamed and ran toward a door. Defendant pulled his knife, and as he attempted to grab Trenette, he cut her wrist. When he caught Trenette he strangled her, and then undressed her. As he was about to carry her body into the bedroom Albert, Jr., who had been awakened by the noise, walked into the living room. Defendant grabbed the boy, choked him, and placed his body on the bed. He then carried Trenette's body into the bedroom and placed it on the bed next to Albert, Jr. Defendant walked over to the crib where Reshonda was sleeping and strangled her. He left Reshonda's body in the crib. He remained in the apartment for another half hour, until about 4 a.m. Defendant later disposed of the knife in a garbage dumpster.

John Salyers, a Chicago police officer, testified that upon arriving at the Anderson apartment at about 6:30 a.m., he observed Mister standing in front of the building in the company of police officers. Salyers and two other officers walked to the back door, where they noticed that the door appeared to have been forced open. They walked through the kitchen to the living room. From there Salyers observed Anderson in the bedroom holding a knife. Salyers drew his revolver. As he did so, Anderson looked up, and then began to make jabbing motions with the knife toward his own chest. Salyers ordered Anderson to drop the knife. He handcuffed Anderson and placed him in the kitchen. Salyers then returned to the bedroom, where he saw the body of one adult female and the bodies of two children on the bed. He later determined that the victims were Trenette, Reshonda and Albert, Jr. Trenette's body was partially nude. Salyers also found blood stains on the living room floor. An evidence technician was called to take photographs. Anderson and Mister were then transported to the police station.

Dr. Robert Stein, chief medical examiner of Cook County, testified that he performed autopsies on the bodies of the three victims on December 6, 1982. His examination of Trenette revealed contusions and abrasions about the neck, a puncture mark on the left breast, and incised wounds on the right wrist and upper right arm. He testified that the cause of Trenette's death was strangulation. Dr. Stein also found abrasions and contusions about the necks of Albert, Jr., and Reshonda. He testified that the cause of death of both children was strangulation.

Dale Sayset, special agent, Illinois Department of Law Enforcement, testified at trial that he received a telephone call from Troy Hattery, defendant's father, on January 18, 1983. Hattery told Sayset that he believed defendant was a witness to a triple homicide involving a woman and two children. The following day Sayset again spoke with defendant's father. The father agreed to arrange a meeting between defendant, who was in Texas, and Sayset. That same day Sayset learned that defendant was wanted for questioning in connection with the Anderson homicides and that there was an outstanding warrant for defendant's arrest on an unrelated aggravated-battery charge. The next day, on January 20, 1983, Sayset and another agent met defendant's father at O'Hare airport. Defendant's mother and sister also were present. When defendant's flight arrived shortly after 10:30 a.m., Sayset introduced himself to defendant, advised him that he was under arrest for aggravated battery and read him the Miranda warnings. Defendant was then transported to the State's Attorney's office. Sayset testified that he did not question defendant about the homicides.

Timothy McMahon, who was an assistant State's Attorney, testified that he and another assistant began questioning defendant about noon on January 20. After defendant was advised of his constitutional rights, he initially told McMahon that he did not see the killings. He said that he was in the bathroom at the apartment when the killings occurred. When he exited the bathroom, defendant discovered that Mister was gone and that Trenette was dead. After a few minutes defendant fled the apartment. Defendant also related that he was a member of the Black Gangster Disciples and that he was the bodyguard of a person named Nimrod, a leader of a north side faction of the Disciples.

McMahon testified that he then confronted defendant with certain inconsistencies between defendant's initial story and the police reports. In response, defendant gave another version of what happened. In the second version, defendant stated that when he exited the bathroom he saw Mister strangling Trenette.

Thereafter, defendant was transported to the Chicago police department crime laboratory by Officer Chris Grogman. A short time later, Grogman was informed by a department laboratory technician that defendant wished to speak to him. As Grogman walked into the room where defendant was being held, defendant stated, "I did it, I'm sorry I caused you any trouble." Grogman told defendant that they would discuss the killings at the Area Six police headquarters. After arriving at Area Six headquarters and being advised of his constitutional rights, defendant told Grogman that he had killed Trenette and her two children.

At about 10 p.m., on January 20, 1983, defendant met with Assistant State's Attorney William Merritt. Defendant gave an oral statement to Merritt regarding his involvement in the killings. He then agreed to give a statement, confessing to the killings, in the presence of a court reporter.

Defendant's first assignment of error concerns the conduct of his appointed trial counsel. He argues that the trial strategy employed by his trial counsel amounted to the functional equivalent of a guilty plea without the procedural due process safeguards required by Boykin v. Alabama (1969), 395 U.S. 238, 23 L.Ed.2d 274, 89 S.Ct. 1709, and by our Rule 402 (87 Ill.2d R. 402). Defendant further maintains that defense counsel's actions were totally inconsistent with his plea of not guilty and thus constituted a per se denial of the right to effective assistance of counsel guaranteed by the sixth amendment to the United States Constitution (U.S. Const., amend. VI).

The record indicates that defendant pleaded not guilty to the murder charges. At trial he was represented by two assistant public defenders. The prosecution, in its opening statement to the jury, outlined the allegations against defendant. The prosecution's opening statement described in detail the events of December 4, 1982, and in particular how defendant allegedly strangled Trenette Anderson and her two children. Immediately thereafter, one of defendant's trial attorneys made the following opening statement to the jury:

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, he [defendant] did it. He did everything [the prosecution] just told you. He did it to save the lives of his own family, his mother and his sisters, because he knew that this man [Rufus Mister] would have killed them or had them murdered if he refused his orders. This man is a leader of the Diciples [sic] Street Gang. He and another man named ...

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