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People v. Clark





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County; the Hon. Jerry L. Patton, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied July 21, 1986.

Acting pursuant to the provisions of section 2-7(3) of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3)) the circuit court of Macon County permitted the criminal prosecution of defendant, Gary Clark, then 14 years of age, for several crimes including two murders. Defendant was convicted of the two murders as well as the other crimes. Because defendant was guilty of more than one murder, the circuit court was mandated by the terms of section 5-8-1(a)(1)(c) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 1005-8-1(a)(1)(c)) to impose upon defendant a sentence of imprisonment for his natural life.

On appeal defendant raises no issue of reasonable doubt and therefore no extended recitation of the facts will be found in this opinion, but only sufficient facts to make clear what the issues are. They revolve generally around the proposition that a sentence of natural life for a 14-year-old violates certain constitutional provisions. Defendant also questions the procedures used in transferring him from juvenile proceedings to adult criminal proceedings.

Specifically, the issues raised on appeal are: (1) whether the trial court abused its discretion in transferring defendant to adult criminal prosecution; (2) whether defendant was denied due process at his transfer hearing; (3) whether defendant was denied his sixth and fourteenth amendment rights of confrontation when the trial court considered hearsay evidence of a co-defendant; (4) whether a natural-life sentence imposed on a 14-year-old violates the due process clause of the Illinois Constitution; and (5) whether the mandatory imposition of a natural-life sentence precludes consideration of evidence in mitigation and thereby violates the eighth and fourteenth amendments. We find no merit in any of the issues and therefore affirm.

The proceedings were begun on July 5, 1984, when a petition was filed in the circuit court of Macon County pursuant to section 4-1 of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 37, par. 704-1) alleging that defendant was delinquent because of his commission of a burglary on June 4, 1984. On July 24, 1984, first and second supplementary petitions were filed alleging that on July 13 or 14, 1984, defendant, while in the process of committing residential burglary, had committed two felony murders (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(3)) and also the offense of burglary to a vehicle. Subsequently, the State filed a petition under section 2-7(3) of the Juvenile Court Act requesting permission to prosecute defendant as an adult for the conduct alleged in the various petitions. After holding an evidentiary hearing, the court entered an order on August 31, 1984, authorizing the State to do so.

On September 5, 1984, informations in 23 counts were filed charging defendant with the murders of Prentice and Effie Curfman together with the offenses of robbery, residential burglary, home invasion and aggravated criminal sexual assault. The place of trial was subsequently transferred, on defendant's motion, to Tazewell County. On January 24, 1985, following a jury trial there, Judge Donald Morthland presiding, defendant was convicted of robbery and residential burglary. The jury was unable to agree as to the other charges and was discharged. After a subsequent jury trial in Tazewell County, Judge Jerry Patton presiding, defendant was convicted of the two murders, home invasion, and criminal sexual assault. On April 29, 1985, the court, noting that it had no discretion in regard to the murder convictions, sentenced defendant to imprisonment for his natural life for the two murders, and imposed (1) two sentences of 15 years' imprisonment for two offenses of home invasion and aggravated criminal sexual assault; (2) two four-year sentences for robbery; and (3) one sentence of seven years for residential burglary. All of the sentences for offenses other than murder were ordered to be served concurrently with the murder sentence.

Section 2-7 of the Juvenile Court Act prohibits criminal prosecution of minors who are under 17 years of age at the time of the offense to be charged with certain exceptions. Section 2-7(2) states that criminal prosecutions may be brought for traffic, boating, or fish and game violations. Section 2-7(6)(a) requires that criminal prosecutions must be brought for murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or armed robbery committed with a firearm, and all charges arising from the same incident giving rise to those charges if the offender was at least 15 years old at the time of the offense to be charged. As used here, section 2-7(3) permits prosecution of a minor at least 13 years old for any offense if, upon motion of a State's Attorney and after an investigation, a "Juvenile Judge, designated by the Chief Judge of the Circuit to hear and determine such motions" acts before an adjudicatory hearing has been held and enters an order permitting such a prosecution. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3).

Section 2-7(3) requires that, before authorizing criminal prosecution, the court must find "it is not in the best interests of the minor or of the public to proceed under" the Juvenile Court Act (emphasis added) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3)). Among the matters to be considered are:

"(1) [W]hether there is sufficient evidence upon which a grand jury may be expected to return an indictment; (2) whether there is evidence that the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive and premeditated manner; (3) the age of the minor; (4) the previous history of the minor; (5) whether there are facilities particularly available to the Juvenile Court for the treatment and rehabilitation of the minor; and (6) whether the best interest of the minor and the security of the public may require that the minor continue in custody or under supervision for a period extending beyond his minority." (Emphasis added.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3)(a).

The transfer hearing was held on August 31, 1984, before Judge John Davis. Officer Mark Barthelemy of the Decatur police department testified concerning the investigation and arrest of defendant and Rodney Baltimore, who was also charged with the Curfman homicides. Barthelemy stated that defendant made two statements shortly after he was arrested on July 19, 1984, concerning his involvement in the incident occurring on July 14 at the Curfman residence. During his first interview defendant indicated that he went to the Curfman residence at Baltimore's insistence and defendant did not go in the house. During his second statement to the police, defendant indicated that he entered the house, began searching for money in Mrs. Curfman's bedroom, and she awoke. Barthelemy stated that defendant shoved her back down on her bed and hit her in the chest with his fist. He stated that he then became frightened and left the house immediately with approximately $15 he had found in the house. Barthelemy stated that defendant lived two houses away from the Curfmans and several days prior to their death there had been two arguments between defendant and the Curfmans.

Direct examination of Barthelemy was concluded by his statement that defendant was 14 years of age at the time the offenses were committed, and that the Decatur police department juvenile records indicated that defendant had three prior station adjustments.

On cross-examination, Barthelemy admitted that Baltimore was a 19-year-old convicted felon and a fugitive from justice. He further stated that on the morning of Baltimore's arrest, Baltimore had attempted two residential burglaries and was in the process of a third burglary when apprehended. In addition, Barthelemy indicated that Baltimore's fingerprints were found at several locations inside the Curfman residence but there was no positive identification of defendant's fingerprints inside the residence.

Barthelemy stated that Cortez Woodland, a minor arrested in conjunction with a related burglary, indicated to Barthelemy that he and defendant were both afraid of Baltimore because Baltimore was alleged to be a street-gang member in Chicago.

Robert Ernst, chief juvenile probation officer for Macon County, testified at the transfer hearing. He said that he had not interviewed defendant, but he was aware of the allegations in the petition against him, and knew of no facilities in the State of Illinois which were available for the treatment or rehabilitation of the minor defendant in connection with the petition filed against him. It was his opinion that it was in the best interest of the minor that the case be transferred. Defendant made a continuing objection that the transfer hearing was being conducted as if it were a dispositional hearing and that the probation officer had no knowledge of the best interests of defendant. The objections were overruled on the basis that Ernst was testifying to statutory factors the court needed to consider in order to make its determination.

On cross-examination Ernst testified that there was one petition for adjudication of wardship pending in regard to defendant and that he had never been on probation or on court supervision. At the close of the transfer hearing the court found there was sufficient evidence on which a grand jury could be expected to return an indictment, that the alleged offenses were committed in an aggressive and premeditated manner, that that minor was 14 years of age, that there were no facilities available to the juvenile court for treatment and rehabilitation of the minor, that the best interests of the minor and the security of the public required continued custody or supervision beyond defendant's 21st birthday. The court, looking at the evidence as a whole, including evidence as to defendant's previous history, indicated that it was not in the best interests of the minor and of the public to proceed under the Juvenile Court Act.

At trial defendant testified in his own behalf that he had known the Curfmans all of his life and that he had argued with them in the past. He stated that on the evening of July 13, 1984, Baltimore suggested they burglarize the Curfman residence. Defendant said he went along because he was afraid of Baltimore. He said that Baltimore put a ladder up to the Curfmans' bathroom window, entered the house, and defendant remained outside for 45 to 50 minutes. He said that Baltimore told defendant to wait a few minutes before entering the house, but he eventually did go in the house. Defendant said that he saw blood on the shoe of Baltimore, Mrs. Curfman laying on a bed, and drawers pulled out in the house. He said that at that point he attempted to leave, and Baltimore refused to let him. He said he did leave, however, with Baltimore remaining behind.

Defendant testified that, after his first interview with the police on July 19, 1984, the police arranged a confrontation between Baltimore and defendant. He testified that Baltimore acted "mean" and attempted to persuade defendant that defendant had been the killer. Defendant testified that after the confrontation with Baltimore, he made a second statement wherein defendant said that he had gone into the house, searched for money, and hit Mrs. Curfman in the chest with his fist when she awoke. When asked why his first and second statements were inconsistent, defendant said that he was afraid of Baltimore because they were in the same cell.

Danny Lee Burns testified for the State that he and several boys including defendant were in the television room at the Logan County detention center sometime in November 1984. According to Burns, defendant indicated that he was being held because he had jumped up and down on some lady's chest and broke her rib which punctured through her heart and killed her. On cross-examination Burns admitted he was facing the possibility of going to the Department of Corrections, and after talking to the State's Attorney's office, he was assigned to Gateway House.

The defense presented the testimony of several other boys who were present during the conversation between Burns and defendant. According to Dan Archie, defendant told Burns he was being held because "they said he killed somebody." Ben Nelson, Stacey Bates, and Jack Bibbman were all present in the television room at the time of the alleged conversation between Burns and defendant, and each testified he did not hear defendant's response to Burns' question.

The defense also presented evidence that the fingerprints found in the Curfman home on the evening of the alleged incidents matched the ...

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