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02/04/87 the People of the State of v. Terrance S. Boone

February 4, 1987





504 N.E.2d 1271, 152 Ill. App. 3d 831, 105 Ill. Dec. 753 1987.IL.120

Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. William B. Starnes, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE HARRISON delivered the opinion of the court. KARNS, P.J., and WELCH, J., concur.


Defendant, Terrance S. Boone, was convicted of murder after a jury trial in the circuit court of St. Clair County and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. On appeal he contends the State failed to prove him guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt and that the jury was improperly instructed. We affirm.

The body of Cortez Caster was found on a road in St. Clair County, Illinois, at approximately 8:30 p.m. on March 10, 1985. An autopsy revealed he died from a gunshot wound to the left side of his head.

The State's primary witness was Dwayne Howard. He testified that he went to the victim's home between 3 and 4 p.m. on March 10, 1985. From there Howard and the victim drove to Howard's home in Jennings, Missouri. Defendant was at the house when Howard and Caster arrived. While there, Dwayne Howard's younger brother, Derrick, told Dwayne that defendant had a gun. Subsequently, Dwayne Howard, Caster, and defendant left in Howard's car and drove to a house described only as being on Vandeventer, where Caster obtained a package of marijuana. From there they drove to the home of Lynn Tate, defendant's girlfriend. According to Howard, the three then went to a Wendy's restaurant in East St. Louis where Caster worked. Caster and Howard went inside first, and defendant followed sometime later. Their next stop was a lounge where Howard and Caster went inside while defendant stayed in the car. Howard and Caster were inside the bar for approximately 10 minutes. Then Caster and Howard got back into the car, with Howard in the driver's seat and Caster in the front passenger seat, while defendant was alone in the rear seat. Howard testified that while he was driving after leaving the bar, defendant and Caster began arguing because Caster and Howard wanted to stay at the bar while defendant wanted to leave. Caster and defendant exchanged words and then began striking each other with open hands and fists, according to Howard. This physical contact lasted about three or four minutes. Howard testified that after his two passengers had stopped arguing, "Cortez looked at me and I looked at Cortez and that's when Terry held the gun point -- came out of gunpoint and shot Cortez in the head." On cross-examination, Howard stated he did not see defendant when the shot was fired. Howard stated he was slowing down the car for a stoplight when the shot was fired. He further testified that after defendant shot Caster, defendant ordered him at gunpoint to open the passenger door and push Caster out of the car. Defendant climbed into the front seat to help push Caster out of the vehicle. Howard stated that defendant told him, "Don't tell anybody or I will kill you." Howard also saw defendant throw a gun out of the window of the car. He saw defendant the next day, and defendant asked if Howard remembered what had happened. Howard answered affirmatively, and defendant then made a reference to how much he had to drink. Howard testified that during their excursion that afternoon and evening, all three men had been smoking marijuana and drinking alcoholic beverages. Howard also testified he did not have a gun in his car that day and did not know where defendant had obtained the gun used in the shooting. In addition to this testimony, Howard admitted to having been convicted in 1980 in Missouri of being an accessory to robbery.

Dwayne Howard's 15-year-old brother, Derrick, testified that defendant lives in the same neighborhood as the Howard family and that defendant came to the Howard home often. Derrick stated that on March 10, 1985, defendant, Caster, and Dwayne Howard were at the Howard home at approximately 3 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. Derrick testified that during the second visit, defendant showed him a small gun which defendant had tucked into the waistband of his pants.

The State also presented as a witness Dr. Raj Nanduri, who conducted the autopsy upon the victim. Dr. Nanduri testified Caster had died of a gunshot wound to the left side of the head and that the bullet traveled from the left side of the head to the right side in an almost horizontal path.

Defendant testified in his own behalf that he saw Caster and Dwayne Howard at the home of Lennie Tate, defendant's girlfriend, at approximately noon on March 10, 1985. He left with them to go to a liquor store where defendant bought alcoholic beverages. From there they went to the home of Steve Norman, a cousin of defendant's. Defendant testified the three then made a stop to get some "weed" and then went to another liquor store. Next they returned to defendant's cousin's house, where they parked in order to smoke marijuana and drink. From there they went to Howard's house. Defendant denied showing Derrick Howard a gun while at the Howard home, but stated he did show him a half pint of "Jack Daniels" which he had in his waistband. Defendant, Caster, and Dwayne Howard then left to go to East St. Louis. Defendant testified they stopped at a "hamburger place," then went to a lounge. Caster went into the lounge for a "couple of minutes" and when he returned, defendant asked Howard to take him, defendant, home because he was "pretty drunk." Caster tried to convince Howard to stay at the lounge. Defendant responded by saying, "M.F. that lounge." Caster then said, "M.F. you" and swung at him, according to defendant. Defendant then slapped back at Caster and a struggle ensued. Defendant testified that at one point when the car was slowing down, Caster fell toward the dashboard. As the vehicle began picking up speed again, a gun slid from under the front seat and hit defendant's shoe. He picked up the gun because, "I felt if he see [ sic ]it, he would back off me." However, when Caster saw the gun, Caster "grabbed it and it went off," according to defendant. Defendant testified that Caster was "going to come at me." After the gun went off, Caster fell against the passenger door, and defendant asked Howard what they were going to do. Defendant stated that Howard reached over and opened the passenger door. Defendant did not remember whether he had told Howard to open the door, but denied threatening Howard at gunpoint. Howard asked for defendant's help in removing Caster from the car, and defendant testified he reached around the seat and pulled Caster out of the door as Howard pushed. Defendant admits that he then threw the gun, which he had said had fallen onto the front seat by this time, out of the window of the car. He then climbed into the front seat and Howard drove away.

Defendant denied ever pointing the gun at Caster or firing the weapon. He testified he did not know whose hand was on the trigger when it went off. Defendant also denied ever pointing the gun at Howard or threatening him. He testified he had known both Caster and Howard for approximately 11 years.

Defendant further testified that in his first statement to the police, he had blamed the shooting on Dwayne Howard. At trial, defendant admitted that he lied in this first statement.

The jury was instructed on murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter. It returned a verdict of guilty of murder and was silent regarding the manslaughter charges. Defendant on appeal claims the evidence supports a guilty ...

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