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12/09/87 the People of the State of v. Cleothia Hall Et Al.

December 9, 1987





518 N.E.2d 275, 164 Ill. App. 3d 770, 115 Ill. Dec. 750 1987.IL.1807

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Robert J. Collins, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE RIZZI delivered the opinion of the court. McNAMARA, P.J., and WHITE, J., concur.


Following a jury trial, defendants Cleothia Hall and Edward Thomas were convicted of murder and sentenced to extended terms of 80 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On appeal, both defendants essentially argue that the trial court erred in (1) denying their motions to suppress their pretrial statements, (2) allowing the admission of a witness' prior consistent statement to rebut defendants' charge of recent fabrication, and (3) sentencing defendants to the maximum extended term of 80 years. Defendant Thomas individually contends that the trial court erred in failing to quash his arrest for violation of his fourth amendment rights. Defendant Hall individually argues that (1) he was denied a fair trial due to the trial court's failure to sua sponte sever his trial from that of his codefendant Thomas or, in the alternative, (2) he was denied effective assistance of counsel by his attorney's failure to properly raise the issue of severance, and (3) the State violated Supreme Court Rule 412 (107 Ill. 2d R. 412) when it failed to disclose the existence of an out-of-court statement made by defendant. We affirm and remand this cause to the trial court for the issuance of a corrected mittimus.

The charges in this case arose from the murder of the victim, Kevin Tremble. Tremble was beaten and thrown down an elevator shaft on December 14, 1982. As neither defendant contends that his guilt was not established beyond a reasonable doubt, we shall set forth only those facts relevant to the issues presented.

On December 13, 1982, Tremble was visiting with a friend, Barbara Hamner, at her apartment. Hamner's apartment was located at 2417 West Adams Street, Chicago. The apartment building is commonly known as part of the Robert Taylor Homes Public Housing Project. During the morning of December 13, Hamner gave Tremble $10 to purchase some beer. Shortly thereafter, Hamner asked defendant Thomas to find Tremble and tell him to also buy some hair grease.

Defendant Thomas met Tremble on the first floor of the building as he was returning with Hamner's beer. After being told that Hamner needed some hair grease, Tremble indicated that he would check in with her before returning to the store. At that point, defendant Thomas and Tremble began climbing the stairs to Hamner's apartment. While between the third and fourth floors, Tremble and defendant Thomas met Alvin Carter and Charles Dent coming down the stairs. Carter then grabbed Tremble in a "full nelson position" and told Dent to go through Tremble's pockets. Carter then took the money Dent found in Tremble's pockets and left the area.

Thereafter, Tremble returned to Hamner's apartment and explained what had occurred. Hamner then called the police. When the police arrived, Hamner accompanied them to Carter's apartment, but they were unable to locate Carter. However, while at Carter's apartment, Hamner told Carter's brother that if she did not get her money back she would press charges. Later that evening, Carter and Dent confronted Hamner at her apartment, where they also threatened Tremble for causing the police to be called.

On December 17, 1982, Tremble's body was found at the bottom of an elevator shaft in Hamner's building. According to an assistant Cook County medical examiner, the cause of Tremble's death was attributable to severe multiple injuries, particularly in the head, right shoulder and pelvic area caused by blunt trauma. Tremble had apparently been dead since December 14, 1982. At the time that Tremble's body was discovered, the police lacked any firm leads connecting defendants to the cause of Tremble's death.

Thereafter, on the evening of April 21, 1983, Detective Blomstrand of the Chicago police department, Area 4 Violent Crimes, received information from a Chicago police officer specializing in gang crimes that an inmate at the Cook County jail wished to speak to the police regarding a murder he allegedly witnessed. When Area 4 Violent Crimes Detectives Dahlberg and Blomstrand and gang crimes specialists Stein and Griffin arrived at the jail, they were escorted to an investigation room where they met with Louis Williams.

Our review of the record indicates that Williams informed the police officers that he had witnessed the murder of Tremble in December 1982. Williams explained that he had seen a group of men acting crazy in the stairwell at 2417 West Adams Street, Chicago. When Williams stopped to observe what was happening, he saw an individual known as "Minister" (Tremble) grabbed and either struck in the back with an object or stabbed. Williams then saw a man he knew as J.R. open the elevator doors so four other men could throw Tremble down the elevator shaft. According to Williams, after throwing Tremble down the elevator shaft, the men closed the elevator doors and returned to an apartment, laughing. Williams identified defendant Hall as the person he knew as J.R. from a group of black and white photos. Williams also identified defendant Thomas from a photograph as one of the men who had grabbed Tremble's arm and leg and assisted in throwing him down the elevator shaft. Williams also identified the other men involved in the murder. Williams explained that he knew the individuals involved in the murder because he had previously lived in the building for several months.

Following the interview with Williams, the officers effectuated the warrantless arrests of defendants Hall and Thomas for the murder of Kevin Tremble. Thereafter, both defendants gave statements confirming their presence at the scene of the murder.

Defendant Hall stated that on the morning of December 14, 1982, he went up to apartment 406, where he met with Alvin Carter, Charles Dent, defendant Thomas and Thomas' brother, Stevie. Later in the day, the men exited the apartment and were standing in the hall when Tremble walked by carrying a garbage can. As Tremble attempted to walk by, Carter jumped him and put him in a "full nelson" and Dent started slapping Tremble in the face and hitting him in the upper chest area. Defendant Hall further stated that he, along with Curtis Butts and defendant Thomas, thought Carter and Dent were "playing" with Tremble. So, defendant Hall also grabbed Tremble's arm and helped pick him up. However, when defendant Hall saw that Carter and Dent were serious, Butts and both defendants put Tremble down because they were nervous. Carter and Dent then pushed the victim down the elevator shaft.

Defendant Thomas' statement indicates that on the morning of December 14, 1982, he also went to apartment 406 at 2417 West Adams. When defendant Thomas entered the apartment he found Curtis Butts, Jeffrey Butts, Steven Thomas, and two women named Ree and Connie present. After defendant Thomas was in the room for a short period of time, defendant Hall knocked on the door. Thereafter, defendant Thomas, Curtis and Jeffrey Butts, and Steven Thomas stepped outside the apartment where defendant Hall, Alvin Carter and Charles Dent were standing. At this time, Tremble was walking down the middle of the hallway carrying a garbage can. As Tremble approached, Carter grabbed him in a "full nelson," and Dent slapped Tremble. Defendants, along with Curtis ...

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