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04/08/88 the People of the State of v. Eric Williams

April 8, 1988





523 N.E.2d 75, 168 Ill. App. 3d 896, 119 Ill. Dec. 607 1988.IL.500

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Roger J. Kiley, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE PINCHAM delivered the opinion of the court. SULLIVAN and MURRAY, JJ., concur.


Following a jury trial, defendant, Eric Williams, was found guilty of the attempted murder of Twone Hill, and he was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment.

On appeal the defendant urges that the evidence failed to establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, that it was reversible error for the State's witnesses and the prosecutor to refer to the defendant by his nickname, "Snake," that the trial court erred in submitting to the jury Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, Criminal, No. 24 -- 25.09 (2d ed. 1981), which applies to an initial aggressor's use of force, and that his 18 years' imprisonment sentence is excessive. We affirm.

At trial, the victim, Twone Hill, testified that on June 5, 1984, she walked westerly with two friends from school toward a local bus stop. Hill noticed two boys on bicycles in a nearby alley talking to a group of three or four other boys who were approaching on foot. Although Hill did not see any weapons in the hands of the boys on foot, she did see a shiny object in the hand of one of the two boys who were on bicycles. She began to cross the street to avoid any danger. As Hill reached the middle of the street, she heard three or four gunshots. Hill stumbled to the parking lot of a nearby fast-food restaurant, where she fell with a gunshot wound to her side.

Leon Jones testified that on the date of the shooting, he, Charles Catchings, Preston Baker and Darren Jones, all co-workers at a real estate company, met with Eugene Perkins and went to a convenience store for lunch. There they encountered the defendant, Eric Williams, and Leon Jones' brother, Eldridge Hardy, who was seated on a bicycle. Leon Jones knew that the defendant was a member of a street gang called the "Black Gangster Disciples" because the defendant wore a baseball cap with the bill turned to the right side of his head, and the defendant had a tattoo on his body of two pitchforks crossed with a "T," a "G," and a broken number "6." Leon Jones was a former Black Gangster Disciple and he further explained that west of the high school that Hill attended was territory occupied by the Black Gangster Disciples and east of the high school was territory of a rival street gang, the "Stones."

Leon Jones further testified that at the convenience store, defendant Eric Williams complained of having been harassed by the Stones and that Williams stated he planned to "freak their ass [ sic ] out." Williams swapped his radio for Eldridge Hardy's bicycle. At this point Brett Hughes, another member of the Black Gangster Disciples, arrived on a bicycle. Wrapped tightly around Hughes' wrist was a whiskey bag with the outline and shape of a gun inside. Defendant Williams remarked, "I am going to pop those Stones," and with that Defendant Williams and Hughes each rode off on a bicycle.

Later, Leon Jones testified, as he sat inside Darren Jones' van eating lunch, he heard four gunshots. Jones saw the defendant, Eric Williams, and Bret Hughes rush out of the alley on bicycles. Defendant, Eric Williams, turned toward the van and tossed a gun inside the van. Leon Jones did not see any other weapon, nor did he see anyone pursuing the defendant. Leon Jones got out of the van, tossed the gun into some shrubbery and rejoined his co-workers at the convenience store. Leon Jones saw Twone Hill, with a gunshot wound, lying on the ground in the parking lot of the nearby fast-food restaurant.

Leon Jones, Catchings and Baker went to Darren Jones' home, where, an hour later, they were joined by the defendant, Eric Williams. When the men asked defendant Williams how he had managed to shoot only Hill, Williams answered that he had to fire the gun because Brett Hughes was afraid to fire it.

Charles Catchings also testified as a State's witness. Catchings' account of the incident was virtually the same as Leon Jones' version. Catchings added that defendant Williams called Brett Hughes a coward because Hughes would not fire the gun. Catchings, however, did not see the gun in the van and he did not know what happened to the gun.

Eldridge Hardy's testimony on behalf of the State corroborated the testimony of Leon Jones and Charles Catchings. After hearing the gunshots, Hardy saw the defendant, Eric Williams, come out of the alley and toss a weapon into the van. Hardy also heard the defendant say that Brett Hughes ...

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