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05/10/88 the People of the State of v. Noldon Wadley

May 10, 1988





523 N.E.2d 1249, 169 Ill. App. 3d 1036, 120 Ill. Dec. 338 1988.IL.711

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas J. Maloney, Judge, presiding.

Rehearing Denied June 6, 1988.


JUSTICE BILANDIC delivered the opinion of the court. HARTMAN, P.J., and STAMOS, J.,* concur.


The 18-year-old victim, Cynthia Berrian, was murdered on May 16, 1984, at approximately 6:30 p.m., in an alley near 47th and Langley Streets in Chicago, Illinois. Pauline, *fn1 a 13-year-old witness, lived in an apartment in that area. When the police arrived, she told them that as she was looking out a bedroom window, she saw the victim walking alone down the sidewalk on Langley Street. The victim then turned into a vacant lot and looked over her shoulder. Pauline further stated that she saw defendant, whom she knew as "Nick," with his right hand inside his jacket pocket following the victim into the vacant lot. She then lost sight of the victim and defendant when they approached the alley at the rear of the vacant lot. Immediately thereafter, Pauline heard three gunshots. She ran to get her mother and they went to the alley where they saw the victim lying on the ground with blood around her head.

Pauline stated that she saw defendant standing on the corner of 47th and Langley Streets every day. Although she did not know his last name, she remembered that her aunt's sister brought the defendant to a family birthday party in May 1984. A detective then contacted the aunt's sister and learned defendant's last name. Officers could not locate defendant so they canvassed the neighborhood, taking several photographs with them.

Detectives spoke with 10-year-old Clarence and his mother, who lived on Langley Street. Clarence told them that he was playing softball in the area at the time of the murder. As the catcher, he was facing the alley at the end of the vacant lot where he saw the victim walk into the alley followed by a man whom he later identified as defendant from photographs. He stated that as defendant entered the alley behind the victim, he saw defendant pull a small gun from his jacket with his right hand. Defendant held the gun with both hands, shot the victim three times, and then ran through the alley to 47th Street.

After receiving an anonymous tip, the police arrested defendant, along with three other men, at an apartment on June 22, 1984. Defendant told detectives that he was conducting some business in the area at the time of the shooting. He stated that after hearing gunshots, he got nervous and left the area on a bus. He also told the detectives that he "ran" with members of the Black Gangster Disciples and that Larry Crittendon was the leader of that gang.

Witnesses were assembled and a lineup was conducted the day following defendant's arrest. After 10-year-old Clarence identified defendant, officers contacted Assistant State's Attorney Ruber. Defendant repeated his original statement. The following day, June 24, 1984, a second lineup was conducted, at which time 13-year-old Pauline identified defendant. Subsequently, officers contacted Assistant State's Attorney Nelson, who told defendant that he had been identified by witnesses in both lineups. After spending a short time alone, defendant told Assistant State's Attorney Nelson and other officers: "Yes, I shot the girl, but I am scared, I am real scared." Defendant explained that he was afraid of Larry Crittendon, whom he called "Gangster Larry," because Larry was head of the Disciples gang of which defendant was a member.

Defendant told law enforcement officials that he was standing on the corner of 47th and Langley Streets on the day of the murder. He saw Larry Crittendon standing across the street talking to a black man and the victim. Larry motioned for defendant to come over to him. As defendant approached him, the victim walked away. Larry handed him a gun and told him to shoot the girl. When defendant told him he did not want to shoot her, Larry responded, "[Either] you shoot her or we shoot you." Defendant further stated that he followed the girl, raised the gun to shoulder level, and fired at her at least three times, hitting her in the head. He then ran through the alley, threw the gun behind some bushes, and jumped on a bus.

Defendant agreed to give a formal court reporter statement. He then reviewed the transcript of his statement and initialed and signed each page. He also told Assistant State's Attorney Nelson that his earlier statements were not true., Defendant's statement was admitted into evidence and read to the jury. On appeal, he does not question the propriety of the admission of that evidence.

During trial, the first officer to arrive at the scene described the area and the victim. He testified that the victim had two bullet wounds in the head and that there was no evidence of a robbery or rape. The victim was taken to the hospital, where she died. A pathologist confirmed that the victim died of gunshot wounds to her head.

Bruce Brown, a former member of the Cadillacs Gang, was in the apartment at the time of defendant's arrest. He knew defendant to be a member of the gang that "hung out" around 47th Street. Brown testified that on the day of the murder, he was in an apartment with three friends playing cards. Defendant told them, "I am going to kill the motherfucker. I am going to kill me a motherfucker." One of the men in the apartment told defendant to stop talking about it. Defendant left at about 4 or 5 p.m.

Brown saw the defendant at the same apartment a couple of days after the murder. The defendant told him that "[the] police are on my ass for a murder I did of a bitch who was trying to be a witness."

Derrick Holliday, another gang member who was also in the apartment at the time of defendant's arrest, knew that defendant was a member of the Disciples Gang. The day after the murder, defendant asked Holliday if he had heard about the girl who was killed. The defendant said: "The police are looking for me because I shot her because she was going to testify against one of my folks named 'Chico' who was going to testify soon." Defendant also told Holliday that Larry Crittendon wanted the girl killed.

The State presented the testimony of Assistant State's Attorney Chris Cronson, who was assigned to the gang crimes unit. He prosecuted gang-related cases, taught and attended seminars on gang matters, and was involved in numerous gang crime investigations and surveillance. His testimony covered the names of major gangs in Chicago, common terms, phrases, symbols, and the various territories claimed by gangs.

Cronson was assigned to an investigation of a double murder which occurred in the area where the Disciples operated. That investigation led to the prosecution of Marshall McNeil, a/k/a "Chico," who also was a member of the Disciples. He became familiar with Larry Crittendon and defendant as a result of that investigation.

The victim in the instant case witnessed the murders for which McNeil was charged. She was scheduled to testify against McNeil at his trial on June 4, 1984, approximately two weeks after she was murdered.

Defendant testified on his own behalf. He stated that at the time of the murder, he had walked about 30 feet into the vacant lot off Langley Street when he heard three shots. Earlier that day, he had seen Larry Crittendon, an unidentified man, and a girl arguing on the corner of 47th and Langley Streets. He saw the girl leave the group followed by one of the men. She walked into the vacant lot just before defendant entered the lot.

Defendant told the jury that he was high on drugs when he gave statements to the police. He maintained that his subsequent confession was false and he was repeatedly beaten by the ...

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