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06/20/88 the People of the State of v. Stephen Reddick

June 20, 1988






Before analyzing the issues raised in each cause on appeal, we shall first briefly summarize the trial testimony of each cause. In cause No. 65005, trial testimony of Peoria police officers indicated that on July 15, 1985, Rick Johnson, defendant's roommate and homosexual lover, was discovered dead and lying nude on the floor of the apartment which decedent shared with defendant. Decedent's employer had requested that the police investigate his whereabouts when he failed to appear for work on that day.


526 N.E.2d 141, 123 Ill. 2d 184, 122 Ill. Dec. 1 1988.IL.969

No. 65005. -- Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County, the Hon. Stephen Covey, Judge, presiding. No. 65022. -- Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Earl Strayhorn, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE STAMOS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.


In the circuit court of Peoria County, defendant Stephen Reddick (No. 65005) was charged with murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1)) and was convicted. His conviction was affirmed in an unpublished opinion by the Appellate Court, Third District, which found that certain asserted errors in the jury instructions had been waived by failure to object at trial. (151 Ill. App. 3d 1164 (unpublished Supreme Court Rule 23 order).) Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 315 (107 Ill. 2d R. 315), we granted defendant's petition for leave to appeal.

In the circuit court of Cook County, defendant Gregory Lowe (No. 65022) was charged with murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), (a)(2)), attempted murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 8-4), aggravated battery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 12-4(b)(1)), and two counts of armed violence (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 33A-1). He was convicted of murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery. The Appellate Court, First District, reversed the convictions, finding that certain grave, non-waivable errors had occurred in instructing the jury (152 Ill. App. 3d 508). Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 315 (107 Ill. 2d R. 315), we granted the People's petition for leave to appeal, and consolidated the causes for appeal.

Police officers testified that upon forcible entry into the apartment, they found evidence of a violent struggle. The victim's body bore numerous stab wounds. After viewing the body, police investigators proceeded to the upstairs bedroom and found defendant lying on a bed, nude except for a towel. There was blood on his upper torso, a small stab wound to his chest and multiple self-inflicted wounds on his left wrist.

A police officer testified that defendant waived his Miranda rights (Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694, 86 S. Ct. 1602) and that defendant then explained how the killing had occurred. Defendant told the officer (in a statement which was transcribed) that he had stabbed Johnson to death in the early morning hours of July 14, 1985, after they had been drinking heavily, smoking marijuana and quarreling. Defendant told the officer, "I started stabbing him, and I couldn't stop." Defendant also told the officer that when he realized what he had done, he wanted to die. In attempting suicide he had slit his wrists and ingested sleeping pills. He had then lain down in his bed until the police appeared.

At trial defendant testified on his own behalf, asserting that he had killed Johnson out of fear for his own life. In this regard he stated that when he and Johnson returned to their apartment in the early morning of Sunday, July 14, 1985, both were drunk. Defendant had been sick and was not inclined to have sex. They smoked marijuana. Johnson called defendant names which were racially insulting and accused defendant of "cheating on him" by having a sexual relationship with another man. Defendant denied the accusation and announced that he was leaving for the night. According to defendant, Johnson said that if defendant was leaving, he should pack up and leave permanently. Defendant said that he would discuss the matter in the morning. Then defendant reached for the telephone to arrange for a ride and a place to stay. At that point Johnson grabbed a steak knife from the bedside table, yelled "surprise" and lunged at defendant's chest. Defendant said that he thrust his body back into the bed, but nevertheless sustained a slash in the chest. Johnson then dropped the knife on the bed and ran downstairs to the kitchen. Thinking that Johnson was going to the kitchen to obtain another knife, defendant pursued him. In the kitchen, Johnson appeared to be reaching for a knife, but defendant grabbed one before Johnson could reach one. At trial defendant could not remember stabbing Johnson but did remember holding a knife and did remember seeing Johnson's body fall to the floor.

In cause No. 65022, at the trial of Gregory Lowe, defendant testified on his own behalf. He admitted shooting both decedent, Larry Chaney, and Gilbert Chaney, who survived the shooting. Defendant claimed, however, that he acted with lawful justification in self-defense. Defendant testified that he was acquainted with Gilbert and Larry Chaney and that on January 25, 1983, several weeks before the shootings, Larry had threatened him in his own home and defendant had told Larry to leave. At that point defendant had also told Larry that he was no longer welcome in defendant's home. Defendant testified that he next saw Larry and Gilbert Chaney on February 10, 1983, the day of the shootings.

Defendant also testified regarding events immediately preceding the shootings of the Chaneys. Defendant stated that Larry and Gilbert were in his home when he awakened from a nap, and that defendant told Larry twice that he was unwelcome in the home. Defendant and Larry called each other names. Defendant was seated on a bucket, which Larry pulled out from under him, and Larry kicked defendant. Then Larry got on top of defendant. Larry was about to hit defendant with a bottle when Jim McBride, a mutual friend who was then present socializing, grabbed the bottle and pulled Larry off of defendant. Defendant then went upstairs. Then Larry went upstairs also and threatened defendant with sexual abuse and death. Larry went downstairs shortly thereafter, continuing to make threats. Defendant called the police and told them that there was an altercation at the house. According to defendant, the police declined to come to the home but told defendant to call back if any serious dispute developed.

Defendant was nervous because the police had refused to come. He put his gun in his pocket and started downstairs to leave the house. As he was coming down the stairs, he heard Larry again threatening him, and he told Larry that he (defendant) was leaving for the night. Larry jumped up and grabbed a bottle by the neck as if he were going to throw it at defendant. Defendant, fearing for his life, shot Larry. Defendant then heard some movement behind him. He turned and saw Gilbert Chaney coming at him with a shiny object in his hand. Defendant was scared because Gilbert was attacking him, and defendant therefore shot Gilbert also. Gilbert hit the floor. Defendant put his gun into his pocket and left the house. Defendant contacted an attorney, kept in touch with that attorney and surrendered when his attorney advised him to do so.

The People presented three eyewitnesses (Ritchell Johnson, Jimmy McBride and Gilbert Chaney), whose testimony varied significantly from that of defendant Lowe. All of the People's witnesses testified that on the day of the shootings they had come to the defendant's residence unannounced. They testified that while they were in the living room visiting with defendant and his paraplegic brother, Maurice Lowe, defendant and decedent Larry Chaney began some name-calling and wrestling, and shortly thereafter engaged in a mock sexual act. The prosecution witnesses characterized these activities as playing, joking, and "fun and games." The three prosecution witnesses also denied ever having seen Larry Chaney kick, punch or threaten defendant with a bottle, although McBride did state that Larry at one point reached for a liquor bottle and that McBride took it from him. The three prosecution witnesses testified that after the wrestling (between defendant and decedent) stopped, defendant went upstairs with a bottle of liquor. McBride testified that he heard Larry say that he wanted some of the liquor which defendant had taken upstairs. McBride testified that Larry then went upstairs and returned with a full cup of liquor. The three prosecution witnesses testified that shortly thereafter defendant returned to the living room and immediately shot Larry. One of these three witnesses heard the shot but did not see the initial shooting.

One of the witnesses, Gilbert Chaney, testified that after defendant shot Larry, Gilbert fell to the floor on his stomach. Gilbert testified that he himself was then shot. Jimmy McBride and Ritchell Johnson also testified that after Gilbert fell to the floor, defendant stood over him and shot Gilbert. Jimmy McBride and Ritchell Johnson stated ...

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