APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION
527 N.E.2d 441, 173 Ill. App. 3d 147, 122 Ill. Dec. 943 1988.IL.1078
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Earl Strayhorn, Judge, presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court. McNAMARA and RIZZI, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WHITE
In the jury selection process, the trial court allowed the State and the defense 20 peremptory challenges each. After the State exercised its twentieth challenge, defense counsel objected and asked for a mistrial on grounds that the State had used its challenges in a racially discriminatory manner. Defense counsel pointed out that the State had used 16 of its 26 challenges to exclude blacks from the jury, and counsel named 14 of the excluded blacks on the record. At that point, nine members of the jury had been selected, and three of those persons were black. The record does not reflect the races of the three persons chosen to serve on the jury after the State had exhausted its peremptory challenges.
At trial Walter White testified that in December 1981, he lived in the hall of an apartment, and Estelle Brown, Lucille White, and James Freeman lived in bedrooms adjoining that hall. On December 27, 1981, around 11:30 p.m., defendant came to the door of the apartment. Walter knew defendant from his previous visits, so he let him in and took him to Lucille's room. Lucille, who was about 75 years old, said she did not want to talk to defendant, so defendant left. Around midnight John Walker came to the apartment. Walter let him in and knocked on Lucille's door. Lucille talked with John for 20 minutes, and then she went back to her room. John stayed in the hall talking with Walter. They heard the sounds of something falling over in Lucille's room, but John said, "Pay it no attention." John continued talking with Walter until they heard someone calling John from outside. John left.
Estelle Brown testified that she also saw defendant at the door of Lucille's room at 11:30 p.m. on December 27, 1981. Lucille said to defendant: "Get away from my door; I'm going to call the police." About an hour later she saw Lucille talking with John, and after he left Lucille's door Estelle heard a cry of anger from Lucille's room. Later she heard someone outside say, "Come on, man, let's go."
Officer John Kulik testified that he received a call around noon on December 28, 1981, and in response he went to Lucille's apartment. He knocked on the door to Lucille's room but he received no answer. He went outside and noticed that the window of Lucille's room was open and its screen was torn. He helped another man enter the apartment through the window, and that man opened the door to the room. Inside Kulik found the body of Lucille, who had been strangled to death. The room had been ransacked.
Stephanie Strickland testified that in December 1981, she was living with her boyfriend, John Walker. Defendant visited them that evening, and the three of them talked and drank liquor for a while. Defendant and John left, and defendant returned first. He said that they had been to Lucille's home, and they got $50 from her. John came home about 35 minutes after defendant returned.
John Walker testified that when he left his apartment with defendant they went over to Lucille's apartment, and John agreed to talk to Lucille while defendant went into her room through her window to get some money. John talked with Lucille for about 10 minutes and then he talked with Walter until he heard defendant say "Come on. Let's go." Defendant gave John a $50 bill and John spent the money on drugs and liquor. Police arrested John on December 31, 1981, and he gave them a statement at that time. John also testified that the State's Attorney offered to charge John with only robbery and burglary, for a sentence of four years' imprisonment, if he agreed to testify against defendant. He discussed this deal with his attorney on November 16, 1982. John admitted that he was willing to do anything he could to avoid a conviction for murder.
Defendant testified that he went to see Lucille on the evening of December 27, 1981, but she was angry with him and she asked him to leave. He went to visit John and Stephanie and he stayed in their apartment with Stephanie while John went out to get some liquor and drugs. John returned 45 minutes later. Defendant slept in John's apartment that night. He stayed with his girlfriend the next night, and then he spent a week with his ex-wife and the following week with his family in Gary, Indiana. He moved to Texas to look for work, and after he had been working there for three months, he learned that Lucille was dead when police arrested him for her murder.
In rebuttal of defendant's closing argument, the prosecutor stated:
"Well, you already know that on December 31st, Johnny Walker told the police what had occurred and what he knew about December 28, 1981, eleven months before he ...