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07/20/88 the People of the State of v. Darryl James

July 20, 1988





528 N.E.2d 723, 123 Ill. 2d 523, 124 Ill. Dec. 35 1988.IL.1118

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. R. Eugene Pincham, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE RYAN delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE WARD, Dissenting. JUSTICE STAMOS joins in this Dissent. JUSTICE CLARK, also Dissenting. JUSTICE STAMOS joins in this Dissent.


The defendant, Darryl James, was convicted by a jury in the circuit court of Cook County of the murder of Gerilia Boyd and the attempted murder of Delbert Collins. The court sentenced the defendant to concurrent terms of 30 years for murder and 15 years for attempted murder. The appellate court reversed the convictions (153 Ill. App. 3d 131), and we granted the State's petition for leave to appeal (107 Ill. 2d R. 315).

The issues presented in this appeal all relate to the State's use of evidence, obtained in violation of the defendant's fourth amendment rights, to rebut the testimony of a defense witness other than the defendant.

The record in this case reveals that on August 30, 1982, at approximately 11 p.m., a group of eight boys was proceeding home from a party at the Ida B. Wells housing project in Chicago. Three other boys approached the group and demanded money. When no money was surrendered, one member of the trio produced a gun and began shooting at the larger group. Gerilia Boyd was wounded and died as a result of the shooting. Delbert Collins, who was shot in the back, testified on behalf of the State at the defendant's trial.

Upon arriving at the scene of the shooting, the police questioned several eyewitnesses who volunteered information regarding the incident. Five of the eyewitnesses, including Delbert Collins, were members of a group called the "B Boys." The five State witnesses described two of the offenders as being 6 feet 1 inch tall and the third offender as being about 5 feet 4 inches tall. They told the police that all three were wearing ski jackets and baseball caps. The shortest of the three offenders fired the gun. One of the eyewitnesses gave the police the name of a person he thought was one of the offenders. Police arrested this suspect and questioned him, but later released him when the same witness said this person was not involved in the shooting. The record reveals that the arrested suspect told the police that two youths by the names of "Carey" and "Guam" were involved in the incident and that "Carey" was the shooter. "Carey" was also brought into the station, but was subsequently released when the eyewitness told police that "Carey" was also not one of the offenders.

The "B Boys" testified for the State at trial and all made in-court identifications of the defendant, who was taken into police custody on August 31, the day after the shooting. The police had found the defendant at his mother's beauty shop sitting under the hair dryer.

Each of the "B Boys" testified that the person responsible for the shooting had "reddish" hair, which he wore shoulder length in a slicked-back "butter" style, and also wore an earring. When giving descriptions of the offenders to the police immediately following the incident, none of the eyewitnesses said anything about the hair color or hairstyle of the person who shot the victim. One witness did testify that he told a detective at the police station that the person responsible for the shooting had red hair and a light "reddish" complexion. Each of the witnesses recalled having seen the defendant a few weeks prior to the shooting at the Bud Billiken Parade. They remembered the defendant because of his red "butter" hairstyle and the earring in his left ear. At trial, the defendant's hair was black and he was wearing it in a "natural" style. He was not wearing an earring. Despite the discrepancy between the description given by the eyewitnesses immediately after the incident occurred and the defendant's physical appearance at trial, the "B Boys" stood firm in their identification of the defendant as the one who committed the shooting.

The defendant's principal witness at trial was Jewel Henderson, a friend of the defendant's family. She testified that on the day of the shooting she had taken the defendant to register for high school, and at that time the defendant's hair was black. To "impeach" and rebut Henderson's testimony, the State sought to introduce a previously suppressed statement of the defendant. Following a hearing on the voluntariness of the defendant's suppressed statement, the trial court, over the defendant's objection, permitted the State to introduce the statement.

The suppressed statement which the trial court admitted into evidence revealed that while in police custody on August 31, the defendant told the police that on the evening of August 30, his hair was long and combed back straight and "reddish" in color. He said that he had gone to his mother's beauty parlor on August 31 to have his hair dyed and curled to change his appearance. The trial court had suppressed this statement at a pretrial hearing after finding that there was no probable cause to arrest the defendant, and thus, that the statement was the fruit of an unlawful arrest.

Following the police officer's testimony regarding the defendant's suppressed statement, at the request of defendant, the trial court orally instructed the jury that the testimony was "offered for the purpose of impeaching the testimony of Miss Henderson who stated to you that the defendant's hair was black. This evidence is offered to refute and rebut that testimony, that it was not black but it was red at the point the officer said the defendant told him it was red." The defendant made no objection to this instruction and suggested no change in it or any further instruction. At the close of the evidence, however, the trial court refused the defendant's proffered jury instruction explaining that the defendant's statement could be considered only for purposes of determining the believability of the witness and could not be used as substantive evidence of the defendant's guilt or innocence. These refused instructions and the instructions given relating to this issue will be discussed later.

The record further reveals that during rebuttal closing argument, the prosecutor stated, "his case comes to you with five eyewitnesses, an admission that he changed his color -- changed the color of his hair." Defense counsel's objection to this reference to the defendant's suppressed statement was overruled.

Defendant did not testify at trial. As noted previously, the jury found the defendant guilty of murder and attempted murder and the trial court sentenced the defendant on both counts.

Defendant appealed his convictions to the appellate court, arguing that his fourth amendment rights were violated when the trial court admitted the defendant's previously suppressed statement to impeach the testimony of defense witness Henderson. The appellate court reversed the defendant's convictions and ordered a new trial, finding that the admission of the defendant's suppressed statement was improper. The appellate court also rejected the State's alternative argument that even if the trial court did err in admitting the defendant's suppressed statement, the error was harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence of the defendant's guilt. 153 Ill. App. 3d 131.

In its appeal before this court, the State maintains that the appellate court's reversal of the defendant's convictions was erroneous. Citing United States v. Havens (1980), 446 U.S. 620, 64 L. Ed. 2d 559, 100 S. Ct. 1912, People v. Payne (1983), 98 Ill. 2d 45, and People v. Finkey (1982), 105 Ill. App. 3d 230, the State contends that the trial court properly admitted the defendant's suppressed statements to impeach and rebut Henderson's testimony. The State again argues, in the alternative, that even if the trial court did err in admitting the defendant's suppressed statements, that error is harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence of the defendant's guilt.

It is, of course, the general rule that evidence obtained in violation of the fourth amendment may not be introduced into evidence at trial. (Mapp v. Ohio (1961), 367 U.S. 643, 6 L. Ed. 2d 1081, 81 S. Ct. 1684; Weeks v. United States (1914), 232 U.S. 383, 58 L. Ed. 652, 34 S. Ct. 341.) However, while the exclusionary rule may have begun as an absolute bar on the use of such evidence (see Agnello v. United States (1925), 269 U.S. 20, 70 L. Ed. 145, 46 S. Ct. 4; Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States (1920), 251 U.S. 385, 64 L. Ed. 319, 40 S. Ct. 182), over the years a number of narrow exceptions to the rule have evolved.

One such exception applicable to the facts of this case has its origin in Walder v. United States (1954), 347 U.S. 62, 98 L. Ed. 503, 74 S. Ct. 354. The defendant in Walder was charged with four narcotics-related transactions. He had previously been indicted for purchase and possession of heroin, but those charges were dismissed after a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence was granted. 347 U.S. at 63, 98 L. Ed. at 506, 74 S. Ct. at 355.

The prosecutor's case consisted principally of the testimony of two government informers who had allegedly purchased drugs from Walder. Walder's defense consisted solely of his own testimony, during which he denied any narcotics dealings with the informers. Early in his direct examination, Walder testified as follows:

"'Q. Now, first, Mr. Walder, before we go further in your testimony, I want to you [ sic ] tell the Court and jury whether, not referring to these informers in this case, but whether you have ever sold any narcotics to anyone.

A. I have never sold any narcotics to anyone in my life.

Q. Have you ever had any narcotics in your possession, other than what may have been given to you by a physician for an ailment?

A. No.

Q. Now, I will ask you one more thing. Have you ever handed or given any narcotics to anyone as a gift or in any other manner without the receipt of any money or any other compensation?

A. I have not.

Q. Have you ever even acted as, say, have you acted as a conduit for the purpose of handling what you knew to be a narcotic from one person to another?

A. No, sir.'"

347 U.S. at 63, 98 L. Ed. at 506, 74 S. Ct. at 355.

On cross-examination, in response to questioning about this direct testimony, Walder reiterated his assertion that he had never purchased, sold or possessed any narcotics. Over objection, the prosecution then questioned him about his previous drug arrest, and about the heroin which had been unlawfully seized. Walder denied that any drugs had been taken from him at that time. Thereafter the prosecution introduced evidence of the prior search and seizure of the heroin. The trial court admitted this evidence, instructing the jury that it was to be used solely for the purpose of impeaching the defendant's credibility.

The Supreme Court upheld the admission of the evidence. In so doing, it acknowledged the general rule that the government may not use the fruits of an illegal search to secure a conviction. However, the Court went on to explain the rationale for the exception it was creating as follows:

"It is one thing to say that the Government cannot make an affirmative use of evidence unlawfully obtained. It is quite another to say that the defendant can turn the illegal method by which evidence in the Government's possession was obtained to his own advantage, and provide himself with a shield against contradiction of his untruths. ...

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