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02/22/89 the People of the State of v. William Young

February 22, 1989





538 N.E.2d 461, 128 Ill. 2d 1, 131 Ill. Dec. 86 1989.IL.206

Rehearing denied May 26, 1989.




JUSTICE RYAN delivered the opinion of the court.

Review on Direct Appeal

In this case the sentence of death was imposed on the defendant. On appeal, the defendant, who is black, complained that at the guilt phase of the trial, the prosecutor violated the defendant's equal protection rights by using peremptory challenges to exclude four blacks from the jury. While this case was pending on appeal, the Supreme Court decided Batson v. Kentucky (1986), 476 U.S. 70, 90 L. Ed. 2d 69, 106 S. Ct. 1712, which held that a defendant may establish a prima facie case of discrimination by showing that he is a member of a cognizable racial group, and that the prosecution exercised peremptory challenges to remove from the jury members of the defendant's race. While this case was under advisement, the Supreme Court held, in Griffith v. Kentucky (1987), 479 U.S. 314, 93 L. Ed. 2d 649, 107 S. Ct. 708, that Batson is to be applied retroactively to all cases pending on direct review not yet final. This case was therefore remanded to the circuit court of Will County for a Batson hearing. The trial court found that the prosecution's explanations for the use of peremptory challenges to exclude four black jurors were racially neutral. In an opinion filed today the holding of the trial court was affirmed. We now consider the other issues that have been raised on this appeal.

The defendant, William Young, an inmate at the Stateville Correctional Center, was indicted along with fellow inmates Robert Amos, Karl Bell, Paul Williams, Bruce Dawkins, and Robert Tucker for the murder of inmate Brian Jackson (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1)). After a severance, William Young and Robert Amos were jointly tried, apart from the other defendants. Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Will County, defendant Young and codefendant Amos were found guilty of murder. The State requested a separate sentencing hearing to consider whether the death penalty should be imposed (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1(d)). Co-defendant Amos waived his right to a jury determination on the death penalty and his sentencing hearing was severed from the defendant's (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1(d)(3)). The trial Judge determined that Amos was eligible for the death penalty, but found a factor in mitigation that precluded imposition of the death sentence. Amos was subsequently sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment to run consecutively to the sentence he was serving. Defendant Young requested a jury for the death penalty hearing. At a bifurcated sentencing hearing, the same jury found the existence of statutory aggravating factors (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(b)(2), (b)(3)), and concluded that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death penalty. Accordingly, the circuit court sentenced the defendant to death (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1(h)). The sentence was stayed (107 Ill. 2d R. 609(a)), pending direct appeal to this court (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 4(b); 107 Ill. 2d R. 603). In this opinion, we consider only the conviction and death sentence of William Young.

The following evidence was presented at the guilt phase of the trial of William Young and Robert Amos. On March 31, 1983, 137 inmates of cellhouse B-East were exercising in the multipurpose building (gymnasium) of the Stateville prison. The exercise period lasted from 12:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. During this period, an intergang meeting took place in the washroom of the gymnasium.

The intergang meeting lasted 10 or 15 minutes. Inmates Paul Williams, Joe Williams, Bruce Dawkins, Robert Tucker, Karl Bell, William Young, Robert Amos, and Brian Jackson, all members of the Vice Lords, returned to the washroom for a second meeting. (The washroom, which is separated from the gymnasium by a door, is divided into three areas: a shower area, a locker area, and a bathroom.) The purpose of this second meeting was to administer a physical "violation" to Brian Jackson. A violation was defined as a punishment for breaking the rules of the gang.

The evidence shows that Brian Jackson was found dead in the shower area of the gymnasium washroom at the end of the exercise period. Correctional officers quickly secured the gymnasium. The inmates were placed in the bleachers. Each inmate was thereafter individually screened and interrogated.

Vernon Willis, chief of security at Stateville, testified that during the closedown, he noticed co-defendant Amos sitting in the bleachers wearing only shorts. Willis stated that he proceeded to the area underneath the bleachers. He testified that he observed Amos attempting to stuff a pair of bluejeans through the bleachers. The bluejeans were seized and taken to a crime-scene technician.

Melvin Trojanowski, a crime-scene technician with the Illinois Department of Law Enforcement, scanned each inmate's clothing, shoes, and person with an ultraviolet light for the presence of stains. Trojanowski stated that during this process he received a pair of bluejeans from a Department of Corrections officer. He testified that the bluejeans contained a reddish-brown bloodlike substance.

Hayden Baldwin, a sergeant with the Illinois State Police on assignment to the Illinois Bureau of Technical Field Services, processed the locker, shower, and bathroom areas of the washroom. Baldwin testified that he observed large amounts of blood on the floor and the walls of the shower area. He stated that he recovered from a corner of the shower area floor a pair of blue shorts with the defendant's institutional identification number. A long cotton string was also retrieved from the floor of the shower area near the victim's feet. Baldwin further stated that he had noticed that a ventilation frame above a shower head was missing. The vent leads to a plumbing access room located directly behind the shower heads. There is no entrance to the access room from the washroom. Baldwin testified that he retrieved the vent frame from the floor of the access room, along with a carpenter's T-bevel handle, the blade of the T-bevel which had broken off, a folding knife inside a white glove, a long, round, metal rod, a gray sweatjacket with the name "Top Dog" embroidered on the back, a blue web belt, and a black leather belt.

David Metzger, a Department of Law Enforcement forensic scientist specializing in forensic serology, examined each item of physical evidence for the presence of bloodstains. Metzger testified that he analyzed the blood sample of the victim and compared the results with his analyses of samples of blood found on the items of physical evidence. He concluded that bloodstains found on the blue shorts, the gray sweatjacket, the bluejeans, and the vent frame were consistent with the victim's blood type.

Dr. Edward Shalgos, a forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy, testified that Brian Jackson sustained a total of 122 stabbing or cutting wounds. Dr. Shalgos indicated that the wounds resulted from at least three different cutting-type instruments. When shown the folding knife, the carpenter's T-bevel handle and blade, and the long, round, metal rod, Dr. Shalgos testified that these instruments were "compatible" with the nature of the wounds incurred by the victim. Dr. Shalgos also stated that there were "defense" wounds on the arms and hands, thus indicating that the victim had tried to ward off his assailants. Dr. Shalgos further testified that the front side of the victim's neck showed ligature abrasion. Dr. Shalgos determined the cause of death to have been the combined effects of exsanguination with shock and ligature strangulation.

The chief prosecution witnesses were inmates Joe and Paul Williams. As to the events which occurred in the washroom during the second meeting, Joe Williams testified that he was standing in the bathroom area with Dawkins and Tucker while Amos, Bell, Jackson, and the defendant had a conversation in the shower area. The defendant told Jackson that he was in "violation" and asked him how he was going to accept it. Jackson responded that he was going to accept it like a man. On the defendant's order, Amos and Bell began striking Jackson with their fists. After a few minutes, the defendant ordered Amos and Bell to stop the beating. The defendant walked out of the shower area, past Joe Williams, and proceeded toward the washroom door, where Paul Williams was standing guard outside. Paul Williams gave the defendant a long, round, metal rod and a carpenter's T-bevel. The defendant took one of the weapons and gave the other to Amos. Bell then held Jackson while the defendant and Amos repeatedly stabbed him. Jackson fought against the defendant, Bell, and Amos. In the course of the struggle, the shank wielded by the defendant broke. The defendant gave the broken shank to Bell, who continued to stab Jackson until he fell. After checking Jackson's pulse, the defendant determined that Jackson was still alive. The defendant then ordered Dawkins and Tucker to strangle Jackson. Dawkins wrapped his belt around Jackson's neck and pulled, but it broke. The defendant directed Joe Williams to surrender his belt, which he did. Dawkins and Tucker resumed strangling Jackson until he was dead. The defendant and Amos subsequently removed their bloodied clothing and washed up in the sinks. Amos took the clothing and shanks and stuffed them down a vent located above one of the shower heads. At that point, Dawkins, Tucker, Bell, Amos, Joe Williams, and the defendant left the washroom.

In an apparent attempt to reduce the impact of his criminal record on the jury, Joe Williams admitted on direct examination that he had seven prior convictions, three for burglary, one for residential burglary, one for possession of burglary tools, one for auto theft, and one for criminal damage to property. On cross-examination, Williams admitted that he had been a heroin addict from 1974 to 1980. He also acknowledged on cross-examination that the State had not prosecuted him for his role in this killing, that he had been transferred to another penitentiary for his own security, and that the victim's blood had been found on the bottom of his shoe. Further cross-examination established that he had made contradictory statements to investigation officers. Cross-examination also revealed that Williams was a Vice Lords "elite" (first in command in the Vice Lords' hierarchy) outside of prison, though he claimed he was no longer a member of that gang.

Inmate Paul Williams also testified as to the events of March 31, 1983. Paul Williams stated that he went to the defendant's cell to escort the defendant to the gymnasium for the exercise period. Prior to arriving in the gym, Williams testified that he received a carpenter's T-bevel and a long, round, metal rod from Robert Amos. Williams hid the weapons in the sleeve of his coat. Williams stated that he gave them to Robert Tucker during the second meeting. Tucker had indicated to Williams that the defendant wanted the weapons. Tucker took the weapons into the locker room. After 25 minutes, Paul Williams saw Amos, Tucker, Dawkins, Bell, Joe Williams, and the defendant emerge from the washroom. When the second meeting began, co-defendant Amos had been wearing bluejeans and a gray sweatjacket with the words "Top Dog" embroidered on the back. The defendant had been wearing oversized sweatpants, a T-shirt, and a thin jacket. Paul Williams stated that when Amos left the washroom, he no longer wore the "Top Dog" sweatjacket. Williams also indicated that the defendant had changed his clothing.

Paul Williams further testified on direct examination that he had a conversation with the defendant in which the defendant recounted his version of the murder. According to Williams, the defendant admitted that he stabbed Brian Jackson, that the weapon broke, and that he used another weapon to stab him in the head. Amos, Tucker, Dawkins, and Bell also stabbed Jackson. The defendant related to Williams that after the stabbing, he noticed that Jackson was still breathing and had a pulse. The defendant took the drawstring from his sweatpants and began to strangle Jackson. The string broke. The defendant then took a belt from Dawkins and strangled Jackson further. The defendant told Williams that the victim pleaded for his life, but the defendant responded that this was a death move. The defendant also told Williams that he would never forget the look in Jackson's eyes when he died.

Paul Williams admitted on direct examination that he had prior convictions for the offenses of rape, armed robbery, and escape. Williams also acknowledged on direct examination that the State agreed to dismiss the charge of murder (accountability) in exchange for Williams' blind guilty plea to aggravated battery, conspiracy to commit intimidation, and mob action. On cross-examination, it was established that Williams had made statements that conflicted with his trial testimony. Further cross-examination revealed that Williams had been in segregation for six months for assaulting an inmate. Williams also indicated on cross-examination that the defendant was the Vice Lords "elite" in cellhouse B-East. Williams stated that he had been the "elite" for over one year until replaced by the defendant.

Co-defendant Robert Amos, testifying in his own behalf, acknowledged prior convictions for armed robbery, burglary, and aggravated battery. His testimony was consistent with that of Paul Williams and Joe Williams concerning the identity of the persons present, the fact that two meetings took place in the washroom, and the fact that Brian Jackson was murdered during the second meeting. Amos testified that Jackson knew he was to receive a physical "violation" during the second meeting for "raping" Bruce Dawkins. Amos stated he began striking Jackson in the chest with his fists. Joe Williams, however, ordered Amos to stop. Joe Williams then sent Robert Tucker to the door "to get a paper bag from Paul Williams." When Tucker returned with the bag, he withdrew a carpenter's T-bevel and a long, round, metal rod. Tucker handed one of the weapons to Dawkins, and kept the other. According to Amos, the defendant asked Joe Williams, "What is happening? What is he doing man?" Joe Williams responded, "This ain't none of your business. Stay out of my business." The defendant said, "I am the elite of the cellhouse." Joe Williams answered, "I am carrying it out the way it is supposed to be carried out." Bell then produced his own pocket knife and Dawkins, Bell, and Tucker started stabbing Jackson. The defendant argued with Joe Williams briefly about Williams' authority. Amos testified that he then left with the defendant to take the matter up with the "Supreme Elite."

Amos stated on direct examination that neither he nor the defendant stabbed Jackson. He further stated that he never saw the strangulation. Amos testified that he removed his bluejeans after noticing bloodstains on them. Amos explained that the victim had bumped into him during the struggle. He also admitted on direct examination attempting to stuff the bluejeans down the bleachers. Amos, however, denied wearing the gray sweatjacket with "Top Dog" printed on the back, denied delivering the weapons to Paul Williams, and denied ownership of a pair of white gloves found in the access room.

On cross-examination, Amos admitted that he had been interviewed three times by investigators, but that he had not made any statements concerning Jackson's death until his testimony at trial. Amos described Paul Williams as a former "elite" who was now second in command in the Vice Lords' hierarchy. Amos stated that the defendant and Joe Williams were both "elites" and that the defendant did not necessarily outrank Paul Williams. Amos also acknowledged that he was formerly the Vice Lords' assistant chief of security, though he claimed he was no longer a member of that gang.

Inmate Bruce Dawkins testified for the State in rebuttal. Dawkins admitted Brian Jackson was his best friend, but denied engaging in a sex act with him. Dawkins stated that Amos, Bell, and the defendant stabbed Jackson with weapons delivered by Paul Williams. After the stabbing, Dawkins and Tucker were ordered by the defendant to strangle the victim. The first belt broke, so they continued to strangle Jackson using Tucker's belt. The defendant also used the drawstring from his sweatpants to strangle the victim. Dawkins stated that he did not realize his acts of strangulation could kill the victim. Dawkins, however, apparently contradicted the testimony of Paul Williams, Joe Williams, and Robert Amos by testifying that he did not recall seeing Joe Williams in the shower room during the stabbing and strangling of Brian Jackson.

Dawkins admitted on direct examination that he had six prior convictions for armed robbery. In addition, Dawkins acknowledged that the State agreed to recommend a sentence of 25 years' imprisonment in exchange for his guilty plea to murder. Cross-examination established that Dawkins had lied to investigators. Dawkins admitted that in an April 4, 1983, interview with investigators, he did not mention his own participation in Jackson's strangulation.

After hearing all of the evidence and receiving instructions from the trial Judge, the jury found the defendant guilty of the murder of Brian Jackson. At the State's request, a sentencing hearing was convened to determine whether the death penalty should be imposed. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1(d).) The defendant elected to proceed before the same jury that determined guilt, and a bifurcated hearing was conducted.

In the first phase of the hearing, the State introduced evidence that the defendant was 32 years old at the time he committed the murder of Brian Jackson, that Brian Jackson was an inmate at an institutional facility of the Department of Corrections, and that the defendant previously had been convicted for the 1976 murder of Edward Cole. The jury thus found the defendant eligible for the imposition of the death penalty (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(b)(2), (b)(3)).

In the second phase of the sentencing hearing, the parties presented evidence in aggravation and mitigation. The State established that the defendant's prior criminal record included convictions on one count of rape, five counts of armed robbery, and one count of unlawful use of weapons. The State also introduced evidence of the defendant's alleged involvement in the murder of Joseph Kendrick and the attempted murder of Richard Soothy. Joseph Kendrick was shot by two intruders in his apartment. Richard Soothy identified the defendant as one of the intruders. The defendant admitted his presence at the scene. However, an indictment against him was dismissed because Soothy was unavailable to testify. Finally, the State presented evidence that at the sentencing hearing for the 1976 murder of Edward Cole, the defendant threatened the life of the prosecutor and verbally abused the trial Judge.

In mitigation, the defense presented a stipulation that, prior to trial, Bruce Dawkins and Robert Tucker pled guilty to the murder of Brian Jackson in exchange for sentences of 25 years' imprisonment. The stipulation also acknowledged that Karl Bell pled guilty to the murder in exchange for the State's pledge not to seek the death penalty against him.

The jury found that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death penalty. The circuit court therefore sentenced the defendant to death. The sentence was stayed under the provisions of Supreme Court Rule 609 (107 Ill. 2d R. 609(a)), pending the final order of this court. The case is ...

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