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08/09/89 the People of the State of v. Reginald Ellis Et Al.

August 9, 1989





543 N.E.2d 196, 187 Ill. App. 3d 295, 134 Ill. Dec. 913 1989.IL.1222

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. George M. Marovich, Judge, presiding.

Rehearing Denied September 6, 1989.


JUSTICE RIZZI delivered the opinion of the court. FREEMAN, P.J., and McNAMARA, J.,* concur.


Defendants, Reginald Ellis and Trellis Bailey, were found guilty of murder in a joint bench trial. Each defendant was sentenced to serve 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On appeal, Ellis argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash arrest and suppress statements and in excluding evidence of the victim's prior arrest and convictions. Bailey argues that (1) the trial court erred in excluding evidence of the victim's prior arrest and convictions; (2) the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his theory of self-defense was unreasonable; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing defendant to serve 30 years in prison. We affirm.

Martin Hunter, brother of victim Larry Hunter, testified on behalf of the State. Martin stated that on May 30, 1984, at approximately 10:30 p.m., he was driving his automobile with his brother Larry in the front passenger seat. They were traveling eastbound on 91st Street in the direction of St. Lawrence Avenue when an automobile pulled out in front of them and began to drive slowly down the street. When the car reached the middle of the block it stopped and Martin blew his horn. The car again began to move slowly down the block. When the car reached the corner of 91st Street and St. Lawrence, it stopped at the stop sign and the occupants of the car held a conversation with someone in a nearby park. Martin waited for a few seconds, then got out of his car and approached the driver of the car in front of him. Martin asked the driver, "Why are you doing this? Why don't you let me by?" The driver of the automobile, later identified as Aaron "Tuffy" Williams, exited his car, stood face to face with Martin and asked him what he was going to do. Martin then began to back away and told Tuffy to get in his car and let him pass. Tuffy advanced in Martin's direction and Martin struck him, knocking him to the ground.

Tuffy got up from the ground, and Trellis Bailey, who was a passenger in Tuffy's car, got out and began to walk toward the driver's side of the auto. The victim, Larry Hunter, then exited his car and confronted Bailey. Bailey and Larry began to fight and scuffle with each other. Martin saw Tuffy make a motion in the direction of the park and about five to eight men came over to the car. One of the men grabbed a portion of a car jack from his car and several others grabbed sticks. The men attacked, but Martin and Larry ran away, leaving their automobile in the street with the keys in the ignition. As Martin and Larry left, they observed that the rear window of their car was broken. One of the men jumped in Martin's car and drove it away.

Martin and Larry returned home, called the police and waited outside their house. While they waited for the police to arrive, a car drove westbound on eastbound 91st Street. As Martin walked toward his house, Ellis and Bailey exited the car and began chasing him and Larry. Martin went through the alley between 91st Street and 91st Place, while Larry ran in the opposite direction. Reginald Ellis and Bailey followed Larry. Meanwhile, Martin picked up a board from the alley and ran back toward 91st Place. As Martin reached 91st and Eberhart, he observed Ellis and Bailey beating his brother Larry as he lay on the ground. Martin yelled and told the men to leave his brother alone. Both men were holding long sticks, later identified as baseball bats. Bailey struck the victim again. Martin approached the defendants. As Ellis ran by, he swung a baseball bat at Martin and Martin struck him with the board he was holding. The defendants left the area.

During the cross-examination of Martin Hunter, counsel for defendant Ellis attempted to introduce evidence of Larry Hunter's prior arrests. The trial court sustained the State's objection and ruled that the evidence was immaterial.

Dr. Eupil Choi, a forensic pathologist, testified that his autopsy of the victim revealed four external blunt trauma lacerations to the head area, a laceration below the left elbow, and one on the right hand. An internal examination of the victim's head revealed a fractured skull and jawbone with multiple brain contusions and a massive brain hemorrhage. The victim's death was caused by multiple blunt trauma to the head.

Trellis Bailey testified on his own behalf. Bailey stated that Martin Hunter struck his friend Tuffy for no apparent reason. He further stated that when he got out of the car to come to Tuffy's aid, Larry Hunter approached him from behind and began to beat him. He testified that he grabbed a baseball bat from a bystander and chased the Hunters. Bailey further testified that he went to Reginald Ellis' home and told him what happened. Ellis joined him and they went looking for the Hunters. Bailey testified that when they saw the Hunters they got out of their car and chased them. He stated that he followed Larry Hunter and confronted him with a baseball bat. When Larry turned, lunged at him and stated, "I'm going to kill you," Bailey struck him in the head with the baseball bat several times and fled the area.

At the hearing on Ellis' motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, the following facts were revealed. Chicago police detective Anthony Maslanka testified that on June 1, 1984, he received information regarding Ellis' involvement in Larry Martin's murder. Maslanka obtained Ellis' arrest record and photograph and proceeded to Ellis' mother's home. When he arrived, he observed Ellis through the front window. Maslanka's knock on the door was answered by a man and woman. When he asked for Reginald Ellis, they told him that they were not his parents and that they were not sure where Ellis was. When Maslanka informed them that he had seen Ellis from the window and he was ...

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