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03/22/94 J.C. v. J.C.

March 22, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Jacqueline Cox, Judge Presiding.

DiVito, Hartman, Scariano

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Divito

Presiding Justice DiVito delivered the opinion of the court:

Following an adjudicatory hearing, the circuit court found respondent J.C. delinquent on the basis of the criminal offenses of murder, unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated battery. Thereafter, the court committed him to the custody of the Juvenile Division of the Department of Corrections for an indeterminate term. On appeal, respondent contends that (1) the circuit court improperly determined his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at the close of the State's case; (2) the court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence; (3) the evidence established at the hearing was insufficient to demonstrate that he acted intentionally; (4) he was improperly adjudicated a ward of the court; (5) the circuit court failed to consider Dispositional alternatives; and (6) the Dispositional order wrongly reflects that he was found delinquent of two counts of murder even though only one person was killed.

At the hearing, Elizabeth Gaffney testified that her son Joseph Gaffney was 13 years old when he died on April 12, 1991.

Officer James Shader, an evidence technician with the Chicago police department, testified that on April 12, 1991, at approximately 11 p.m., he responded to a call of a "young boy shot in the head" at 6430 North Harlem. When he arrived at that location, he found Gaffney lying on a dining room chair, with his head resting against a living room chair. He also found a bottle of Chivas Regal whiskey on the kitchen table, and a live, .38 special cartridge in the back stairwell. Later that evening, the police recovered a five-shot, .38 caliber revolver that contained a spent cartridge which was identical to the live cartridge found at the crime scene.

J.O. testified that he was 13 years old, and that on April 12, 1991, he, D.R., and M.C. were at T.C.'s house at 6430 North Harlem. M.C. brought a bottle of whiskey. About 5:45 p.m., respondent arrived at T.C.'s house with S.R., J.J., and J.B. J.O. stated that although several people drank at the party, he did not see respondent doing so. At about 8 p.m., respondent left the party with D.R. and S.R., stating that they were going after some guys that tried to rape respondent's sister. At that time, they were carrying a silver gun with a brown handle. Respondent returned to the party at about 9:30 p.m., and was in the kitchen demonstrating the gun to Gaffney, J.J., M.C. and him. Respondent pretended to put a bullet in the chamber, closed it, pointed it at Gaffney, and pulled the trigger four or five times. While he was doing this, respondent was saying that he should "blow his[balls] *fn1 off because * * * guys shouldn't get hickeys from girls." J.O. noticed that Gaffney had a hickey on the lower left side of his neck. When Gaffney told respondent that he knew the gun was not loaded, respondent opened the gun, put a bullet in the third chamber, and closed the barrel. Respondent again pointed the gun at Gaffney's groin and pulled the trigger twice. As respondent pulled the hammer back and cocked the gun, he apparently realized that the loaded third chamber was the next one. He then ran into the front room, where he pointed the gun to the floor and eased the hammer down so that it would not strike the bullet. After respondent took the bullet out of the gun, the group moved into the front room and began talking among themselves.

Respondent did not put the gun away, however, and shortly thereafter, he opened the barrel and placed the bullet back in the third chamber. He again pointed the gun at Gaffney's groin and pulled the trigger once. Gaffney then told respondent to "point it at my head, it would be quicker." Respondent then raised the gun, pointed it at Gaffney's head, and pulled the trigger. Gaffney pretended to be shot and fell down. When Gaffney got back up, respondent was smiling and he pointed the gun at Gaffney. He then "pulled the trigger back real slow" and shot Gaffney. Immediately after he shot Gaffney, he yelled "did I do this or is all this unreal?"

On cross-examination, J.O. testified that everybody was laughing and joking and having a good time at the party and that respondent and Gaffney had no arguments prior to the shooting. J.O. further testified that when he arrived at the party, D.R. also had a gun in his possession. During the party, the two guns were on the kitchen table and several people handled them.

V.S. testified that she was 14 years old and that on April 8, 1991, she broke up with Gaffney after dating him for approximately six months. The next day, April 9th, respondent asked her if she would "go out with him." She replied that she would, and the two went out for "about a day." On April 10, 1991, she told respondent that "she still had feelings for [Gaffney]" and that she just wanted to be friends. That night she was at a party in the basement at a friend's house when she heard "something that sounded like a pounding on the floor." When she went upstairs to investigate, she saw respondent and Gaffney having an argument.

Two days later, on April 12, 1991, respondent and J.B. came overto her house in the afternoon. Respondent told her that he wanted "to get some guys that were bothering his sister" and showed her a silver gun, with a brown handle. J.B. then began walking down the alley, and she asked respondent what he would do if he was unable to find those people. He replied that he would "find something to do with the gun." The two then began talking about Gaffney, and respondent said that he wanted to "hurt" him. On cross-examination, she testified that respondent and Gaffney were "really good friends," who would always reconcile their differences.

J.J. testified that on the date in question, she and Gaffney had a date to go to T.C.'s party, but she arrived at 4:30 p.m. and he did not arrive until 6 p.m. Respondent was also at the party, but she did not see him drink that evening. His eyes looked "normal," not bloodshot, he was not stumbling, and he did not smell of alcohol. There were two guns at the party; one was small and "looked almost like a toy" and the bigger one was silver with a brown handle. Respondent was showing the bigger gun to "all the other guys."

Later, in the kitchen, respondent was "joking around" by threatening to shoot Gaffney because she gave him a hickey. When he pulled the trigger, Gaffney pretended that he was shot. After doing this a couple times, respondent left the room and when he came back in, she was able to see that he had placed a bullet in the chamber. Respondent pulled the trigger twice and then pulled the hammer back for a third time before realizing that the bullet was in the next chamber. Respondent then set the hammer back, and everyone moved to the dining room. In the dining room, respondent again pointed the gun at Gaffney and he told respondent that it would be faster to shoot him in the head. Respondent then lifted the gun, and pulled the trigger twice, the second time shooting Gaffney.

On cross-examination, J.J. testified that only the smaller gun was at the party originally, but respondent and J.B. left the party to get the right size bullets for it. When they returned, respondent had the other gun. She also stated that during the party, the two guns were sitting on a table, and that people would pick them up and play with them, and even dry fire them. Finally, she stated that there was no ill will between respondent and Gaffney.

Chicago police officer Thomas Hoff testified that at about 11 p.m. on April 12, 1991, he received a radio call to go to 7052 North Oleander in order to find a suspect in a homicide. Upon arriving at that location, he observed another officer speaking with an adult male on the back porch of the house. A short time later, a small car pulled up in front of the house with respondent and his mother. He approached the car and asked respondent's mother if she knew whathappened and if she was willing to cooperate. She replied that she wanted to cooperate. When he asked for the gun, she "led" him to an enclosed staircase inside the house, opened the door, and pulled out a stainless steel, snubnose revolver, which was later identified as the gun respondent used to shoot Gaffney. He also stated that respondent did not appear intoxicated.

Chicago police officer Andrew Wallace testified for the defense that when he arrested respondent, he noted that respondent had been drinking on the arrest report because respondent told him that he had been drinking that evening. On cross-examination, however, Wallace testified that he checked that box on the report because respondent said that he had been drinking, even though he did not appear to be intoxicated.

J.B. testified for respondent that he knew both respondent and Gaffney from school, and knew that respondent and Gaffney had a good friendship. On April 12, 1991, he and D.R. went to respondent's house after school. Respondent went up to his room and brought down a gun, but then stated that he had to go back upstairs for the shells. They also got some brass knuckles and a billy club from respondent's house. D.R. also had a smaller gun with him. At about 3:15 p.m., they left respondent's house and went to V.S.'s and then to Monument Park, where they spoke with Gaffney. They told Gaffney that they had the weapons in order to get the guys who did "something" to respondent's sister. Gaffney got a billy club from his grandmother's house, and the four went to T.C.'s house for the party.

At the party, everybody sat around and talked about school. Although there was a bottle of Southern Comfort and a carton of wine, no one was really drinking. About 20 minutes later, respondent left with D.R. and S.S. When they returned, people had begun drinking. J.B. further stated that until he left ...

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