Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Themis N. Karnezis, Judge Presiding.
As Modified on Denial of Rehearing May 20, 1994. Rehearing Denied May 19, 1994. Released for Publication June 7, 1994. As Corrected June 20, 1994. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied October 6, 1994.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mcnulty
MODIFIED ON DENIAL OF REHEARING
Justice McNULTY delivered the opinion of the court:
Defendant Fred Reed was indicted for the offenses of murder and armed robbery. After a jury trial by the circuit court of Cook County, defendant was convicted of the offenses and sentenced to 45 to 90 years imprisonment. A timely notice of appeal was filed.
In this appeal defendant makes four arguments: (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction; (2) defendant's inculpatory statement was improperly obtained in violation of his fifth amendment right to be free from self-incrimination; (3) the trial court denied the defendant the right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury when it allowed improper prosecutorial comments; (4) the trial court imposed an excessive sentence.
Defendant was initially convicted of two counts of murder and one count of armed robbery and sentenced to 50 to 100 years for the murders and a concurrent 20 to 30 years for armed robbery. Hisconviction was affirmed on appeal. ( People v. Reed (1982), 104 Ill. App. 3d 331, 432 N.E.2d 979, 60 Ill. Dec. 80.) The Federal district court for the northern district of Illinois granted defendant's writ of habeas corpus as it found that defendant should have been allowed to raise the defense of compulsion and have the jury instructed on that issue. ( People ex rel. Reed v. Lane, (1983) 571 F. Supp. 530.) The United States Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's issuance of defendant's petition for writ of habeas corpus, ordered a retrial for defendant's murder conviction only, and stayed the retrial until defendant completed serving his armed robbery sentence. U.S. ex. rel. Reed v. Lane, (7th Cir. 1985) 759 F.2d 618.
After defendant served the armed robbery sentence, he was retried on the two murder charges. Detective Richard Zuley testified at trial that on September 1, 1977, he and Detectives Adorjan and O'Connor responded to a call that a body was discovered in an apartment building located at 4541 North Malden Street in Chicago, Illinois. Detective Zuley testified that upon arriving at the scene and entering the apartment, he observed a white female, later identified as Beverly Truitt, lying on a bed in an advanced state of decomposition with a pillow over her head. According to Detective Zuley, the pillow contained apparent bullet holes, the victim was partially clad and was positioned with her left arm under her left side and her right arm raised in a defensive gesture. Detective Zuley stated that no jewelry was recovered either on the victim herself or in the apartment. He testified that shell casings from an automatic weapon were discovered on the mattress next to the body and on the floor near the hallway.
Detective Zuley entered the adjacent apartment, and discovered the victim's boyfriend, later identified as Michael Robbins, in an advanced state of decomposition lying on his bed face down with his hands bound behind his back with a white belt and his legs bound with a reddish-brown belt. Detective Zuley testified that a pink shirt was wrapped around Robbins' neck and partially in his mouth, and a pillow containing two apparent bullet holes covered Robbins' back and neck. Upon canvassing Robbins' apartment, Detective Zuley discovered a bullet within the stuffing of the mattress which Robbins was lying on.
Officer Thomas Grinnelly testified at trial that he is a crime lab technician with the Chicago police department. Officer Grinnelly testified that on September 1, 1977, he was summoned to 4541 North Malden. Officer Grinnelly discovered Beverly Truitt on a bed in a state of decomposition. Officer Grinnelly testified that he recovered two spent cartridge casings from Truitt's apartment: the first casingwas discovered on the bed with the victim; the second casing discovered on the floor near the bedroom door. Officer Grinnelly later determined that the bullets from these casings were fired from a .32 caliber automatic weapon. Officer Grinnelly also recovered fingerprints on an RC Cola can in Truitt's apartment, and later determined that the fingerprints were those of Michael Robbins.
Officer Grinnelly then found Robbins' body in the adjacent apartment and conducted the same search for physical evidence as he did in Truitt's apartment. Officer Grinnelly testified that he discovered one spent shell casing on the bed with Robbins and a second beneath Robbins' bed. Officer Grinnelly determined that these two casings were also discharged from a .32 caliber automatic weapon. Officer Grinnelly also recovered a bullet from the mattress which Robbins was lying on.
Officer Ernest Warner testified that he is a firearms examiner for the Chicago police department crime lab. Officer Warner was qualified in court as an expert in the field of fired evidence. Officer Warner testified that on September 2, 1977, he examined fired evidence concerning the homicide of Beverly Truitt and Michael Robbins. Officer Warner examined a total of four bullets and four discharged casings. Specifically, Officer Warner examined two fired bullets recovered from Truitt's body, one fired bullet recovered from Robbins' body, and one fired bullet recovered from the crime scene. Officer Warner testified that in his expert opinion, all four spent casings were discharged from a .32 caliber automatic weapon, and the four bullets were all fired from the same barrel. Detective Theodore O'Connor testified that on September 2, 1977, he was assigned to follow up the homicide investigation of Beverly Truitt and Michael Robbins. Pursuant to this investigation, Detective O'Connor proceeded to 4539 North Malden at approximately 4 p.m. to speak with defendant, who was also known by his nickname, "Rico." Detective O'Connor testified that upon arriving at this location, he spoke with defendant's girl friend, Marie Antoinette Brown. When defendant arrived at this location, Detective O'Connor informed defendant that he was investigating the murders of Truitt and Robbins, and asked defendant to accompany him to Area 6 homicide for questioning. Detective O'Connor testified that at Area 6 homicide, he placed defendant in an interviewing room and advised defendant of his Miranda rights. Detective O'Connor then testified that defendant acknowledged his understanding of his rights, and proceeded to have a conversation with Detective O'Connor.
According to O'Connor's testimony defendant told Detective O'Connor that he knew Robbins as a drug dealer from the samebuilding in which defendant lived. Defendant also told Detective O'Connor that on Saturday, August 27, 1977, Robbins had a confrontation with "T's and blues" dealers on the corner of Wilson and Malden. According to defendant, T's and blues are a combination of drugs which produce a "high" similar to heroin when combined. Detective O'Connor's testimony was that defendant stated that Robbins was selling heroin in the area and wanted the sale of T's and blues to stop. Defendant next told Detective O'Connor that during the evening of August 27, 1977, the members of the T's and blues organization ("organization") confronted ...