Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable JOSEPH J. URSO, Judge Presiding.
Released for Publication July 14, 1994. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied October 6, 1994.
Buckley, Campbell, O'connor, Jr.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Buckley
JUSTICE BUCKLEY delivered the opinion of the court:
Defendant Antwon Williams and co-defendant Willie Wilson were charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of decedent David Martin. A motion for severance was granted and defendant Williams was tried in a separate trial. A jury found defendant Williams guilty of first-degree murder under the theory of accountability. He was sentenced to 36 years imprisonment. Now, he appeals his conviction and sentence.
Prior to trial, defendant moved to preclude various State's witnesses from testifying that they had been threatened and/or offered money to testify in a manner favorable to him. After hearing argument from both parties, the circuit court denied defendant's motion, reasoning that such testimony, if elicited, is relevant "to explain why a witness has changed his story."
At trial, Antoine Martin was the State's first witness. He testified that on July 30, 1990, while residing at 1701 West 59th Street, on the corner of 59th and Paulina, at about 10 p.m., he heard music in the street. He went to his open window, and saw decedent walking with a radio on his shoulders. As Antoine was watching, a red Camaro, he recognized as belonging to defendant, rode up on the curb and stopped five feet from decedent. Antoine testified that he could not see the driver. He did, however, identify the passenger as Wilson. Wilson called decedent's name. Decedent turned around, bent down to put his radio on the ground, and as he was standing up, Wilson put one leg out of the car and shot decedent three times. While decedent was attempting to run to his house, Wilson got back into the car, and it sped away.
Antoine, then, ran out of his house after decedent. Decedent had gotten to his own porch and was lying there when he arrived. Antoine knocked on the door and waited until decedent's brother opened it. When decedent's brother came out onto the porch, Antoine left, in order to retrieve decedent's radio. When Antoine brought the radio onto the porch, decedent's mother was present.
The State questioned Antoine about the morning following the shooting. Antoine admitted that he had spoken with Chicago police detectives McWeeny and Brennan the morning after decedent's death. At that time, he informed them that Wilson had shot decedent after stepping out of a red Camaro driven by defendant. Antoine further admitted that on August 4, 1990, he went to the police station and again, told McWeeny and Brennan that Wilson was the shooter and defendant was the driver. He also identified a photo of defendant as being the driver.
Antoine additionally testified that he spoke with private investigator Michael Brinks. On December 4, 1991, Brinks, accompanied by a man introduced to him as Wilson's attorney, unexpectedly came to Antoine's home and recorded the conversation the three had. During the conversation, Antoine stated that he did not know who the driver or shooter was on the night decedent was killed.
Antoine also recalled that on December 30, 1991, Brinks came to his home again. This time, Brinks was accompanied by Eddie Sanders, a man Antoine knew to be a friend of defendant from the neighborhood. Antoine told them that he was not sure who the driver or shooter was when decedent was shot.
After giving the above testimony, Antoine admitted that he was presently afraid of giving the damaging testimony because his younger brother had been threatened as a result of Antoine's decision to be a witness for the State. His family had even moved twice since the shooting. In addition, he testified that he had been offered money by "Eddie Sander's [sic] on behalf of [defendant]." Defense counsel's objection to the answer was sustained and the jury was instructed to disregard it. Defense counsel then moved for a mistrial, which was denied. The circuit court allowed Antoine's testimony that he had been offered money by Eddie Sanders, who was the same Eddie Sanders who had been present when Antoine made the December 30 statement to Brinks. Antoine also testified that prior to meeting with Brinks he had been threatened.
On cross-examination, Antoine stated that he was not sure whether decedent had "gone for his socks" when he put down the radio, but that he did see a shiny object near decedent's socks. He additionally admitted that the day after decedent's killing, he, Jerome Dukes, decedent's brother Adam, and a few others met at Antoine's house. At approximately 9 a.m. that day, Adam and he found a gun near a tree. Antoine told Adam that he was not sure whether or not decedent had a gun on the evening of the shooting. He admitted that he told Brinks that the gun was decedent's.
On re-direct examination, Antoine testified that he did not know who owned the gun that was found the day after the shooting. He acknowledged that he did not tell the police that he had found the gun. Antoine further testified that he told Brinks and Wilson's attorney about a shiny object near decedent's socks after he and his family had been threatened. The threats were made after he had spoken with the police and had identified defendant and Wilson.
Decedent's mother, Judy Martin, testified at trial that at about 10 or 10:30 p.m. on the night her son was killed, she was on the telephone when she heard her son yelling for her from outside and a banging on the front door. She ran to the door, but her other son Adam had already opened it and found decedent lying on the porch bleeding from his chest. At that time only decedent and Adam were on the porch. She ran into the house, called the police and returned to the porch to ask decedent what had happened. Judy testified that decedent kept repeating that "Antwon did it" and mentioned a red car. She went back into the house to call the police again. By the time she arrived back on the porch, a crowd of neighbors had gathered. Antoine Martin, who she knew, stepped forwarded, handed her decedent's radio and explained what had happened. He also mentioned a red car. An ambulance took decedent to the hospital, and when she arrived there, he was already dead.
Decedent's brother, Adam Martin, was the State's next witness. He testified that at about 10 p.m., while he sat watching television, he heard decedent screaming "mama, mama, I'm shot" and someone banging on the front door. When Adam opened the door, he saw decedent lying on the porch. Adam testified that when he asked who had shot him, decedent replied that "'Twon, the one that drive [sic] the red ...