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August 9, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Honorable Loretta Hall Morgan, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication September 13, 1994. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied December 6, 1994.

DiVito, Hartman, McCormick

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Divito

Presiding Justice DiVito delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial, defendant William Hallom was found guilty of first degree murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 38, par. 9-1, now codified as 720 ILCS 5/9-1 (West 1992)) and sentenced to 30 years in the custody of the Department of Corrections. On appeal, defendant contends that (1) the circuit court erred when it shuffled the juror cards prior to calling the prospective jurors for voir dire in violation of local court rule; (2) the State improperly bolstered the credibility of one of its witnesses; and (3) the court erroneously denied his 2-1401 motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence without first conducting an evidentiary hearing.

At trial, the following evidence was presented. Debra Robinson testified that on March 20, 1990, she left her home at 1732 West 14th Place in Chicago at about 4:45 a.m. to go to work as an elections Judge. As she was walking through an empty lot at 1733 West 14th Street, she saw a person lying on the ground moaning faintly. She then ran to her mother-in-law's house at 1725 West 14th Street and called the police.

Chicago police officer Terrence Clark testified that he and his partner responded to a call of a "man down in [a] vacant lot" and, upon arriving at the scene, found a man lying in the grass. The man was moaning, bleeding from his face and head, and a broken brick, stained with blood, was resting on his lap. The man did not respond to their questions. After an ambulance took the man to the hospital, Clark first cordoned off the crime scene so it could be processed and then began to canvass the area looking for witnesses. He spoke with Charles Hopkins, who lived in a second-floor apartment across the street from the vacant lot. He then went to the hospital in hopes of learning the man's identity, but was unable to do so.

Dr. Shaku Teas of the Cook County Medical Examiner's office testified that she performed an autopsy on the unidentified man. During the external examination, she found multiple abrasions and lacerations to his head and face which were caused by a blunt object such as a brick. The man also sustained several "incised wounds," or superficial wounds caused by a sharp instrument, which could havebeen a screwdriver. She also found bruises on the man's hands and fingers which could have resulted from an attempt to ward off an assailant. Her internal examination revealed a large hemorrhage under the scalp as well as swelling and injury to the brain. In her opinion, the causes of death were the cerebral injuries which resulted from a beating or assault and the multiple incised wounds.

James Earl Roberts testified that the decedent was his nephew, Terry Roberts, and that he last saw him alive on March 19, 1990. Neither he nor anyone in his family saw Terry again until he read the obituary section in the newspaper in early April 1990. The newspaper was soliciting information about the identity of an unidentified black male, and included both a physical and clothing description. Roberts realized that the unidentified black male was his nephew because the clothing description matched what Terry was wearing when he last saw him, and because the description stated that the person had a tattoo of a scorpion on the shoulder. He called the police and then went to the morgue to identify the body. At that time, he identified the decedent as his nephew Terry Roberts.

Charles Robert Hopkins, III, testified that between 3 and 4 a.m. on March 20, 1994, he was in his apartment at 1742 West 14th Street watching television with his one-month old daughter when he heard some noises coming from outside. He stood up, looked out the front window, and saw two men arguing in the vacant lot across the street and a third man standing on the street. After watching the persons argue for 10 to 20 minutes, he resumed watching television but was still able to hear them through the window. Approximately 20 minutes later, the arguing stopped. He did not look out the window again that night and fell asleep watching television.

The following morning, he awoke when a police officer knocked on his door. After speaking to the officer, he went to the lot across the street and saw blood stains in approximately the same spot he had seen the men arguing.

On April 23, 1990, he went to the police station and viewed a line-up, where he identified defendant as one of the men he had seen arguing. He stated that he and defendant had gone to the same grammar school and that he had seen defendant around the neighborhood, but did not know his name. He also identified a black, snakeskin cap as the hat that defendant was wearing on March 20, 1990, and a photograph of Joseph Simpson as the third person he saw standing on the street.

On cross-examination, Hopkins stated that he did not see anyone fighting or anyone get injured.

Officer Harold Fujara, an evidence technician with the Chicagopolice department, testified that he and his partner recovered a broken brick covered in blood, a screwdriver, ...

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