The Honorable Justice Miller delivered the opinion of the court:
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Miller
JUSTICE MILLER delivered the opinion of the court:
In these consolidated appeals, we are asked to determine whether the conduct of defendants Rico Taylor and Ray Hudson in the shooting death of Otha Smith was sufficient to convict them of first degree murder under an accountability theory.
Following separate bench trials in the circuit court of Cook County, Taylor and Hudson were found guilty of two counts of first degree murder based on accountability (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), (a)(2)). They were subsequently sentenced to concurrent 20-year terms of imprisonment. Both defendants appealed, arguing, among other things, that there was insufficient evidence to find them guilty of murder on an accountability basis. The appellate court reversed Taylor's conviction and sentence (244 Ill. App. 3d 152), but affirmed Hudson's conviction (No. 1-91-2102 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23)). We allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal in case No. 75388 and Hudson's petition for leave to appeal in case No. 75575. (145 Ill. 2d R. 315(a).) The cases were consolidated on appeal.
In August 1988, Hudson, Taylor, and a third defendant, Michael Page, were jointly charged by indictment with two counts of first degree murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), (a)(2)) and one count of armed violence (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 33A-2). The charges stemmed from the July 20, 1988, shooting death of Otha Smith. On Page's motion, which Taylor joined, the trial judge severed the cases for trial. Subsequently, Hudson and Page were tried separately, but by the same judge, in simultaneous bench trials. Taylor was tried in a bench trial separately by the same judge. The following evidence was adduced at the trials of Hudson and Taylor.
Theresa McCastle was at her father's home, located at 9661 South Brennan, in Chicago, when she heard gunshots. She ran to the front door and observed a white car pull up and four men get out. One of the men started shooting. She identified this man as Herbert Kendricks. She did not recognize the other men.
After Kendricks pointed the gun, McCastle saw the victim, Otha Smith, stagger from the direction in which the shots were fired. Kendricks then ran up to the victim, pointed the gun in his face, and pulled the trigger. The gun jammed and failed to fire. The victim then fell to the ground. McCastle testified that the other three individuals remained standing by the car while the shooting occurred.
Police officers subsequently arrived at the scene of the shooting and observed four black males standing over the prone body of another black male. Three of the men, including Taylor and Hudson, then ran toward a white car. The fourth man fled in the opposite direction. The three men that were running toward the car were arrested and transported to the police station. The fourth man was arrested separately.
Following his arrest, Hudson made both oral and written statements that were introduced solely against him at trial. After being advised of his Miranda rights, Hudson stated that he was a passenger in a car with Kendricks and two other individuals, whom he later identified as Taylor and Page, when Kendricks told Page to pull the car over. After Page complied, Hudson asserted that he and the three others in the car exited the vehicle. Kendricks approached the victim and shot him. Hudson stated that after the shooting he and Kendricks, with the other two individuals, drove around the block and then returned to where the victim was lying. Shortly thereafter, the police arrived, and he was arrested.
According to Hudson's written statement, he was in a car with Page and Kendricks. After the three picked up Taylor, Page said to Taylor, "Let's go get into something." Page then drove to Kendricks' home, where Kendricks went inside. At this time, Page told Hudson that Kendricks' brother had been beaten up and that Kendricks needed their help. In exchange for their help, Kendricks "would help them against somebody who had been causing [Taylor] problems." Page explained to Hudson that Kendricks "wanted the guy who beat up his brother taken out." Hudson stated that he understood "taken out" to mean that Kendricks wanted the man killed. Hudson further stated that Page told him that Kendricks would provide the guns and would let them keep the guns in return for their help.
According to Hudson's statement, when Kendricks returned to the car, Kendricks said that if he found the man who beat up his brother he was going to kill him. Before Kendricks returned, Page stated that "[Kendricks] got a pistol," and Taylor said, "Yeah he do." While they were driving, Page told Hudson that when they found the man they were looking for Hudson was to block him from escaping.
Hudson further explained in his statement that Kendricks directed Page where to drive. When they got to 9760 South Brennan, Kendricks pointed to a young man and told Page to stop. Everyone got out of the car. Kendricks went up to the man that he had pointed to, slapped him and asked him why he jumped his brother. When the man ran, Kendricks chased him while firing shots at him. Hudson asserted that after the victim fell to the ground he, as well as Kendricks, Page and Taylor, returned to the car. They drove to Kendricks' home, where Kendricks got a larger gun. They then returned to where the shooting occurred. As they pulled up, the police arrived, and they ran from Page's car.
Following his arrest, Taylor also made both oral and written statements which were introduced against him at trial. According to ...