Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Paul J. Nealis, Judge Presiding.
As Corrected August 25, 1995.
Presiding Justice Greiman delivered the opinion of the court: Tully and Cerda, JJ., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greiman
PRESIDING JUSTICE GREIMAN delivered the opinion of the court:
Defendant was found guilty of first degree murder and was sentenced to a term of natural life imprisonment in the shooting death of William Hawkins.
On appeal, defendant claims: (1) he was denied effective assistance of counsel where defense counsel informed the jury of defendant's prior murder conviction; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant's request for a continuance in order to complete discovery. However, we affirm.
Shortly after 11 p.m. on October 16, 1979, William Hawkins, the mayor of Phoenix, Illinois, was shot to death in his driveway while exiting his car. Phoenix is a small village located in Chicago's southern suburbs. In early September of 1979, the Phoenix Police Department went on strike in connection with a salary dispute with the village. Defendant was a Phoenix police officer.
Eugene Wright was the only eyewitness to the shooting. At the time of the shooting, Wright was 17-years-old. On the afternoon of October 16, 1979, Wright observed defendant driving one of Phoenix's two unmarked police cars with Tony Childs, a Phoenix police lieutenant and a codefendant in the murder of William Hawkins, in the passenger seat.
Wright and a friend, Michael Stoudemire, had been drinking beer in a local pool room throughout the afternoon, and were on their way to a liquor store to buy more beer when they saw defendant and codefendant Childs in the unmarked police car. They purchased more liquor, and went to Stoudemire's house to watch the World Series.
After the game ended, the two retired to the backyard of the house and smoked a marijuana cigarette. The Stoudemire yard was located across an alley from Mayor Hawkins' driveway. Standing in the yard, Wright noticed Mayor Hawkins' car pull into the driveway. As Hawkins was exiting his vehicle, Wright observed a second car, which he recognized as the unmarked police car he had seen defendant driving earlier that day, enter the driveway. Wright recognized the car's driver as defendant and its passenger as codefendant Childs.
Childs stepped from the vehicle and Wright heard him shout toward Hawkins. Childs then raised a rifle and fired several shots at Hawkins. Wright saw the Mayor fall to the ground, Childs get back in the car, and defendant drive away. Wright remained in the yard where he saw police, paramedics, and neighbors gather in the Mayor's driveway. Among the officers at the scene were defendants Anderson and Childs.
Wright was not approached about the incident, nor did he volunteer testimony, until 1983 when he was questioned by Cook County Sheriff's Police Officer Houlihan while in custody at Cook County Jail on a burglary charge. Officer Houlihan again questioned Wright in 1986 and in 1991, and in 1992 Wright formally testified in a federal proceeding *fn1, identifying Anderson and Childs as Mayor Hawkins' killers.
On December 11, 1986, FBI agents Hardman and Snow questioned defendant while he was in custody for the murder of his girlfriend. Defendant confessed to his involvement in the Hawkins murder on this occasion. Thereafter, during two subsequent interviews on December 12th and 15th, defendant again confessed before FBI agents, Cook County Sheriff's Deputies, and Cook County Assistant State's ...