Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Michael P. Toomin, Judge Presiding.
The Honorable Justice Buckley delivered the opinion of the court: Campbell, P.j. and Gordon, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Buckley
JUSTICE BUCKLEY delivered the opinion of the court:
Following a jury trial, defendant, Sergio Resendez, was found guilty of first-degree murder. The circuit court denied all of defendant's post-trial motions and, after a hearing, sentenced defendant to 25 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On appeal defendant argues: (1) the admission of gang evidence was improper because it was not relevant to the issue of motive, and (2) the State's closing remarks based on gang warfare were inflammatory and exceeded the bounds of proper argument.
Defendant was charged by indictment with the murder of Josephina Crespo. The State elected to try defendant as an adult and a jury trial commenced on January 19, 1993. The State's first witness was Arturo Nino. Nino testified that on June 10, 1992, at about 6:30 p.m., he went to the Kmart on 51st and Kedzie with his brother, Armando Jacobo, and a friend, Sergio Diaz, to buy a TV antenna. While they were in the store, a group of four young men in the toy section began making rude comments to the three of them. He identified defendant as one of the men in the group.
While Nino was waiting at the exit for Jacobo and Diaz to pay for the antenna, three of the men walked past him and flashed gang signs. Defendant was one of these individuals. Specifically, one of the individuals was "throwing up the crown," which indicated to Nino that they were members of the Latin Kings street gang. In June 1992, Nino was a member of the Satan Disciples street gang, which is a rival gang of the Latin Kings. One of the individuals also "threw down the forks," which is interpreted as an insult to the Disciples. Nino does not remember which individual made the hand signals.
One of the individuals insulted Nino and told him to step outside. He followed the three individuals out of the store, and someone other than defendant approached him. Suddenly, Jacobo came out of the store, and the three individuals ran. Jacobo chased defendant and one other towards the north side of the Kmart parking lot. As Jacobo was chasing them, Nino heard three gunshots. After the second and third shots, Nino saw a woman fall off of her bicycle and soon after there was a pool of blood around her.
Nino ran towards Jacobo to tell him it was a real gun. At this point Jacobo had his weight-lifting belt in his hands. Jacobo wore a belt four to five inches thick because he had a bad back and his job involved heavy lifting. After Jacobo realized that the gun was real, he stopped running. The other men ran into a yard and went behind a fence. Nino identified defendant as the individual firing the gun at Jacobo. He saw defendant hold the gun with both hands at chest level.
Nino spoke to the police at the scene and gave descriptions of the three individuals. He drove around the neighborhood with the police and identified defendant and another individual on the street. Nino later identified defendant and the others in a lineup.
On cross-examination, Nino said that he knew that the Kmart was Latin Kings' territory. He stated that he was angry because the Latin Kings had shot another brother of his two months earlier. He had been a Disciple for about two months at the time of the incident.
The State's next witness was Armando Jacobo. Jacobo testified that while he was in the Kmart paying for a TV antenna he noticed his brother, Nino, exit the store in the company of three other individuals. He ran out of the store because he thought his brother was in danger. The three individuals, one of whom Jacobo identified as defendant, fled northwest. Defendant was running two or three steps ahead of the other two. One of the individuals, other than defendant, took out a gun and shot at him. Jacobo stood still after the first shot, but then continued to run because he thought the individual was shooting a cap gun. Then defendant turned around, pointed the gun, and fired shots at him. Jacobo took off his weight-lifting belt and chased them again. He stated that defendant stopped running, turned around, and "got in a stance." Defendant "threw up the crown" and said "King love," and then he shot at Jacobo again. The other individuals were encouraging defendant to shoot Jacobo. Nino yelled that it was a real gun and Jacobo ran back to where the woman had been shot. Jacobo saw defendant and the others run through a fence. He later identified defendant and others in a lineup.
Jacobo was not a member of any gang at the time of this incident, but he was a member of the Satan Disciples at one time. He testified that the Satan Disciples are aligned with the "Folks" nation and the Latin Kings are aligned with the "People" nation. He further stated that the two nations were at war with each other. Officer Thomas Daley testified that on June 10, 1992, he was assigned to the 8th District patrol. Earlier that day he saw the victim, Josephina Crespo, working at a restaurant on his beat, and later the same day he saw the victim lying on the ground in the Kmart parking lot. Officer Daley interviewed witnesses and sent descriptions of the suspects out over the radio. Later he took Nino to identify several suspects. Finally, Officer Daley and his partner went to Mt. Sinai Hospital that evening and learned that Ms. Crespo had died.
Detective John Halloran testified that at approximately 7:30 p.m., he and his partner were assigned to go to 5050 South Kedzie to investigate a report of a woman shot in the Kmart parking lot. He searched for evidence and interviewed some witnesses. Detective Hal loran conducted a lineup where Nino and Jacobo identified defendant as the shooter. He testified that Jacobo had told him that he took off his weight-lifting belt when he exited Kmart and then the three individuals ran.
The State presented a stipulated statement of the testimony of Dr. Yuksel Konakci, an employee of the office of the Cook county medical examiner. He conducted an autopsy on the body of Josephina Crespo on June 11, 1992. Dr. Konakci's opinion was that the cause of death was a ...