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08/04/95 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. TONY SNEED

August 4, 1995

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
TONY SNEED, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Edward M. Fiala, Judge Presiding.

Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied December 6, 1995.

The Honorable Justice McNULTY delivered the opinion of the court: Gordon, J., concurs. Cousins, P.j., dissents.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mcnulty

JUSTICE McNULTY delivered the opinion of the court:

After a jury trial, defendant Tony Sneed was found guilty of first degree murder and armed robbery and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment for the murder conviction and 25 years' imprisonment for the armed robbery conviction, the sentences to run concurrently. Defendant appeals and we reverse and remand.

At trial, Easter Tiney testified that her family lived at 1520 West Hastings and that she last saw her son Charlie alive at approximately 3 p.m. on January 6, 1991. Sometime later that day, Charlie's brother Elijah woke her up and told her that Charlie was lying on the stairs and that he had been shot. Easter ran down to the ninth floor of the building, where she saw her son, wearing a white T-shirt and gray jeans, lying face down on the stairs. Easter identified defendant and his cousin Silas Sneed in court, stating that she knew them because they came to her house practically every day.

Lanette Tiney, Charlie's cousin, next testified that she also lived at 1520 West Hastings on January 6, 1991, and at approximately 6 p.m. on that date, she was in a bedroom with Charlie and his girlfriend, Dontay. Tina Crawford and Tawana Oliver came to the apartment, asked if Charlie was there, and then spoke with Charlie for a few minutes in his room. About 10 minutes after Tina and Tawana left the apartment, defendant arrived at the apartment. Lanette testified that she did not see a gun in defendant's hand. Charlie and defendant left the apartment together. Approximately 15 minutes later Tommy and Elijah, Charlie's brothers, came to the apartment looking for Charlie. Tommy and Elijah left the apartment but returned soon thereafter and stated that a man told them that a boy in a white T-shirt was lying on the stairs.

Tawana Oliver testified that she and Tina Crawford visited with Charlie at 1520 West Hastings and then went to the lobby where they saw defendant, Silas, and Dwayne Appleton. Defendant had a black revolver, which he put to Tawana's head, and asked if she had seen Charlie. When Tawana said that she had not, the boys went up the stairway. Tawana and Tina then went to Silas' house, where they saw Silas out of breath.

Tawana testified on cross-examination that contempt of court charges were pending against her and she was on an electronic monitor. Tawana testified that she did not recall telling defendant's attorney that she did not know the boys whom she saw in the hallway of the building or that she was tricked into giving the testimony that she had just given.

Catina Crawford (Tina) next testified that Silas was the father of her two children. Tina testified that at approximately 6 p.m. on January 6, 1991, she went with Tawana to Charlie's house and while leaving the house she bumped into a boy named Arthur McFarland. Tawana asked Tina if she saw that Arthur had a gun, and Tina responded that she had not. Tina testified that she told a man at the police station that Arthur had a gun. Tina stated that she did not see defendant in the building and that the only reason she told the police that she had seen defendant was because the police threatened to slap her or take away her children.

Detective Rybicki testified that defendant told him that sometime prior to the murder, he had been accused by Leon Vortes of stealing a jacket. On January 6, 1991, Silas suggested to defendant that he take Charlie's jacket and give it to Leon Vortes to "patch up their differences." Defendant told Detective Rybicki that he, Silas and Dwayne had agreed on a plan where they would go to Charlie's apartment and Dwayne would lure Charlie out into the hallway. Silas would grab Charlie and defendant would shoot him and take the jacket. While carrying out their plan, Charlie came out into the hallway where a fight ensued. Defendant told Detective Rybicki that he handed the gun to Silas, who shot Charlie. They then took Charlie's jacket and fled.

Assistant State's Attorney Joel DeGrazia read to the jury defendant's statement, which stated that Leon Vortes wanted the jacket which defendant had taken from him and defendant decided to get a jacket and give it to Leon to set things straight. On January 6, 1991, defendant was with Silas and Dwayne. Silas told defendant that it would be a good idea to take Charlie's jacket and give it to Leon. Silas gave defendant a .22-caliber black revolver which they decided to use when robbing Charlie of his jacket. The plan was for Dwayne to knock on Charlie's door. Silas was to hold Charlie while defendant would shoot Charlie and all three would then leave with Charlie's jacket. Dwayne did in fact knock on the door and Charlie walked out and said, "What's up? I heard you took Leon's coat." According to defendant, Dwayne hit Charlie in the face with his right hand. Defendant then grabbed Charlie as Silas tried to also grab Charlie. Charlie and defendant struggled. Defendant tried to pull the red coat off of Charlie. Defendant said he had the gun in his right hand and Charlie grabbed the gun and it went off. After Charlie was shot, Dwayne took Charlie's red coat and they ran away.

James Rohes, a supervisor at the public defender's office, testified that he went to Tawana's apartment on March 27, 1991, and Tawana told him that she saw some boys in the hallway of 1520 West Hastings on January 6, 1991. Tawana told Rohes that she did not know who the boys were, but defendant, Silas and Dwayne were not among them.

Bethena Davis, Barbara Patterson, Lodean Warfield and Elbert Purdy, all former employees of the Central Youth Shelter, testified that defendant lived at the shelter and ...


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