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

August 4, 1995

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



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

The Honorable Justice McNULTY, delivered the opinion of the court: Gordon and T. O'brien, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mcnulty

JUSTICE McNULTY delivered the opinion of the court:

After a jury trial defendant Silas Sneed was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment. Defendant appeals and we affirm.

At trial, Easter Tiney testified that she lived with her family at 1520 West Hastings and that she last saw her son Charlie alive at approximately 3 p.m. on January 6, 1991. Charlie's brother Elijah woke Easter up two hours later 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 Tony Sneed in court, stating that she knew them because they came to her house practically every day.

Lanette Tiney, Charlie's sister, next testified that at approximately 6 p.m. on January 6, 1991, she was in her bedroom with her brother 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, Tony arrived at the apartment. Lanette testified that she did not see a gun in Tony's hand. Charlie and Tony 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 on January 6, 1991, and then went to the lobby, where she saw defendant, Tony and Dwayne Appleton. Tony 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 defendant, Tony and Dwayne went up the stairway. Tawana and Tina then went to defendant's house, where they saw defendant out of breath.

Tawana testified that she told Paul Rossi, who said he worked for defendant's attorney, that she did not see defendant in the 1520 West Hasting building but she did see Tony and Dwayne. Tawana testified that she spoke with Rossi twice. The first time, she signed a statement stating that she had seen "Tony Silas, Dwayne Appleton and about ten other boys." The second time Tawana saw Rossi, she signed a statement saying that she "did not see Silas Sneed with Tony, Dwayne or the other guys." Tawana testified that she meant that she did not see defendant with Tony and Dwayne at defendant's apartment subsequent to seeing them in the 1520 West Hastings building. After learning about Charlie's death, Tawana did not go to the police and tell them that she had seen Tony with a gun.

Catina Crawford (Tina) next testified that defendant 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 apartment and, while leaving the apartment, she bumped into a boy named Arthur McFarland. Tina testified that she told a man at the police station that Arthur had a gun. Tina stated that she did not see Tony in the 1520 West Hastings building and that she only told the police that she had seen Tony because the police threatened to slap her or take away her children. Tina testified that on January 8, 1991, she had a conversation with Dwayne and defendant while playing cards and she asked Dwayne if he killed Charlie. According to Tina, Dwayne said, "Yeah, we killed Charlie." Defendant did not respond.

Officer Joel Hernandez testified that on January 9, 1991, he and his partner located defendant and Dwayne Appleton at defendant's grandmother's house. Officer Hernandez asked defendant and Dwayne to come to Area 4, and defendant said that he would be glad to come to the station since Charlie was a friend of theirs and they would like to help.

Detective Rybicki stated that when he questioned defendant at the station, defendant told him that he saw Tony and Charlie fighting, and that Tony shot Charlie on the fourteenth floor of the 1520 West Hastings building. Defendant claimed that he did not know that Tony had a gun until they arrived on the tenth floor of the building.

Assistant State's Attorney Joel DeGrazia read to the jury the statement given to him by defendant. In the statement, defendant stated that on January 6, 1991, at about 6 p.m., he was with Tony and Dwayne when Tony stated that he was in trouble with Leon Vortez because he took Leon's jacket. Tony decided to get Charlie's jacket and give it to Leon so that Leon would no longer be mad at him. Tony asked defendant and Dwayne to help in case Charlie got out of hand. Defendant said that while they were in the lobby, Tony showed him the gun he was going to use to rob Charlie of the coat. Defendant, Dwayne and Tony then went upstairs. Tony knocked on the door and Charlie came out. Charlie and Tony began to fight and Tony pulled the black revolver on Charlie. Defendant said that Charlie had no weapons and that Tony shot Charlie four times. Defendant said that they then all ran home. Defendant saw Tina and Tawana when he got home and told them he never left his house that evening.

Paul Rossi, an investigator for the public defender's office, testified that Tawana Oliver told him that Tony had put a gun to her head and asked her if she had seen Charlie. When Tawana told him that she had not, Tony left. Tawana signed a statement saying that she saw "Tony Silas, Dwayne Appleton and about ten other boys" in the lobby of 1520 West Hastings. After Rossi realized that he had mistakenly written that Tawana had seen "Tony Silas" in the lobby, Rossi again saw Tawana and had her sign a statement stating that she had not seen defendant with Tony and Dwayne.

Defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment. Defendant contends on appeal that the trial court erred in: (1) denying his motion to suppress; (2) denying his motion in limine seeking to bar use of a delinquency adjudication as impeachment; (3) allowing an admission by codefendant Dwayne Appleton to be introduced as evidence against him; and (4) finding him guilty of ...


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