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01/25/96 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. MURRAY HOOPER

January 25, 1996

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,
v.
MURRAY HOOPER, APPELLANT.



The Honorable Justice Harrison delivered the opinion of the court:

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harrison

The Honorable Justice HARRISON delivered the opinion of the court:

Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 603 (134 Ill. 2d R. 603), the defendant, Murray Hooper, appeals the sentence of death imposed by the circuit court of Cook County after a jury found that there are no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude its imposition. He presents 16 issues for our review. We affirm.

The defendant was indicted together with Roger Collins and William Bracey for the armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 18-2), aggravated kidnapping (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 10-2(a)(3)), and murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1)) of Frederick Lacey, R. C. Pettigrew, and Richard Holliman committed on November 12, 1980, in Chicago. Collins and Bracey were tried separately, convicted, and sentenced to death; this court affirmed their convictions and sentences. ( People v. Collins (1985), 106 Ill. 2d 237, 87 Ill. Dec. 910, 478 N.E.2d 267.) A jury found defendant Hooper guilty of each offense on August 24, 1981, and found that there were no factors in mitigation sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death sentence on the murder convictions. Accordingly, the circuit court sentenced him to death on the three murder convictions. It sentenced him as well to concurrent terms of 60 years on each of the three convictions of armed robbery and 60 years on each of the three convictions of aggravated kidnapping. On review ( People v. Hooper (1989), 133 Ill. 2d 469, 142 Ill. Dec. 93, 552 N.E.2d 684) this court affirmed that part of the judgment entered on defendant's convictions for first degree murder, robbery, and aggravated kidnapping as well as the sentence imposed on each of the convictions of armed robbery. It amended the sentence imposed on each of the convictions of aggravated kidnapping by reducing each sentence to 15 years. Because of improper arguments by the prosecutor at the second phase of the death penalty hearing, this court vacated the death sentence and remanded the cause to the circuit court for a new sentencing hearing and imposition of sentence on the convictions of murder. Upon remand, on June 18, 1993, as we have indicated, a jury found again that there are no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death sentence, and on July 16, 1993, the circuit court denied defendant's motion for a new sentencing hearing and sentenced him to death. Because a full summary of the evidence admitted at defendant's trial appears in our opinion remanding the cause for a new sentencing hearing, we state here only those facts necessary to the disposition of this appeal following remand.

After the defendant was convicted of the murders of Lacey, Pettigrew, and Holliman and was first sentenced to death but before another sentencing hearing was conducted on remand, the defendant was convicted, on December 24, 1982, of the murders of William Redmond and Helen Phelps and the attempted murder of Marilyn Redmond, which were committed at the Redmonds' home in Phoenix, Arizona, on December 31, 1980.

Defendant contends that numerous errors committed during both the eligibility and the penalty phases of his sentencing hearing upon remand deprived him of the right to a fair sentencing hearing. We turn first to those he cites that are associated with the eligibility phase.

In the first issue defendant raises for review, which embraces seven subissues, he maintains essentially that the permissible scope of inquiry during the eligibility phase of the sentencing hearing was exceeded not only by certain remarks of the prosecutor made during opening statement and closing argument but also by the admission of certain evidence. Defendant seems to make two principal overarching arguments concerning these errors. With respect to the three murders committed in Illinois, defendant claims that it was unnecessary for the State to have introduced any evidence about or to have made any comments concerning the manner in which they were committed because, to show defendant's eligibility for the death penalty, the State needed to produce only the convictions for these three murders and, of course, evidence that he had attained the age of 18 at the time they were committed. With respect to the two murders committed in Arizona, defendant contends that no evidence about them at all should have been admitted because, among other reasons, defendant's eligibility for the death penalty was shown by means of his convictions for the three murders committed in Illinois. He urges that any evidence at all pertaining to the two murders committed in Arizona as well as all evidence beyond proof of his convictions of the three murders in Illinois was introduced by the State solely to inflame the jury. Initially we will consider his claims concerning the three murders committed in Illinois; thereafter we will address his contentions concerning the two murders committed in Arizona.

The statutory aggravating factor forming the basis of defendant's eligibility for the death penalty, set forth in section 9--1(b)(3) of the Criminal Code of 1961, is that

"the defendant has been convicted of murdering two or more individuals under subsection (a) of this Section or under any law of the United States or of any state which is substantially similar to subsection (a) of this Section regardless of whether the deaths occurred as the result of the same act or of several related or unrelated acts so long as the deaths were the result of either an intent to kill more than one person or of separate acts which the defendant knew would cause death or create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to the murdered individual or another." (720 ILCS 5/9--1(b)(3) (West 1992).)

Section 9--1(a) provides:

"A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits first degree murder if, in performing the acts which cause the death:

(1) he either intends to kill or do great bodily harm to that individual or another, or knows that such acts will cause death to that individual or another; or

(2) he knows that such acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to that individual or another; or

(3) he is attempting or committing a forcible felony other than second degree murder." 720 ...


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