Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Richard E. Neville, Judge Presiding.
The Honorable Justice Cerda delivered the opinion of the court: Rizzi, P.j., And Tully, J., Concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cerda
The Honorable Justice CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:
Following a jury trial, defendant, Delwin Clark, was convicted of first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1 (West 1992)) and concealment of a homicidal death (720 ILCS 5/9-3.l(a)(West 1992). He was sentenced to consecutive terms of 40 years' imprisonment for first-degree murder and three years' imprisonment for concealment of a homicidal death. On appeal, defendant asserts that (1) the State improperly injected race as an issue during jury selection; (2) the State did not prove him guilty of concealment of a homicidal death; (3) the trial court improperly considered certain victim impact statements during sentencing; (4) the consecutive sentences were improper; and (5) the sentences was excessive.
Caroline Baird, defendant's former girlfriend and mother of his five-year-old daughter, Brittany, testified that defendant was in her apartment from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on March 26, 1993, visiting with Caroline and watching videos with Brittany. Although defendant had previously moved out of the apartment, which was located at 2250 West Armitage Street, Chicago, he and Caroline still shared two automobiles, an Oldsmobile Delta 88 and a Chrysler Sundance.
That night, defendant returned around 8:30 or 9 p.m. to give Caroline $150 to pay bills. He stayed five minutes and put Brittany to bed. An hour later, Caroline spoke to her sister, Simone, who lived in the same building. After the phone call, Caroline and Brittany went to Simone's apartment. Caroline put Brittany to bed, then watched television and talked with her sister until Jason Hager, a neighbor, arrived at 10:30 p.m. The three of them talked, played cards, and drank beer.
At 12:30 or 12:45 a.m., Gregory Snipes, another neighbor, arrived. The atmosphere got lively as they went from playing cards to dancing and playing a drinking game called "Faces." They were still playing "Faces" at 1:15 a.m. when defendant arrived. He was upset because Caroline brought Brittany upstairs where the music was loud and everyone was drinking alcohol. When Hager told defendant that Brittany was asleep and that she was fine, defendant told him to stay out of his business.
At that point, Caroline went to check on Brittany, who was still asleep. While in the bedroom, she heard defendant and Simone arguing. She heard defendant yell, "I'll kill you, bitch," and Simone respond, "I know you will."
When Caroline heard a gunshot, she froze, then wrapped Brittany up and went into the living room. She did not see defendant, but saw Snipes in the bathroom with his foot against the door, Simone running around the apartment, and a bloody Jason slumped on the futon couch.
Fifteen minutes later, an upset and despondent defendant came to her apartment. She asked him to leave, which he did, but he returned five minutes later. They spoke briefly and she again told him to leave.
Simone Baird testified that she was alone at 10 p.m. on March 26, 1993, when Caroline and Brittany came to her apartment. Simone's testimony regarding the events before defendant arrived was substantially the same as Caroline's. She also testified that she heard defendant screaming at Hager and a gunshot while she and Caroline were in her bedroom. Simone ran into the living room where defendant was hysterical, screaming, and waving his gun, and Hager was slumped over on the bloody futon. Later, Simone and defendant went to Snipes's apartment and pounded on his door. When Snipes did not answer, defendant ran back upstairs. Simone returned to her apartment to find defendant picking up Hager's body and going out her back door to the rear staircase, which leads to the gangway.
Greg Snipes testified that he went to Simone's apartment shortly after midnight on March 27, 1993. Soon afterwards, there was a knock on the door. Defendant, who had a gun, kicked in the door, then pushed Hager onto a futon couch. As defendant stood over Hager saying "mother fucker, who is this mother fucker," Simone pleaded with him to stop, but he pointed the gun at her and said, "shut up, bitch, or I will shoot you." Defendant turned back to Jason, who did not have a gun. While defendant's gun was near Jason's mouth, it discharged. Jason fell onto the carpet, blood coming from his mouth.
Snipes ran into Simone's bathroom and barricaded himself behind the door. When defendant left several minutes later, he ran to his apartment on the second floor and locked the door behind him. Defendant knocked on his door and asked him to open it. Defendant promised not to hurt Snipes and said that the shooting was an accident, but Snipes refused to open the door. Some time later, Snipes heard a thumping sound as if something was being dragged down the backstairs.
Soon after, Snipes looked out his window and saw defendant get into a car and drive away. Snipes ran from his apartment and took an el train to his sister's house, where he spent the night. The next evening, Snipes went to the police.
Linda Garcia testified that she spent the evening of March 26, 1993, with defendant. After they had dinner, they went to Quenchers Tavern at Fullerton and Western Avenues in Chicago where they stayed from 7:30 or 8 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. or midnight. Garcia and defendant walked around separately, socializing with friends in the crowded bar. Garcia saw defendant drink three or four shots of liquor.
Toward the end of the evening, defendant became upset and told Garcia he wanted to leave. After they got into defendant's Chrysler Sundance, Garcia became frightened when defendant reached under the driver's seat and pulled out a gun. Defendant drove to Caroline's apartment and parked six or seven houses from her building. Garcia told him to take the gun because she did not want it in the car, so defendant left with the gun while Garcia waited. Twenty minutes later, defendant returned. He was nervous and pale-looking. He told Garcia that she had to leave because "something had happened," but refused to explain.
Mainor Jiminez testified that he was at home at 2430 North Major Street, Chicago, between 8 and 8:30 a.m. on March 27, 1993, when his mother told him there was a man lying in the back yard. After running into the back yard and realizing that the man was dead, Jiminez called the police.
Officer Redmond, a forensic investigator, testified that he saw a blood smear on the alley pavement at 2430 North Major. While processing the scene, Redmond received a call to go to 2305 North Meade, which was five blocks away. There, in a garbage can, he found two blood-stained blankets, three pieces of carpeting, two manila envelopes with traces of blood, and a receipt from the Beaumont Beauty School with an identification number for a student named "Clark."
Redmond then received a call to go to 2213 McClean, which was near the scene of the killing, but four or five miles from where the body was found. There, a bloody beige trench coat, a bloody black and white futon mattress, and a beige mattress cover were found in a garbage can. At 2250 West ...