Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable James Flannery, Judge Presiding.
Released for Publication October 22, 1996.
The Honorable Justice Greiman delivered the opinion of the court: Cerda, J., concurs. Gallagher, J., *fn19 concurs in part and dissents in part.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greiman
JUSTICE GREIMAN delivered the opinion of the court:
Sherdale Randall (defendant) was convicted by a jury of first degree murder and sentenced to 47 years in prison. On appeal, defendant raises issues as to whether:
(1) the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce numerous prior consistent statements of three State witnesses;
(2) the State's race-neutral reasons for striking black venire members were sufficient to rebut a prima facie showing of discrimination under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 90 L. Ed. 2d 69, 106 S. Ct. 1712 (1986); and
(3) defendant was denied a fair trial when, during opening statements, the prosecutor stated that he represented "you [the jury], the People of the State of Illinois."
Defendant was charged with first degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Michael Anderson (Anderson) on April 6, 1993. Anderson lived in the same neighborhood as the defendant and was known as "Weasel" or "911" because he was thought to be a police informant.
After jury selection, defendant moved the trial court to recognize a Batson violation arising from the State's use of four of its seven peremptory challenges to remove blacks from the venire. The trial court found that there had been a prima facie showing of discrimination under Batson. Following a hearing on defendant's Batson motion, the trial court found that the State had provided race-neutral explanations for each of its peremptory challenges and defendant, therefore, had failed to prove purposeful discrimination.
At trial, testimony from officers at the scene indicated that at approximately 10 p.m., Anderson was shot three times in the back with a .45-caliber handgun. There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting and no physical evidence linking defendant to the crime. Defendant was, essentially, found guilty based on the testimony of three State witnesses -- Tiffany McMillen, Theresa Strong and Tajuania Jackson.
Tiffany McMillen (McMillen) testified that she was living at 5942 South Ada in Chicago with her roommate, Tajuania Jackson. On the evening of April 6, 1993, McMillen was standing outside her residence when she heard three "shots" fired near her home. Ten seconds later, she observed defendant run past her house carrying a handgun at his side. McMillen relayed her observation to Tajuania Jackson.
On cross-examination, McMillen testified that in April 1994, she went to the office of defendant's lawyer where she gave a statement to defense counsel, which was reduced to writing and signed by McMillen, stating that she could not identify defendant as one of the men who ran past her house or that one man was carrying a gun.
On redirect, McMillen testified, over defense objection, that she told police, an assistant State's Attorney and a grand jury that she observed defendant carrying a gun immediately after hearing the three shots. The trial court allowed this prior consistent statement, finding defense counsel had attempted to establish an inference of recent fabrication through introduction of the statement given counsel in April 1994. McMillen also testified that she was visited 10 to 20 times by members of defendant's family, who encouraged her to give the statement to defendant's lawyer. When asked, McMillen stated that she was "threatened" into giving the statement and was "followed" to the lawyer's office by defendant's cousin and brother.
Tajuania Jackson (Jackson) testified that on the day following the shooting, she approached defendant, with the intent of "playing a joke on him," and told him that she had seen defendant "running" the night before, to which defendant responded that he had shot Anderson last night but "the motherf//--r wouldn't go down."
On cross-examination, Jackson testified that she did not know who had fired the shots, nor did she observe defendant fleeing the scene. She also testified that following the shooting, her boyfriend, Eric McMillen, was taken into custody and questioned in connection with Anderson's murder, but he was released after she told police about defendant's admission.
On redirect, Jackson testified that defendant was already under arrest for Anderson's murder when she volunteered defendant's admission to an assistant State's Attorney.
Theresa Strong (Strong) testified that several days prior to the shooting, she observed defendant and Anderson engaged in conversation. When Strong later asked defendant "what he was doing talking to Anderson," defendant responded that he was attempting to "get Anderson alone" for the purpose of "killing him." Defendant further volunteered that "someone was paying him to do it."
On cross-examination, Strong testified that in April 1994, she too went to defendant's lawyer's office and gave a written statement in which she denied having seen defendant and Anderson engaged in conversation. Strong further stated that she had "lied" to police and the grand jury about defendant's statement that he was being paid to kill Anderson. Strong also testified that she was currently ...