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06/04/97 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. DENNIS MORELAND

June 4, 1997

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DENNIS MORELAND, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 94 CR 11306. Honorable Paul Nealis, Judge Presiding.

The Honorable Justice Cahill delivered the opinion of the court. Cousins, P.j., and Gordon, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cahill

The Honorable Justice CAHILL delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Dennis Moreland, was tried and convicted by a jury. He was then sentenced to 60 years in prison for first degree murder, 30 years for armed robbery, consecutive to the murder sentence, and 30 years for aggravated criminal sexual assault, consecutive to the murder sentence but concurrent with the armed robbery. He was also sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for aggravated kidnapping, to run concurrently with the murder sentence.

The events that led to these convictions began at a party in a home located in Gary, Indiana, on January 12, 1994, and concluded with the discovery of the body of Estelle Jones in Riverdale, Illinois, on January 13.

Moreland makes four arguments for reversal: (1) the aggravated criminal sexual assault happened in Indiana; (2) the armed robbery happened in Indiana; (3) the aggravated kidnaping was incidental to the murder; and (4) there must be a remand for a new sentencing hearing on the murder conviction because we cannot know what part the erroneous convictions played in the trial court's decision to impose the maximum sentence for murder.

We agree with Moreland on his first point. We vacate the sentence for aggravated criminal sexual assault. We reject his remaining arguments and affirm the convictions for murder, armed robbery and kidnapping, and the sentences imposed.

In this appeal Moreland does not contest participation in, or accountability for, the crimes charged, so we set out only those facts relevant to the four issues he raises.

The victim, Estelle Jones, was a guest at a party where Moreland was present and drugs were being sold. In the course of the evening Jones was accused of stealing drugs from Moreland and his companions. Moreland sexually assaulted and beat her. After a discussion between Moreland and a companion, the companion put a pillowcase over Jones' head and placed her in the trunk of a car Jones had borrowed to attend the party. A witness testified Jones was alive when placed in the trunk. Armed with a shotgun given to him by Moreland, Moreland's companion drove off with Jones in the trunk. Her body was discovered the following day at 136th and Michigan in Riverdale in Cook County, Illinois. A pillowcase was over her head. Cause of death was a shotgun wound to the head.

Moreland first argues that the record conclusively establishes that the sexual assault happened in Indiana. The State admits this, but argues that section 1-5(a)(3) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/1-5 (West 1994)) is broad enough to invest Illinois with jurisdiction. The subsection reads:

"(a) A person is subject to prosecution in this State *** if:

***

(3) The conduct outside the State constitutes a conspiracy to commit an offense within the State, and an act in furtherance of the conspiracy occurs in the State[.]" 720 ILCS 5/1-5 (West 1994).

The State argues that Moreland and his companion were punishing Jones for stealing their drugs and that they intended to send a message to anyone who interfered with their drug business, The State suggests that the sexual assault, the beating, the kidnapping, and the murder should be seen as part of a common design to act in furtherance ...


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