Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 93--CF--1904. Honorable James T. Doyle, Judge, Presiding. This Opinion Substituted on Remand for Withdrawn Opinion of March 21, 1997, Previously
Released for Publication January 15, 1998.
Presiding Justice Geiger delivered the opinion of the court. Thomas and Rathje, JJ., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Geiger
PRESIDING JUSTICE GEIGER delivered the opinion of the court:
On March 21, 1997, this court filed its Opinion in the above entitled case. See People v. Williams, 287 Ill. App. 3d 262, 222 Ill. Dec. 722, 678 N.E.2d 334 (1997). In that opinion, we affirmed defendant Terrence Williams' convictions and sentence. On October 1, 1997, our supreme court denied the defendant's petition for leave to appeal. However, the supreme court's order also provided:
"In the exercise of this Court's supervisory authority, the Appellate Court, Second District, is directed to vacate the judgment entered in case No. 2--95--0018 (March 21, 1997), and to reconsider the cause in light of People v. Fornear, 176 Ill. 2d 523, 224 Ill. Dec. 12, 680 N.E.2d 1383 (1997)."
Pursuant to this order, we vacate our earlier opinion and reconsider the merits of the defendant's appeal.
Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon (UUW) (720 ILCS 5/24--1.1 (West 1994)), four counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm (720 ILCS 5/24--1.2(a)(2) (West 1994)), and involuntary manslaughter (720 ILCS 5/9--3 (West 1994)). He was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment on each count of aggravated discharge of a firearm, 4 years' imprisonment for involuntary manslaughter, and 5 years' imprisonment for UUW, all sentences to run concurrently.
On appeal, the defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether the jury verdicts were legally inconsistent; (2) whether the trial court erred when it refused to instruct the jury on the offense of reckless conduct; and (3) whether the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing the defendant to 12 years' imprisonment on each count of aggravated discharge of a firearm.
According to the testimony at trial, the defendant and the victim, Steven Potts, had a confrontation at an apartment complex. According to the defendant, after the confrontation and as he was leaving the building, he heard the victim say, "I got you, nigger." The victim then fired a shot. The defendant turned around and fired his gun six times with his eyes closed. According to the defendant, he fired into the air "above their heads" because he wanted to protect himself and make the victim run away. One of the shots struck and killed the victim. The defendant's gun was a nine millimeter which held six cartridges.
Two of the victim's brothers and a friend of the victim were present and witnessed the incident. Each witness had a different version of the events. Jeff Potts testified that he heard the defendant say, "I got you mother f///--- now," and then the defendant opened fire. According to Jeff, he heard seven shots fired. The other witnesses heard the gunshots but did not see who fired the gun. A defense witness testified he saw a gun in the victim's possession earlier in the evening. However, no gun was found on or near the victim's body.
The defendant's first argument on appeal is that the jury verdicts finding him guilty of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated discharge of a firearm are legally inconsistent because they required the jury to determine that the defendant's mental state was both reckless and knowing at the same time.
Legally inconsistent verdicts cannot stand because they are unreliable. People v. Spears, 112 Ill. 2d 396, 406-07, 98 Ill. Dec. 9, 493 N.E.2d 1030 (1986). At a minimum, such verdicts suggest confusion or misunderstanding on the part of the jury. People v. Klingenberg, 172 Ill. 2d 270, 281, 216 Ill. Dec. 813, 665 N.E.2d 1370 (1996). Where inconsistent guilty verdicts are returned, the defendant is entitled to a reversal of the convictions and a new trial on all counts. Spears, 112 Ill. 2d at 407. Guilty verdicts are legally ...