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People v. Martinez

June 10, 1998

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ROBERT MARTINEZ, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Burke

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Honorable Fred G. Suria, judge Presiding.

Following a jury trial, defendant Robert Martinez was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends that the circuit court erroneously determined that defendant failed to make a prima facie case of racial discrimination during jury selection. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

On October 3, 1994, Fillamon Ibarra-Saucedo was shot to death at the LaAlondra tavern located at 2010 West 18th Street in Chicago, and defendant was subsequently charged with first degree murder of Ibarra-Saucedo. At trial, the court conducted a voir dire examination of two panels of venirepersons. Among the persons interviewed in the first panel were Patricia Brown, Valerie Perkins and Gregory Bonestro. Brown was a single black woman who lived with her three children and one grandchild. Brown did not work outside of the home. Perkins was a single black woman who lived alone in a home where she had resided for 17 years. Perkins had been a registered nurse since 1976 and had worked at her current job for 11 years. Bonestro, whose race was not indicated in the record, was employed and lived in an apartment with his wife and children.

The trial court excluded four venirepersons for cause from the first panel with no objections from either the State or defendant's counsel. The State, however, challenged Brown, Perkins and Bonestro with three of its seven peremptory challenges. Defendant challenged two venirepersons and made a Batson motion with regard to the State's challenges to Brown, Perkins and Bonestro. Thereafter, the following discussion ensued:

"MR. PALMER [defendant's counsel]: Based on my review of the cards, it appears there is really nothing to separate the three individuals from the remainder of the panel with regard to Miss Brown, forty-three, single, three kids. Although she doesn't own a home, she rents. She lived in the same place eleven years.

Miss Perkins is forty-five, divorced, three adult kids. She is an educated person as is the majority of this panel. She is a nurse, which I believe at least one other person that has been accepted by the State. She is a crime victim as many of the panel that is accepted by the State. She also owns a home. She has lived in her same address for seventeen years.

***

Judge, it's our contention that there's nothing separating and distinguishing these *** individuals other than their race, and I believe that at this time we've met our burden, and we'd ask for--

THE COURT: State?

MR. NOONAN [Assistant State's Attorney]: I don't believe that is a prima facie burden.

THE COURT: Yes.

***

THE COURT: *** I'll address all the questions where there's a systematic excuse of person of the same race, am I correct, or creed or color as the defendant. Two of the ladies, Miss Brown and ...


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