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People v. Curtis

June 15, 1998

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
GERALD K. CURTIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Garman, P.j., and Cook, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Steigmann

Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County

No. 96CF641

Honorable Steven Nardulli, judge Presiding.

In January 1997, following a bench trial, the trial court found defendant, Gerald K. Curtis, guilty of aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated battery, and armed violence (720 ILCS 5/12-4.2, 12- 4(a), 33A-2 (West 1996)). The court subsequently vacated the armed violence conviction. In May 1997, the court sentenced defendant to 12 years in prison for aggravated battery with a firearm and held that his aggravated battery conviction merged into his conviction for aggravated battery with a firearm.

Defendant appeals, arguing that (1) the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because the State's case essentially consisted only of a prior inconsistent statement admitted under section 115-10.1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/115-10.1 (West 1996)), which the witness disclaimed at trial; and (2) the evidence was not sufficient to show that defendant was guilty on a theory of accountability. We affirm.

I.

BACKGROUND

The evidence at defendant's trial showed the following. On July 1, 1996, Marie Hullum was sitting on the front porch of her house on 13th Street in Springfield, Illinois, with her granddaughter, Jovonsierre Franklin, her son, Gerald Hullum, and a woman. Around 8:15 p.m., a car stopped on the street across from Marie's house. Marie heard two shots. After the second shot, Jovonsierre screamed about her leg, and Marie took her inside. Jovonsierre had been shot and the bullet traveled through her left thumb and left leg and stopped in the back of her right leg.

Jerome Henderson testified at trial that he was about 1½ blocks away from the shooting when he heard the shots. He saw a small, grayish-blue, four-door car on 14th Street, but he did not see who was in the car and did not remember seeing defendant or his half-brother, Joshua Curtis (Josh). He testified that many people were in the area and he remembered hearing Reggie Thomas yelling something. Henderson, who was awaiting trial on several criminal charges, testified that the prosecutor had made no promises in exchange for his testimony.

Detective Tim Young testified that he had obtained a written statement from Henderson on July 5, 1996, after a police officer informed him that Henderson had information concerning the shooting. Henderson reviewed his written statement for accuracy before signing it. Young also testified that Henderson told him that defendant was not in the car.

Henderson testified at trial that he did not remember signing a statement after Young interviewed him on July 5, 1996. In his state- ment, Henderson had stated that he heard Thomas yelling, warning people that defendant and Josh were in the area and had guns. At trial, Henderson remembered telling Young that about the same time as he heard Thomas yelling, (1) he saw a small, grayish-blue, four-door car cross the intersection at 13th Street and Cass Avenue by Gerald Hullum's house; (2) Gerald was standing in front of his house; and (3) he heard four or five shots. He did not remember telling Young that (1) Terry Lee was driving the car and Josh was sitting next to her; (2) he saw Josh come out of the passenger's side window with a black automatic weapon in his hand and point it over the top of the car toward Gerald; (3) he saw several people standing around the area, including Marcus Poole; (4) he heard a girl scream; and (5) he saw Lee accelerate and drive away. The trial court admitted Henderson's statement regarding Thomas yelling "for the purpose of explaining Mr. Henderson's subsequent conduct but not substantively on the question of whether or not [defendant], in fact, had a gun."

Young also testified that Officer Scott Allin informed him that Poole had told him--before the incident resulting in his arrest-- that he wanted to provide information about the shooting. Young inter- viewed Poole at the Sangamon County jail, where Poole was incarcerated for unrelated charges. Poole signed a written statement after reviewing it to ensure its accuracy. Young told Poole that he would talk to the State's Attorney's office and try to secure Poole's release in exchange for his cooperation; however, he did not promise that he would be able to secure Poole's release in exchange for his statement. Young testified that he talked to the State's Attorney's office on Poole's behalf the following day, and as a result, Poole was released on a recognizance bond.

Poole testified at trial that (1) charges of aggravated battery and criminal trespass to real property were pending against him; (2) he had recently pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of robbery and been sentenced to probation; and (3) the prosecutor had made no promises regarding his guilty plea or his pending charges in exchange for his testimony.

Poole also testified that he had known defendant for about six years. On July 1, 1996, he was visiting a friend's house on 13th Street. He saw a blue car driven by a woman, but he did not see who was inside the car. He saw a handgun, heard a shot from inside the car, and ran. He heard about 11 shots. He denied seeing defendant or Josh in the car.

Poole further testified that he was arrested on July 4, 1996, on charges unrelated to the shooting. Shortly after his arrest, he talked to Young and told him that he would not talk about the shooting unless he could get out of custody. He ...


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