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People v. Bowen

August 14, 1998

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MAURICE BOWEN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Hoffman delivered the opinion of the court

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY

HONORABLE MARCUS SALONE, JUDGE PRESIDING.

After a bench trial, the defendant, Maurice Bowen, was found guilty of first degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and was sentenced to 60 years' imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant contends that (1) the admission of prior inconsistent and unsworn statements as substantive evidence of identification was a denial of his right to due process, (2) the evidence failed to prove the offender's identity, (3) the court's consideration of his demeanor was reversible error, and (4) his 60-year sentence was an abuse of discretion. We affirm.

The following evidence was adduced at trial. Jacqueline Smith, Vanessa Brown, and April Johnson saw the victim, James Nance, standing near the corner of 50th and Elizabeth Streets at around 9 p.m. on the evening of February 28, 1993, as they walked to a party in the neighborhood. Nance was talking to a girl standing in the window of the second floor apartment at 5002 South Elizabeth. He was wearing a hooded Texas Longhorn jacket and black pants.

The three women stayed at the party about 20 minutes and then left. As they walked back towards the intersection of 50th and Elizabeth, they heard gunshots coming from the corner where the victim had been standing. Jacqueline testified that Nance was standing in the same spot as before. She observed a tall, thin person dressed in black and wearing a hooded jacket approach within four feet of Nance, point a gun at Nance's chest, and fire numerous shots at his face and chest. Jacqueline and the other women ducked until the shooting stopped, and then ran over to Nance and found him lying on the ground covered in blood. April offered a similar account of the shooting, but Vanessa testified that she immediately ducked behind a car and did not see the actual shooting. None of the women could see the perpetrator's face. Nance, who was 13 years old at the time, died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Lamont Brown, an admitted gang member, testified at trial that he was outside his apartment at 5002 Elizabeth on the afternoon of February 28, 1993, when he saw a blue Malibu drive by twice. Brown recognized the men in the car as "Bam," "Ricardo," and "Maurice," who were rival gang members he had known for a couple of years. As the Malibu stopped at 50th and Elizabeth, the occupants looked at Brown and then drove away. Brown was wearing a Texas Longhorn jacket and black pants.

Brown said he went inside to play with his niece. He then went to a front room facing the street, opened the window, and talked with his sister, Vanessa, and his ex-girlfriend, April, who were standing across the street. Brown saw a boy in front of his building conversing with someone who lived in the apartment above Brown's. He later learned this boy was Nance. Nance wore a Texas Longhorn jacket and had his hood pulled up on his head. While Nance was in front of Brown's apartment, the blue Malibu again drove down Elizabeth. According to Brown, Bam was driving the car, Maurice was in the front passenger seat, and Ricardo was in the back seat. Brown stated that the car stopped a few houses away and Maurice exited the passenger's side with his hood covering his head and walked towards Nance. Maurice approached Nance and pulled out a handgun. Maurice pointed the gun at Nance and fired several shots. After the shooting stopped, Brown exited his apartment and saw Nance lying on the ground and Maurice running across the street into a gangway.

Brown denied that the defendant in the courtroom was the same Maurice in the blue Malibu that had shot Nance. He explained that he was familiar with two people named Maurice, both of whom were members of a street gang in conflict with Brown's gang. Brown admitted owning a Texas Longhorn jacket with a hood in February 1993, but said that the coloring was different than the jacket worn by Nance. Brown also acknowledged that he had been sent to the Audy Home because he had gotten into a fight with a relative of Ricardo a month before Nance's shooting.

Brown recalled speaking with Detective Cliff Gehrke at the Audy Home, but he denied being shown any photographs. Brown admitted that he attended a line-up on June 17, 1993, and identified the defendant. However, Brown explained that he did not identify the defendant as the person who shot Nance; rather, he identified the defendant as a member of a rival gang. Brown said that it was the other Maurice he knew, not the defendant, who shot Nance. According to Brown, he told the police that the defendant was not the perpetrator but the police warned him that if he "didn't say it was him they was (sic) going to--I would never see--only way I see my family is behind the glass and they'd drop some of my cases and they'll drop some of my juvenile cases."

Brown denied telling anyone that, two days prior to his trial testimony, the defendant had made faces at him and stared at him while Brown was in a holding cell at Cook County Jail. Brown further denied telling the prosecutor and others the day before his testimony that the defendant had all of his "buddies" look at his face so they could remember him if Brown identified the defendant.

In impeachment of Brown, the defense presented his criminal record and history of delinquency. In addition to an adult conviction for aggravated discharge of a firearm, he had two adjudications of delinquency for possession of a controlled substance and criminal sexual assault.

Detective Cliff Gehrke testified that he was assigned to Nance's murder. Gehrke recalled that, when he viewed the body, Nance was wearing a Texas Longhorn jacket. Gehrke met with Brown at the Audy Home in May 1993, after Gehrke was informed that Brown was a possible eye-witness to Nance's murder. Gehrke was accompanied by Assistant State's Attorney Martin Fogerty and Assistant Public Defender Lisa Kaufman.

Gehrke learned that Brown had been living at 5002 Elizabeth in February 1993 with his mother and sister, Vanessa, and that he had witnessed the shooting from an apartment window overlooking the street. Gehrke stated that, after Brown gave him some first names and a nickname of the perpetrators, he went and retrieved photographs and returned to the Audy Home with Fogerty and Kaufman. According to Gehrke, he showed Brown an array of five or six photographs and Brown identified a photograph of the defendant as the person who shot Nance. Gehrke testified that both he and Brown signed the back of the defendant's photograph.

Gehrke said that Fogerty then spoke with Brown and prepared a written four-page statement of Brown's account of the shooting. According to Gehrke, Brown reviewed the statement, was allowed to make changes, and signed each of the pages. The police located the defendant and brought him in for a line-up. Gehrke testified that Brown ...


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