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People v. Bruce

September 15, 1998


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cousins


No. 95-CR-12124


Following a jury trial, defendant Dwayne Bruce was convicted of first degree murder and armed robbery. He was sentenced to an extended term of 100 years for murder and 6 years consecutively for armed robbery. He now appeals both the conviction and the sentence. Defendant contends that his conviction must be reversed because the trial court erred and violated his constitutional right to a fair trial by: (1) admitting hearsay testimony when detectives testified that members of the victim's family identified jewelry that the defendant was wearing at the time of his arrest as the victim's, and (2) admitting into evidence a handgun seized from a car that he was driving. The defendant also contends that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing the maximum allowable extended term of 100 years' incarceration for the murder conviction.


Robyn Cherry testified that in the evening of May 11, 1993, she went to a party in the Ida B. Wells housing project with her boyfriend, Dwayne Taylor. At that party, they met up with the defendant and some other individuals, whose names were Kenny, Courtney Donelson, Troy, and Robert Seals.

Mr. Taylor suggested that they stick someone up. The group agreed to do so and left in Mr. Taylor's station wagon in order to find someone to rob. They went south on the Dan Ryan Expressway and exited at 111th Street.

At first the group's attention was drawn to a white Lexus. Because the car was a Lexus and had expensive accessories, they assumed that its driver was wealthy. After following this car for several blocks, however, they lost it.

Shortly before 9 p.m. they saw another vehicle, a black Nissan Pathfinder. The driver was Tedrin West, who was on the way to a friend's house to watch a Bulls game. His father had given him the Pathfinder for his twenty-first birthday. Mr. West had with him some jewelry, a beeper and a cellular phone. Dwayne Taylor said "We got us a vic," meaning a robbery victim.

The group followed Mr. West to a currency exchange. While Mr. West was inside wiring some money, Mr. Taylor hid behind the car with a gun in his hand. When Mr. West got back in the Pathfinder, Mr. Taylor put the gun to the window. He ordered Mr. West to take the keys out of the ignition and open the door. Mr. West complied and then Mr. Taylor, the defendant, and Robert Seals got in the Pathfinder with Mr. West and drove off. Their companions followed in the station wagon.

The Pathfinder went to three different houses. At each, Dwayne Taylor called out to his associates in the station wagon that Mr. West was "playing games." Then they drove to a deserted street. Mr. Taylor and the defendant, each armed, exited the Pathfinder with the victim. The defendant ordered the victim to lie down on the ground and then shot him in the back of the head.

Mr. Taylor showed the others jewelry taken from Mr. West. Ms. Cherry testified that among these items was a chain which she described as a "flip-flop." The defendant had a gold ring with a diamond-encrusted six-point star. According to Ms. Cherry, he displayed this ring as proceeds of the robbery.

Then the group drove back toward the Dan Ryan Expressway. They were driving in a "crazy" manner and ran a stop sign. At this point two police officers tried to stop the Pathfinder. They pulled the Pathfinder over twice, and twice it sped away after the officers exited their vehicle. Then the police found the Pathfinder abandoned on the side of the expressway, with the door open and the motor running. They impounded the Pathfinder and then notified Thomas West, Tedrin West's father, since the title was in his name.

After picking up the Pathfinder, Thomas West called his ex-wife, Tedrin's mother, to let her know that the Pathfinder had been found abandoned. Ms. West, extremely worried, called the police. She tried to reach Tedrin on his beeper and cellular phone, but received no answer. Finally a man answered on the cellular phone. She did not recognize his voice and asked where Tedrin was. The man said "He's gone." "Gone where? Where is Tedrin?" she asked. "He's gone, bitch," the man replied and then hung up.

When the police arrived, Ms. West gave them a photograph of her son. Within an hour they found his body.

Later, the police went over records for Tedrin's cellular phone. Subsequent to the murder, calls had been made to two women, each a ...

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