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People v. Mayoral

October 13, 1998


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'Brien

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Honorable Daniel Kelley, Judge Presiding.

JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial, defendant, Joel Mayoral, was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to an extended term of 75 years in prison. On appeal, he argues: (1) the trial court erred by barring the testimony of a witness who would have provided evidence corroborating defendant's theory of self defense; (2) defendant's court-reported statement was obtained in violation of his fifth and sixth amendment constitutional rights; (3) the trial court erred by failing to hold a fitness hearing; (4) the State did not prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (5) the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him; and (6) his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. We affirm.

At trial, Santiago Gutierrez testified that in May 1993, he, Jesus Rodriguez, Juan Guzman, and Omar Vaca lived together in a basement apartment at 2327 South Drake. On the evening of May 7, 1993, Omar borrowed his father's car and drove his three roommatesto a nightclub. They left the club about 2:45 a.m. Juan drove the car home, with Jesus in the front passenger seat, and Santiago and Omar in back.

Juan dropped Jesus and Santiago off at home, and Santiago gave Juan some money to buy food. Juan and Omar then drove toward a restaurant at 26th and Kedzie. When Juan returned a few minutes later, he had blood on him and he told Santiago and Jesus that Omar had been shot. Santiago went out to the car, where he saw Omar lying in the rear passenger seat. The police arrived about five minutes later.

Detective Patrick Foley testified that on May 7, 1993, he received a radio call of a man shot at 2327 South Drake. When he arrived at the scene, several police officers were already there and an ambulance was about to take Omar Vaca to the hospital, where he later died. Detective Foley examined the vehicle and saw bullet holes in the trunk lid, the area between the trunk lid and the rear window, the speedometer, the armrest, and the front windshield. He also recovered a 36-inch broomstick from the driver's side of the car.

Detective Michael Gerhardstein testified that he and Detective Hoginson interviewed defendant at Area 4 police headquarters at approximately 7 p.m. on November 21, 1994. They gave defendant his Miranda rights, and he agreed to talk with them. Detective Gerhardstein told defendant that his name had come up in connection with the murder of Omar Vaca. Defendant initially responded by denying any role in the shooting.

Detective Gerhardstein then showed defendant some hand-written statements from persons implicating defendant in the shooting. After reading the letters, defendant gave a court-reported statement in the presence of Detective Gerhardstein and Assistant State's Attorney Fahey.

In the statement, defendant said he was a member of the Latin Kings street gang. At about 4 a.m. on May 7, 1993, Tom Perez, the head of the 25th Street Latin Kings, gave defendant a gun and told him to "play security" for their gang at 2505 South Trumbull; "play security" meant that defendant was to keep a look-out for members of rival gangs.

A little while later, defendant saw a car pull up in front of the house at 2505 South Trumbull. One of the Latin Kings yelled that the car contained members of the Disciples gang, which was a rival gang to the Latin Kings. Defendant took the gun and went out front, where he saw several members of the Latin Kings run up to the car and throw bricks at it.

Fellow gang member Francisco Franco pounded on the car and demanded that the people inside get out and identify themselves. Defendant then saw the passenger in the back of the car pull out a "stick." Next, he saw the car door open, and he heard Franco yell "he's reaching for something, he's reaching for something." Franco ran for cover, and Tom Perez screamed out "shoot, shoot." Defendant fired a shot, and then Tom Perez yelled to keep shooting, so defendant continued to shoot towards the car even as it sped off.

After the shooting, defendant ran to an alley and tried to throw his gun on the roof of a garage. Then he ran back home and took a nap.

Francisco Franco testified that in May 1993, he and defendant were members of the Latin Kings. The 2500 block of Trumbull was Latin Kings territory. At about 3:30 a.m. on May 7, 1993, Franco saw a car drive three times by 25th and Trumbull. The first time the car drove by, the occupants of the car were both seated in front. The second and third times the car drove by, one of the occupants sat in back.

The third time the car went by, the driver flashed a hand signal of a gang allied with the Latin Kings. However, the back seat passenger flashed a signal of an enemy gang. The conflicting hand signals aroused Franco's suspicions that the occupants of the car might be enemies of the Latin Kings.

The car eventually stopped on Trumbull. Franco and some other Latin Kings approached the car, and Franco yelled at the passenger in the back seat to get out and identify himself. The driver's side door opened, and Franco saw the back-seat occupant reach down and come up with an object that looked like a shotgun or a rifle. Franco yelled out "he has a gun," then ran and hid between some cars.

Franco heard three or four gunshots, looked up and saw that defendant was the shooter. Franco and defendant then ran from the scene.

Defendant testified on his own behalf that in May 1993 he was a member of the Latin Kings. At 3:30 a.m. on May 7, 1993, he was at 25th and Trumbull with Tom Perez, Francisco Franco, and other members of the Latin Kings, when he observed a car drive by. Five minutes later, the car drove by again, and then it returned about five minutes after that. Defendant saw the driver of the car give hand signals of a gang friendly with the Latin Kings, while the person in the back seat gave signs of a rival gang. Defendant suspected that the occupants of the car were going to do a drive-by shooting, so he went to the back of the house at 2507 South Trumbull and retrieved a gun.

When defendant returned from getting the gun, he saw the car stopped in the street. Members of the Latin Kings were approaching the car, and Franco was standing near the driver's side of the vehicle. Defendant approached the car on the passenger side.

Defendant saw the back-seat passenger (Vaca) open the door, and he heard Franco yell at Vaca "what are you reaching for[?]" Defendant saw Vaca "come up with something long," which he "figured *** was a shotgun or rifle." Someone yelled "he's ...

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