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People v. Davenport

November 03, 1998


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

OCTOBER 30, 1998


No. 96 CR 01286


Following simultaneous trials before separate juries in the circuit court of Cook County, defendants Lawon Davenport and Imari Clemons were found guilty of first degree murder. Davenport was sentenced to 28 years in prison; Clemons received a 59 year sentence. Both defendants appeal their convictions. Clemons also appeals his sentence.

The record indicates that the following facts were adduced at both trials. Antwan Palton testified that at approximately 5 p.m. on October 6, 1994, he and his brother Columbus were coming home from high school when they exited a bus at the corner of 51st and Peoria Streets in Chicago. As Antwan and Columbus walked to their home on West 50th Street, Antwan noticed a man at the corner of 50th and Peoria who was dressed in black, with a black cap bearing the words "I'm Real" cocked to the right. Antwan stated that cocking a hat to the right signified membership in the Gangster Disciples street gang. Antwan identified this man in court as Clemons.

Antwan testified that Clemons approached him and Columbus. When Clemons was approximately 10 feet away from the Paltons, Columbus said, "GD." Clemons pulled a gun from his waistband. When Clemons was approximately 2 feet away from the Paltons, Clemons responded, "I ain't a GD. Never could I be a GD."

Antwan testified that Clemons then shot Columbus, who fell backwards. Antwan and Clemons stood and looked at each other for a few seconds. Clemons ran from the scene. Antwan ran home to tell his parents that Columbus had been killed. Antwan's parents called the police. Antwan spoke to uniformed police officers that day and to detectives the next day.

Jerome Weathers and Lamont Wesley both testified that they were on West 50th Place on October 6, 1994, and saw the Paltons and Clemons walking down the street seconds before the shooting. Both also testified that wearing a hat cocked to the right signified membership in the Gangster Disciples. Weathers was a member of the Gangster Disciples, but Clemons was a stranger to him at the time. Wesley is a cousin of Weathers. Neither Weathers nor Wesley testified to seeing the shooting. Both Weathers and Wesley identified Clemons in court.

Weathers was convicted in February 1996 of delivery of a controlled substance and sentenced to 18 months of probation. However, at the time of his testimony, Weathers was in custody on another charge of delivery of a controlled substance and violation of probation. Wesley had been convicted in May 1992 of possession of a controlled substance and received probation. Wesley violated his probation in October 1993, when he was picked up on a charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and was sentenced to 3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. In January 1996, Wesley was convicted of delivery of a controlled substance and again received probation. At the time of his testimony, Wesley was in custody on another drug charge. Both Weathers and Wesley testified that the State made no promises in return for their testimony.

Chicago Police Officer John Kotarac testified that on October 6, 1996, he received an assignment call at approximately 5 p.m. of a man shot at 5023 South Peoria. Officer Kotarac arrived at the scene 2 or 3 minutes later and observed a body laying in the middle of the street. Officer Kotarac noticed a gunshot wound to the left side of the head above the ear.

Officer Kotarac secured the area and interviewed people at the scene, including Antwan and Weathers. Officer Kotarac them broadcast a description of the shooter. According to Officer Kotarac, Columbus was taken to St. Bernard's Hospital by ambulance. Officer Kotarac later went to the hospital and learned that Columbus had been pronounced dead on arrival.

Chicago Police Officer Albert Pribek, an evidence technician assigned to the shooting, testified that he recovered a spent .380 caliber Winchester cartridge from the scene. Forensic pathologist Dr. Barry Lifshultz, who performed the autopsy on Columbus, recovered a bullet from Columbus Palton's skull and determined that death was caused by a close range gunshot wound to the head. It was stipulated that if firearms expert James Vantilburg were to testify, he would state that the bullet recovered from the skull was .380 caliber.

Chicago Police Detective James Ward testified that he was assigned to the shooting and arrived at the scene after the body had been taken away. Detective Ward interviewed people on the street. Detective Ward then began to look for two suspects. The first suspect was known as Tyrone Matthews or "Doughboy." The second suspect was known as Eric. Detective Ward also had a physical description of Eric.

On October 7, 1994, Detective Ward spoke with Antwan. Detective Ward submitted a stop order with respect to Tyrone Matthews to the Chicago Police Department, which would notify Detective Ward if Tyrone Matthews was arrested or fingerprinted in some other matter. On October 8 and 12, 1994, Detective Ward generated supplemental reports regarding the two suspects. Detective Ward also had been informed that the suspects could be members of the Blackstone Nation street gang.

On November 13, 1995, Detective Ward was notified Tyrone Matthews, also known as Lawon Davenport, Tywone Davenport or Doughboy, was at the Area 1 police station. Out of the presence of the Clemons jury, Detective Ward testified that he interviewed Davenport after informing him of his Miranda rights at approximately 4:30 p.m. According to Detective Ward, Davenport stated that he was a member of the Black P-Stone Nation street gang and had been at home prior to the shooting. Davenport stated that someone named Myron invited him to go for a walk. When Davenport and Myron reached the corner of 51st and Morgan, Myron showed Davenport an automatic pistol, stated that he was going to shoot a "GD" and needed Davenport to watch his back. Davenport told Detective Ward that he stood lookout while Myron walked up 50th Place toward Peoria. Davenport heard a gunshot come from the area of 50th Place and Peoria, then saw Myron running toward him. Davenport and Myron ran together for a distance, then split up. Davenport ran home.

Chicago Police Detective Cliff Gehrke testified that he had also interviewed Davenport on November 13, 1995. Davenport initially stated that he was only a witness to the shooting, but later gave an account similar to that related by Detective Ward.

Detective Ward and Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) Chiao Lee testified regarding a similar written statement Davenport gave after 10 p.m. on November 13, 1995. However, the written statement added that Davenport was a "soldier" in the Black P-Stone Nation, which is above the level of "shorties," but below that of "generals" in the gang hierarchy. Davenport also added that ...

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