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People v. Williams

June 01, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Gallagher

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Vincent M. Gaughan, Judge Presiding.

Following a jury trial, defendant Carl Williams was convicted and sentenced on two counts of first degree murder, and on charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault, armed robbery, and vehicular hijacking. On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his pretrial motions to quash his warrantless arrest and suppress evidence and to suppress statements and that he was denied effective assistance of counsel. We affirm.

In the early morning hours of January 13, 1994, Reginald Wilson, Steven Fitch, and Felicia Lewis were driving in Wilson's black Chevy Blazer and stopped at a gas station at 79th and State Streets so that Wilson and Fitch could use the restroom facilities. Fitch went to the restroom while Wilson remained outside the Blazer chatting with Lewis. When Fitch returned from the restroom, he saw two men he did not know at the Blazer. As Fitch approached, one of the men confronted him and said, "What the fuck you looking at?" Fitch turned away from the car and tried to enter the gas station but could not get in because the door was locked. When the Blazer drove out of the gas station with one of the men driving and the other in the back with Wilson and Lewis, Fitch ran across the street and called the police to report the hijacking. Police officers picked up Fitch and drove around the area with him, hoping to locate the Blazer, but they were unsuccessful.

At approximately 8:30 a.m. that same morning, a Sauk Village police officer pulled up behind a black Chevy Blazer that had been idling suspiciously on a residential street. When the uniformed officer exited his car and approached the Blazer, it sped off. The officer pursued the Blazer, which subsequently ran up onto the lawn of a home. Sauk Village police apprehended the two men who ran from the car. They were identified as Scott Chambers and Stanley Hamelin. From the papers littering the car, Sauk Village police determined that Wilson was the car's registered owner. They contacted Wilson's family, who informed them of the hijacking.

Later that day, the frozen bodies of Wilson and Lewis were discovered in a garbage Dumpster in the 4800 block of South Vincennes, in Chicago. They had died of multiple gunshot wounds. Several 9 millimeter cartridge cases were found in the Dumpster and on the bodies. When Chicago police removed the bodies from the Dumpster, they found Felicia's state identification card and contacted her family, who informed them of the hijacking and that the Blazer had been found in Sauk Village.

The Area One detectives working on the murders went to Sauk Village to discuss the case and examine the car. Chambers and Hamelin were then transported to Area One headquarters. At Area One, Fitch viewed a lineup consisting of Chambers, Hamelin and five "fillers." Fitch positively identified Hamelin as the man who had spoken to him outside the Blazer at the gas station.During separate police interviews, Chambers and Hamelin gave statements admitting their involvement in the hijacking. They provided the police with specific details about the hijacking and identified the three other men involved: "Bay," "Carl," and Anthony Brown. Chambers and Hamelin did not know the surname for "Carl" but provided police with a physical description and where he "hung around." Hamelin took detectives to the site where Lewis had been raped prior to her murder and then to the site of the murders, where he identified the Dumpster in which the bodies had been left.

Hamelin then took detectives to the area where Bay and Brown lived. The detectives went to Brown's residence but he was not home. As the detectives were pulling away from Brown's home, Hamelin identified a grey Chevy Caprice driving down the street as belonging to Brown. Hamelin identified Brown as the driver and Bay as the front seat passenger. There were also three people in the back seat. Detectives stopped the car and brought the five occupants to Area One. Police recovered Fitch's portable compact disc player and Wilson's car stereo, compact discs, tapes and adaptor from the Caprice. At the station, Bay was identified as Zarice Johnson. The three passengers identified themselves as Rufus Seaton, Randy Johnson, and Larry McGee. The police did not consider Seaton, Johnson, and McGee to be suspects in the murders. During his questioning by police, McGee stated that he was not involved in the hijacking but that he knew who "Carl" was and where to find him. McGee did not know whether Carl was involved in the hijacking.

At 8:30 a.m. on January 14, 1994, McGee took detectives to the Ida B. Wells housing complex to show them where "Carl" "hung out." When detectives knocked on the door of the unit that McGee indicated, the door was answered by a woman and a little girl. The detectives identified themselves and the woman let the detectives into the residence. The detectives said that they were looking for "Carl." Detectives did not yet have a last name for Carl. Although the woman stated that noone named Carl lived in the residence, the child said "Carl's upstairs." An older man came to the stairs at this point and when Detective Turner asked about "Carl," the man pointed up the stairs. The detectives went upstairs and found a man matching "Carl's" physical description sitting on a bed in the room at the top of the stairs. When asked his name, he identified himself to the detectives as Carl Williams. Defendant was taken to Area One headquarters. The residence where defendant was arrested was the home of his girlfriend where he often stayed overnight. The woman who answered the door and allowed the officers to enter was his girlfriend's mother.

At Area One, detectives placed defendant in an interview room at approximately 10:30 a.m. on January 14 and advised him of his Miranda rights. During brief questioning by Detective Turner, defendant denied any knowledge of the hijacking or the murders and refused to speak with Detective Turner. Chambers and Hamelin identified a Polaroid photograph of defendant as their accomplice "Carl." At 5 p.m. defendant was moved from the interview room to the mission room, where he met with Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas. Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas explained that he was a prosecutor working with the police to investigate the murders and again advised defendant of his Miranda rights. Defendant agreed to speak with Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas and gave a statement about the murders. Detective Turner was present for defendant's statement. After a one-hour conversation with defendant, Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas and Detective Turner left the mission room while defendant considered whether he wanted his statement to be handwritten or taken by a court reporter. Shortly thereafter, Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas returned to the mission room alone and asked defendant privately how he had been treated by police. Defendant told Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas that he had been treated fine by both the police and Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas. Although the mission room was subject to interruptions from other police officers entering and exiting, when Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas asked defendant about his treatment by police, they were alone.

At approximately 9 p.m., Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas and Detective Turner returned to the mission room and defendant told them that he wanted to give a handwritten statement. Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas had defendant read aloud each of the preprinted Miranda rights on the statement form. Defendant then signed the form to show that he understood his rights and wanted to make a statement. Seated opposite defendant at the desk in the mission room, Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas wrote out defendant's statement. Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas asked defendant to read out the first line of the handwritten statement to make sure that he could read Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas's handwriting. Defendant read it with no problem. While Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas wrote out the statement, defendant answered questions, clarified points and made corrections. Defendant identified photographs of Chambers, Hamelin, Johnson, and Brown and referred to them in his statement. Defendant and Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas reviewed the entire document together when it was completed. Defendant, Detective Turner, and Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas each initialed any changes made to the statement and then signed each page of the 10-page statement. Defendant added some additional information at the end of the statement and signed off on that as well. Assistant State's Attorney Grapsas had discussed the co-defendants' statements regarding defendant's involvement in the murders with defendant once defendant had agreed to speak with him.

Defendant's statement related that late on January 12, 1994, defendant had been riding around town with co-defendants Chambers, Hamelin, Brown, and Johnson in Brown's Chevy Caprice. Chambers had a 9 millimeter handgun with him which he had shown to everyone in the car. The fivesome had agreed to hijack a car, strip it, sell the parts, and split the proceeds. When they saw the Blazer at the gas station, they decided to hijack it. Defendant acted as lookout while Chambers and Hamelin approached the Blazer. At the Blazer, Chambers pointed the gun at Wilson and forced him back into the Blazer. After Fitch had run off, Hamelin got behind the wheel of the Blazer and Chambers got in the back of the Blazer with Wilson and Lewis. The Blazer then followed the Caprice onto the Dan Ryan Expressway.

The two cars were driven to a parking lot at 47th Street. Defendant and Johnson got out of the Caprice and Hamelin got out of the Blazer. Defendant took Lewis from the Blazer and brought her to the Caprice. In the back seat of the Caprice, Brown raped Lewis after having forced her to perform oral sex on him. Defendant watched the rape and, after Brown had finished with her, asked Lewis for the key to the Blazer's wheel locks. Brown demanded money from Lewis and then returned her to the Blazer. Defendant, Brown and Johnson then left in the Caprice and drove around to look for police. Chambers and Hamelin remained with Wilson and Lewis in the Blazer. After driving around for 45 minutes, defendant, Brown and Johnson joined Chambers and Hamelin at Hamelin's sister's apartment, where Chambers told the group that he had shot the victims. Defendant received $30 as his share of the hijacking proceeds.

Prior to trial, defendant moved to quash his arrest and suppress evidence and to suppress his statements. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied both motions. The court found that there was probable cause to arrest; that the defense had not sustained its burden to show that entry into defendant's girlfriend's home was not consensual; that even if entry was not consensual, there were exigent circumstances for entry; and that defendant had failed to show that his statements were involuntary. After a jury trial, the court sentenced defendant to natural life in prison for the first degree murder convictions and to concurrent 30-year sentences for aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated hijacking, and armed robbery. The court denied defendant's motion for a new trial and to reconsider the sentence.

On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash his warrantless arrest and suppress evidence because the police lacked probable cause for making the warrantless arrest. If a trial court finds that a warrantless arrest was based on probable cause, the arrest is deemed lawful. People v. Tisler, 103 Ill. 2d 226, 237, 469 N.E.2d 147, 153 (1984). Under the probable cause standard, although evidence sufficient to sustain a conviction is not required, more than mere suspicion is necessary. People v. Kidd, 175 Ill. 2d 1, 22, 675 N.E.2d 910, 921 (1996). The ultimate burden of proving lack of probable cause remains with the defendant throughout the hearing. People v. Ross, 60 Ill. App. 3d 857, 861, 377 ...

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