Appeal from Circuit Court of Vermilion County No. 93CF502 Honorable Dale A. Cini, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Knecht
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
In December 1993, the State charged defendant, Camerun Blaylock, with five counts of murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) through (a)(3) (West 1992)) and six counts of home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(1), (a)(2) (West 1992)), all stemming from the December 1993 murder of Robin Jackson. In January 1995, a jury returned a verdict of guilty on the home invasion counts but was hopelessly deadlocked on the murder counts. In January 1996, the trial court sentenced defendant to a 30-year term on the home invasion conviction, and this court affirmed that judgment on direct appeal. People v. Blaylock, No. 4-96-0123 (February 2, 1998) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).
In the meantime, in January 1995, the State moved to retry Blaylock on the murder counts, and in March 1995, the trial court granted the motion. In April 1995, defendant filed a motion to dismiss the murder charges on double jeopardy grounds. In April 1995, the trial court denied the motion, defendant appealed, and this court affirmed. People v. Blaylock, No. 4-95-0381 (December 26, 1997) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). Later, the circuit court clerk's office determined all the exhibits admitted in the original trial, except for the gun, bullets, and bullet casings stored in the safe, had been lost by the clerk's office. In October 1998, Blaylock filed a motion to dismiss the murder indictment, arguing retrying him without the lost exhibits deprived him of due process of law. In December 1998, the trial court granted Blaylock's motion. The State appeals, arguing retrying defendant without the exhibits does not deny him due process of law because the State did not lose the evidence in bad faith. We reverse and remand.
In December 1993, Blaylock was indicted on five counts of first degree murder and six counts of home invasion. Blaylock's trial took place from January 11 to 18, 1995.
A. Evidence Adduced at January 1995 Trial
Kimberly Jackson, wife of the victim, Robin Jackson, testified she, her husband, and their four children were at their home in Tilton the evening of December 15, 1993. At approximately 7:45 p.m., she and the children went to bed. She later awoke due to a "pop" sound, jumped out bed, and looked into the living room, where she saw a man stooping over her husband. After she screamed, the man jumped back and ran out the door. Kimberly identified the man as black, "medium-tall, about five-five," wearing a dark grayish-blue coat, with a stocking cap on the top of his head, and having smooth, flat, or short hair where the cap ended at about mid-ear. She also testified she knew defendant Blaylock, but could not tell if he was the man she saw at her house on December 15, 1993.
Ranterris Landfair testified he knew defendant Blaylock and Arnell Render, a co-defendant, and in the past he had borrowed Blaylock's car. On December 15, 1993, Blaylock told Landfair he had something he wanted him to do. Later that day, Blaylock and Render picked Landfair up in Blaylock's car and the three men drove to Tilton. At one point, Blaylock stopped the car and retrieved a "shiny item" from the trunk. Render also exited the car, and Blaylock told Landfair to park at a nearby tavern and wait for Blaylock and Render to return. About 20 minutes later, Blaylock and Render ran toward the car yelling, "Go." While Landfair drove, defendant Blaylock stated, "You see how I popped him twice in the chest," and Render stated, "I stabbed him twice." Blaylock and Render also undressed and threw the clothes and shoes they were wearing out the car window. Render told Landfair to stop, and Blaylock exited the car and threw the gun. Landfair then continued to drive.
Landfair also testified he told the police defendant Blaylock was wearing a jacket (defendant's exhibit No. 10) and a pair of boots (People's exhibit Nos. 36 and 39) on December 15, 1993. During Landfair's testimony, Blaylock put on the jacket and the left boot. Blaylock's attorney pointed out to the jury Blaylock had difficulty putting the boot on and the arms of the jacket were short. Landfair also put the jacket on and the record reflected the jacket fit him.
Render testified he was charged with murder and home invasion. He received a 45-year sentence after pleading guilty to murder on the condition that he testify against Blaylock. He admitted (1) receiving social security checks for disabilities he falsely claimed and (2) prior convictions for possession of a stolen motor vehicle and theft of a motor vehicle, residential burglary, and obstruction of justice.
Render testified Blaylock told him he wanted a person named Robin "dealt with" and he (Render) agreed to go with Blaylock to Robin's home for $500. Render and Blaylock picked up Landfair, who was to drive Blaylock's car. After Blaylock retrieved a gun from the trunk, he and Render went to Robin's home.
Render kicked in the front door of Robin's home, entered, and stabbed Robin twice with a jagged-edged knife. Blaylock pushed Render aside and shot Robin twice. As Render left the home, he heard a third shot. Render and Blaylock ran to the car and told Landfair to go. As they drove, Render and Blaylock threw the clothes and shoes they were wearing out the car window. After stopping briefly, Blaylock threw the gun "somewhere." While in the car, Render stated, "I couldn't believe that I stabbed him."
Render also testified he wore a size 10½ shoe and wore his hair at the time of the killing "cut so that it's almost like shaved from above the ear on down the back of the neck." He also acknowledged he wrote his girlfriend, Dechelle Gentry, a four-page document while he was in prison in which he wrote, "My crime is worser [sic] and I took a life." However, he denied killing Robin and stated he was not referring to Robin's death in the document. The trial ...