Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 97CF272 Honorable Jeanne E. Scott, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Garman
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
A jury convicted defendant Ivory Lee of the second degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-2 (West 1998)) of Wile Trotter, aggravated battery with a firearm (720 ILCS 5/12-4.2 (West 1998)) of Wile Trotter, and aggravated battery with a firearm of Willis Trotter. On appeal, defendant argues that (1) the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not act in self-defense in shooting the Trotters, and (2) his conviction for the second degree murder of Wile must be vacated under the one-act, one-crime rule. We affirm in part and vacate in part.
During the night between February 6 and 7, 1997, defendant went to Kelu Anderson's home, where he met his friends, Richard Hatchett, Lester Davis, Travis McCullough, Demetrius McCullough, and Chris Tapley. They decided to go to a party at the Sky Harbor Inn. They brought a handgun with them to the party but initially left it in one of their cars.
About an hour after defendant and his friends arrived at the party, Wile and Willis Trotter arrived. Wile and Willis were twin brothers, allegedly known for carrying guns. Ten minutes later, defendant, Davis, and Hatchett went to their cars to get some drinks they had brought. Defendant took the handgun from the car and tucked it in his waistband. They all went back inside to the party.
About 15 minutes later, defendant and his friends decided to leave. When defendant went outside, he saw Wile talking to Travis and Willis standing nearby. Willis walked over and stood by Wile. Willis began arguing with Hatchett about an incident that had occurred during Christmas, a few months previously. Apparently, Willis had interceded in an argument between Hatchett and a third party, which had resulted in a fight between Hatchett and Willis. Someone started shooting and Hatchett went to jail. Hatchett now told Willis that he should have minded his own business. Hatchett and Willis yelled at each other and exchanged profanities. According to defendant, Demetrius, and Davis, at one point Willis appeared to reach for a gun inside his pocket. Believing Willis was going to shoot, defendant pulled out his handgun and shot Willis. Then, believing Wile was also reaching for a gun in his coat, defendant shot Wile at least three times. Willis received a bullet wound in the stomach. Wile received one bullet wound in the chest and two in the thigh and leg. Defendant and his friends fled the scene.
The police arrived at the scene a few minutes later. A large crowd had gathered. Willis and Wile lay approximately 75 to 100 feet apart. Wile was conscious and told Officer Paul Earley that he had been shot by Davis and Travis. Willis was also conscious but refused to talk to the police. Once the area was secured and Wile and Willis were taken to the hospital, the officers searched the area for weapons, about 30 to 45 minutes later. None of the officers found any weapons in the area. No weapons were recovered from the person of Wile or Willis. Wile died later that day from the bullet wound in his chest, which had caused massive hemorrhaging from the liver and aorta.
Officer Steven Bennett meanwhile looked for Travis and Davis. He saw a maroon two-door Oldsmobile Cutlass pass by him, shined his spotlight inside, and saw Hatchett, whom he knew to be friends with Travis. Bennett stopped the car about two blocks away. Someone ran from the passenger side of the car to some nearby houses. Defendant later admitted that he was the person who ran from the car. Davis, Travis, and Demetrius were in the car with Hatchett. Bennett frisked these men, did not find any weapons, and took them to the police department for questioning.
Defendant was arrested on March 18, 1997. Defendant initially claimed he was inside the Sky Harbor Inn at the time of the shooting. When detectives told him that other witnesses had contradicted his claim, he gave a written statement the next day admitting he shot Wile and Willis. He was indicted on three counts of first degree murder of Wile: (1) intentional murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 1998)), (2) knowing murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 1998)), and (3) felony murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3) (West 1998)). The State later dismissed the felony murder count. Defendant was also indicted on (1) one count of aggravated battery (of Wile), (2) one count of aggravated battery (of Willis), and (3) one count of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1 (West 1998)). The State later also dismissed the count for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.
Defendant's trial was held in February 1998. Defendant raised the affirmative defense of self-defense on all counts. After hearing the evidence, the jury convicted defendant of second degree murder (of Wile), aggravated battery with a firearm (of Wile), and aggravated battery with a firearm (of Willis). In April 1998, the trial court denied defendant's posttrial motion. In May 1998, the trial court sentenced defendant to concurrent terms of 20 years for second degree murder and 15 years for aggravated battery with a firearm for shooting Wile. These terms were to run consecutively to an 18-year sentence for the aggravated battery with a firearm of Willis. This appeal followed.
Defendant first contends that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not act in self-defense in ...