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People v. Hall

December 01, 2000


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Freeman

Agenda 4-May 2000.

Following a 1984 bench trial in the circuit court of McLean County, defendant, Anthony Hall, was convicted of murder. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a). At a separate sentencing hearing, the court, sitting without a jury, found defendant eligible for the death penalty and further determined that there were no mitigating circumstances sufficient to preclude imposition of that sentence. Pursuant to defendant's subsequent petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ordered that defendant receive a new sentencing hearing. Hall v. Washington, 106 F.3d 742 (7th Cir. 1997).

The circuit court of McLean County held a new sentencing hearing. A jury determined that there were no mitigating circumstances sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty. Accordingly, the court sentenced defendant to death. The death sentence has been stayed pending direct review by this court. Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, §4(b); 134 Ill. 2d Rs. 603, 609(a). We affirm.


The record contains the following pertinent facts. On February 8, 1983, the body of the victim, Frieda King, was found in a closet next to a walk-in freezer at the Pontiac Correctional Center. She had been stabbed to death. At the time of the murder, the victim had been the civilian supervisor of the inmate kitchen, where defendant had been working as a clerk. After an investigation, defendant was charged in the circuit court of Livingston County with the murder.

Following a change of venue to McLean County, the circuit court convicted defendant of murder and imposed the death penalty. On direct review, this court upheld defendant's conviction and sentence. People v. Hall, 114 Ill. 2d 376 (1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 951, 94 L. Ed. 2d 802, 107 S. Ct. 1618 (1987). Defendant subsequently petitioned the circuit court for relief pursuant to the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 38, par. 122-1 et seq.). Following an evidentiary hearing, the circuit court denied defendant's petition and this court affirmed. People v. Hall, 157 Ill. 2d 324 (1993), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 999, 130 L. Ed. 2d 415, 115 S. Ct. 507 (1994).

The United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois denied in full defendant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Hall v. Washington, 916 F. Supp. 1411 (C.D. Ill. 1996). However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed in part, holding that defendant "received ineffective assistance of counsel at his capital sentencing hearing and that he must be granted a new sentencing hearing." Hall v. Washington, 106 F.3d 742, 753 (7th Cir. 1997).

The circuit court of McLean County held a new sentencing hearing. Prior to the first stage thereof, defendant moved to stipulate that: he had attained the age of 18 years at the time of the murder of which he was convicted, and that the murder victim was a Department of Corrections employee who was killed in the course of performing her official duties. See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 9-1(b)(2). The trial court granted defendant's motion and, based thereon, found that he was eligible for the death penalty.

At the second stage of the capital sentencing hearing, a jury heard evidence in aggravation and mitigation. We recount the aggravation evidence that the State presented in the order that the events occurred.

One morning in September 1975, defendant, age 16, approached Kathy Ford Washington as she was on her way to work. He asked her for the time. When she looked up from her watch, he was displaying a handgun. He demanded her money and became upset upon discovering that she did not have much. He forced her to walk into a vacant building, where he raped her at gunpoint. He eventually pled guilty to armed robbery and was sentenced to a prison term of four years.

In October 1975, defendant entered the bedroom of Denise Smith and her sister Hermie. He raped and robbed each at gunpoint. He eventually pled guilty to rape and was sentenced to a four-year prison term.

Defendant was incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility until he was 18, at which time he was transferred to Menard Correctional Center. There, in February 1978, a large fight began during a lunch period, which grew to as many as 30 inmates. Defendant held an inmate while two others beat, kicked, and twice stabbed the inmate. As discipline, defendant lost one year of good-time credit on his sentence. Defendant was imprisoned for approximately three years.

One afternoon in November 1980, Alfreda McIntosh was walking down a street. Defendant called out to her, asking if he knew her. McIntosh replied in the negative and walked faster. Defendant ran to her, put his arm around her, and held a knife to her. Upon his demand, McIntosh gave defendant her money.

Defendant directed McIntosh at knifepoint to a building; she refused to enter. Defendant then took her around the side of the building and forced her to sit on some stairs. Defendant then ordered McIntosh to pull down her pants. As she stood to do so, she grabbed defendant's knife. A struggle ensued, in which McIntosh was cut. Defendant overpowered her, retrieved his knife, returned her to the stairs, and repeated his demand. When she complied and ceased struggling, defendant lost his erection and could not penetrate her.

The State elicited from McIntosh that the attack had long-term effects on her. She found it difficult to be around men, especially in trains, buses, and elevators.

Defendant was eventually indicted on several charges relating to the McIntosh attack, tried, and convicted of armed robbery and armed violence. He was sentenced to a prison term of 40 years.

Defendant was serving this sentence when, on February 8, 1983, he murdered the victim in this case. Through witnesses and exhibits, the State recounted its case against defendant at the guilt phase of his trial. See Hall, 114 Ill. 2d at 392-98.

In July 1983, a female correctional officer delivered books and magazines to defendant in his cell. Defendant made a lewd comment and exposed himself to her. A few days later, defendant asked the officer to deny the incident and retract her report. He feared that the incident would be used against him at his murder trial.

Attorney Steven Skelton testified to an incident that occurred at defendant's trial. On February 24, 1984, immediately prior to opening statements, defendant requested to proceed pro se and asked for a continuance to prepare his defense. The trial judge brought defendant; his two defense counsel, Skelton and David Ahlemeyer; and a court reporter into a conference room adjoining the courtroom. They were discussing defendant's representation when defendant struck Skelton on the head with a chair, threw the chair at Ahlemeyer, and then punched the trial judge on the head. See Hall, 114 Ill. 2d at 389-90.

Later that day, defendant was taken from the courthouse to the Logan Correctional Center. He was the lone inmate in the prison's segregation unit. After about an hour, defendant questioned why he was the only inmate there, grew afraid that he would be beaten, and became very agitated. He wrenched a nine-foot piece of steel from his cell wall and wrecked his cell, screaming that he had to leave. After about an hour he calmed down.

In January 1985, a correctional officer heard defendant state that he wanted to decapitate the warden of his prison, even if it meant receiving another death sentence. Defendant explained to the correctional officer that the warden had told lies about defendant. The incident was reported, but defendant was not disciplined.

On three occasions, in June 1987, May 1989, and February 1990, defendant had sexual contact with female visitors in prison visiting rooms. In August 1994, defendant masturbated in front of a female correctional officer and ejaculated on one of her shoes.

Also, a sister of the victim presented victim impact testimony. The victim came from a family with originally 13 siblings. One sibling died as an infant and the victim was only the second sibling to die. The victim was very close to her siblings; she was more like a mother to them.

The victim had seven children, all living at the time of her death. She also had six grandchildren, three of whom were born after she was killed and whom she would never meet. She was a loving mother and grandmother. The victim's youngest son and one of her brothers lived with the victim in her house. She cared for them and made a home for them.

The victim was very proud of and active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars. She carried the flag in every parade. She bought a rabbit suit with her own money to entertain children at various functions.

The victim was not afraid of working in a prison. She believed that the inmates would never hurt her. In fact, many of the inmates referred to the victim as "Mom."

Defendant presented mitigation evidence from family and acquaintances, prison employees, and clergy and counselors. This evidence was presented through live testimony, affidavits, and transcripts of testimony from prior proceedings.

Defendant's mother, Annie Rogers, testified via videotape due to physical impairments. Rogers testified as follows. She was raped when she was 12 years old, resulting in defendant's birth. Because she did not know how to care for a child, Rogers' mother raised defendant. She was not married and had to work during the day. Rogers' aunt and a neighbor helped look after defendant. He completed elementary school, but did not complete high school.

Rogers married when she was 16; the marriage produced two children. Defendant never lived with Rogers during her marriage or was part of her household. Rogers' husband eventually abandoned her and she had to return to her mother's home. She had to quit her job because one of the children from her marriage began to fight at school.

Rogers credited defendant with sustaining her. She had visited defendant in prison, but now was unable to travel. She enjoyed writing to defendant and receiving cards and letters from him. Rogers acknowledged that she did not "pay any attention" to defendant when he was a child. However, she loved him and wanted to be a mother to him if it was not too late.

The defense sought to introduce a 1990 affidavit by Patricia Rolfe Hunt, which defendant presented in his post-conviction proceeding. The defense had been unable to obtain her presence at the sentencing hearing. Hunt's affidavit stated essentially as follows. She was 41 years old, married with six children, and an active church member. She is not related to defendant, whom she had known since the early 1970s, when he was between 12 and 14 years old. Defendant baby-sat for Hunt during this time, and she would see him almost daily. Hunt found defendant to be an honest, dependable, and mild-mannered young man, who did not appear to be violent. She trusted him to such an extent that she would leave money around her home; defendant never took anything from her.

Hunt recalled an incident where defendant saved the life of one of her children. The child began choking on a bone. Hunt was frightened and unable to respond, but defendant responded and saved the child's life.

After losing contact with defendant for several years, Hunt eventually learned that he was in prison. Since she liked, respected, and had fond memories of him, Hunt contacted defendant and visited him in 1988 or 1989. She had spoken with defendant in 1990 when she executed her affidavit.

In response to the State's objection, the trial court excised the reference to defendant's saving the life of one of Hunt's children. Defendant's trial counsel read the redacted affidavit to the jury.

Leta Mills testified as follows. When Mills was 14 years old, she participated in a summer camp swimming tournament. During a race, she passed out in the deep end of a pool. Defendant rescued her and administered first aid. They became friends. In the early 1980s Mills began to visit defendant in prison. She was married between 1981 and 1984. In 1985, Mills resumed visiting defendant. It was Mills who had sexual contact with defendant in May 1989 and February 1990. During that time they were engaged to be married; the engagement ended sometime in 1990. They correspond with each other and will always be friends.

Scott Wineberg testified to several telephone conversations he had with defendant. During that time, Wineberg was a student at Chicago-Kent College of Law. He worked, under the supervision of defendant's trial counsel, in the school's clinical program. Wineberg's first assignment was defendant's case.

During the summer of 1990, defendant telephoned Wineberg regarding his case quite often, generating telephone bills of about $300 per month. In these conversations, defendant expressed concern and compassion for others, namely his trial counsel and Wineberg's family and classmates. Through these conversations, Wineberg came to know defendant as a person. Defendant additionally sent letters and holiday cards to Wineberg.

Yvonne Del Vecchio testified as follows. She was the mother of George Del Vecchio, a former Menard inmate who had been executed. George was last imprisoned at Menard for about 18 years. Several years prior to his execution, George spoke of defendant to Del Vecchio. Defendant and George were friends; they spoke of church and religion. Del Vecchio actually met defendant after George was executed. They have corresponded with each other since 1997. In his letters, defendant showed care and concern for her and for others, and never acted improperly in any way. Also, Del Vecchio visited others in prison. She would occasionally see defendant and they would greet each other.

Defendant also presented mitigation evidence from prison employees. From 1979 until her retirement in 1991, Gwendolyn Teske was a food supervisor at Pontiac. She had worked with the victim, and had supervised defendant. During this time, Teske did not observe defendant act violently toward herself or anyone else. He always fulfilled his duties and was very cooperative.

At approximately the beginning of 1983, Thomas O'Connor began working as a clerk in Pontiac's food service department. There he met defendant and worked with him daily. Defendant was in charge of completing various government regulatory forms. He also planned master menus, often over a year in advance. He was efficient and competent. Indeed, defendant was the only person in the department who really knew much about its operations. Defendant was very helpful to O'Connor and assisted in training him. Defendant never acted inappropriately. To the contrary, in some ways defendant was instrumental in improving relations between department staff and inmates.

In 1993, Colleen Rennison began working as a paralegal at Menard. Her function was to supervise the prison law library to make legal resources available to inmates. It was not part of her job to learn the details of inmates' cases. Her duties included touring the prison's condemned unit two to three times weekly, totaling approximately eight hours.

Rennison met defendant in the early spring of 1993. Defendant was eager to learn new words. She would help defendant and other inmates to read and write. Defendant was trying to learn more about the legal system. She saw him in the library and in his cell. Defendant kept his cell very neat, and never had anything inappropriate on his cell walls. Defendant never acted inappropriately toward Rennison, or anyone else to her knowledge. Rather, defendant was very pleasant.

Defendant presented mitigation evidence also from clergy and counselors. Lloyd Shaddle had testified on defendant's behalf at defendant's first sentencing hearing (see Hall, 114 Ill. 2d at 401). Shaddle subsequently died. At the second sentencing hearing, defense counsel read the transcript of Shaddle's testimony.

Shaddle testified as follows. He was a minister for the Jehovah's Witnesses. He had known defendant since 1982. Shaddle conducted Bible studies at Pontiac. Defendant regularly attended these Bible classes until he was charged with the victim's murder. Thereafter, Shaddle twice visited defendant, who expressed more concern for his family than for himself.

Father Richard Means had testified on defendant's behalf at the evidentiary hearing on defendant's post-conviction petition (see Hall, 157 Ill. 2d at 337). Father Means subsequently died. At the second sentencing hearing, defense counsel and another priest read responsively the transcript of Father Means' testimony.

Father Means testified as follows. From February 1983 to August 1986, he was a Roman Catholic chaplain in the Illinois Department of Corrections. He met defendant shortly after the murder charge. For over a year, he spent more time with defendant than with any other prisoner. Means found defendant to be intelligent, very literate, and very interested in religion. Means found defendant's interest in religious studies to be sincere. They never spoke much about this case, but defendant at times spoke fondly of the victim. Means never saw defendant lose his temper or act violently. Means had never ...

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