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People v. Johnson

December 12, 2000


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 94 CR 27621 The Honorable Mary Ellen Coghlan, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cousins

Following a joint bench trial, defendant Jermaine Johnson and co-defendant Devon Collins were convicted on two counts of armed robbery and six counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. Co-defendant Lendarrow Johnson was acquitted. Defendant and Collins were sentenced to two consecutive terms of 25 and 11 years for the sexual assaults and a concurrent 25-year term for the armed robbery. The trial court denied defendant's posttrial motion and this appeal follows.

On appeal, defendant argues that: (1) lack of DNA elimination testing rendered the State's expert's opinion unreliable and inadmissible; (2) the trial court erred by preventing defense counsel from cross-examining a witness about defendant's written confession to another crime; (3) the acquittal of one of his two co-defendants constitutes a verdict inconsistent with defendant's own convictions, requiring reversal of defendant's conviction; and (4) the trial court abused its sentencing discretion by improperly considering multiple convictions for the same act and victim impact testimony from family members.


Defendant Jermaine Johnson, along with his brother, Lendarrow Johnson, and Devon Collins, was arrested and charged with armed robbery, aggravated vehicular hijacking, and aggravated criminal sexual assault in connection with the August 5, 1994, robbery and rape of the female victim, K.E.

Defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress two statements: an oral statement he made concerning the instant case and a written statement he made concerning the separate armed robbery of Tyree Johnson which occurred shortly before his arrest. Since both statements were made at the same time to the same officer, the trial court heard the motion to suppress both statements together. The trial court denied the suppression motion.

The following facts were adduced at trial. On August 5, 1994, around 5 a.m., K.E. testified that she parked her car near her home. As she began walking toward her apartment building, three men approached her. The defendant put a gun to her temple and told her to give up her purse. She noticed that the gun bore an insignia that looked like musical notes. Finding no money in her purse, the men pushed her to the ground, went through her pockets and the defendant struck her in the mouth with the gun while the co-defendants kicked her.

The men dragged K.E. into a nearby gangway. Defendant ripped off her clothing. While co-defendant Collins stood behind K.E., defendant, gun in hand, penetrated K.E. vaginally. After defendant finished, K.E. believed that he left to get her car. Then, the other two co-defendants forced K.E. on her hands and knees and assaulted her simultaneously. Collins held a knife to K.E.'s neck and penetrated her orally from the front, while Lendarrow Johnson penetrated her vaginally from behind.

As the co-defendants attacked her, she heard the sound of a car horn, and Collins and Lendarrow fled. When she looked up, K.E. saw the three men drive away in her car. She estimated that the entire attack lasted about 25 minutes. She banged on her apartment door and awoke her mother. The police arrived shortly after. K.E. then went to the hospital for treatment.

The next morning around 6 a.m., K.E.'s father, Mr. Jackson, testified that he was driving his wife to work when he saw K.E.'s car being driven through the parking lot of a currency exchange. Jackson followed the car through several neighboring streets. At a stop sign, Jackson saw defendant get out from the passenger side and motion to Jackson that he should turn in a different direction. Jackson then notified the police that he had seen his daughter's car.

Detective Salemme testified that he and his partner, Detective Maher, received a call that same morning and caught up with K.E.'s car. They activated their emergency equipment and followed the car until defendant, who was driving, opened his door and slipped half out of the car, lost control of it, and hit a tree. Devon Collins threw a gun out of the window, which Detective Salemme said K.E. later identified as the weapon used against her.

After a foot chase, the detectives arrested defendant and Collins and took them to the police station. Objects in the trunk of the car were later identified as belonging to K.E. At the station, K.E. viewed a lineup and identified defendant and Collins.

Around 8:30 a.m., Detectives Salemme and Maher questioned defendant. According to Detective Salemme, the defendant orally confessed as follows. Defendant stated that he and the co-defendants were looking for someone to rob when they spotted K.E. getting out of her car. In defendant's version, it was Lendarrow who pulled out the gun and demanded money from K.E. When K.E. handed her purse to Collins, he became enraged when there was no money inside. Collins punched K.E. in the face, and Collins and Lendarrow began kicking K.E. while defendant looked around to make sure no one was coming. Then Collins and Lendarrow dragged K.E. into the gangway and raped her while defendant acted as a lookout. According to defendant, Collins threw him the keys and said, "Go get the bitch's car." He got the car, beeped the horn until Collins and Lendarrow joined him in the car and left the scene.

Detective Salemme further testified that the police began looking for Lendarrow Johnson after defendant's arrest. Detectives also went to Collins' address and recovered items belonging to K.E. from the garbage can. Several weeks after the attack, detectives returned to Collins' address and found Lendarrow Johnson hiding under a bed and arrested him. K.E. identified Lendarrow as the third attacker. On cross-examination, defense counsel attempted to question Detective Salemme about defendant's written statement concerning the Tyree robbery made around the same time as his oral statement concerning K.E. The trial court prevented counsel from pursuing this line of questioning.

Both parties stipulated that Dr. Scott Altman examined K.E. on the morning after the attack. There was a small amount of white discharge in K.E.'s vaginal vault and a contusion on her lower lip. Dr. Altman asked K.E. whether she had had sexual ...

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