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People v. Taylor

December 22, 2000


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Quinn

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Fred G. Suria, Judge Presiding.

At a jury trial, defendant Tyrez Taylor was found guilty of home invasion, armed robbery, and residential burglary, but was found not guilty of first degree murder. Thereafter, the trial court sentenced defendant to concurrent terms of 24 years of imprisonment on the charges of armed robbery and home invasion, and four years on the charge of residential burglary.

On appeal, defendant claims that (1) his conviction on the home invasion charge must be vacated because the crime was not committed in the "dwelling place of another" or, in the alternative, because the victim gave a co-defendant permission to enter the apartment; (2) his conviction on the residential burglary charge must be vacated because his co-defendant was a resident of the apartment involved and because the apartment was no longer a "dwelling place" after the victim was dead; (3) the jury's verdicts were legally inconsistent where the jury acquitted him of first degree murder but found him guilty of armed robbery; and (4) his sentence is disproportionate, in violation of fundamental fairness, where an equally culpable co-defendant pled guilty to a more serious offense and received a lesser sentence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court as to the residential burglary and armed robbery counts and reverse the judgment of the trial court as to the home invasion count.

The only account of the events occurring in the early morning hours of August 15, 1995, was presented to the jury from a statement given by defendant while he was in custody at the Area Two police station and published through Assistant State's Attorney Sharon Opryszek at trial. According to defendant's statement, early in the morning on Tuesday, August 15, 1995, defendant was sitting on the front porch of his girlfriend Jackie's apartment at 10749 South Prairie with Jackie, Edward Caples, and Shanika, the mother of Caples' child. At approximately 4:30 a.m., Brian Heath joined defendant and the others on the porch and began complaining that Raymond Winters had accused Heath of stealing from him. In his statement, defendant indicated that he knew that Heath had been "staying with" Winters at 10810 South Calumet "for a while." Heath showed defendant and Caples a .38-caliber revolver, which was loaded with five rounds, and defendant watched Heath put the revolver in the waistband of his pants. Heath, Caples, and defendant then went to Winters' apartment building at 10810 South Calumet.

When the men arrived at Winters' apartment building, defendant and Caples stood outside an apartment located behind Winters' apartment. Heath, however, walked to Winters' bedroom window and called out Winters' name. Moments later, Winters, who was nude, opened the door and let Heath into the apartment. According to defendant's statement, after a minute or two, defendant and Caples heard the sound of a gunshot coming from inside Winters' apartment and both men ran to a second-floor apartment at 10748 South Prairie.

Three to five minutes after defendant and Caples arrived at 10748 South Prairie, Heath also arrived there and rang the bell to gain entrance into the building. Defendant and Caples went down the stairs to open the door for Heath, who entered the stairwell and stated, "I told you niggers I ain't no ho. I'm wild hundreds." Defendant's statement indicated that "wild hundreds" was understood by defendant to mean "crazy." According to the statement, Heath was laughing and smiling. Once the men entered the apartment, Heath took a watch, a gold neck chain with an "S" medallion, a ring, and some cash out of his pockets. Heath gave the neck chain to defendant and the ring to Caples, then gave the two men some of the cash. Heath then began bragging that Winters was naked when he answered the door and that Heath pointed the gun at Winters' head and pulled the trigger. Heath further boasted that he took Winters' money and jewelry from a table and used a shirt to cover the doorknob so he would not leave fingerprints when he left. After Heath made these statements, the three men slept on the floor of the apartment for "a couple of hours."

According to defendant's statement, when the men awoke they went back across the street to Jackie's front porch, where defendant told Jackie that the three men were going to Evergreen Plaza on 95th and Western. The statement reads that Heath bought new clothes for everyone at Evergreen Plaza, then Heath bought some alcoholic beverages, and all three men returned to the apartment at 10748 South Prairie. At the apartment, defendant, Heath, and Caples drank, showered and changed their clothes. Then, they walked around outside for a while before returning to 10748 South Prairie.

In the statement, defendant indicated that early Wednesday morning, August 16, 1995, Heath left to get Winters' car, a beige Chevy Impala. Defendant, Caples, and two other individuals were standing in front of Jackie's apartment when Heath drove past them in Winters' car. When Heath returned, he left the car and went to a party with an individual referred to as "Chubby." According to the statement, defendant later found out that Heath and "Chubby" took the gun used to shoot Winters and threw it into a sewer.

After Heath left, the statement indicates that defendant, accompanied by Caples, drove the car to two different houses, then drove to 27th and Prairie to visit his cousins. Defendant, Caples, and defendant's cousins got drunk together, then defendant drove one of his cousins and Caples back to Jackie's apartment. There, defendant and Jackie argued and Jackie took Winters' chain from defendant and threw it in the bushes. Defendant, Caples, and "Chubby" left Jackie's apartment to put more gas in Winters' car, then defendant drove alone to a friend's house on Yates where he spent the night. According to defendant's statement, on Thursday, August 17, 1995, at approximately 11:30 a.m., defendant left Winters' car in the alley behind the apartment at 10748 South Prairie.

Ishna Davis, who was dating Heath in August of 1995, testified that she saw Heath and defendant exiting Winters' apartment complex carrying bags of clothes at approximately 4 p.m. on either Tuesday, August 15, or Wednesday, August 16. Davis testified that Heath and defendant got into a four-door "yellowish Chevy" and put the bags in the car. When Davis approached Heath and defendant, she saw a beeper and a gold chain with an "S" on top of one of the bags. Approximately one-half hour later, Davis saw Heath and defendant in the same four-door Chevy at the intersection of Calumet and Forest Streets. Davis testified that Heath was driving the car and defendant was in the front passenger seat. Davis stated that she leaned into the car to talk to Heath and saw the brown handle of what might have been a gun sticking out from underneath the driver's seat. Davis also testified that she saw defendant putting on the gold chain with an "S" that she had seen on top of the bag earlier.

Winters' sister and Winters' friend, Carol Winters and Anton Franklin, respectively, gave substantially the same testimony regarding their discovery of Winters' body. At approximately 10 p.m. on Wednesday, August 16, Carol, Anton, and Anton's fiancee, Pia, went to Winters' apartment because Carol had been unable to reach Winters for almost two days. When they arrived at Winters' apartment, they noticed that Winters' car was gone and that the window in Winters' living room was open. Carol had a key to the front door of Winters' apartment but she could not open the door, so she asked Anton to climb into the apartment through the open window. Once inside the apartment, Anton turned on the lights and discovered Winters' naked body lying facedown on the floor across the front door. When Carol heard Anton crying out Winters' name, she pushed the door until it opened a little and she was able to see that the door was blocked by Winters' body. The police were called and arrived about an hour later. Both Carol and Anton testified that Winters always wore a gold chain with a charm in the shape of an "S".

Chicago police officer William Callahan testified that he was on routine patrol with his partner, Officer Maureen Sakalas, when he received a radio dispatch of shots fired at 10810 South Calumet. According to Officer Callahan, 10810 South Calumet was a "four-flat," which looked like "kind of a road side motel type of building." The complex consisted of two two-story buildings with two apartments in each building. Officer Callahan approached the front of the building and saw two women standing on the sidewalk crying. The women told Officer Callahan that Winters was dead inside the apartment.

Chicago police detective Paul Alfini testified that, on August 18, 1995, he learned that Winters' car had been recovered in an alley at 10749 South Indiana. On August 23, 1995, Detective Alfini interviewed Ishna Davis. After interviewing Davis, Detective Alfini began to search for defendant, Heath, and Caples. That same day, Detective Alfini interviewed a man named Edward Kelly. Detective Alfini testified that, after the interview, Kelly led him to the corner at 10758 South Forest and pointed to a sewer drain at that location. Detective Alfini then called the department of sewers and later recovered a silver-colored, .38-caliber revolver with a brown wooden handle from that location. Detective Alfini testified that the serial number had been filed off of the revolver and the revolver contained four live .38-caliber rounds.

Chicago police detective William Foster testified that at approximately 9:30 p.m. on September 5, 1995, he was doing follow-up work on the Winters homicide when Chicago police officers Cain and Bass brought defendant into the Area Two police station and placed defendant in an interview room. Chicago police detectives Foster and Filipiak then went into the interview room to interview defendant. However, Detective Foster testified that, after giving defendant his rights under Miranda, he felt that defendant was under the influence of alcohol and decided to interview defendant after he became sober.

Detective Foster testified that at approximately 4 p.m., on September 6, 1995, he and Detective Filipiak returned to Area Two to interview defendant. Detective Foster testified that he brought defendant some food from McDonald's. While defendant was eating, the detectives gave defendant Miranda warnings again and asked him if he would discuss Winters' death with them. At approximately 8:30 p.m., Detective Foster returned to the interview room with Detective Alfini and again gave defendant Miranda warnings. Defendant and the detectives conversed at that time and defendant remained in custody. After this conversation with defendant, Detective Foster spoke with Assistant State's Attorney Sharon Opryszek. Detective Foster testified that he and Opryszek then gave defendant Miranda warnings again, interviewed defendant, took a handwritten statement from defendant, and reviewed defendant's statement with him.

Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) Sharon Opryszek testified that she interviewed defendant with Detective Foster at approximately 1 a.m. on September 7, 1995. Prior to the conversation, ASA Opryszek introduced herself as an assistant State's Attorney, explained to defendant that she was not his attorney, and read defendant Miranda warnings. She testified that the conversation lasted less than a half an hour. After the ...

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