Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 97 CR 10247. The Honorable Vincent M. Gaughan, Presiding Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Buckley.
Modified Upon Denial of Rehearing
Original opinion dated February 2, 2001
In October 1996, the State charged defendant Ronald Hayes, in a 27-count indictment for murder, attempted murder, aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated battery, armed robbery, aggravated kidnaping, and aggravated unlawful restraint. In March 1998, the circuit court conducted a jury trial. The evidence adduced at trial related to two separate acts allegedly committed by defendant. With respect to the first act, the trial court heard evidence relating to an early-morning incident in which defendant allegedly held several victims at gunpoint and stole a maroon Chevy Caprice belonging to one of the victims. The trial court also heard evidence relating to a second incident that occurred approximately 20 hours after the first. With respect to the second incident, the trial court heard evidence that defendant and two accomplices used the stolen car to abduct two victims, murder one, and attempt to murder the other. While the trial court heard evidence relating to both of these incidents, defendant was actually on trial for only the second incident.
During jury deliberations, one of the jurors indicated, for the first time, that he could not understand English very well and had difficulty following the testimony. The trial court replaced that juror with one of the alternates that had been already discharged.
The jury convicted defendant of murder, attempted murder, aggravated vehicular hijacking, armed robbery, and aggravated battery. The trial court denied defendant's motions for a mistrial and a new trial. In June 1998, the trial court sentenced defendant to 60 years' imprisonment for murder and 20 years for attempted murder, to be served consecutively. Additionally, the trial court sentenced defendant to 15 years for armed robbery, to be served concurrently. Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred when it (1) dismissed the juror and replaced him with an alternate, rather than declaring a mistrial; (2) allowed the jury to hear evidence of other crimes; and (3) ordered defendant to serve consecutive prison sentences. We affirm.
In September 1997, prior to trial, the State filed a motion to admit proof of other crimes. At the hearing on its motion, the State explained:
"It is our position that *** evidence [of the first incident], [j]udge, is pertinent and relevant to our case for purposes of identity as well as connecting defendant to the murder itself by virtue of being arrested in the car that was used during the commission of the murder, or at least immediately preceding the abduction of the victim."
Defendant objected to the introduction of this evidence, arguing that it was cumulative and highly prejudicial. The trial court found that, under the circumstances, evidence of the first incident was material and relevant. The trial court further found that such evidence was not so prejudicial as to warrant exclusion.
In March 1998, a jury trial began. Ronnie Ramsey was one of the State's first witnesses. His testimony related to the prior crimes' evidence to which defendant objected. Ramsey testified that on October 31, 1996, at approximately 3:45 a.m., he was driving his maroon, 1984 Chevy Caprice to a friend's apartment. Ramsey parked his car in the parking lot and walked toward the building. As he walked, he saw two men walking ahead of him. Ramsey entered the building and, as he waited for the elevator, one of the men approached Ramsey and put a gun to his head. The record does not adequately identify this offender but the other offender, identified as the defendant, searched Ramsey's pockets.
Ramsey testified that the two men forced him into the elevator and began to beat him. They rode the elevator to the apartment of Ramsey's friend, Danny Roseberg. Defendant and the unidentified offender used Ramsey to gain access to Roseberg's apartment. Once inside, defendant and the unidentified offender led everyone in the apartment to a back room. They ordered the occupants to lie on the floor while they searched the apartment. The two offenders then started kicking the victims, shouting "I know you got some more money somewhere [sic]."
Defendant then took Ramsey's keys and went outside to locate the car. The other offender remained in the apartment and continued to hold the victims at gunpoint. When defendant returned, he advised his accomplice that he had found Ramsey's car. The two offenders then broke all the lights in the apartment, broke the doorknob on the front door, and fled. Ramsey tried to leave through the front door but could not. He eventually opened the door with a butter knife. He then called the police and provided a description of defendant, the unidentified offender, and the car.
The remaining testimony related directly to the second incident (i.e., the offenses for which defendant was charged in the instant case). Shamika Boykin testified that on October 31, 1996, at approximately 10 p.m., she and DeMarco Lofton drove to the store in Lofton's car. After leaving the store, Boykin and Lofton were walking toward Lofton's car when a maroon Chevy Caprice pulled up to them. Two men, later identified as Andre Franklin and Ricky Harmon, jumped out of the car, displayed guns, and ordered Boykin and Lofton into the backseat of Lofton's car. Franklin and Harmon also got into the car. Defendant then stepped out of the Chevy Caprice, got into the driver's seat of Lofton's car, and began driving. Franklin and Harmon ordered Boykin and Lofton to keep their heads down.
Approximately 15 minutes later, they arrived at a Chicago Housing Authority building. Boykin testified that defendant asked her whether she was ready to die. Franklin and Harmon led Boykin and Lofton upstairs to an abandoned apartment. Defendant appeared in the apartment a few minutes later.
The three offenders searched Boykin and Lofton for valuables. Next, they ordered the victims to remove their clothes. Boykin testified that defendant and one of the other offenders brought Lofton into a bedroom. She heard Lofton beg for his life, followed by two gunshots. The offenders then brought Boykin into the bedroom and threw her onto Lofton's body. She heard defendant instruct Franklin and Harmon to kill her.
Boykin attempted to run but she was caught and carried back inside the apartment. One of the offenders threw a mattress on top of her and began firing bullets into the mattress. One bullet struck Boykin in the face. She testified that she held her breath and pretended to be dead while the offenders walked on her body to make sure they had killed her. The offenders left. Boykin laid on the floor for several minutes, then fled. She found a ...