Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois No. 99-CF-1048 Honorable Joe R. Vespa, Judge, Presiding
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Holdridge
A jury found the defendant, Christopher J. McAfee, guilty of armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18--1(a), 18--2(a) (West 1998)). He was sentenced to 21 years' imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant argues that (1) the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and (2) the judge erred during sentencing by considering in aggravation that one of the defendant's witnesses may have perjured himself. We affirm the defendant's conviction, but vacate his sentence and remand for resentencing.
Amanda Turner testified that at about 8 p.m. on September 14, 1999, she met Jacob Brown in a parking lot behind the One World Coffee Shop in Peoria. Turner and Brown stood and talked near Turner's car. Turner was standing next to her car with the driver's side door open. She saw two men approach her and Brown. One of the men, whom Turner later identified as the defendant, positioned himself behind Brown and put a gun to Brown's neck. She could see the defendant's face as he peered over Brown's shoulder to speak to Turner and the other assailant. She testified that she was about four feet from Brown when the defendant put the gun on Brown's neck.
The other assailant positioned himself next to Turner and told her to get her purse. She turned and retrieved her purse from the front passenger seat of the car. The other assailant took the purse from her. The defendant then told the other assailant to let Turner get her identification from the purse. As the other assailant held the purse, Turner took her wallet out, got her driver's license and insurance card, and put the wallet back into the purse.
The other assailant told Turner to get her sweater out of the car, which she did. The assailant shook the sweater and then threw it back into the car. The defendant told Brown to give the defendant Brown's money. Brown reached in his pocket and gave the defendant the money he had in a money clip.
The defendant and the other assailant stepped away from Turner and Brown. Brown testified that he did not see the man who had the gun on his neck because the man was positioned behind him during the entire incident. The two men then left the parking lot on foot.
Turner and Brown got into Turner's car and locked the doors while they recovered from their ordeal. One of their friends walked by the car. Turner and Brown told the friend that they had just been robbed. The friend told Turner and Brown that she had seen police officers at a nearby Jimmy John's restaurant. The friend ran to the restaurant, where she told the officers about the robbery. The officers accompanied the friend to the parking lot.
Officer Kathryn Handing testified that she interviewed Turner and Brown in the parking lot following the incident. At first, Turner was "extremely upset" and "barely able to tell [Handing] what happened." After Turner calmed down, she told the officer that the man with the gun wore a blue hooded sweatshirt, but that the man did not have the hood on his head. Turner described the defendant as a black male, about six feet, one inch tall, and weighing about 160 pounds.
Turner testified that her purse had contained her checkbook. On the morning following the robbery, she went to the bank as soon as it opened, closed her checking account, and opened a different account.
Michael Woodcock was the branch manager of the bank where Turner had her checking account. He testified that on September 15, 1999, he was called to the drive-through teller's window. The teller advised Woodcock that Aaron Waithe had presented a check drawn on Turner's account payable to Waithe. Waithe and the defendant had come to the drive-through window in a taxi. Waithe came inside the bank while the defendant waited in the taxi. Woodcock called the police, who arrested Waithe and the defendant.
On September 23, 1999, Turner went to the police station to view a photographic line-up. She identified the photo of the defendant as the man with the gun during the robbery. On November 4, 1999, she identified the defendant again during an in-person line-up. The officer who conducted the in-person line-up stated that the defendant described himself as being five feet, nine inches tall, and weighing 148 pounds.
Aaron Waithe testified for the defendant. Waithe stated that at about 6 or 6:30 a.m. on September 15, 1999, he saw a purse with its contents scattered near a dumpster. The contents of the purse included Turner's checkbook. He picked up the checkbook and proceeded to a friend's house on Ellis Street. On cross-examination, Waithe said that he had known this friend for about a year and a half. Waithe knew the friend's first name as Steve, but could not remember Steve's last name, the address of Steve's house, or where Steve's house was located on Ellis Street.
Waithe said that he asked Steve to forge a check for $300 payable to Waithe from Turner's checkbook. In exchange, Waithe would give Steve $50 after cashing the check. Waithe stated that he then walked to the defendant's house, where he slept during part of the day. When Waithe awoke in the afternoon, he asked the defendant to go with him to the bank. ...