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People v. Davis

November 6, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DERROLD DAVIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Colleen McSweeney-Moore, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wolfson

In the early morning hours of July 7, 1998, Larion Jackson, his brother Chris, and some friends were on a porch outside the Jackson home at 512 North Laramie Street in Chicago. Two men approached the porch, one carrying a handgun, the other a shotgun. The men fired their weapons, then turned and ran.

One of the shots struck Larion. He died of a gunshot wound to the head. The police investigation eventually led to Derrold Davis. He was arrested on August 10, 1998. During the next 36 hours he admitted, orally and in writing, that he drove the car that carried the shooters to the scene of the shooting and then drove them away after the shots were fired.

After a jury trial, Derrold was convicted of the first-degree murder of Larion, the attempt first-degree murder of Chris, and aggravated discharge of a firearm. He was sentenced to 25 years, 10 years, and 10 years respectively, sentences to be served concurrently. He now appeals those convictions.

His contentions include challenges to the legality of his arrest, the voluntariness of his confessions, the admission of testimony and opinions about gangs, and the propriety of certain closing argument remarks made by the State.

We affirm the convictions and sentences.

FACTS

PROBABLE CAUSE HEARING

Derrold filed a motion to quash his arrest and suppress his statements on the ground that the police lacked probable cause to arrest him. At the hearing, Derrold testified he went to the police station in the early morning hours of August 10, 1998, to complain about an unrelated shooting. Ronald Chatman, Derrold's cousin, corroborated this portion of Derrold's testimony.

Derrold was placed in the lockup and questioned about the unrelated shooting. The police then questioned him about the shooting of Larion Jackson. Derrold made an oral statement, then a signed handwritten statement, incriminating himself in the Jackson shooting.

Detective James Gilger of the Chicago Police Department testified that on July 9, 1998, he was assigned to investigate Larion's murder and the attempt murder of Chris Jackson. That day, he went to the area of the shooting to canvass the neighborhood for witnesses.

At about 7:00 p.m. he found Jemar Williams, a member of the Traveling Vice Lords gang. Williams was not a regular informant, but Gilger had used Williams before for information. When Williams told Gilger he knew about the murder, Gilger took Williams to the police station to be interviewed. Williams was not a suspect.

Williams told Gilger he was sitting on his front porch when he heard a couple of gunshots. He looked over to where the noise came from and saw a Black P-Stone gang member whose nickname is Twin shooting at people on the porch at 512 North Laramie with a handgun. Williams was not sure whether the handgun was a .45 caliber or a .9 millimeter gun, but he knew it was a black steel handgun.

He also saw another person firing a shotgun at the people on the porch. Gilger said Williams gave him a description of the shotgun shooter.

Williams saw the people on the porch scrambling. He saw one of the people "go down *** so [Williams] knew he got shot." A white car then pulled up, and the two shooters got in the car. The car drove away. Williams said the driver of the car was the twin brother of the shooter nicknamed Twin.

Gilger was familiar with the twins. They were Jerrold and Derrold Davis. Gilger also knew Jerrold went by the nickname Twin. Gilger thought Derrold went by the nickname Twin Two or Twin Number Two.

Jerrold was arrested and placed in a lineup. Chris Jackson identified Jerrold as the one he saw shooting the .45 caliber handgun. However, Chris never said the shooters fled to a car, nor did Chris mention Derrold Davis.

In a second lineup, Williams also identified Jerrold as the shooter of the handgun.

While continuing his investigation, Gilger encountered a car full of Black P-Stone gang members. He saw the car and noticed that one of them, McKenzie Clark, matched the description of the offender with the shotgun. Clark said he had heard of the murder, and accompanied Gilger back to the station.

After informing Clark of his Miranda rights, Gilger asked Clark about the murder. Clark said that the day after the murder, Jerrold admitted shooting at people on Laramie the previous night. Clark said Jerrold said he had a shotgun and that a guy whose nickname was Bird was shooting a .45 caliber handgun. After taking a polygraph test, Clark told Gilger that Jerrold said it was a .45 caliber handgun, not a shotgun, that he had during the shooting. *fn1

Detective Lawrence Poli testified he first came into contact with Derrold on August 10, 1998, near the scene of an unrelated shooting. Poli took Derrold and several others to the police station for questioning in the unrelated shooting sometime between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m. Sometime between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., Poli turned Derrold over to Gilger because Gilger told him Derrold was wanted in connection with the murder of Larion Jackson.

Later that day, at 9:00 p.m. on August 10, 1998, Gilger placed Derrold in a lineup. Williams viewed the lineup but did not make any identification. After Williams failed to identify Derrold in the lineup, Derrold was not released.

Detective Richard Maher testified that he and Detective Pallohusky spoke with Derrold on August 10, 1998, at 9:30 p.m. Prior to speaking with Derrold, Maher advised him of his Miranda rights. Derrold indicated he understood those rights.

When questioned about the shooting, Derrold denied involvement in the shooting although he said he had heard about it. He told the detective he knew Bird and that Bird's real name was Reginald Wilberton.

Derrold also told the detectives he was with his brother, Jerrold Davis, at his uncle Solomon Davis' home near 145th Street on July 7, 1998. Derrold was unable to provide a more specific address or a phone number. Maher tried to learn more about Solomon Davis but was unsuccessful.

Gilger spoke with Derrold on August 11 at about 6:00 p.m. During this interview, Derrold confessed to participating in the shooting.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court ruled the police had probable cause to arrest Derrold. The trial court based its ruling on the statement that Williams made to the police regarding Derrold's involvement, evidence that corroborated other portions of Williams' statement, such as Chris Jackson's identification of Jerrold Davis as one of the shooters, and Derrold's familiarity with Bird.

VOLUNTARINESS HEARING

Derrold also filed a motion to suppress, contending his statements were not voluntary. At the hearing, Derrold offered no testimony or other evidence in support of his motion. The State presented the following evidence:

Derrold had been in the police station since the early morning hours of August 10, 1998, on an unrelated case. During that time, he had been in the lockup or in an interview room.

Maher testified he and Pallohusky spoke with Derrold on August 10, 1998, at 9:30 p.m., after advising him of his Miranda rights. Maher and Pallohusky spoke with Derrold for about 15-20 minutes.

Maher said he never hit Derrold on the chest or arms or shoved Derrold against the bars of a holding cell. Derrold never complained to Maher that anyone had hit him or shoved him against the bars of a holding cell. Neither Maher nor Pallohusky showed Derrold a gun to scare him into confessing to the murder. Nor did Derrold tell Maher that anyone showed him a gun to scare him into confessing.

Gilger testified that on August 11, 1998, at about 6 p.m., he spoke with Derrold in an interview room. Derrold was not handcuffed at that time. Gilger first advised Derrold of his Miranda rights from a preprinted card. Derrold said he understood his rights. He then said he wanted to talk to Gilger about the murder of Larion Jackson. During that conversation, Derrold confessed to his role in the shootings.

Gilger then called Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) Dan Groth. Sometime after midnight on August 12, 1998, Groth, Gilger, and Derrold spoke. Groth advised Derrold of his Miranda rights. Derrold acknowledged he understood these rights and wanted to speak with them about the murder of Larion Jackson. As Groth questioned him, Derrold gave an inculpatory statement.

The interview with Groth lasted about half an hour. During that time, Groth asked the questions; Gilger asked none. Derrold looked fine to Gilger.

After that first half-hour conversation with Derrold, Groth and Gilger left the interview room for less than half an hour. They returned to the room, and Groth and Derrold discussed how Derrold could memorialize his statement. Derrold decided on a handwritten statement.

Groth then asked Gilger to leave the room. When Gilger returned, a handwritten statement was prepared and reviewed by Gilger, Groth, and Derrold. Groth read the statement out loud to Derrold. He was allowed to make corrections to the statement. Then Derrold, Groth, and Gilger signed each page of the statement.

Gilger testified that during the questioning Derrold never asked for a lawyer, never was hit in the chest and arms or shoved against the bars of a holding cell by anyone, and never was shown a gun to scare him into confessing. Nor did Derrold ever tell Gilger that anyone showed him a gun to scare him into confessing.

In denying Derrold's motion to suppress, the trial court based its ruling on unrefuted evidence that Derrold was repeatedly advised of his Miranda rights and on the lack of evidence of coercion.

TRIAL

At trial, Chris Jackson testified that on July 7, 1998, at about 2:30 a.m., he, Larion, and about five or six friends were on the porch of 512 North Laramie playing cards. At about 2:37 a.m., Chris heard gunfire coming from the gate which was about 10 feet in front of the porch and next to the sidewalk. Chris saw two men at the gate, one with a shotgun and one with a handgun. Chris was able to see the face of the man with the handgun. He also saw fire coming from the handgun. Chris heard about seven shots.

Everyone on the porch then scrambled to get into the house. Chris ran to the back of the house then returned to the porch. He found Larion laying on the front porch -- Larion had been shot.

After the shooting, Chris spoke with police about the shooting. Chris did not recall seeing a car pull up or parked near his house, nor did he see Williams out that night. Chris said he did not hear a car going down the street, brakes screech, or tires squeal. He did not know whether Derrold Davis was there that night.

Larion's autopsy revealed he died of a gunshot wound to the head. Forensic evidence and firearm comparisons showed seven cartridge casings and two fired bullets were recovered from the scene. They were all from a .45 caliber gun and were fired from the same gun. A shotgun shell was found at the scene, and shotgun wadding was found under Larion's body.

Gilger testified that on July 9, 1998, he and a sergeant canvassed the area for witnesses to the shooting. He saw Jemar Williams near his home. From Williams' home there ...


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