The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Thomas
Docket No. 93217-Agenda 23-September 2002.
Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, William Metcalfe, was convicted of attempted armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/8-4, 18-2 (West 1998)) and attempted aggravated robbery (720 ILCS 5/8-4, 18-5 (West 1998)). The trial court thereafter merged the attempted aggravated robbery conviction into the attempted armed robbery conviction and sentenced defendant to a term of 10 years' imprisonment. Defendant appealed his conviction, claiming, inter alia, that he was denied his right to a fair trial when one of the members of his jury indicated during voir dire that she could not be fair and impartial.
The First District of the appellate court reversed defendant's conviction and remanded for a new trial, holding that the trial judge had a duty to sue sponte excuse the juror even though the defendant did not challenge the juror for cause or exercise one of his peremptory challenges. 326 Ill. App. 3d 1008. We granted the State's petition for leave to appeal (177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a)), and now reverse the appellate court's ruling.
The charges against defendant arose from an incident that occurred on January 8, 1998. At defendant's trial, the victim, Jerry Dudek, testified that defendant approached him while he was using an automated teller machine in the lobby of a Citibank branch in downtown Chicago. Defendant twice asked Dudek for money. Dudek refused to give defendant any money. Defendant then brushed against Dudek, stuck his hand into his pocket, and told Dudek that he had a gun and wanted Dudek's money. Dudek was scared and asked defendant not to hurt him. Defendant came closer to Dudek saying he wanted Dudek's money.
Dudek then yelled out for help, at which point defendant took a step back. Defendant tried to reach for Dudek's wallet, which was on the ledge of the automated teller machine. Dudek grabbed defendant's arm to prevent him from taking the wallet. Defendant threatened to kill Dudek, so Dudek released his grip on defendant's arm. Defendant ran toward the revolving door to try to escape. Dudek, however, put his foot against the door so that defendant was trapped in the door. Several bank employees, including an armed security guard, then reached the scene. Dudek explained that defendant had a gun and had tried to rob him. One of the bank employees ran out of the bank through another door and held the revolving door from the outside to prevent defendant from escaping. Dudek then asked the employees to take his place holding the door. Dudek said he was in shock and wanted to leave, so he gave his business card to one of the employees and asked her to have the police call him. Dudek went to the police station approximately an hour later and signed a complaint.
Officer Timothy Halloran of the Chicago police department testified that he received a call around 3:40 p.m. on January 8, 1998, concerning a robbery in progress. Halloran arrived on the scene and saw defendant trapped in the revolving doors. Several people were yelling that defendant had a gun. The Citibank security guard told Halloran that defendant had tried to rob Dudek. Halloran asked defendant if he had a gun and defendant said "no." Defendant's left hand was in his pocket, so Halloran asked defendant to take his hand out of his pocket. Halloran then asked the people holding the doors to let the doors go so defendant could exit toward Halloran. Halloran handcuffed defendant and conducted a protective pat-down search. During the search, Halloran discovered a sharpened meat cleaver in defendant's pocket.
Halloran said that Dudek was holding the revolving door when he arrived on the scene, but he did not talk to Dudek at that time. A bank employee later handed Dudek's card to Halloran and told Halloran that Dudek had been very shaken up and had to go to an important meeting.
Defendant testified that on January 8, 1998, he was homeless and did odd jobs, such as washing windows and cars, to make money. On January 8, he approached Dudek, told Dudek that he was homeless and hungry, and asked him for change. When Dudek did not respond, defendant again asked Dudek for money. Defendant said that Dudek then grabbed him by the arm and called for security. Defendant tried to walk away but was caught in the revolving door. Defendant testified that a security guard arrived with his gun drawn. Defendant tried to explain that he had done nothing wrong. The police then arrived and defendant told the police there had been a misunderstanding. Defendant explained that the meat cleaver found in his pocket was a novelty item used to scrape ice off car windshields, to open cans and for eating and cooking.
As noted, the jury found defendant guilty and defendant appealed his conviction. On appeal, the appellate court held that Officer Halloran had probable cause to arrest defendant and held that the State had proven defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Nonetheless, the appellate court reversed defendant's conviction and remanded for a new trial, finding that defendant did not receive a fair trial by an impartial jury due to the presence of a certain juror, Grevus, on the jury that convicted defendant.
In reaching its decision, the appellate court noted that, during the jury voir dire, the trial court asked the following questions of prospective juror Grevus:
"COURT: And you have not been an accused, complainant or witness in a criminal case?
GREVUS: I have not been an accused. I have been a victim.
COURT: That case go to trial?
GREVUS: I was robbed at gun point from my father's business.
COURT: That's where you have been victim [sic] of a crime?
COURT: You also have a family member or close friend who was victim [sic] of a crime?
GREVUS: My mother and father.
COURT: The fact that you have been a victim and your mother and father have been victims, would that affect your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?
COURT: You believe you could listen to the evidence and make a determination from the ...