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People v. Williams

April 03, 2003

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,
v.
BYRON WILLIAMS, APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Fitzgerald

Docket No. 93573-Agenda 8-January 2003.

Following a jury trial in the Madison County circuit court, the defendant, Byron Williams, was convicted on two counts of first degree murder (see 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 1996)) and two counts of contributing to the criminal delinquency of a juvenile (see 720 ILCS 5/33D-1 (West 1996)). The defendant received concurrent sentences of life imprisonment for the murder convictions and 20 years' imprisonment for the contributing convictions. A divided appellate court panel affirmed the defendant's convictions and sentences. No. 5-99-0452 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). We allowed his petition for leave to appeal. See 177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a). We now reverse and remand.

BACKGROUND

On January 28, 1997, two East St. Louis teenagers, Terril Williams (Williams) and Terril Madison, telephoned an acquaintance, Alton teenager Tineisha Haynes, to confront her about causing problems between their friends, Albert Greenlee and Demario Ursery. When Haynes refused to talk and hung up the telephone, Madison and Williams called her pager to harass her. Haynes then telephoned Williams, who initiated a three-way call with Madison, and an argument ensued. Madison threatened to kill Haynes and her cousin, Alton teenager Darryl Womack. Womack eventually took the telephone from Haynes and asked Madison and Williams to stop calling her. Madison repeated his threat; Williams then threatened Womack. Williams said that he had a gun, and Womack replied that he also had a gun. They then threatened each other with an escalating variety of weapons, including machine guns, bazookas, missiles, and tanks. The argument continued until Womack challenged Williams to come to his neighborhood. According to Madison, Williams said, "[Y]ou're gonna die," and hung up the telephone.

In the evening of January 30, 1997, Robert Brock, an acquaintance of the defendant, approached the defendant, Williams, and Madison outside the defendant's uncle's house. The group was quiet, watching people. Brock overheard Williams talk to the defendant about going to Alton and "taking care of business." According to Brock, the defendant told Williams "to shut his mouth up" before anyone realized what they intended to do. Williams continued to talk and patted his side where Brock observed a small caliber handgun with a "red bottom." According to Brock, the defendant again told Williams, "Stop running your mouth before everybody knows what's going on and stop telling people stuff before I take my gun." The defendant said he planned to find a ride to Alton. At some point, the group left.

Later that night, Felipe Luckey drove the defendant, Williams, Madison, and Greenlee from East St. Louis to Alton. According to Greenlee, Williams was wearing dark clothes, brown boots, and a red cap with a yellow "T." On the way to Alton, Luckey stopped by the Sullivan housing projects, so that Madison and Williams could visit a woman. Madison and Williams went to the woman's apartment and learned that she was not home. According to Madison, when he and Williams returned to the car, the defendant passed a gun with red tape on it to Williams; Williams put the gun into his coat. Luckey also stopped at a gas station. According to gas station attendant Eldon Smith, between 8 and 8:30 p.m., the defendant bought a snack and asked for directions to Belle Manor, the apartment complex where Womack lived.

Around 9 p.m., Luckey and the others arrived at Belle Manor, where Williams saw Womack walking with James Patterson. Luckey passed them and parked further up the road on a hill. Williams, Madison, and Greenlee exited the car. While Greenlee stood between two nearby apartment buildings, Williams and Madison approached Womack and Patterson. Words were exchanged, and Williams pulled the gun from his coat. When Patterson stepped forward, Williams shot him. When Womack turned to run, Williams shot him in the back. Three Belle Manor residents who witnessed the shootings later described the shooter as wearing a dark jacket and a red cap.

After the shooting, Williams and Madison ran back to the car. Greenlee, frozen in fear, urinated in his pants. Williams yelled at Greenlee to get into the car and threatened to shoot him. Greenlee returned to the car, and Luckey quickly drove away. According to Madison, the defendant asked Williams if "he took care of that," and Williams said yes. Everyone joked about Greenlee's wet pants, and the defendant told Greenlee that he would be hurt if he talked about the shootings. According to Madison, the defendant suggested that Madison and Williams go back to Alton to ensure no one saw the shootings. Madison drove Williams to Alton. According to Madison, Williams telephoned Haynes around 11 p.m. and said, "You know your cousin's dead. Bitch, if you call the police or talk to the police, you're going to die." In the background, Madison added, "Yeah, bitch you're going to die." That night, Ursery talked to Madison and asked what Madison had done earlier. Madison responded that he was riding around in a car with Luckey, Williams, and the defendant.

The police investigation eventually led to the defendant. On March 13, 1997, he was indicted on one count of contributing to the criminal delinquency of a juvenile in connection with Patterson's murder and arrested. On August 11, 1997, 152 days after he was arrested, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss under the speedy-trial provisions of the Unified Code of Corrections (speedy-trial act) (725 ILCS 5/103-5(a) (West 1998)). The trial court denied this motion, finding that several delays were attributable to the defendant and that only 99 days had run for speedy-trial purposes.

On August 27, 1997, the State filed an amended information, recharging the defendant with contributing to the criminal delinquency of a juvenile in connection with Patterson's murder, and charging him with three additional offenses: one count of contributing to the criminal delinquency of a minor in connection with Womack's murder, one count of first degree murder pertaining to Womack, and one count of first degree murder pertaining to Patterson. On September 3, 1997, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the Patterson murder charge under the speedy-trial act, alleging that 168 days had passed since he was arrested on the contributing charge in connection with Patterson's murder. The trial court denied this motion.

At trial, the State's case rested primarily on testimony from Greenlee and Madison. The defendant's case rested on testimony from several alibi witnesses, who stated that they saw the defendant at an East St. Louis bar playing pool on the night of the shootings and that he did not go to Alton. The defendant then testified on his own behalf. He stated that he never gave Williams a gun and that he never went to Alton to shoot someone. The defendant testified, consistent with his alibi witnesses, that he went to a bar and played pool on the night of the shootings.

The jury found the defendant guilty on two counts of first degree murder and two counts of contributing to the criminal delinquency of a juvenile. The trial court sentenced him to concurrent sentences of life imprisonment on the murder convictions and 20 years' imprisonment on the contributing convictions. A divided appellate court panel affirmed the defendant's convictions and sentences. No. 5-99-0452 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). We granted the defendant's petition for leave to appeal. See 177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a).

ANALYSIS

The defendant raises three issues on appeal: (1) whether the State violated his statutory right to a speedy trial; (2) whether the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the State to impeach the defendant with facts not in evidence; and (3) whether the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the State to present evidence that its key witnesses received threats before testifying at trial.

1. Compulsory Joinder and the Speedy-Trial Act

First, the defendant contends that the State violated the speedy-trial act when it charged him with first degree murder in connection with Patterson's death 168 days after it charged him with contributing to the criminal delinquency of a juvenile in connection with Patterson's death. The defendant claims that, because these charges were subject to compulsory joinder, pretrial continuances attributable to him on the contributing charge were not attributable to him on the murder charge.

The speedy-trial act provides, "Every person in custody in this State for an alleged offense shall be tried by the court having jurisdiction within 120 days from the date he was taken into custody unless delay is occasioned by the defendant ***." 725 ILCS 5/103-5(a) (West 1996). Application of the speedy-trial act is a straightforward counting exercise when the defendant is charged with a single offense. Its application, however, becomes more complicated when the defendant is charged with multiple, but factually related, offenses at different times. In such cases the speedy-trial guarantee is tempered by compulsory joinder principles.

The compulsory-joinder provision of the Criminal Code of 1961 states:

"(a) When the same conduct of a defendant may establish the commission of more than one offense, the defendant may be prosecuted for each such offense.

(b) If the several offenses are known to the proper prosecuting officer at the time of commencing the prosecution and are within the jurisdiction of a single court, they must be prosecuted in a single prosecution, except as provided in Subsection (c), if they are based on the same act.

(c) When 2 or more offenses are charged as required by Subsection (b), the court in the interest of justice may order that one or more of such charges shall be tried separately." (Emphasis added.) 720 ILCS 5/3-3 (West 1996).

The committee comments shed some light upon what the phrase "based on the same act" means:

"Section 3-3 requires in substance that several offenses must be prosecuted in a single prosecution if they are based on the same act. (The Joint Committee originally used the word `conduct' instead of `act,' but after much discussion it was changed to `act' before submission to the legislature.) This requirement is expressly subject, however, to several qualifications. First, the several charges must be known to the prosecuting officer [citation] at the commencement of the prosecution. *** Second, the several charges must be within the jurisdiction of the same court-a necessary recognition of the statutory venue provisions. Third, as provided in subsection (c), after the prosecution has been initiated, the court may permit the separate trial of one or more of the offenses if the interests of justice so require. ***

Section 3-3 is not intended to cover the situation in which several offenses-either repeated violations of the same statutory provision or violations of different provisions-arise from a series of acts which are closely related with respect to the offender's single purpose or plan." (Emphasis in original.) Ill. Ann. Stat., ch. 38, par. 3-3, Committee Comments-1961, at 101-02 (Smith-Hurd 1989).

That is, "same act" does not include independent acts constituting different offenses: "There is no requirement of joinder where multiple offenses arise from a series of related acts." People v. Mueller, 109 Ill. 2d 378, 385 (1985).

In People v. Quigley, 183 Ill. 2d 1 (1998), we discussed section 3-3 and its relation to the speedy-trial act. In Quigley, the defendant was charged by indictment with felony DUI and by information with misdemeanor DUI. Both charges arose from the same multiple-vehicle collision. The court dismissed the felony charge, and the defendant filed a speedy-trial demand on that charge. After he was reindicted for felony DUI, he filed a motion to dismiss the misdemeanor charge on speedy-trial grounds. The trial court agreed with the defendant and dismissed the misdemeanor charge. The defendant then filed a motion to dismiss the felony charge on compulsory-joinder and double-jeopardy grounds. The trial court disagreed with the defendant, and the defendant filed an interlocutory appeal. The appellate court affirmed.

We examined section 3-3 and noted that the parties' dispute centered upon whether the two DUI charges were based on the "same act." Quigley, 183 Ill. 2d at 7. We held that they were and that the DUI charges were subject to compulsory joinder:

"Driving while under the influence may lead to some other act that, in turn, leads to the accident. The underlying cause of both misdemeanor and [felony] DUI, however, is driving while under the influence. The misdemeanor DUI and the [felony] DUI charges are based on the same act. ***

*** The `same act' requirement applies primarily to two situations: (1) where several persons are affected by one act, and (2) where several different statutes are violated by one act. ***

*** Defendant was allegedly engaged in only one continuous and uninterrupted act of driving while under the influence. In this instance, the phrase `based on the same act' cannot be given a hypertechnical interpretation to create multiple acts based on discrete moments in time." (Emphasis in original.) Quigley, 183 Ill. 2d at 10-11.

We then addressed the interaction between compulsory-joinder principles and the speedy-trial guarantee:

"Compulsory joinder requires the State to bring multiple charges in a single prosecution. The charges are tried together unless the circuit court determines that a separate trial is required in the interest of justice. [Citation.] Once a speedy-trial demand is filed, the multiple charges are subject to the same speedy-trial period. If the charges are required to be brought in a single prosecution, the speedy-trial period begins to run when the speedy-trial demand is filed, even if the State brings some of the charges at a later date." Quigley, 183 Ill. 2d at 13.

We concluded that the felony and misdemeanor charges were required to be tried together. Quigley, 183 Ill. 2d at 13-14. Once the speedy-trial period expired on the misdemeanor charge, it also ran on the felony charge. Quigley, 183 Ill. 2d at 16.

In this case, the defendant claims, and the State concedes, that the murder and contributing charges related to Patterson were subject to compulsory joinder. In fact, responding to the defendant's second speedy-trial motion to dismiss, the prosecutor stated that the new charges were based upon

"the same fact pattern that the Grand Jury heard and in fact the Grand Jury considered the facts.

This is an alternative theory to the same facts. There is no change in discovery. There is no change in witnesses. There is no change in any evidence that would be presented. It's preliminarily an alternative theory which may-which a jury could find based upon the same facts which were presented ***."

The parties disagree, however, on whether continuances attributable to the defendant on the contributing charge were attributable to him on the murder charge.

In People v. Williams, 94 Ill. App. 3d 241 (1981), the appellate court addressed this issue. Though the court did not mention compulsory joinder or section 3-3, it held:

"Where new and additional charges arise from the same facts as did the original charges and the State had knowledge of these facts at the commencement of the prosecution, the time within which trial is to begin on the new and additional charges is subject to the same statutory limitation that is applied to the original charges. Continuances obtained in connection with the trial of the original charges cannot be attributed to defendants with respect to the new and additional charges because these new and ...


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