Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People v. Sykes

June 30, 2003


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Joseph J. Urso, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice South


This appeal arises from defendant's convictions of four counts of predatory criminal sexual assault, attempted first degree murder and aggravated kidnaping for his alleged assault on Girl X after a jury trial. He was sentenced to a total of 120 years' imprisonment: 60-year terms on two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault with concurrent 60-year terms for the other two counts, concurrent to a 30-year term for attempted murder.

On the morning of January 9, 1997, as she walked from a friend's apartment on the second floor to her grandmother's apartment on the sixth floor of the Cabrini Green housing project in Chicago, a little girl who would become known as "Girl X" was raped, strangled, had gang signs scrawled on her body, roach spray was sprayed down her throat, and she was left unconscious in a stairwell. At 10:25 a.m., Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) maintenance worker Tarie Miller found Girl X lying facedown with a rag partially around her neck and face on the landing of the seventh-floor stairwell. Miller went to apartments 709 and 710 to see if anyone could identify the little girl. Sharon Thompson and Mary Johnson responded and recognized the girl. They took Girl X to Johnson's apartment and laid her on the couch. At that time Girl X was unresponsive and foaming at the mouth, and her eyes were rolled back into her head. Her pants were unfastened, her underclothes were down around her ankles, her T-shirt was tied around her neck, and there was blood on her shirt. Girl X was not wearing any shoes, and there were what appeared to be gang signs written on her stomach in blue or black marker. Miller, Thompson and Johnson immediately called 911.

Paramedics responded within minutes to the call and were taken to apartment 710 by Miller. When they arrived there they saw Girl X lying on the couch, breathing erratically and foaming at the mouth. She was unresponsive, cold and rigid. They also saw red marks on her neck. At that time she was transported to Children's Memorial Hospital.

When she arrived in the emergency room at 11:17 a.m., Girl X was comatose, barely breathing and unresponsive to pain or other stimuli. Doctors noted linear red marks on her neck and red dots called Patricia, which were indicative of strangulation. When they cut off Girl X's clothing, they saw marks on her abdomen and clotted blood obscuring her hymen. Girl X also had several fresh puncture wounds, abrasions and lacerations on her back consistent with injury from sharp objects. Because Girl X was having trouble breathing and had blood in her mouth, the doctors suctioned out her mouth and intubated her. She showed signs of severe brain injury, and CT scans were ordered for her head and abdomen. Doctors also collected a sexual assault evidence kit. Expert examination of the contents of the kit revealed no semen on any swabs or the victim's clothes and no debris in the fingernail scrapings. Some hairs and hair fragments were recovered from Girl X's clothing. She was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (ICU).

Girl X was examined by Dr. Emalee Flaherty, an expert in child sexual abuse. The examination revealed a lot of bleeding in the genital area with a fresh laceration to the power foresheath, lacerations and trauma to the anal area, and a laceration completely through the hymen. Dr. Flaherty concluded that Girl X had been sexually abused with dramatic injuries and that there had been both vaginal and anal penetration consistent with having been penetrated by a penis.

While in the pediatric ICU, Girl X was hooked up to a nasal gastric drainage tube to empty the contents of her stomach and to prevent them from going into her lungs. Early on January 10, nurse noticed a strange odor coming from the discharge tube and immediately notified the doctor. The doctor inspected the tube and smelled gasoline or something similar. The police were notified, and the doctor was asked to collect a specimen of the discharge in a glass container, which was subsequently turned over to the police.

The police investigation of the crime began immediately, with a canvass of the residents of the building. Detective Vernon Bradley was assigned the odd-numbered floors of the building, and between 12 and 12:30 p.m. he spoke to defendant, who lived in apartment 504 at the time. Defendant said that he had returned home at about noon and had not seen or heard anything unusual. Detective Bradley noted that defendant did not appear agitated or nervous and did nothing to arouse his suspicion.

Detective Bradley was also looking for a pair of boots because Girl X was not wearing her boots when she was found. One boot was found sitting on top of a brown paper bag in the incinerator room on the first floor of the building. The other one was found later in the room in a Dumpster. The boots were subsequently identified as belonging to Girl X, and both the boots and the paper bag were removed and inventoried by evidence technicians. The boots were examined sometime in January 1997, and no blood or other stains were found on them.

Illinois State Police latent fingerprint examiner Kimberly Young received and tested the brown paper bag on January 10, 1997. The bag contained a black plastic bag containing an Eli's chocolate cake box, a Frosted Flakes cereal box, and a macaroni and cheese dinner box. No suitable print impressions were found on any of the paper items. One suitable palm print was found on the plastic bag, which was photographed. That print was subsequently compared to palm print impressions given by defendant and a James Alexander, but no matches were made. There is no automated system available for comparing palm prints.

Also in January of 1997, the paper bag was examined in the Illinois State Police lab for the presence of bloodstains. There were no bloodstains inside the bag, but numerous red-brown stains were found on the outside of the bag, which preliminary testing indicated was blood. A stain on the corner of the bag was determined to be human blood, while a stain in the center of the bag was not human blood. The corner stain was tested for genetic markers, but the test was inconclusive. A sample from the corner stain was preserved even though the quantity of stain was insufficient for DNA analysis. *fn1

Girl X's clothes were also examined at the crime lab. Her T-shirt was found to be stained with her own blood; James Alexander's blood was not a match. Her clothing was also stained with feces.

Evidence technicians photographed the area where Girl X was found and recovered various pieces of evidence, including markers found in the elevator area and five plastic jugs filled with different liquids which were found in the upper shaft of the elevator above the top floor. The markers were examined by the crime lab on January 10, but no fingerprints were found.

Jack Mowicki, a chemist at the crime lab, analyzed the stomach contents recovered from Girl X. He found medium petroleum distillate-type chemicals and a small amount of heavy distillate. Petroleum distillates are derived from crude oil and divided into light, medium and heavy. A petroleum distillate can be identified, but the specific product from which it came cannot be identified. Mowicki also analyzed the contents of the five jugs found in the elevator shaft. Four of the five samples were clearly different in pattern from the stomach contents, while the fifth had medium distillate in the same range as the stomach contents but not the heavy petroleum distillates.

In another canvass of the building on January 10, Detective John Turney interviewed defendant in apartment 504. Defendant said that he left his apartment at 8:10 a..m. and saw James Alexander in the hallway, who asked him where "Eddie" lived. Mary Johnson of apartment 710 also saw Alexander around 10 a.m. when he knocked on her door and asked her in what apartment Eddie Adams lived. She advised Alexander to go to apartment 510 but thought it strange because she thought that he knew Eddie. The police noticed that apartment 205 was vacant but not boarded up.

Detectives William Calabrese and John Brock of Area 3 were assigned as the lead detectives in the case. After speaking with Alexander, they spoke with defendant on January 9 or 10, at which time they asked him if he knew anything about what had happened. Defendant initially said that he was not around but subsequently stated that he saw Alexander in the fifth-floor hallway, and that Alexander had asked him if he knew where Eddie was. Defendant also told the detectives that Alexander asked him if he knew anything about a television set, to which defendant responded that he did not and left the building.

Altogether, as many as 125 police officers worked on the Girl X case. A list of suspects was compiled that eventually contained 37 names, but defendant was not on that list. There was no "number one" suspect at that time because almost every man and some of the women in the building were considered suspects. Possible gang involvement was investigated, but no connection was ever established.

Earl McGee of apartment 505 was on the suspect list. He was interviewed by the police in January, and when interviewed, he was wrapped in a towel, wearing socks and had knives inside both the socks and towel. His apartment also contained pornographic material.

James Alexander, who was also on the suspect list, was known as "raper man" in the building. His apartment, number 608, was searched by the police. Blood was found on the back door that was consistent with Alexander's blood type but not with Girl X's. A mop head was also tested but no blood was found. His red shorts were analyzed on January 13, and semen stains were found, but no vaginal secretions were present. Alexander also gave police a blood sample. Initially, he did not tell the police that the paper bag found under the victim's boot was his, and he was not shown the bag. However, subsequent police general progress reports indicate that Alexander later admitted that the bag was his and that he had thrown it away on January 9. Alexander was subsequently taken to the police station and interviewed. During the interview, Alexander swallowed a piece of metal and had to be taken to the hospital. He was ruled out as a suspect by March 31, 1997, because the police had no evidence linking him to the crime.

Also on the suspect list were Carl Morgan, Toricelli Johnson, and Leon Maddux, who had been a previous police suspect in an earlier assault on Girl X's cousin.

In mid-March 1997, another team of detectives assigned to the intelligence section of the organized crime unit was assigned to assist in the investigation of the Girl X case. That team included John McHugh, Mary Green, Tom Raines, John Eshoo and Fred Wheat. The officers first reviewed the previously generated reports of other officers working on the case. They noted inconsistencies in defendant's statements during the initial canvass with respect to whether he saw Alexander on the day of the crime. At that time, Alexander was a primary suspect, and defendant was a possible witness against him.

Detective Wheat attempted to find defendant by going to apartment 504 in Girl X's building and speaking to his former girlfriend, Tina Stokes. Ms. Stokes told him that defendant did not live with her any longer, and she gave Wheat an address of 3223 W. Maypole Avenue where defendant might be found. The police also had defendant's mother's address, and they went there and left a card with her.

On March 31, 1997, officers from the newly assigned team went to the address on Maypole Avenue to look for defendant. Elaine Townsel told them that defendant was living with her and would be back early the next day. That night, Townsel told defendant that the police had been by, and defendant told her that he was a witness in the Girl X rape case.

The officers returned early the next morning and saw defendant walking with Townsel and her children. Officer Dotson spoke with defendant for a few minutes before Detective Wheat arrived. Wheat introduced himself to defendant and told him that there were some inconsistencies in his statements concerning Alexander that needed clearing up. Defendant knew it concerned the Girl X case. Wheat asked defendant to come to Area 3 to speak with him and told him that he could take a bus, get a ride, or ride with him to the station. Defendant chose to ride with Wheat because he did not have money for a bus. Defendant rode to the station in the front passenger seat of Wheat's car. He was never handcuffed, patted down or touched in any fashion.

At Area 3, defendant first sat in the squad room area on the second floor where other officers and civilians were milling around. He was there for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. At 9:30 a.m., defendant began a 40-minute conversation with Detectives Wheat and Calabrese in a second-floor interview room. The door was open at all times during this conversation. Wheat advised defendant of his Miranda rights and said that he always does that with witnesses and suspects alike. Defendant said that he understood those rights and told Calabrese that he was an epileptic, that he was on medication, and that he had taken a pill that morning. Defendant said he got his medication by using a card, which he gave to Calabrese, who in turn gave it to Detective McHugh so that he could get defendant's medication. McHugh returned with the medication in the afternoon and gave it to defendant.

During the first interview, defendant said that on the day of the incident he left the building at 7:15 a.m. to walk Tina Stokes to the bus stop. At 7:30 or 7:40 a.m., he returned to the building, where he saw Alexander and a sleeping security guard in the lobby. At 7:45 a.m., Alexander came to defendant's door looking for Eddie. Five minutes later, defendant left the building to buy food and cigarettes. At approximately 8:15 a.m., he returned to his apartment and then went to apartment 509 to inquire about a television set that was for sale. He then saw Alexander on the fifth floor. He left the building again at approximately 10 a.m. to go to the Safer Foundation to sign in, and then met Stokes downtown for lunch. He spent the rest of the afternoon looking for a job. Defendant returned home later that day with Stokes. He was uncertain as to whether he knew the victim, but he may have drawn her a picture at one time.

After the interview, defendant was asked to sign consent forms for giving handwriting and hair samples, which he did. An evidence technician arrived within 30 minutes to take pubic hair samples from him. The door was closed and Calabrese remained in the room during the collection process, which lasted approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Defendant was readvised of his Miranda rights, and when he pulled his pants down for the collection process, Calabrese noticed that he had shaved his pubic area. When asked why he had done that, defendant stated that he shaved his groin in February because he sweats.

After the hair collection process, everyone left the interview room. Defendant went to the bathroom, got something to drink and took a cigarette break. No officer was with defendant during this time, and he was allowed to walk freely about the area.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., defendant gave a handwriting sample to Calabrese in the squad room, a process that lasted approximately 15 to 20 minutes. After the sample was given, Calabrese ordered lunch for defendant. During that process, defendant said that he done the test in an earlier case, but Calabrese did not know whether he was referring to the hair test or the handwriting test. Defendant talked about his two earlier cases and denied making statements in those cases.

A second conversation with Calabrese in the interview room commenced at 2:30 p.m. During this interview, defendant was shown the sign-in sheets for the Safer Foundation from January 9, which did not show that he had signed in on that day. Defendant stated that he did not know where he was at 8:30 a.m. on January 9 but remembered having lunch with his girlfriend. He also said that he wrote down his whereabouts on January 9 and put the paper in Townsel's apartment because he knew that the police would be coming around to ask him questions. Defendant spent the next two hours in the interview room, where he was still free to come and go, to use the bathroom and get water, which he did a few times. No questions were asked of him during this period.

At 5 p.m., defendant spoke to Detectives Brock and Calabrese for about 20 minutes after again being advised of his Miranda rights. Defendant indicated during this conversation that he was confused about the Safer Foundation records and about coming home with his girlfriend on January 9. He said that he was downtown looking for a job in the morning of the 9th, and when he came home he saw a television truck outside, which is how he learned of the crime. The piece of paper at Townsel's apartment had to do with his activities on the 10th. Defendant subsequently agreed to go to 11th and State Street to take a polygraph exam, and Detectives Wheat and McHugh drove him there at approximately 6:30 p.m.

The polygraph exam was administered by Officer Tovar. Prior to the exam, defendant signed a consent form and a Miranda waiver. Tovar then interviewed defendant about his background. During the exam, Tovar asked defendant about Girl X and determined that defendant was being deceptive. After the exam, Tovar informed the detectives that he detected deception in defendant's exam.

Defendant was taken back to Area 3 shortly before 10 p.m. At 11:30 p.m., he was again advised of his Miranda rights and told that deception had been indicated on his polygraph exam. Defendant was not, however, asked if he was involved in the crime.

At 2:30 a.m., Detectives Wheat and McHugh began another 40-minute interview with defendant. They first discussed sports and defendant's prior cases before talking about the Girl X case. Wheat told defendant that his alibi had fallen apart because the Safer Foundation records did not match his story. Shortly thereafter, Wheat left the room to tell Calabrese that defendant was confessing to the crime.

Detective Wheat went back to the room, and defendant relayed the following during a 40-minute conversation: On January 9, defendant heard a knock on the door, and when he opened the door, a little girl was standing there. She said that she was being followed and that she was scared. Defendant let her into the apartment. Because the girl did not want to go to school, defendant let her stay. They both sat on the couch, and defendant turned on the television. The girl began to touch defendant, and he touched her also. The television was knocked over and defendant asked the girl to leave because he was afraid. The girl said she would tell people what he had done to her if she was not allowed to stay. Defendant went to the bathroom, and when he returned, the girl had removed her shirt. He sat down next to her on the couch, and they began touching each other again. She took defendant's hand and placed it between her legs. Defendant told her again that she would have to leave and that he was afraid that he would get into trouble. He went to the bathroom again, and when he returned this time, the girl had removed the rest of her clothing. Defendant again tried to make her leave, but she said that she would go to the window and scream. They sat on the couch again, and defendant inserted his finger into the girl's vagina and moved it around, at which point she began to move with him. Defendant then put his finger into her rectum for a minute or so. The little girl asked him to take out his penis so that she could touch it. He took out his penis, and the girl sucked on it for about a minute when defendant stopped her and told her that she had to go. The girl began to scream, and defendant put his hand over her mouth to stop her. When she did not stop, he began choking her. After awhile, the girl lay lifeless, and he tried to dress her. The girl regained consciousness and began screaming again, so he choked her again until she was rendered unconscious. He finished dressing her and put her over his shoulder and took her from the apartment up a couple of floors and placed her on the landing. He took a marker and drew a pitchfork, the letters "G D" and some other letters on her stomach. He also put her shoes on her stomach. Defendant left the girl, went down to an apartment on the second floor and got a can. He then went back upstairs to where he had left the girl and sprayed fluid from the can into her mouth and discarded the can in the second floor apartment.

At 3:15 a.m., Calabrese joined Wheat and McHugh for an interview of defendant. Defendant was again advised of his Miranda rights and repeated the statement that he had just given to McHugh and Wheat in which he stated that he was the perpetrator of this crime. This conversation lasted about 45-minutes, after which the officers again left him in the room with the door open. Defendant motioned for McHugh to come back, at which time he stated that he had lied about a few things in his previous statement. He then said that he grabbed the girl and pushed her into the apartment, that she had "messed" on herself, and that he threw her shoes down the garbage chute. Defendant was asked if he needed anything, and he was given a blanket, some cigarettes and locked in the interview room for the first time.

At 8:30 a.m. on April 2, 1997, Detective Brian Killacky introduced himself to defendant and gave him food, something to drink and cigarettes. At 11:15 a.m., Killacky and Wheat went to the conference room and again advised defendant of his Miranda rights, which he said he understood. Defendant ate some pizza and then discussed the case with the detectives for 20 to 25 minutes.

Defendant said that he was 25 years old and lived in apartment 504 at the time of the crime. On the morning of the offense he walked his girlfriend to the bus stop. He returned to the fifth floor and saw a young girl walking up the stairs. He grabbed the girl and took her into his apartment and closed the door. He pulled the girl's pants off, inserted his right index finger into her vagina and rectum and became sexually aroused. The girl began crying at that time. Defendant unzipped his pants and unsuccessfully attempted to put his penis into her vagina. He insisted that she open her mouth, and he placed his penis in her mouth for a minute or two. The girl began to scream and cry. Defendant then put his hands around her throat and began to choke her. He smelled and then observed feces on the little girl. Defendant walked to the front door and looked out, pulled up the girl's pants and carried her upstairs. He then took a marker that he had found when he came back from the bus stop and wrote "TWS," "GD" and drew a pitchfork on her stomach. He then went downstairs to an abandoned apartment and got a red and white can of TAC or TAT roach spray and went upstairs and sprayed its contents into her mouth. The girl started spitting up. Defendant left her, and on the way back to his apartment, he ran into Alexander. After returning to his apartment, defendant noticed that he had left the girl's boots there, so he took them out but did not remember where he took them. He went back to his apartment, and it was at that time that Alexander knocked on the door. After that, he changed clothes. After this conversation, defendant had cigarettes and a soda, and the detectives left to notify felony review.

At 12:15 p.m. Wheat and Killacky spoke to defendant again and asked him why he sprayed the stuff into the girl's mouth. Defendant said that he thought he had leaked or ejaculated into her mouth. The reason he wrote on her stomach was because he had seen that type of writing in the building. He put the can in an abandoned apartment immediately off of the stairwell on the second floor. That information was relayed to other officers who went to the building to look for the can.

Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) Robert Buckley arrived at Area 3 sometime after noon on April 2, 1997, to assist the detectives with the preparation of search warrants. At 3:30 p.m., defendant was interviewed by Detectives Killacky, Wheat and ASA Buckley in a large conference room. After ASA Buckley advised defendant of his Miranda rights, a 30-to 45-minute conversation took place.

At around the same time, Detectives Alonzo Jackson and Vernon Bradley went to Cabrini Green to look for the can of roach spray. They went to apartment 205, which had since been boarded up, and subsequently ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.