Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 97CF272 Honorable Jeanne E. Scott, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Steigmann
In February 1998, a jury convicted defendant, Ivory Lee, of (1) the second degree murder of Wile Trotter (720 ILCS 5/9-2 (West 1998)); (2) aggravated battery with a firearm for shooting Wile (720 ILCS 5/12-4.2 (West 1998)); and (3) aggravated battery with a firearm for shooting Willis Trotter. In May 1998, the trial court sentenced him to 20 years in prison for second degree murder and 15 years in prison for aggravated battery with a firearm of Wile, with those sentences to run concurrently. The court also sentenced defendant to 18 years in prison for aggravated battery with a firearm of Willis, with that sentence to be served consecutively to the other sentences.
Defendant appealed, arguing that (1) the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not shoot the Trotters in self-defense; and (2) his convictions for the second degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm of Wile were carved out of the same physical act. This court affirmed in part and vacated in part. People v. Lee, 311 Ill. App. 3d 363, 724 N.E.2d 557 (2000). Defendant filed a petition for leave to appeal, which the supreme court denied. However, in the exercise of its supervisory authority, that court vacated this court's judgment and directed us to reconsider our decision in light of People v. Crespo, 203 Ill. 2d 335, 788 N.E.2d 1117 (2001). We recognize that the supreme court in Crespo issued a supplemental opinion upon denial of rehearing; however, the supplemental opinion addressed only a claim under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000). See Crespo, 203 Ill. 2d at 346, 788 N.E.2d at 1123.
In accordance with the supreme court's direction, we have reconsidered our decision. We adhere to our earlier decision affirming in part and vacating in part.
In March 1997, the State charged defendant with (1) three counts of first degree murder of Wile: (a) intentional murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 1998)), (b) knowing murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 1998)), and (c) felony murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3) (West 1998)); (2) one count of aggravated battery with a firearm of Wile; (3) one count of aggravated battery with a firearm of Willis; and (4) one count of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1 (West 1998)). The State later dismissed the counts of felony murder and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.
The evidence at defendant's February 1998 jury trial showed the following. On the evening of February 6, 1997, defendant went to Kelu Anderson's residence, where he met his friends, Richard Hatchett, Lester Davis, Travis McCullough, Demetrius McCullough, and Chris Tapley. Later that evening, defendant and his friends decided to go to a party at the Sky Harbor Inn in Springfield. They brought a handgun with them for protection but initially left it in Davis's car.
About an hour after defendant and his friends arrived at the party, twin brothers Wile and Willis, who were allegedly known for carrying guns, arrived at the party. Ten minutes later, defendant, Davis, and Hatchett went to their cars to get some drinks. Defendant took the handgun from Davis's car and tucked it in his waistband. They then returned to the party.
About 15 minutes later, defendant and his friends decided to leave. When defendant went outside, he saw Wile talking to Travis and Willis standing nearby. Willis then walked over, stood by Wile, and began arguing with Hatchett about an incident that had occurred a few months earlier. (During the prior incident, Willis apparently had interceded in an argument between Hatchett and another person, which then resulted in a fight between Hatchett and Willis and Hatchett's arrest.) Hatchett told Willis that he should have minded his own business during the prior incident, and Hatchett and Willis yelled at each other and exchanged profanities. According to Demetrius, Davis, and defendant (who claimed that he acted in self-defense), Willis appeared to reach for a gun inside his pocket during the argument.
Believing that Willis was going to shoot, defendant pulled out his handgun and shot Willis once in the stomach. Then, believing that Wile also was reaching for a gun in his coat, defendant shot Wile three times, in the chest, upper thigh, and lower leg. Defendant and his friends then fled the scene.
Police arrived at the scene a few minutes after the shootings. Willis and Wile lay approximately 75 to 100 feet apart. Wile was conscious and told Springfield police officer Paul Earley that Davis and Travis had shot him. Willis was also conscious but refused to talk to the police. Officers did not find any weapons on Wile or Willis. About 30 to 45 minutes later, once the area was secured and Wile and Willis had been taken to the hospital, officers searched the area for weapons but found none. On February 7, 1997, Wile died as a result of the bullet wound in his chest, which had caused massive hemorrhaging from his liver and aorta.
Shortly after the shootings, Springfield police officer Steven Bennett began looking for Travis and Davis. While patrolling in his squad car, Bennett saw an Oldsmobile Cutlass, shined his spotlight inside, and recognized the driver as Hatchett, whom Bennett knew to be friends with Travis. Bennett pulled over the Cutlass and saw a passenger (later identified as defendant) run from the car toward some nearby houses. Bennett frisked Hatchett and the remaining passengers, Davis, Travis, and Demetrius, but did not find any weapons. Bennett then took them to the police station for questioning.
Police arrested defendant on March 18, 1997. Defendant initially claimed he was inside the Sky Harbor Inn at the time of the shooting. However, when detectives told him that other witnesses had contradicted his claim, he gave a written statement the next ...