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People v. Jefferson

October 23, 2003


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Stanley J. Sacks, Judge Presiding.

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


The defendant, Kendrick Jefferson (defendant), appeals from an order of the circuit court dismissing his petition for relief under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Act) (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 2000)). On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred in dismissing the post-conviction petition without appointing counsel where defendant stated the gist of a meritorious claim by asserting that (1) his trial counsel was ineffective for (a) failing to call an alibi witness; and (b) failing to explain why defendant's cellular phone records were exculpatory evidence; and (2) his appellate counsel was ineffective for (a) failing to raise the issue that defendant's confession was the fruit of an unlawful arrest and detention; and (b) failing to provide the appellate court with the transcripts of the hearing on the defendant's motion to suppress statements. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.


The facts of this case are adequately set forth in this court's opinion on defendant's direct appeal (People v. Jefferson, No. 1-96-3830 (1999) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23)). Consequently, we will recite only those facts that are necessary to explain our decision.

In a bench trial before Judge Richard Neville, Herbert Taylor (Herbert) testified that on May 9, 1995, he was living about a block away from the defendant, who lived at 4707 West Ohio Street. Herbert had known the defendant for about eight years. Herbert further testified that Karl Taylor (victim) also lived in the vicinity. Herbert testified that the defendant owed the victim over $30,000.

Shortly before 8 p.m., Herbert and the defendant were in the victim's car. The victim asked the defendant about the money. The defendant claimed he would not be able to retrieve the money until his mother had gone to church. At about 8 p.m., the victim dropped Herbert off and told him to call the defendant and tell him that the victim wanted to pick up his money that night.

Herbert called the defendant's house at about 8:30 p.m. and at 8:45 p.m. Defendant's mother answered both calls. She told Herbert that the defendant was not home. Shortly after 8:45 p.m., the defendant returned Herbert's phone call and told Herbert to tell the victim that he could pick up the money that night.

Herbert went to the defendant's house to meet the victim. Herbert got into the front passenger seat of the victim's car. The victim then drove around to the alley behind the defendant's house. At this time, the defendant emerged, carrying a bag. The defendant got into the backseat of the victim's car.

Inside the car, the victim asked the defendant how much money was in the bag. The defendant responded that he only had $15,000 in the bag. The victim asked where was the rest of the money. At this moment, Herbert heard a "click," and then he heard the victim say, "Kenny, no." Herbert looked over to his left and saw the defendant holding a nickel-plated gun to the victim's head. Herbert immediately opened the car door and rolled out of the car even though the car was moving. As Herbert rolled out of the car, he heard a shot, then he heard several more shots. Herbert fled. While fleeing, Herbert heard the car crash. The car crashed in the alley halfway between 4707 and 4755 West Ohio Street.

Jimmy Fisher, a neighbor living at 547 North Cicero, testified. He testified that at about 9 p.m. on the night in question, he was in his kitchen watching TV when he heard two gunshots. He ran into the hallway and then heard two more gunshots.

Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) Mark Ertler testified that the defendant made an inculpatory statement that Ertler subsequently reduced to a handwritten statement that defendant signed. In the statement, the defendant admitted that for the eight months prior to the shooting, he had been holding a lot of money for the victim. On the evening in question, the victim demanded the money back. The defendant asked Herbert to bring the victim to the alley behind the defendant's house to pick up the money. Prior to meeting with the victim, the defendant obtained a silver-colored handgun. At about 9 p.m., the defendant, armed with the loaded gun, went to meet with the victim in the alley behind his house.

In the statement, the defendant further stated that the victim was driving and Herbert was in the front passenger seat. The defendant got into the backseat. When the victim asked the defendant where the money was, the victim slowed down as if to stop the car. The defendant said that he then pulled the gun out from his pants pocket and pointed it at the victim's back and shot the victim two or three times. Herbert rolled out of the car even though it was moving. Herbert fled. With the victim now dead, the car crashed. The defendant got out of the car and dropped the gun as he ran down the alley. There was no one in the area at that time. The defendant ran to his own car and drove to his girlfriend Shanell Townes' house. He spoke with Townes for approximately 15 minutes and then drove to his father's house.

Detective Duffin testified that he interviewed the defendant on May 10, 1995. Detective Duffin "Mirandized" the defendant. The defendant admitted shooting the victim because he was unable to pay back the money that he owed the victim. The defendant said he was afraid the victim would have him beaten. The defendant further told Detective Duffin that while he, the defendant, was in the car with the victim and Herbert, the victim was driving the car. Herbert sat on the passenger side, and the defendant sat in the back. The defendant shot the victim twice, the car crashed and the defendant fled.

Betty Grandberry, the defendant's mother, testified for the defense that the defendant picked her up from work at about 6 p.m. At about 7 p.m., the defendant went out, returning home at 8 p.m. At about 8:15 p.m., the defendant told his mother that he was going to see Townes. After defendant had gone to see Townes, Grandberry answered two calls from someone asking for the defendant. The second call was at 8:45 p.m..

Townes testified that on May 9, 1995, she saw the defendant at about 7:15 p.m. and that at about 8 p.m. the defendant dropped her off at her house. At about 9:15 p.m., Townes paged the defendant. When the defendant returned her page, he was already in front of her house. Townes got into his car and they drove around for 20 minutes.

Defendant testified that after giving Townes a ride home the first time, he returned home by about 8 p.m. The defendant then went to see Angela Thomas (Thomas). When asked what time he arrived, the defendant answered "It had to be close to be about 8 p.m." When asked how long he stayed at Thomas's house, the defendant answered "about 30 to 40 minutes." While the defendant was at Thomas's house, Townes paged him and asked to see him. The defendant drove back to Townes' home, and they drove up and down North Avenue. Townes told the defendant that she was pregnant. After approximately 20 minutes, the defendant dropped her off and called his father. The defendant then went to see his father. He arrived at his father's house at around 10:20 p.m.

Defendant testified that while he was at his father's house, he called his mother. His mother told him that the police were looking for him. The defendant then called the police. Afterward, the police met the defendant at his mother's house. The defendant testified that he voluntarily went with the police to the police station. After arriving at the police station, the defendant was placed in an interview room. The police checked his hands for "mud and blood" and questioned him about the shooting. The defendant testified that the police did not read his rights to him before questioning him.

The defendant testified that he denied holding money for the victim or obtaining a gun. The defendant denied shooting the victim or throwing the gun and his clothes away as he fled the scene. The defendant testified that Detective Duffin took notes while questioning him. The defendant testified that ASA Ertler was not present. Later, Detective Duffin returned and read the preprinted portion of the statement to the defendant. However, the handwritten portion was not read to the defendant. The defendant signed the statement without reading it.

After hearing arguments presented by both sides, the trial court found the defendant guilty of first degree murder. The trial court stated that it believed the testimony of Herbert Taylor, Detective Duffin and ASA Ertler. The court found that the defendant shot and killed the victim because the defendant owed the victim money and he was afraid the victim would harm him for not returning the money. The trial court further found that the defense witnesses did not provide an alibi for the defendant. The court found that, with the exception of the defendant, the defense witnesses were credible but that their testimony as to the time that things ...

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