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People v. Blue

November 20, 2003

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,
v.
MURRAY BLUE, APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Justice McMORROW

UNPUBLISHED

Docket Nos. 94564-Agenda 7-September 2003.

In this interlocutory appeal, defendant, Murray Blue, asks the court to decide whether principles of collateral estoppel embodied in the double jeopardy protections of our state and federal constitutions (U.S. Const., amend. V; Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §10) bar the State from seeking the death penalty should defendant be convicted for the first degree murder of Louis Moret upon retrial. We find that, under the circumstances presented, double jeopardy principles do not preclude the State from attempting to secure a death sentence.

BACKGROUND

On March 8, 1995, defendant was arrested and charged with multiple crimes, including the first degree murder of Chicago police officer Daniel Doffyn, in relation to two separate shooting incidents which occurred that day. See People v. Blue, 189 Ill. 2d 99 (2000). That same day, defendant was also charged with the February 26, 1995, murder of Louis Moret, pursuant to a warrant issued March 4, 1995. See Blue, 189 Ill. 2d at 114.

The State opted to try the Doffyn murder and related crimes first. After a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant was found guilty of the first degree murder of Officer Doffyn, as well as three counts of attempted first degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver. Blue, 189 Ill. 2d at 103. With respect to the first degree murder conviction, the trial court imposed the death penalty after the jury found defendant eligible based on the statutory aggravating factor found in section 9-1(b)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961, that the "murdered individual was a peace officer *** killed in the course of performing his official duties, *** and the defendant knew or should have known that the murdered individual was a peace officer" (720 ILCS 5/9-1(b)(1) (West 1998)), and that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude imposition of the death sentence. See Blue, 189 Ill. 2d at 103. Defendant then brought a direct appeal to this court (134 Ill. 2d R. 302(b)).

While the appeal of defendant's conviction and sentence for Officer Doffyn's murder was pending, defendant was tried for Moret's murder and found guilty. Again, the State sought the death penalty, this time arguing that defendant was eligible under the multiple-murder aggravating factor because defendant had been convicted of murdering two individuals. 720 ILCS 5/9-1(b)(3) (West 1998). Defendant was sentenced to death after the jury found defendant eligible under section 9-1(b)(3) and, further, that there were no mitigating circumstances sufficient to preclude imposition of the death sentence. See People v. Blue, 205 Ill. 2d 1, 3 (2001). Defendant appealed this conviction and sentence directly to this court.

On January 27, 2000, this court issued an opinion with regard to defendant's first appeal. We held that defendant was denied a fair trial because of cumulative errors which occurred during defendant's trial for the murder of Officer Doffyn. As a result, defendant's convictions were reversed and the cause remanded for a new trial. People v. Blue, 189 Ill. 2d 99 (2000). Shortly thereafter, defendant was retried and again found guilty of Officer Doffyn's murder. At defendant's capital sentencing hearing the State argued that defendant was eligible for the death penalty pursuant to section 9-1(b)(1), because the murdered individual was a peace officer. In addition, the State argued that defendant was also eligible for the death penalty pursuant to section 9-1(b)(3), because defendant now stood convicted for the first degree murder of a second individual, Louis Moret. 720 ILCS 5/9-1(b)(1), (b)(3) (West 1998). The jury found defendant eligible for the death penalty under both statutory factors. Nevertheless, the jury declined to sentence defendant to death and the trial court imposed a sentence of natural life in prison.

After defendant was retried and sentenced for the Doffyn murder, the direct appeal of his conviction for the murder of Louis Moret came before this court. On September 27, 2001, this court reversed that conviction and remanded for a new trial, finding that the trial court had improperly limited defendant's cross-examination of certain key State witnesses. People v. Blue, 205 Ill. 2d 1 (2001). Prior to retrial, defendant filed a motion in the circuit court seeking to bar the State from initiating death penalty procedures should he again be convicted of Moret's murder. Defendant posited that implicit in the section 9-1(b)(3) statutory aggravating factor is the notion that a defendant convicted of first degree murder for the first time is not eligible for the death penalty and that it is only after defendant's second conviction for first degree murder that he becomes death eligible. Extrapolating from this concept, defendant theorized that when a defendant is tried separately for the commission of two unrelated murders, as is the case here, one of the murder convictions, logically, must be the first conviction, while the other murder conviction must be the second conviction. Expanding on this theory, defendant contended that if a person is convicted of committing two separate, unrelated murders and the multiple-murder aggravating factor (720 ILCS 5/9-1(b)(3) (West 1998)) is the sole basis for finding that person eligible for the death penalty, the State can have only one opportunity to seek the death penalty with respect to these two murders. He further contended that, once the State tries the defendant for one of the two murders, obtains a conviction, and uses that conviction as the aggravating factor to seek the death penalty at the trial for the other murder, the earlier conviction is determined to be the "first conviction." The State is then bound by that determination and, with respect to those two murders, principles of collateral estoppel prevent the State from later "reversing the order" of these convictions.

Applying this theory to his current situation, defendant contended that when the jury found him eligible for the death penalty pursuant to section 9-1(b)(3) following his retrial for the murder of Officer Doffyn, the jury made a legally binding determination that the Moret murder was defendant's "first conviction" and, thus by definition, the non-death-eligible conviction. Accordingly, defendant concluded that the State should be barred by principles of collateral estoppel embodied in the double jeopardy protections of our state and federal constitutions from attempting to establish the Doffyn murder as defendant's first conviction to prove defendant eligible for the death sentence under section 9-1(b)(3) for the murder of Moret at his retrial.

Defendant also argued that when the jury declined to impose the death penalty after defendant's retrial for the murder of Officer Doffyn, that verdict was "a final judgment that determined whether the defendant is to be given death on the convictions of killing Daniel Doffyn and Louis Moret." Accordingly, defendant argued that "the verdict of no death based upon the [two convictions] is an acquittal on the death issue based upon [the section 9-1(b)(3)] aggravating factor and a new death hearing is barred by double jeopardy."

The trial court rejected defendant's arguments and denied defendant's motion to bar the State from initiating death penalty proceedings. Defendant then brought an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(f) (188 Ill. 2d R. 604(f)). This court assumed jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 302(b) (134 Ill. 2d R. 302(b)).

ANALYSIS

The double jeopardy clause contained within the fifth amendment to the United States Constitution provides: "[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." U.S. Const., amend. V. There are three separate protections embraced by this double jeopardy clause: (1) protection against retrial for the same offense after an acquittal, (2) protection against retrial for the same offense after a conviction, and (3) protection against multiple punishment for the same offense. North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717, 23 L. Ed. 2d 656, 664-65, 89 S. Ct. 2072, 2076 (1969); People v. Stefan, 146 Ill. 2d 324, 333 (1992). These protections are also guaranteed by the Illinois ...


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