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People v. Jones

February 6, 2007


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Clayton J. Crane, Judge Presiding.

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

Following a bench trial, defendant Carranz Jones was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 37 years in prison.

On appeal, Jones contends: (1) his counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress a videotaped confession in which defendant invoked his right to remain silent; (2) he proved second-degree murder by a preponderance of the evidence; and (3) his mittimus should be corrected to reflect 1,648 days of credit for time spent in custody. We affirm defendant's conviction and sentence and order the mittimus corrected.


At trial, the evidence showed that on June 2, 2000, the defendant killed his girlfriend Diane Vance by beating her with a hammer. Vance was found in the reclined front passenger seat of her car in an alley. There were burn holes in her pants on the right knee and a spent match on her leg. The left front pants pocket was turned inside out. The autopsy report listed 46 lacerations to her head and neck. The lacerations penetrated her skull, spine, larynx, esophagus, and a carotid artery. Some of the lacerations were consistent with being caused by the claw of the hammer, some with the front of the hammer. Both sides of Vance's jaw were broken, and her skull was fractured. The medical examiner testified this would have required severe force. He said Vance's injuries were consistent with being reclined in the passenger seat with the assailant on the left striking her. She suffered brain hemorrhaging and significant blood loss. She did not die immediately. Her right knee had postmortem burns. Vance was pregnant; the fetus was approximately 24 weeks old.

Vance lived in a house with her aunt, cousin, and brother. She and the defendant had a two-year-old son. Vance's aunt testified the defendant slept at the house with Vance every night.

Chicago police detective Robert Lenihan testified the police found a pair of dark blue jeans at the house. They found money in the pocket of the jeans. The bills had blood droplets on them. Vance's brother, Lonnie Vance, told police the jeans belonged to the defendant. The parties stipulated Vance's DNA profile matched that of the blood found on three of the bills. One of the latent fingerprints recovered from the hood of Vance's car matched defendant's fingerprint.

Joanna Leafblad, an assistant state's attorney, interviewed the defendant. Leafblad took a videotaped statement of the defendant. Prior to the videotaped statement, Leafblad said, she introduced herself to the defendant and advised him of his Miranda rights. Detective Lenihan was present for the statement. The video was played at the trial.

A transcript of the videotape is not in the record. We have reviewed the videotape. On the tape, the defendant agreed he had been advised of his rights earlier. Leafblad summarized what the defendant had told her--that he was driving to work, Vance started arguing with him, he backhanded her a few times, he picked up a hammer and hit her with it a few times, he heard her moaning, left her in the car in an alley, threw the keys, and took the bus home. Defendant agreed that is what he told her. Leafblad read defendant his rights again. He said he understood.

Defendant then said, "I can't do this, man." When asked what he was referring to, defendant said, "this statement stuff, man." Leafblad asked defendant if he wished to remain silent; he said yes. Leafblad asked defendant if they had spoken earlier and if her summary of what he told her was what they talked about. Defendant said yes. Without prompting, defendant then said, "Go ahead." Leafblad asked if he was saying he wished to proceed with the videotaped statement. Defendant said, "Yeah. Go ahead." Leafblad again advised defendant of his rights.

Leafblad then asked defendant a series of questions about the incident. The defendant said he was driving Vance to the train so she could go to work. Vance was nagging him, not yelling, but speaking in a regular voice. The two started arguing. Vance poked the defendant in his shoulder. She grabbed the wheel while he was driving. Defendant pulled the car over, and the two continued arguing. Vance spit at the side of his face and hit him in the shoulder with her fist. Defendant told Vance to calm down. He hit her in the face twice. Vance was hitting him. The defendant demonstrated how he reached out his arm to hold her back. After he resumed driving, defendant pulled the car over a second time.

The two were grabbing at each other. Defendant took a hammer from the back seat of the car and hit her four or five times to "get her back" and "to get her to stop" hitting him. Vance moved to the side and "got kind of quiet." She said she wasn't feeling good and began moaning. The defendant pulled into an alley. He took the keys out of the ignition and threw them to the side of the alley. He took cash out of Vance's pocket. He got on a bus and went home. He went to bed.

On cross-examination, Leafblad testified she reviewed the paperwork that had been prepared by police prior to interviewing the defendant. She did not recall whether there were contradictions between what defendant told police and what he told her.

The defense presented no witnesses. At the end of the trial, the court convicted the defendant ...

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