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The People of the State of Illinois v. Stephen Mccoy

October 25, 2010

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
STEPHEN MCCOY,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 05 CR 17358 Honorable Charles P. Burns, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Theis

PRESIDING JUSTICE THEIS delivered the opinion of the court: Defendant Stephen McCoy appeals from his conviction for attempted first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. On appeal, he argues: (1) the court failed to conduct a proper voir dire of the jury in violation of Supreme Court Rule 431(b) (Official Reports Advance Sheet No. 8 (April 11, 2007), R. 431, eff. May 1, 2007); and (2) the court improperly coerced the jury's verdict by warning the jury that it would be sequestered. For the following reasons, we affirm defendant's conviction.

Defendant was charged by indictment with two counts of attempted first-degree murder under section 9-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Code) (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2004)) and two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm under section 12-4.2(a)(1) of the Code (720 ILCS 5/12-4.2(a)(1) (West 2004)) in the shooting of Ernest Anderson and Curtis Chatman. The testimony at trial presented conflicting accounts of the events leading to the shooting of Anderson and Chatman. However, it is undisputed that defendant shot the two men. The State's theory of the case was that defendant saw Anderson standing on the sidewalk, called out his name, and then shot him and Chatman, who was standing nearby. Defendant's theory at trial was that he shot the two men in self-defense after Anderson displayed a weapon. Defendant also claimed that he had reason to believe that Anderson was dangerous because defendant's sister testified against Anderson in a murder trial eight years earlier.

Defendant does not challenge the evidence presented at trial and only raises on appeal two procedural improprieties that he claims resulted in a biased jury and a coerced verdict. Thus, our recitation of the facts of this case is limited to those claimed procedural improprieties. During voir dire, the court made the following remarks to the venire:

"I'm going to ask a series of questions. If your answer to any of these questions is yes, *** please raise your hand, and I will follow up on [sic] later time.

***

A defendant is presumed innocent until the jury during deliberations determines from all of the evidence that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Does anyone here have a problem with that presumption? Again, I see no hands raised. The collective answer is no.

The State has the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case. Does anyone disagree with requiring the State to meet that burden? Again, no hands are raised. The collective answer is no.

The defendant does not have to present any evidence at all in the case. The defendant may rely upon the presumption of innocence. Does anyone have any difficulty with extending the defendant that presumption throughout the trial? Again, no hands are raised. The collective answer is no.

The defendant does not have to testify. Is there anyone here who would hold it against the defendant if he chose not to testify?"

Two potential jurors raised their hands after the last question was presented. The court noted their responses and asked them additional questions about their responses later in the voir dire. Both of the objectors were subsequently dismissed. A panel of 12 jurors was subsequently selected and sworn.

After the trial and the conclusion of closing arguments, the court instructed the jury and sent the jurors to deliberate. They began their deliberations at approximately 1 p.m. At approximately 2:40 p.m., the jury sent a note to the court asking for a "legal definition of intent to kill an individual." The court and parties formulated a response and submitted it to the jury. At approximately 4:20 p.m., the jury sent another note to the court asking for transcripts of the testimony of defendant, Anderson, and Chatman. The court and parties agreed to send the transcripts to the jury. At approximately 8 p.m., the court called the jury into the courtroom and the following colloquy occurred:

"THE COURT: Let the record reflect we are in open court with the 12 jurors, defense attorney, the State's Attorney, and [defendant]. The time is now about 8:00 ...


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