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The People of the State of Illinois v. Willie Hayes

April 19, 2011

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
WILLIE HAYES,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 04 CR 2958 Honorable Michele M. Simmons,Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Harris

JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justices Karnezis and Connors concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Defendant, Willie Hayes, was convicted after a jury trial of first degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death. He was sentenced to consecutive prison terms of 36 and 4 years' imprisonment. On appeal, he raises the following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred when it refused to instruct the jury on involuntary manslaughter; (2) whether defendant was denied a fair trial based on a statement the prosecutor made to the jury in rebuttal closing argument; (3) whether this court should excuse defendant's procedural default and review, under the plain error doctrine, whether the trial court violated Illinois Supreme Court Rule 431(b) (eff. May 1, 2007) when instructing the jury; (4) whether defendant's sentence was excessive; and (5) whether defendant is entitled to an additional seven days of presentence credit for time spent in custody prior to sentencing, for a total of 1,944 days. We find that: (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's request to instruct the jury on involuntary manslaughter because he cannot show his actions were "reckless"; (2) the prosecutor's alleged improper comment during rebuttal closing argument was brief and isolated and did not substantially prejudice defendant such that the verdict would have been different without the improper comment; (3) defendant is procedurally defaulted from raising the issue of whether the trial court violated Supreme Court Rule 431(b); (4) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing defendant as the record confirms the sentencing judge balanced the goals of retribution and rehabilitation of defendant; and (5) defendant's mittimus should be modified to reflect the amount of 1,943 days of presentencing credit, which does not include the day of sentencing.

JURISDICTION

The circuit court sentenced the defendant on June 2, 2009, and he timely filed his notice of appeal on June 5, 2009. Accordingly, this court has jurisdiction pursuant to article VI, section 6, of the Illinois Constitution and Illinois Supreme Court Rules 603 and 606, governing appeals from a final judgment of conviction in a criminal case entered below. Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, §6; Ill. S. Ct. R. 603 (eff. Oct. 1, 2010); R. 606 (eff. Mar. 20, 2009).

BACKGROUND

Defendant was arrested and taken into custody on January 8, 2004, for the murder of Nicole Boyd. Prior to trial, the court denied defendant's motion to quash arrest and his two motions to suppress evidence. Following a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of first degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death. Defendant was sentenced on May 4, 2009, to consecutive sentences of 36 years for first degree murder and 4 years for concealment of a homicidal death.

Jury Selection

At the beginning of the jury selection, the following colloquy took place between the trial court and the first 14 potential jurors:

"Do all of you know or understand that the defendant is presumed innoc[ent]of these charges and he do[es] not have to offer any evidence in his own behalf, but must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the State? If you all know that or understand that principal of law, please raise your right hand.

For the record, everyone has raised their right hand that I posed the question to.

If the defendant decides not to testify in his own behalf, would any of you hold that against defendant? If the defendant decides not to testify in his own behalf, would any of you hold it against the defendant? If so, please raise your right hand.

For the record, no one has raised their hand.

Let me take that even a bit further. Do all of you know and understand that if [in] fact []defendant decides not to testify [o]n his own behalf, you as a juror are not to hold it against the defendant. If you can follow that, please raise your right hand.

For the record, everyone has raised their right hand."

Out of the first group of 14 potential jurors, 9 were selected for the jury. The court then called 14 more potential jurors, and engaged them as follows:

"Do all of you understand that the defendant is presumed innocent and that he does not have to offer any evidence in his own behalf, but must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the State? Do all of you know and understand that? If so, please raise your hand.

For the record, everyone has raised their right hand that I've posed the question to.

If the defendant decides not to testify in his own behalf, would any of you hold that against defendant? Would any of you hold it against the defendant if he decided not to testify in his own behalf?

One potential juror, William Gaudry, raised his hand. The court then stated:

"Let me ask that question of everybody. Do all of you understand that if in fact the defendant does not testify in his own behalf, you are not to hold that against him? Do you all know and understand and can you follow that? If you so, please raise your right hand.

All right. Everyone has raised their hand outside of Mr. Guadry."

Mr. Gaudry was excused. From this second group of potential jurors, the final four jurors and the first alternate were selected. The court then called four more potential jurors into the jury box and stated:

"Do all of you understand that the defendant is presumed innocent and that he does not have to offer any evidence in his own behalf, but must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the

[S]tate? If all of you know or understand that proposition of law, please raise your right hand to indicate to me you know and understand what I've just said.

For the record, everyone has raised their hand.

If the defendant does not decide to testify in his own behalf, would any of you hold that against the defendant. If so, please [raise] your right hand.

For the record, no one has raised their right hand.

Do all of you know and understand that if [in] fact you are not to hold it against a defendant if he decides not to testify in this -- his own behalf. If you can follow that, please raise your hand.

For the record, everyone has raised their right hand."

Out of the final four potential jurors, the second alternate ...


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