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The People of the State of Illinois v. Cevin Y. Stanford

June 16, 2011

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CEVIN Y. STANFORD,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 06-CF-1712 Honorable Grant S. Wegner, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Zenoff

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

Justices Bowman and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Following a bench trial, defendant, Cevin Y. Stanford, was convicted of three counts of attempted first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 9-1(a)(1) (West 2006)), five counts of aggravated battery with a firearm (720 ILCS 5/12-4.2(a)(1) (West 2006)), and eight counts of armed violence (720 ILCS 5/33A-2(a), (b) (West 2006)). He was sentenced to an aggregate prison term of 72 years. On appeal, defendant argues that he was denied his right to effective assistance of counsel and that two of his convictions and sentences violated the one-act, one-crime rule. Following the filing of briefs, the State filed a motion to cite additional authority (People v. Miller, 238 Ill. 2d 161 (2010)), which we granted. The State also filed a motion to vacate the sentences as void based on the trial court's alleged failure to enter the sentences in conformity with section 5-8-4 of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-8-4(a)(I) (West 2006)). We took with the case the State's motion to vacate and ordered the parties to submit supplemental briefs on the applicability of Miller and on the argument raised in the State's motion to vacate. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part and vacate in part, and reimpose defendant's sentences as modified.

BACKGROUND

On July 26, 2006, a grand jury indicted defendant on 3 counts of attempted first-degree murder (counts I through III) (720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 9-1(a)(1) (West 2006)), 5 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm (counts IV through VIII) (720 ILCS 5/12-4.2(a)(1) (West 2006)), and 12 counts of armed violence (counts IX through XX) (720 ILCS 5/33A-2(a), (b), (c) (West 2006)). The charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on the evening of July 4, 2006, during which two persons shot at five young men on a porch in Aurora, Illinois, and injured three of them: Matthew Pruneda (who was shot in the face and both ankles), Samuel Silva (who was shot in the leg), and Jaime Diaz (who sustained a graze wound to the abdomen). The State later dismissed four of the armed-violence counts (counts IX, X, XI, and XVIII) (720 ILCS 5/33A-2(c) (West 2006)). The State also later struck certain sentencing enhancements alleged in the attempted-first-degree-murder charges in counts I through III, leaving only an enhancement for personally discharging a firearm (720 ILCS 5/8-4(c)(1)(C) (West 2006)).

Co-defendant, Michael Smith (defendant's cousin), was similarly indicted, but pleaded guilty and testified against defendant in exchange for a sentence of 12 years' imprisonment. As part of his plea, Smith also agreed to testify in an unrelated murder case.

The trial court appointed counsel for defendant from the Kane County public defender's office. However, defendant filed several pro se pretrial motions, including a motion to "replace public defender." In that motion, defendant asserted that he and his appointed counsel were "not seeing eye to eye" and were "not on the same level" and listed several alleged shortcomings of his attorney. The trial court then appointed the multiple defendants division (MDD) of the Kane County public defender's office only to review the motion. On April 11, 2008, MDD counsel reported to the court that he spoke with defendant and there was no "reason to believe that [appointed counsel] at this point has done anything that would render him ineffective." The court discharged MDD counsel (implicitly denying defendant's motion). After a recess, defendant's appointed counsel addressed the court:

"I know you addressed other matters relating to [defendant's] motions, but at least in my little world there is still the relationship, if you will, between attorney and client which I respectfully represent to you is basically nonexistent. I know that [defendant] probably doesn't trust a single thing I do or say, and I think that that's still an element that's before this Court."

The court responded addressing defendant, "Well, I can tell you, [defendant], [appointed counsel] has been around a long time. He's an excellent lawyer. He's the guy you want out there for you. So I understand there may be some issues, but again, with [appointed counsel's] experience I'm sure that can be worked through."

On April 14, 2008, defendant's case proceeded to a bench trial. On April 25, 2008, the trial court found defendant guilty of all of the 16 counts remaining in the indictment and made a specific finding that the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt as to each count that defendant personally discharged a firearm.

Though still represented by counsel, on June 18, 2008, defendant filed a pro se motion for a new trial, which included an allegation that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his pro se motion to replace the public defender. In addition to listing appointed counsel's alleged failures at trial, defendant highlighted appointed counsel's admission (according to defendant) that there was "absolutely no communication" between them. On July 1, 2008, the trial court again appointed MDD counsel to review defendant's claims. On August 29, 2008, MDD counsel reported that the motion contained allegations regarding trial strategy as well as issues that could be adopted or rejected by appointed counsel in the "actual new trial motion" but that nothing alleged in the motion rose to the level of ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court then inquired if defendant had anything to say. Defendant replied, "There's been no communication between me and [appointed counsel]. I put a motion myself with the Attorney Registration Board, and [appointed counsel] never come [sic] and talked to me, he never even sent an investigator out ***." Defendant continued asserting counsel's shortcomings during trial, stating that counsel made "no effort." Defendant concluded, "He just got mad at me because I told him I didn't like what he was doing, and he never addresses [sic] what I wanted him to address." The trial court denied defendant's pro se motion and discharged MDD counsel. On October 3, 2008, appointed counsel filed a motion for a new trial. On November 14, 2008, the trial court heard argument on the motion, denied it, and commenced the sentencing hearing.

On November 21, 2008, the trial court sentenced defendant. With respect to the counts based on shooting Matthew Pruneda in the face, the court found that count IV, aggravated battery with a firearm, merged into count XII, armed violence (personal discharge of category I or II firearm). The court next found that count XV, armed violence (armed with dangerous weapon), based on shooting Pruneda in the face, also merged into count XII. The court then found that counts IV, XII, and XV merged into count I, attempted murder based on intent to kill Pruneda. The court concluded that the sentence for count I was 26 years' imprisonment, which included a 20-year add-on.

With respect to the counts based on shooting Pruneda in the left ankle, the court found that count V, aggravated battery with a firearm, merged into count XIII, armed violence (personal discharge of category I or II firearm). The court further found that count XVI , armed violence (armed with dangerous weapon), based on shooting Pruneda in the left ankle, also merged into count XIII. The court concluded that the sentence for count XIII was 20 years' imprisonment. Regarding the shooting of Pruneda's right ankle, the court found that count VI, aggravated battery with a firearm, merged into count XIV, armed violence (personal discharge of category I or II firearm). The court also found that count XVII, armed violence (armed with dangerous weapon), for the same conduct, merged into count XIV. The court concluded that the sentence for count XIV was 20 years' imprisonment.

With respect to the shooting of Samuel Silva in the leg, the court found that count VII, aggravated battery, merged into count XIX, armed violence (personal discharge of category I or II firearm). The court further found that count XX, armed violence (armed with dangerous weapon), for the same conduct, also merged into count XIX. The court next found that counts VII, XIX, and XX merged into count II, the attempted first-degree murder of Silva, and determined that the sentence for count II was 26 years' imprisonment, including a 20-year add-on.

Regarding the shooting of Jaime Diaz, the court found that count VIII, aggravated battery with a firearm, merged into count III, the attempted first-degree murder of Diaz. The court concluded that the sentence for count III was 26 years' imprisonment, including a 20-year add-on.

The court next found that the injuries to Pruneda's face (counts I, IV, XII, and XV) and left ankle (counts V, XIII, and XVI) constituted severe bodily injury. The court also found that the injury to Silva's leg (counts II, VII, XIX, and XX) was severe bodily injury. The court then found that the injury to Pruneda's right ankle (counts VI, XIV, and XVII) and to Diaz's stomach (counts III and

VIII) were not severe bodily injury. The court decided that the 26-year sentence on count I (attempted first-degree murder of Pruneda) would run consecutively to the 20-year sentence on count XIII (armed violence, based on shooting Pruneda's left ankle) and that those two sentences would run consecutively to the 26-year sentence on count II (attempted first-degree murder of Silva). The court then decided that the 20-year sentence on count XIV (armed violence, based on shooting Pruneda's right ankle) would run concurrently with the sentence on count I and that the 26-year sentence on count III (attempted first-degree murder of Diaz) would run concurrently with the sentence on count I as well.

Also on November 21, 2008, due to appointed counsel's upcoming surgery, the trial court granted his request for an extension of time until January 23, 2009, to file a postjudgment motion, with the hearing set for January 30.

In the meantime, defendant filed a pro se motion to reduce his sentences on December 17, 2008, and a notice of appeal on December 24, 2008. On January 8, 2009, defendant agreed to withdraw his premature notice of appeal. On January 8 and 30, 2009, the court entered ...


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