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The People of the State of Illinois v. Antonio S. Sullivan

September 21, 2011

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ANTONIO S. SULLIVAN,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of McLean County No. 08CF1241 Honorable Charles G. Reynard, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Pope

JUSTICE POPE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Steigmann and Cook concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 In January 2009, a jury convicted defendant, Antonio S. Sullivan, of aggravated robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-5(a) (West 2008)). In June 2009, the trial court sentenced him to 15 years' imprisonment.

¶ 2 Defendant appeals, arguing his conviction should be reversed because he was convicted by a biased jury. Alternatively, defendant contends the trial court's failure to hold an evidentiary hearing regarding the alleged juror bias violated his due process rights. We affirm.

¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 4 On November 12, 2008, the State charged defendant, by indictment, with aggravated robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-5(a) (West 2008)).

¶ 5 During defendant's January 2009 trial, Jeffrey Brittain, a field executive with State Farm Insurance Company living in Suffolk, Virginia, testified he was in Bloomington, Illinois, between October 27, 2008, and November 7, 2008, for a company training conference. Brittain was staying in a hotel on Veteran's Parkway. On October 31, 2008, Brittain took the hotel shuttle downtown to a watch a football game with another conference attendee at a sports bar. After the game, they went to another bar. Brittain admitted consuming alcoholic beverages but denied being intoxicated. Brittain testified he was having trouble finding a cab because it was Halloween night and a lot of people were downtown. Brittain testified after waiting behind a line of people who were also waiting for a cab, he walked down the street and away from the crowd to increase his chances of catching a cab. Brittain walked approximately two blocks when defendant drove up and offered Brittain a ride. Brittain accepted and offered defendant $20 to drive him to his hotel. During his testimony, Brittain identified defendant as the person who gave him the ride.

¶ 6 Brittain testified he told defendant he did not have any money and needed to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine (ATM). According to Brittain's testimony, defendant asked him if he wanted any drugs or women. Brittain testified he told defendant he was ready to go home and asked him to stop at an ATM. Defendant stopped at a gas station and Brittain withdrew $200. Brittain testified he was going to need to have cash on hand because he was going to a college football game the next day. Brittain did not recall if defendant accompanied him into the gas station. However, Brittain testified he told defendant he withdrew $200 from the ATM.

¶ 7 Brittain returned to the car, and defendant drove down Veteran's Parkway in the direction of the hotel. However, instead of stopping, defendant drove past the hotel. When Brittain asked defendant what he was doing, defendant replied, "We're just going to go down here and check on a couple things." Defendant turned off of Veteran's Parkway, stopped in a residential neighborhood, and put the car in park. Brittain asked defendant what they were doing there. Defendant replied, "Yeah, I'm going to check on something in that house right there." At that point, defendant demanded Brittain give him his cash and his Blackberry cellular phone. Brittain testified he observed what he thought to be "something" under defendant's shirt pointed at him. Brittain testified defendant "raised it up" and repeated his demand for the cash and phone. After Brittain gave defendant both the money and his phone, defendant instructed Brittain to get out and run, which he did. Brittain testified he flagged down a passing car and used one of the passengers' cell phones to call police.

¶ 8 While defendant did not testify, the jury viewed portions of his interview with police. During the interview, defendant admitted giving rides to various people on Halloween night. Defendant stated he had agreed to give a ride to a "drunk ass white dude." Defendant explained they stopped at a gas station where defendant bought a scratch-off lottery ticket and won $100. However, the station would not cash it because it was after hours. According to defendant, Brittain agreed to buy the ticket from defendant. Defendant maintained Brittain then misplaced the ticket and accused defendant of taking it. Defendant denied taking the ticket and the two argued. Defendant stated he tricked Brittain into thinking the ticket was in the back of the car. When Brittain got out of the car to look for it, defendant drove off.

¶ 9 On January 22, 2009, the jury convicted defendant of aggravated robbery. After the verdict was announced, the trial court polled the jury, and each juror confirmed the guilty verdict.

¶ 10 Following trial, two jurors wrote letters to the trial court. The first juror's letter stated he and "a couple of the other jurors were not completely sure of what [the jury instructions] meant by the word [']threatening.['] " The second juror's letter stated, "Although I signed the guilty verdict form, I did not then and do not now believe that the [S]tate proved [its] case beyond a reasonable doubt." The second letter also alleged certain elements of the jury deliberation were improper. Specifically the juror wrote (1) he felt pressured to conform to the majority opinion and, as a result, capitulated to their view, (2) the jurors "relied upon emotion rather than reason and logic to reach their verdict," and (3) the deliberations were tainted when the foreman misstated the initial vote tally. The letter also alleged the following:

"Many jurors ignored the instruction that the defendant was entitled not to testify and instead asserted that the defendant's declination to take the stand in his own defense was an indication of his guilt. The bulk of the discussion in the jury room consisted of a rehash of the testimony and a desultory exchange of overall impressions of the credibility of the witnesses with the consensus being that the defendant was guilty simply because [the victim] was the more credible witness, not ...


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