Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 09 CR 15667 Honorable James B. Linn, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Epstein
PRESIDING JUSTICE EPSTEIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Joseph Gordon and Howse concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Following a jury trial, defendant William Castillo, was convicted of murder. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. On appeal, defendant argues that he was denied his right to a fair trial because: (1) the trial court denied his request for a jury instruction on involuntary manslaughter; and (2) the State made excessive and improper use of his alleged nickname of "Kill Bill." For the reasons below, we affirm.
¶ 3 Defendant William Castillo and co-defendant Semajay Thomas were charged by indictment with first degree murder in connection with the July 13, 2009, beating death of Reynaldo Ortiz that occurred on the 700 block of North Throop Street in Chicago, Illinois.
Defendant and Thomas were tried simultaneously with separate juries.
¶ 4 State's Case in Chief
¶ 6 Reynaldo Ortiz, Jr., testified that his father, Reynaldo Ortiz, Sr., was in the Chicago area in July 2009 for a family reunion. He also testified that July 13, 2009 was his father' s fiftieth birthday.
¶ 8 Reinaldo Gonzales testified that, on July 12, 2009, he was with his cousin, Reynaldo Ortiz, Sr., playing softball in the park. They started drinking beer and vodka in the afternoon. Shortly after midnight, the two men, along with a friend, Gustavo, left the park to go to Gustavo's house. Gustavo rode ahead on his bike, while Gonzalez and Ortiz walked. As they walked on the 700 block of Throop Street, Ortiz said "What's up bitches?" to a group sitting on a porch. Four or five of the people left the porch and ran after Ortiz, who ran between two cars. Gonzalez "froze" by a fence, two houses away from where the group then beat Ortiz. Gonzalez testified that he could not see what the group did to Ortiz. He called out to Ortiz and got no response. Gonzalez then ran to his sister's house and, as he did, one of the men, later identified as Jesus Duran, ran past him. When Gonzalez reached his sister's house, he called 911.
¶ 10 Dr. Michael Humilier, an expert forensic pathologist, testified that he performed the post-mortem examination on Ortiz. Ortiz's blood alcohol level was 0.271. The external examination revealed 13 injuries: (1) a laceration and bruise to the right top of the head that exposed the underlying skull because the tissue was torn all the way down to the skull; (2) a bruise on the right eyelid; (3) a laceration with a surrounding abrasion to the bridge of the nose; (4) an abrasion or scrape to the midline of the forehead; (5) an abrasion to the left side of the face near the left eye; (6) a bruise on the left cheek; (7) a bruise on the right cheek; (8) an abrasion on the nose; (9) an abrasion on the left side of the upper lip; (10) an abrasion on the right side of the chin; (11) an abrasion on the left side of the chin; (12) an abrasion to the front right knee; and (13) a healing wound on the front left knee.
¶ 11 Dr. Humilier testified that the internal examination revealed six injuries: (1) a subgaleal hemorrhage (blood that had leaked into the soft tissues below the skin) on the right side of the scalp; (2) a subgaleal hemorrhage that measured three inches by five inches to the top of the scalp; (3) a subgaleal hemorrhage that measured 21/2 inches by 2 inches to the left side of the scalp; (4) a subgaleal hemorrhage that measured 11/2 inches by 11/2 inches to the back of the scalp; (5) a fractured skull, specifically a fracture in the bone on the right side of the frontal bone of the skull; and (6) significant swelling of the brain. Ortiz also had cirrhosis of the liver.
¶ 12 Dr. Humilier testified that the external injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma, and with being punched or kicked in the face. He stated that the subgaleal hemorrhages, as well as the fractured bone, were consistent with blunt force traumas. Dr. Humilier explained that the frontal bone, which is underneath the forehead, is a strong bone. When the frontal bone is fractured it causes brain injuries and cerebral edema (brain swelling). Dr. Humilier concluded that all of the internal injuries, including the brain swelling, were consistent with Ortiz having been stomped on or kicked and were not likely caused by him falling to the ground. Dr. Humilier explained that Ortiz would have had to fall more than once in order to sustain the numerous injuries that he had to his head. He further explained that a fall should not cause a skull fracture in an adult.
¶ 13 Dr. Humilier testified that it was his opinion, within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, that Ortiz died from cranial cerebral injuries due to blunt force head trauma due to an assault. He concluded that the manner of death was homicide.
¶ 15 David Calzado testified that he was a Satan Disciple. He testified that, in the early hours of July 13, 2009, he was hanging out on Sara's porch on Throop Street with several people, including Semajay Thomas, Terrence Washington (a Satan Disciple known as "Wes"), Lorenzo McKinney (known as "Low"), and Low's younger brother, Maliek. Calzado had known them his whole life. Also present were some new gang members, "Kill Bill," "Silent," and "Drama," whom Calzado had known only for a week. Kill Bill was a Satan Disciple and Calzado did not know his real name. He identified defendant in court as Kill Bill. Silent was a Satan Disciple and Calzado did not know his real name either. Little Man, who was known as Lydell, was also present.
¶ 16 Calzado testified that, in the week he had known defendant, he had seen him two or three times riding around the neighborhood.
¶ 17 Calzado testified that, while on the porch, he saw "two old guys" who were "probably in their 50's, 60's," walk past the porch on the other side of the street. An argument ensued between the two men and the men on the porch. Calzado testified that the one of the two men walking by was swearing and said "You stupid bitch, fuck you, " "I'm going to fuck you up," and "I'm going to beat your ass." Thomas left the porch, followed by defendant and Silent. Thomas hit the man who was swearing on the right side of the face and then a second time. He kept hitting the man, up to six times. Each punch hit the man's face. After the final punch, the man stumbled toward the street and fell.
¶ 18 Defendant then approached the man and stomped on his forehead once. Calzado could hear it. The man stopped moving after defendant stomped on him. Calzado testified that defendant walked up to the porch and they were all "like panicking, what the hell." Defendant then went to his small red car and drove away with almost all of the other men who were on the porch, including Calzado. Thomas did not go with them.
¶ 19 Calzado testified that defendant drove to a gas station and got out of the car. Defendant had blood on his leg and shoelaces. Calzado testified that defendant said "I got evidence on my pants, I need to get rid of it." Defendant went into the bathroom and when he came out Calzado did not see blood on his leg. He saw blood on defendant's shoelaces but defendant threw the shoelaces away in the garbage can in front of the gas station. Everyone got back in the car and defendant dropped Calzado off at his home.
¶ 21 Lorenzo McKinney, known as "Low," testified that he was not a Satan Disciple but was affiliated with them. He was on the porch on Throop Street on July 12, 2009, with his brother, Maliek Green, Terrence Washington, Thomas, and Calzado, also known as "Tarzan" or "Day Dog." ...