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The People of the State of Illinois v. Juvon F. Mays

August 30, 2012


Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 08CF2293 Honorable Thomas J. Difanis, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Appleton

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

Justices McCullough and Cook concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 In December 2008, the State charged defendant, Juvon F. Mays, with three counts of first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1), (a)(2) (West 2008)) in the shooting death of Corinthian "Shawn" Spinks. On August 31, 2009, on the day of trial, the State filed three additional charges: one for home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(3) (West 2008)) and two for first degree felony murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3) (West 2008)) relating to the same incident. The jury convicted defendant of the new charges, as the State had abandoned the original murder charges. The trial court sentenced defendant to 60 years in prison.

¶ 2 Defendant appealed his convictions, claiming the State violated his right to a speedy trial by failing to bring him to trial within 120 days on the new and additional charges-charges which were subject to compulsory joinder. He asserted his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to move to dismiss the new charges based on a speedy-trial violation. He also claimed his trial counsel was ineffective for forwarding the prosecutor a letter with incriminating information without his permission and for demonstrating a misunderstanding of the theories of accountability and felony murder. He further claimed the trial court erred in failing to conduct an adequate Krankel inquiry (see People v. Krankel, 102 Ill. 2d 181 (1984)) into his ineffective-assistance claims.

¶ 3 With regard to his sentencing judgment, defendant claimed the trial court erred by considering improper factors in fashioning the sentence. And, he disputed the imposition of certain fines and the amount of credit awarded.

¶ 4 Initially, we affirmed his conviction on the speedy-trial issue and affirmed his sentence but determined that the ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim would be best considered in a post-conviction proceeding. People v. Mays, 2011 IL App (4th) 090840-U (filed November 7, 2011, and modified on denial of rehearing on December 15, 2011; vacated May 9, 2012, pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court supervisory order). The supreme court, pursuant to its supervisory authority, directed this court to vacate our judgment and address the merits of defendant's claim or address the issue of whether the trial court failed to conduct a Krankel inquiry. See People v. Mays, No. 113685 (Ill. Mar. 28, 2012) (nonprecedential supervisory order on denial of petition for leave to appeal). We have done so, without disturbing our previous decision on the speedy-trial and sentencing issues, and now affirm as modified and remand for further proceedings consistent with Krankel in accordance with our decision below.


¶ 6 On December 22, 2008, the State charged defendant with three counts of first degree murder for the December 20, 2008, shooting death of Corinthian "Shawn" Spinks. On February 5, 2009, the grand jury issued superseding indictments, alleging defendant, without justification and (1) with the intent to kill or do great bodily harm (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2008)) (count I), (2) knowing that such acts could cause death (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2008)) (count II), and (3) knowing that such acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 2008)) (count III), personally shot and killed Spinks.

¶ 7 On March 24, 2009, defendant's public defender, Randall Rosenbaum, filed a motion to continue the trial "in the interests of justice." On April 21, 2009, the State filed a motion to continue to secure forensic test results before proceeding to trial. On May 19, 2009, the trial court vacated the appointment of the public defender. Defendant's new attorney, G. Ronald Kesinger, filed an entry of appearance and a motion to continue. Defendant's jury trial was rescheduled to begin on August 31, 2009.

¶ 8 On August 17, 2009, Kesinger filed another motion to continue, claiming (1) he was involved in other litigation that compromised his ability to adequately prepare for defendant's trial, and (2) he was in the process of contacting witnesses. The trial court denied counsel's motion.

¶ 9 Included in the court file is a letter dated August 26, 2009 (filed August 31, 2009), from Kesinger to Duke Harris, a Champaign County assistant State's Attorney, stating that he would be proceeding with a defense that the shooting of Spinks was accidental. Kesinger reported that defendant's cousin, Brian Shaw, was with defendant at the time of the incident and was the person wearing the camouflage coat and "who had the pistol which discharged and killed Mr. Spinks." Apparently, defendant and Shaw were "trying to get [defendant's] personal property back as Brian Shaw had learned earlier in the morning that Roger Brown, and Spinks and another guy named 'Dude' were the ones who burglarized [defendant's] apartment. They went in with Brown's key and then kicked in the door to make it look like a forced entry." Defendant and Shaw wanted to confront Spinks about the burglary. When Spinks opened the door and saw defendant and Shaw, he tried to close it, but defendant "tried to put his arm through the door to get in." According to Kesinger, "the door hit the gun which Shaw had in his hand and it discharged." In the letter, Kesinger encouraged Harris to have Rantoul police officers reinterview the witnesses. He also requested a grant of immunity for a charge of obstruction of justice for several named witnesses "in order to obtain the truth" from them at trial.

¶ 10 As a result of Kesinger's letter, on August 31, 2009, the State filed three additional charges against defendant. The prosecutor informed the trial court that Kesinger's letter "was tantamount to a confession to a felony murder," and he "felt at that point in time it was appropriate to add that charge." In count IV, the State alleged defendant, without lawful justification, while committing or attempting to commit a forcible felony, home invasion, personally discharged a firearm in Spinks's direction, thereby causing Spinks's death. See 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3) (West 2008). In count V, the State alleged, defendant, or one for whose conduct he was legally responsible, while committing or attempting to commit a forcible felony, home invasion, discharged a firearm in Spinks's direction, thereby causing Spinks's death. See 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3) (West 2008). In count VI, the State alleged defendant committed a home invasion in that he entered Spinks's home, located at 1404 Hobson Drive, Apartment B, in Rantoul, knowing that one or more persons were present and while armed with a firearm, threatened to use imminent force against Spinks and his wife, in that defendant threatened Spinks and his wife with the firearm. See 720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(3) (West 2008).

¶ 11 Defendant's counsel filed an objection to the State's motion to file additional charges on the day scheduled for trial on the basis that he was ill-prepared to present a defense to these new charges. Counsel did not request they be dismissed on speedy-trial grounds. Noting that the felony murder charges were simply "different ways of charging the offense of first-degree murder," the trial court allowed the State to file, and to proceed to trial on, the additional charges and denied Kesinger's motion to withdraw as counsel.

¶ 12 Defendant's trial began on August 31, 2009, and continued over the course of five days. Since defendant does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, only those facts necessary to resolve the issues raised will be stated. Twanda Spinks testified first for the State. She said that, at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Saturday December 20, 2008, she, her husband Shawn (hereinafter referred to as Spinks), and her five children were in their apartment at 1404 Hobson Drive. She heard a knock on their door. She and Spinks had a rule that no one opened the door but him. Twanda went to the door and asked who it was. She could not make out the response, so she got Spinks out of bed. She had looked out the peephole and saw a man standing at the door with his head down. Another man, wearing a black leather coat, was standing across the hallway.

¶ 13 Spinks went to the door and asked who it was. Twanda could not hear the response. Spinks began turning the handle to open the door when a man forced his way into the apartment. Spinks struggled to keep the man out. During the struggle, the gun fired and a bullet hit Spinks. The man, wearing a ski mask and a camouflage jacket, entered the apartment and forced Twanda into the kitchen at gunpoint. He said: "Give it to me." Twanda had no idea what he was talking about. She asked: "Give you what?" She begged him to leave because her kids were home. She said he paused, put the gun down to his side, and ran out of the apartment.

¶ 14 Kathleen Faber, the apartment complex manager, testified there were four apartments on the first floor of their building. She lived next door to defendant, who lived across from Spinks. Defendant had lived in the complex for two months prior to the shooting. At the time of the incident, she heard "a big boom." She opened her apartment door and saw defendant run down the hallway. He was wearing a camouflage jacket and a black stocking cap, not pulled over his face. She went inside to get her telephone and keys and then saw another man exit Spinks's apartment and enter defendant's apartment. The other man, whom Faber described as "very tall" with an Afro, wore a white "hoodie."

¶ 15 Latonia Perry testified that she lived directly above Spinks. On the morning of the incident, she left her apartment for work at approximately 9:30 a.m. She went down the stairs and saw a man in a camouflage coat and a ski mask "bammin and knockin" on Spinks's door. She did not see anyone else around. She heard someone inside the apartment asking who was at the door. The man in the ski mask looked at Perry "real like eerie" and told her something was going to happen and she should not be in the area. She proceeded to take her son to his babysitter in the next building. She went back to her apartment and then heard a loud "bam or shot" coming from Spinks's apartment. She saw the man in the camouflage coat walk out into the courtyard from their building and around the next building, while taking off his mask.

¶ 16 Roger Brown, a neighbor, first testified about his criminal history. He said he had been convicted "for drugs" in 2001 and burglary in 1997. He and his fiancee lived at 1405 Hobson Drive, another building within the apartment complex, where he worked as a maintenance man. On the morning of the incident, Brown was on his way to visit defendant. Twanda came out of her apartment and told Brown that Spinks had been shot. Brown entered Spinks's apartment and saw Spinks lying on the floor. Brown left when the police arrived. Brown saw defendant standing in the courtyard "with everybody else," but he could not recall what defendant was wearing. He denied telling the police that defendant was wearing a white long-sleeved thermal shirt.

¶ 17 Dana Laidley, security supervisor at Walmart in Rantoul, testified that the police had contacted her after the incident, indicating that a suspect had been in the store prior to the shooting. She searched her video surveillance recordings and found a video of the "gentleman with the coat that was in question" at register 18 checking out during the early morning hours before the shooting. A photograph taken from the video depicted defendant at the cash register wearing the camouflage coat and stocking cap that were found at the scene.

¶ 18 Several Rantoul police officers testified about their individual involvement in the shooting investigation. One officer found a camouflage coat in a storage closet on the second floor of defendant's apartment building. Several witnesses had reported seeing defendant wearing the coat on the morning of the incident. Inside the pockets of the coat, officers found (1) a bank deposit slip bearing defendant's name, (2) an envelope with a house key inside, with the name "Mays" and "1404 Hobson Drive, Apartment D," written on the outside, and (3) a pair of latex gloves. Another officer found two handguns, two stocking caps, and a white glove lying on the ground outside of one of the apartment buildings within the complex.

¶ 19 Michael Kyrouac of the Illinois State Police testified that he investigated the shooting. He noticed a bullet hole in Spinks's apartment door, apparently the entry hole, which had soot around it. This indicated that the barrel of the gun was fired in close proximity to the door. Further, according to Kyrouac, the manner in which the soot was distributed around the hole indicated that the shooting did not occur as a result of the door hitting the gun causing it to discharge. On cross-examination, Kyrouac testified that no latent fingerprints were found on the guns.

¶ 20 Matthew Bross, a Rantoul police officer, testified that on December 20, 2008, at approximately 2:30 a.m., he was dispatched to defendant's apartment for a reported burglary. (These events took place before the shooting, which occurred later that same morning.) When Bross arrived, he met with defendant in the presence of three females. Defendant reported that the burglary to his apartment apparently occurred between 3 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Bross noticed a footprint on the front door of defendant's apartment. Defendant believed a maintenance man, Brown, may have been responsible because he had seen defendant bringing the items that were taken into his apartment. Brown was working at defendant's neighbor's apartment at the time. Defendant reported that two televisions, an Xbox game console, a video game, a Dell computer, and his children's Christmas gifts were taken.

ΒΆ 21 Everett Krueger, a parole agent with the Illinois Department of Corrections, testified that he supervised defendant's parole beginning in October 2008. Defendant had been compliant with the terms of his parole. He maintained contact with Krueger and had secured employment. Defendant wore an electronic detention monitoring system on his ankle, so Krueger was able to discern that defendant had left his apartment at 9:31 a.m. on Saturday December 20, 2008. ...

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