Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 05 CR 8412 Honorable Thomas V. Gainer, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Murphy
JUSTICE MURPHY delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Quinn and Connors concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Following a jury trial, defendant Walter Campbell was found guilty of one count of first degree murder and two counts of attempted first degree murder and was sentenced to 50 years' imprisonment for first degree murder and two concurrent 28-year terms for attempted first degree murder to be served consecutively to the murder sentence. On appeal, defendant contends that he was denied a fair trial where the trial court admitted evidence showing that he was a gang member, failed to inquire during voir dire whether any prospective jurors would have been unable to be fair and impartial due to evidence of his gang membership, and failed to advise the jury of the limited purpose for which such evidence could be considered. Defendant also contends that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request a limiting instruction regarding the gang membership evidence and that he was denied a fair trial where the prosecutor made improper comments during rebuttal argument. In addition, defendant contends that the court erred by failing to provide the jury with a modified version of Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions Criminal No. 3.11 (4th ed. 2000) (hereinafter, IPI Criminal 4th No. 3.11) prepared by defense counsel or an instruction for second degree murder. Defendant further contends that the court erred in making a number of rulings during defense counsel's opening statement, cross-examination of two State witnesses, and closing argument. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
¶ 3 Defendant and co-defendant, Victor Perry, were charged with the first degree murder of Chadwick Jamison, the attempted first degree murders of Christopher Roundtree and Robert Walton, and aggravated discharge of a firearm. At trial, Roundtree testified that he was a member of the Black P. Stone street gang and that beginning about 3 p.m. on March 4, 2005, he rode around with Jamison, Walton, and Charles Gill in Jamison's Chevrolet Lumina while they drank alcohol and smoked marijuana. Shortly before 10 p.m. that night, the four of them stopped at a gas station located within Black P. Stone territory at the intersection of 66th Street and Stony Island Avenue. Roundtree saw defendant, Perry, and some of their friends at the gas station, and believed they were all members of the Gangster Disciples gang. Roundtree knew defendant and Perry from the neighborhood and thought defendant was a Gangster Disciple because he hung around with people from that gang. Defendant had a purple Dodge Intrepid with him and Perry had a purplish Buick Riviera.
¶ 4 Upon arriving at the gas station, Jamison jumped out of his car, walked to within three or four feet of defendant and asked him "what the fuck y'all doing up here?" Defendant responded that Jamison should leave before he got himself killed. Roundtree and Gill then exited Jamison's vehicle and defendant told Gill "to tell his little boy to get off that before he get himself -- or before I kill his ass." A number of people affiliated with the Black P. Stones began arriving at the gas station, including Walton's brother, and defendant and Perry entered their vehicles, pulled out of the gas station, and drove away. As they did so, defendant hit Jamison's car, and Jamison grabbed a baseball bat from Walton's brother's car and threw it at defendant's vehicle as he drove away.
¶ 5 Roundtree, Jamison, Walton, and Gill then reentered Jamison's car, and Jamison drove them to Roundtree's house to drop off Gill. Jamison pulled up in the alley behind Roundtree's house, and Roundtree exited the vehicle so he could close the gate after Gill went inside. While at the gate, Roundtree saw Perry's vehicle pull up at the mouth of the alley, heard about five gunshots come from Perry's car, and jumped inside Jamison's car. Although the back window of Jamison's vehicle was shot out by the gunshots, none of the occupants of the car were injured. After the shooting, Perry's car drove away, Gill ran inside Roundtree's house, and Jamison drove away with Roundtree and Walton in his vehicle.
¶ 6 Shortly thereafter, Roundtree observed that defendant and Perry were following them in defendant's car. Jamison drove faster to try and get away, but crashed into a pole near 65th Street and Blackstone Avenue. After the crash, defendant's vehicle slowly approached Jamison's car from behind until it stopped and defendant emerged holding a semiautomatic handgun. Jamison put the car in reverse, and defendant ran toward the car as he did so and fired about five shots at the vehicle through the empty back window from about 10 feet away. Roundtree, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, put Jamison's car into drive, and Jamison hit the accelerator, which caused the vehicle to jump and crash into the back of a parked car. Defendant then ran toward the driver's side of Jamison's vehicle and fired about five more shots before his gun jammed and he released the shells from his gun. As defendant was doing so, Walton jumped out of the backseat of Jamison's vehicle and ran away. Once defendant's gun was no longer jammed, he fired it at Walton as he ran. In the meantime, Roundtree and Jamison were both trying to exit through the front passenger door of Jamison's car and Jamison then tried to exit through the same rear door as Walton. Defendant fired about five more shots inside Jamison's car, and Roundtree felt Jamison's body drop as he exited the vehicle. Defendant then ran back to his car and entered the passenger door, and Perry, who was in the driver's seat, drove away. Roundtree saw Jamison's body hanging out the back of the car and could hear him choking on his blood. Although one of the bullets had grazed Roundtree on his side, he was otherwise uninjured by the shooting.
¶ 7 The police arrived at the scene about one minute after Perry and defendant had driven away, and Roundtree spoke to a detective there and was then taken to the police station. About 3:30 a.m. on March 5, 2005, Roundtree was presented with a set of photographs by a police detective from which he identified a picture of the person who killed Jamison and a picture of the driver of the shooter's car. About 4:50 p.m. that same day, Roundtree viewed a lineup at the police station and identified defendant as the shooter and Perry as the man who drove his car following the shooting.
¶ 8 On cross-examination, Roundtree stated that while he was obligated by his gang loyalty to come to the aid of other members of his gang, he was not required to do harm to members of other gangs. Roundtree also stated that the Black P. Stones and Gangster Disciples were at war at the time of the shooting and that if he had come in contact with a Gangster Disciple at that time, he probably would have beaten him up, but would not have lied to the police about him. Roundtree further stated that he provided the police with a statement at about 9:15 p.m. on March 5, 2005, and the prosecutor stipulated that in that statement, Roundtree did not relate that he had heard defendant tell Jamison that he would kill him during their verbal confrontation at the gas station.
¶ 9 Walton testified that he spent the daytime hours of March 4, 2005, smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol with Jamison and Roundtree, fellow members of the Black P. Stone gang, as Jamison drove them around in his white Chevrolet Lumina. About 9 p.m. that evening, they picked up Gill and went to a gas station located in Black P. Stone territory at 66th Street and Stony Island Avenue. When they arrived, Walton saw defendant and Perry, members of the rival Gangster Disciples gang, in the gas station parking lot, and also saw defendant's maroon Intrepid and Perry's maroon Riviera. Walton and Jamison exited the vehicle, and Jamison told defendant and Perry that they were not supposed to be at that gas station. Walton's brother arrived at the station shortly thereafter in his Toyota Camry with additional members of the Black P. Stones, and defendant and Perry then entered their cars and drove away. As defendant did so, he hit Jamison's car and said he would return "and kill all of you hook-ass niggers."
¶ 10 Walton, Jamison, Roundtree, and Perry then reentered Jamison's car, and Jamison drove them to the alley behind Roundtree's house to drop off Perry. Roundtree exited the vehicle and Gill was about to get out of the car when Walton saw Perry's vehicle pull up at the side of the street by the alley and heard about eight gunshots, which destroyed the back window of Jamison's car. Perry's vehicle then drove away, Gill exited Jamison's car and went in Roundtree's house, and Roundtree entered the front passenger seat of Jamison's car. Jamison pulled out of the alley and was driving around the neighborhood when Walton saw defendant's vehicle chasing his brother's car. Walton's brother was able to drive away, and defendant then turned his car around and chased Jamison until Jamison's car slid into a pole at 65th Street and Blackstone Avenue. Walton saw defendant exit from the driver's seat of his vehicle while holding a semiautomatic handgun and run toward Jamison's car, firing about 15 shots as he did so. Defendant's gun then jammed, and Walton jumped out of Jamison's car and ran away as defendant started shooting at him. Walton looked back when the gunshots had stopped and saw defendant run back to his car and enter on the passenger side before the car pulled away.
¶ 11 Walton continued running until he was stopped by police about two blocks away from the shooting. Walton was then taken to the police station, where he told the detectives that defendant was the shooter and identified defendant from a set of photographs shown to him on a computer. On March 6, 2005, Walton returned to the police station and viewed a lineup from which he identified the shooter. Walton further testified that although he and Roundtree were both taken to the police station following the shooting, they were kept separate from one another while he was there.
¶ 12 On cross-examination, Walton stated that about 4:15 a.m. on March 6, 2005, he spoke with an assistant State's Attorney, that the assistant State's Attorney prepared a written statement from their conversation and read it back to him, and that he then signed each page. Walton also stated that although he told the assistant State's Attorney that defendant had said at the gas station that he would come back to kill him and Jamison, the assistant State's Attorney did not include that part when she read the statement back to him and he did not alert her of the error. In addition, Walton stated that although it was his gang's policy to do harm to members of a rival gang and he and defendant were in rival gangs, it was not his gang's policy to lie to police about a rival gang member. Walton further stated that Jamison threw a baseball bat at defendant's car as he drove away from the gas station. On redirect examination, Walton testified that defendant said at the gas station that he would be back "to clear him up" and that he believed defendant had intended that to mean that he would kill him and Jamison.
¶ 13 Chicago police forensic investigator Robert Tovar testified that about 10:30 p.m. on March 4, 2005, he went to the area of 6502 South Blackstone and observed a Chevrolet Lumina, which had been damaged and appeared to have struck a parked car. Investigator Tovar further testified that he observed and recovered firearm evidence that was strewn around the street and the car. Forensic scientist Fred Tomasek, an expert in firearms identification, testified that he analyzed the firearm evidence collected by Investigator Tovar and determined that the fired cartridge cases had all been fired from the same firearm; that the fired bullets, bullet jackets, and bullet jacket fragments had all been fired from the same firearm; and that it was not possible to compare the fired cartridge cases with the bullets, jackets, and fragments.
¶ 14 Based on this evidence, the jury found defendant guilty of the first degree murder of Jamison and the attempted first degree murders of Roundtree and Walton. Defendant was then sentenced to 50 years' imprisonment for murder and two concurrent 28-year terms for attempted murder to run consecutively to the sentence for murder.
¶ 17 Defendant contends that he was denied a fair trial where the trial court admitted evidence of his gang membership, failed to ask prospective jurors during voir dire whether they could be fair and impartial in light of the gang membership evidence, and failed to advise the jury of the limited purpose for which such evidence could be used. Defendant also contends that counsel was ineffective for failing to request a special jury instruction regarding such evidence.
¶ 19 Defendant asserts that the trial court erred by admitting evidence showing that he was a member of a gang, and the State first responds that he has forfeited this issue by failing to object to the challenged evidence at trial or raise this issue in his posttrial motion for a new trial. To preserve an issue for appeal, a defendant must object at trial and raise the issue in a posttrial motion. People v. Baez, 241 Ill. 2d 44, 129 (2011). Defendant maintains that this court should nonetheless review the issue under the plain-error doctrine.
¶ 20 The plain-error rule bypasses normal forfeiture principles and permits reviewing courts to consider unpreserved error in certain circumstances. ...