Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Rosemary Grant-Higgins, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Salone
PRESIDING JUSTICE SALONE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Neville and Sterba concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Defendant, Angela Matthews, was convicted by a jury of first degree murder for the killing of Elmer Brown. On appeal, defendant argues the trial court improperly admitted the following evidence: (1) a polygraph test taken by one of the State's witnesses, (2) prior consistent statements made by a State witness, and (3) a videotape showing defendant in the police interrogation room. The first two claims are addressed below.
¶ 3 After friends were unable to get in touch with him for several days, Elmer Brown was reported missing on Friday, September 7, 2007. Police arrived at Brown's apartment shortly thereafter and found him dead, lying on his bedroom floor. He had been stabbed numerous times.
¶ 4 Defendant was dating Brown at the time of his death. She had keys to his apartment, where she often stayed, as well as keys to both of his vehicles. Defendant, a drug addict, was with Brown most of the day on September 3 and left Brown in his home around 10 p.m. in search of drugs. She used drugs twice on this outing, with two friends. When she returned to Brown's apartment early in the morning on September 4, she discovered Brown had been killed. Defendant stated she was afraid to call police because, since she had been living there, her DNA and fingerprints were in the apartment and she saw no signs of forced entry. After covering Brown's body with a sheet, she quickly gathered some of her belongings and left the apartment, taking one of Brown's cars.
¶ 5 Defendant spotted another friend and drug addict, Sherry Dillon, walking down the street and offered her a ride. The two got high together, and defendant told Dillon she knew of a way for the two of them to get money to purchase more drugs. She took Dillon to Brown's apartment, planning to take and sell his flat-screen television. The television was located in the bedroom, where Brown's body was. Defendant and Dillon took the television and sold it a little while later, splitting the proceeds. Defendant took Dillon home, then went to her mother's home. Dillon did not alert the police to Brown's death.
¶ 6 When police discovered Brown's body, a short investigation led to the arrest of Dillon for the theft of Brown's television. Dillon was taken to the police station and interviewed by two detectives. She then was given a polygraph exam. After the polygraph exam, Dillon gave a statement to an assistant State's Attorney (ASA) in which she stated defendant claimed to have killed Brown. Dillon was held in custody through the weekend, then taken to testify before a grand jury the following Monday. Dillon was later released from police custody, without being charged with any crime in connection with the theft of Brown's television or with his murder. Defendant was eventually arrested and charged with Brown's murder.
¶ 7 At trial, the State called Dillon to testify. She stated that while she and defendant were on their way to Brown's apartment, defendant claimed to have killed Brown but refused to give any additional explanation of what happened. Dillon testified that at no time did any police officer or the ASA promise her anything in exchange for her statement, nor did anyone coerce her into giving the statement. The State also called two of the detectives who interviewed Dillon. Each of them also corroborated Dillon's testimony that she had not been coerced or promised anything in exchange for her statement.
¶ 8 The defense called Rena Hull-Hughey, the defendant's mother, to testify. Hull-Hughey stated that about three weeks after defendant's arrest, she confronted Dillon about her statement to police. According to Hull-Hughey, Dillon said she was told that if she did not give a statement against defendant, she (Dillon)would be charged with Brown's murder. Hull-Hughey also testified that Dillon explained the reason she had been released from custody and not charged with a crime was because she gave the statement implicating defendant.
¶ 9 The State then sought to introduce evidence of Dillon's polygraph exam, to which the defense counsel objected. After carefully considering the arguments by both parties, the court concluded that the evidence was admissible, provided the jury was instructed not to consider it for any purpose other than the circumstances leading to Dillon's statement to the ASA. After the jury was properly instructed on the polygraph evidence, the defendant was convicted. This timely appeal followed.