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People v. Legore

Court of Appeals of Illinois

September 11, 2013

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Nathaniel R. LEGORE, Defendant-Appellant.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Thomas A. Lilien, Vicki P. Kouros, State Appellate Defender's Office, Elgin, for appellant.

Michael G. Nerheim, State's Attorney, Waukegan (Lawrence M. Bauer, Marshall M. Stevens, State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

OPINION

SPENCE, Justice.

[374 Ill.Dec. 703] ¶ 1 Following a jury trial, defendant, Nathaniel R. Legore, was convicted of the first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a) (West 2008)) of his father, Guillermo Legore. Guillermo was found shot to death in his home in North Chicago. On appeal, defendant argues that: (1) the indictment should have been dismissed with prejudice because it was secured by false testimony; (2) he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) he is entitled to a new trial because the State improperly shifted the burden of proof in rebuttal closing argument. We affirm.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 On December 29, 2010, a Lake County grand jury indicted defendant for Guillermo's murder. On May 23, 2011, defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. Defendant alleged, in relevant part, that the prosecution presented false testimony that an electrician saw him near the house where the murder occurred, whereas there actually was no such eyewitness identification. The trial court denied the motion after an evidentiary hearing on June 30, 2011. It stated that, while the presentation to the grand jury was " sloppy" and " careless," the State did not use perjured testimony to obtain the bill of indictment.

¶ 4 Defendant's jury trial began on July 25, 2011. We summarize the evidence presented by the State. On March 2, 2009, Guillermo worked as a security guard at a Waukegan middle school. Just before 11 a.m. that day, a coworker who was leaving for lunch volunteered to bring back food for Guillermo, and he asked for a shake. At about 11 a.m., Guillermo received a cell phone call and told the assistant principal that he had to go home for a family emergency and would be right back. At about 11:30 or 11:45 a.m., the coworker returned with Guillermo's shake and called him on his walkie-talkie but could not find him.

¶ 5 At about 4:30 p.m. the same day, police and paramedics were called to Guillermo's home at 2331 Honore in Waukegan. There were no signs of forced entry to the house. Phyllis Curry, Guillermo's live-in girlfriend, directed the police to Guillermo, who was facedown in a closet [374 Ill.Dec. 704]

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and deceased. there was blood on the closet wall.

¶ 6 Forensic pathologist Manuel Montez, who worked as a consultant for the Lake County coroner's office, testified that he relied on the deputy coroner's report, which indicated that rigor mortis and lividity (pooling of the blood) in Guillermo's body were in their early stages at about 5:30 or 5:40 p.m. on March 2. Rigor mortis and lividity begin four to six hours after death. However, rigor mortis could take longer if the ambient temperature were cooler. Montez opined that the cause of Guillermo's death was an " execution-style" gunshot wound to the back of the head. He further opined that when Guillermo was shot he was kneeling with his head down. A .32-caliber bullet was recovered from the body.

¶ 7 Larry Carley, a pipefitter for North Shore Gas, testified that he was working on a service call at 2333 Honore on March 2, 2009. It was cold outside. Around 11:15 a.m., he saw a person walking south on Honore, toward Carley's truck. Carley got up to make sure the doors were locked because his truck was full of tools. The individual walked passed Carley, and Carley returned to his work. Carley did not observe the gender or race of the individual. However, he observed that the person was wearing jeans and a dark jacket, with the hood up. Carley described the jacket as a " [w]inter parka, the puffy type now with fur around the head, face of the hood." The North Chicago police showed Carley a photograph of a person walking down a sidewalk (State's exhibit 46), and Carley testified that it could have been the person he saw.

¶ 8 The State additionally presented evidence regarding defendant's whereabouts. Defendant lived in Boston with his second cousin, Timothy Smith, in Smith's apartment beginning sometime around February 2008. Defendant was not employed and did not help with the bills. In February 2009, Smith lost his job and said that defendant needed to move out. On February 22, 2009, defendant, accompanied by Smith, dropped off personal belongings at his grandmother's home in Boston, telling her that the apartment was being painted. Defendant previously told Smith not to tell his grandmother that he was not living with Smith anymore. Parts of the apartment were being painted, according to Smith, but that was not why defendant was moving his things. The belongings that defendant dropped off included a bracelet and watch he wore " [a]ll the time," according to a different cousin, as well as two driver's licenses and an expired gun license. After dropping his things off, defendant asked Smith to drop him off at a Panera Bread that was near a bus and train station. Defendant was wearing a tan, puffy coat with a hood. Defendant did not tell his grandmother that he was going to Chicago.

¶ 9 Business records showed that defendant checked into the Great Lakes Navy Lodge, a hotel for military personnel and their families, on February 27, 2009. He checked out on March 3, 2009. He made the $65-per-night payments for the room in cash.

¶ 10 Cell phone records indicated that the last call Guillermo answered on his cell phone was at 11:06 a.m. on March 2, 2009, and that it came from a number traced to a pay phone at the Great Lakes train station. Surveillance video showed a man in a tan coat at the Great Lakes train station platform, in the area where the pay phones are located, at 11:04 a.m. Another surveillance video showed defendant entering the Naval Base at 11:47 a.m.

¶ 11 On March 3, 2009, defendant went to the police station. He asked why Guillermo's house was boarded up and said [374 Ill.Dec. 705]

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that the police should not have Guillermo's car, because he was not killed in it.

¶ 12 Defendant's half-sister ran into defendant on March 6, 2009. He had all of his belongings with him in a duffel bag. She offered to let defendant stay with her, and he did so for two nights. Defendant told her that he was in Chicago when a friend told him that Guillermo's house was on fire, and he came to North Chicago to see what had happened. Defendant also mentioned numerous times that he wanted to get into the house. Defendant next stayed for two or three weeks with a family he knew in Guillermo's neighborhood, and he said that he would like to live in Guillermo's house and pay the mortgage on it.

¶ 13 Nathan Legore, defendant's twin brother, testified that after defendant moved to Boston in October 2006 he had a conversation with him. Defendant was very upset with Guillermo because Guillermo was supposed to sell defendant's furniture in Illinois but never gave defendant the money from the sale. When Nathan was talking to defendant on the phone a few days after Guillermo died, defendant said that he could not have been the perpetrator because he had given Nathan the key to Guillermo's house. Nathan denied having a key. Nathan identified the coat pictured in State's exhibit 46 as the type of coat that defendant owned. Nathan agreed that he was a convicted felon and that, prior to his testifying in this case, outstanding warrants against him were dismissed.

¶ 14 The North Chicago police interviewed defendant three times. The first interview occurred on March 7, 2009. During the first interview, defendant said that he did not remember where he was on March 2, when his father was killed. He also said that he did not care what happened to his father, and that the last person who spoke to Guillermo would probably know something.

¶ 15 Defendant's second interview took place on January 14, 2010, and was audio-recorded. Defendant again stated that he did not know where he was on the day of Guillermo's death. He said that he found out about the murder on March 3, 2009, from a childhood friend, who said that his house was boarded up. Defendant then called another friend, who told him what had happened. Defendant said that he had a brown goose-down jacket when he came to Illinois from Boston, but he could not remember what happened to it. The police showed defendant State exhibit 49, an image from surveillance video taken at the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital, and defendant identified himself in the image and the jacket that he owned. Defendant denied having a key to Guillermo's house or killing Guillermo.

¶ 16 Defendant's third interview occurred on December 6, 2010, and was video-recorded. Defendant agreed that the only family members Guillermo had in the area on March 2, 2009, were himself and Curry. Defendant had arranged about one week earlier to meet his father for lunch, but he later texted Guillermo to cancel. Defendant did not remember if he had called Guillermo from the train station on March 2. When the detectives told defendant that a camera showed him calling Guillermo from a pay phone at the station, defendant did not deny making the call but said that he did not remember what he talked to Guillermo about.

¶ 17 Terell Price testified for the defense that in March 2009 he worked second shift at the middle school where Guillermo was employed. Price called Guillermo at about 11 a.m. on March 2, 2009, because it was Casimir Pulaski day and Price was not sure if it was a school holiday. Guillermo said that the school was open. Price came [374 Ill.Dec. 706]

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into school at about 1 p.m. and saw Guillermo there.

¶ 18 We summarize the State's closing argument on the topic of defendant's motive. Defendant hated Guillermo, as shown by Nathan's testimony that defendant was angry at Guillermo for not giving him the money from his furniture sale and by defendant's statement to police, five days after the murder, that he did not care what happened to Guillermo. After defendant had to leave his cousin's house in Boston, he had no job and no place to live. He decided to come to Chicago and kill Guillermo to get Guillermo's house and money, so he did not tell anyone about his travel plans or about his presence until after the murder. The following day, he went to the police station asking about Guillermo's house and car, and he also talked to the neighbor and his sister about getting the house.

¶ 19 The jury found defendant guilty of first-degree murder, and the trial court sentenced him to 50 years' imprisonment. Following the denial of his motion to ...


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