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People v. Craigen

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

September 27, 2013

CHAPPEL CRAIGEN, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 08-CF-263 Honorable Fred L. Foreman, Judge, Presiding.

Justices Hudson and Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.



¶ 1 Following a jury trial, defendant, Chappel Craigen, was convicted of first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 2006)) for the shooting death of Jimmie Lewis, Jr., in Waukegan, Illinois, on October 18, 2007. Defendant was sentenced to 36 years' imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of first-degree murder under a theory of accountability, and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in not allowing him to introduce an audio recording of his October 27, 2007, interview with police in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during which he denied being in Waukegan on the night of the shooting. According to defendant, pursuant to Illinois Rule of Evidence 106 (eff. Jan. 1, 2011), the audio recording should have been introduced contemporaneously with the video recording of his January 16, 2008, interview with police in Clarksdale, Mississippi, during which he confessed to driving the vehicle from which Lewis was shot. For the following reasons, we affirm.


¶ 3 On October 18, 2007, around 11 p.m., Lewis was fatally shot as he rode in the passenger seat of a Cadillac driven by Daniel Williams (a.k.a. Keeko). The Cadillac was traveling west on 14th Street, which forms the border between the cities of Waukegan and North Chicago, Illinois. Three bullets were recovered from Lewis's body during an autopsy. Other than the Cadillac's driver and two backseat passengers, police located no eyewitnesses. A search of the scene produced five spent shell casings. Two more bullets were recovered from the Cadillac, which had seven bullet holes on the passenger side. Ballistics evidence revealed that all five shell casings and all five bullets were fired from the same 9-millimeter weapon, which was never recovered.

¶ 4 Waukegan police obtained their first lead on October 22, 2007, when North Chicago police informed them that an individual in the North Chicago jail had information about the shooting. Waukegan police interviewed Brandon Sledge, who identified the type of gun used in the shooting, the type of car, the individuals involved, and their seating arrangement in the car. Waukegan police arranged to have Sledge released from jail so that he could attempt to record a conversation with the alleged offenders, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

¶ 5 On October 26, 2007, Waukegan police received a phone call from a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, police detective, who informed them that two suspects in the investigation were in custody in Milwaukee on unrelated charges. Milwaukee police also had recovered a tan, four-door Saturn, which had been reported stolen in Illinois and which Waukegan police suspected had been used in the shooting. Waukegan detectives traveled to Milwaukee and interviewed defendant and Jabril Harmon. During an audio-recorded interview, defendant denied having any connection to the theft of the Saturn and denied being in Waukegan on October 18, 2007, the day of the shooting and the day the Saturn was reported stolen. Defendant refused to accompany the detectives back to Waukegan and was not arrested at that time.

¶ 6 On January 15, 2008, a Clarksdale, Mississippi, police detective contacted the Waukegan police and informed them that defendant and Donnell Green were in custody in Mississippi on unrelated charges. Waukegan police detectives Scott Thomas and Domenic Cappelluti traveled to Clarksdale to interview defendant and Green. Green was interviewed first, and approximately one hour later defendant was interviewed. During the video-recorded interview, defendant stated that he was the driver of the four-door Saturn from which the gun was fired. Green was the front seat passenger, Harmon was seated behind defendant, and Emmanuel (a.k.a. E-Man) was seated behind Green. The group had been driving to a liquor store when they spotted a beige Cadillac being driving by a rival gang member—a "Moe, " which was a member of the Black P Stone gang. Someone in the Saturn told defendant to make a U-turn, which he did. Defendant followed the Cadillac. Green pulled a gun out of a compartment of the Saturn and handed it to Harmon. As defendant drove the Saturn west on 14th Street alongside the Cadillac, Harmon fired four to eight shots into the passenger side of the Cadillac. The shots were meant for Williams, not Lewis. Defendant told the detectives that he had been a member of the Four Corner Hustlers gang since age 14 and that the motive for the shooting was an incident at an IHOP several months earlier during which he had been outnumbered by Black P Stone gang members during a fight. Defendant also told the detectives that he had obtained the Saturn in exchange for drugs. Following the shooting, the group went to Emmanuel's house, where they hid the gun. They traveled to Milwaukee the next morning and defendant subsequently fled to Mississippi.

¶ 7 On January 30, 2008, a grand jury indicted defendant and Green for first-degree murder. Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress the video of his Clarksdale, Mississippi, interview. At the hearing on the motion to suppress, Detectives Cappelluti and Thomas testified that their entire interview of defendant was captured on the video. Defendant testified that the recorded interview was staged and that, before the camera was turned on, the detectives had verbally and physically assaulted him and told him what to say during the interview. The trial court denied the motion.

¶ 8 Also prior to trial, defendant filed a motion in limine to admit, pursuant to Illinois Rule of Evidence 106 (eff. Jan. 1, 2011), the audio recording of his interview with police in Milwaukee. Defendant contended that the State planned to introduce the video of his Clarksdale interview and that the Milwaukee interview should be admitted contemporaneously to put the Clarksdale interview in context. Defendant argued that the Milwaukee interview was "critical to demonstrating that his second statement was not voluntary." The trial court determined that the Milwaukee interview was self-serving hearsay and was not admissible under Illinois Rule of Evidence 106. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider, arguing that the audio recording was not hearsay, because it was being offered not for the truth of the matter asserted but, rather, "to show the effect that the audio recording had on the officers who listened to it and used it to prepare for, and ultimately interrogate, the [d]efendant." The trial court denied the motion to reconsider.

¶ 9 The following evidence was adduced at defendant's trial. Tiffany Bishop testified that on October 18, 2007, she went with three other individuals to Chicago. Williams drove the group in his Cadillac. Lewis was seated in the front passenger seat, and Bishop was seated behind him. As the group was returning to Waukegan and driving along 14th Street with loud music playing, the passenger window shattered and Lewis slumped over in his seat. Bishop did not hear any gunshots. The group drove to Vista East Medical Center, where Lewis was pronounced dead. On cross-examination, Bishop testified that she never saw who was in the other car.

¶ 10 The State called several investigating officers and detectives from the Waukegan police department, who testified to the bullets and shell casings recovered at the scene, as well as to the ballistics evidence. The State also called a Lake County deputy coroner, who testified regarding the bullets recovered from Lewis's body and the cause of death.

¶ 11 Detective Thomas testified to his interview with Sledge on October 22, 2007, as well as to Sledge's unsuccessful attempt to record a conversation with the suspects in the investigation. Detective Thomas traveled to Milwaukee on October 27, 2007, but did not interview defendant. Detectives Reed and Holman interviewed defendant in Milwaukee. Detective Thomas then discussed interviewing defendant with Detective Cappelluti in Clarksdale on January 16, 2008. The video of the Clarksdale interview was played for the jury. On cross-examination, Detective Thomas denied having any conversations with defendant before the video started, and he denied being aware of any pre-video conversations between Detective Cappelluti and defendant. Prior to the Clarksdale interview, Detective Thomas knew that defendant had been interviewed in Milwaukee, and he also knew that the audio-recorded interview pertained to the events of October 18, 2007. Detective Thomas also knew that defendant had been uncooperative during the Milwaukee interview. When defense counsel attempted to ask whether, during the Milwaukee interview, defendant had denied being in Waukegan on October 18, 2007, the State objected on the basis that the court already had ruled the audio recording inadmissible, and the court sustained the objection.

¶ 12 Charles Smith testified that, on October 18, 2007, around 10:27 p.m., he left his house in Waukegan and went outside to his car, which was the tan, four-door Saturn subsequently recovered by Milwaukee police. As he was sitting in the car, smoking a cigarette and waiting for the car to warm up, someone tapped on the window. The individual pointed a black gun at him and told him to get out of the car. Smith exited the car, and the individual got in and drove away. Smith called the police. On cross-examination, Smith denied that he traded the car for drugs.

¶ 13 During a brief recess, defense counsel again asked the court to reconsider its ruling on the audio recording of the Milwaukee interview. Defense counsel asserted that defendant was withdrawing his alibi defense, so that he could not be offering the audio recording for the truth of the matter asserted (i.e., that defendant was not in Waukegan on October 18, 2007). Defense counsel further argued that the audio recording supported the defense's theory that "something happened" in Clarksdale before the video camera was turned on, because the detectives knew that defendant had been belligerent, foul-mouthed, and uncooperative during the Milwaukee interview, yet the video of the Clarksdale interview began with the officers "simply walk[ing] into" the room with defendant in a "defeated posture." Defendant contended that it was "a logical inference that these officers, knowing what they knew, might have acted differently than it appears that they did." The court again ruled that the audio recording was inadmissible self-serving hearsay.

ΒΆ 14 The State then called Sledge, who testified that he was incarcerated in the Lawrence Correctional Facility and that he had prior convictions of armed robbery, theft, forgery, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. During October 2007, Sledge was living with Emmanuel in North Chicago. Sledge admitted that he knew defendant, Harmon, and Green, but he denied that the three men came to his house around midnight on October 18, 2007. He also denied that defendant said to him, " 'Chill, Foe, we just got at the Moes, ' " or that, when asked who they "got at, " defendant said " 'Keeko [(Williams)] and them.' " He further denied that defendant had asked him to hide a black 9-millimeter handgun that night. Sledge admitted that police had arranged his release from the Lake County jail on October 23, 2007, so that he could wear a wire and attempt to record a conversation with either defendant or Harmon. Sledge was then impeached with his written statement to police, dated October 23, 2007, in which he stated that defendant, Harmon, and Green came to his house, that defendant said to him, " 'Chill, Foe, we just got at the Moes, ' " and that, when asked who they "got at, " defendant said " 'Keeko [(Williams)] and them.' " Sledge also reported in the statement that defendant had asked him to hide a black 9-millimeter handgun. Sledge explained that the written ...

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