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People v. Geiger

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

April 17, 2015

TERRELL D. GEIGER, Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 21st Judicial Circuit, Kankakee County, Illinois. Circuit No. 08-MR-518. Honorable Clark E. Erickson, Judge, Presiding.

Fletcher P. Hamill, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Elgin, for appellant.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Chicago (Michael M. Glick and Joshua M. Schneider, Assistant Attorneys General, of counsel), for the People.

JUSTICE WRIGHT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Lytton dissented, with opinion.



Page 1207

[¶1] The State prosecuted Terrell D. Geiger for direct criminal contempt for his refusal to testify against Javar Hollins during Hollins' 2008 retrial for charges arising out of two drug-related double homicides that occurred in March of 1999. The trial court found Geiger guilty of the offense of direct criminal contempt due to his refusal to testify against Hollins. The trial court sentenced Geiger to serve 20 years' imprisonment, but the supreme court reversed the sentence and remanded the matter to the trial court for resentencing. People v. Geiger, 2012 IL 113181, 978 N.E.2d 1061, 365 Ill.Dec. 558. On remand, the trial court resentenced defendant to 10 years' imprisonment. Defendant now appeals the 10-year sentence on the grounds that the punishment was grossly disproportionate to the nature of the offense and asks this court to reduce the sentence to time served. We affirm.

[¶2] FACTS

[¶3] On March 18, 1999, police discovered the bodies of Lazerick Martin and Michael Cox. Both men had been fatally shot. Geiger, who was 15 years old at the time of the 1999 shootings, provided a statement to the police concerning the events that preceded the shootings. However, Geiger was not arrested or prosecuted for any offense directly related to the murders.

Page 1208

[¶4] Instead, the State charged Dana Dixon, Joseph Mason, and Javar Hollins with offenses related to the March 18, 1999, shooting deaths. Over the course of many years, Dixon, Mason, and Hollins were convicted of criminal offenses related to the March 18, 1999, murders in proceedings conducted by Judge Clark Erickson. Judge Erickson sentenced Dixon, Mason, and Hollins separately for their roles in the double homicide.

[¶5] Multiple appeals have resulted from Mason's and Hollins' convictions for murder and Geiger's related conviction for direct criminal contempt. The summary of facts below has been compiled by this court from both the record in this appeal, together with the summary of facts compiled by each reviewing court in the following appellate and supreme court decisions: People v. Mason, 331 Ill.App.3d 1147 (2002) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23); People v. Hollins, 366 Ill.App.3d 533, 852 N.E.2d 414, 304 Ill.Dec. 164 (2006); People v. Hollins, 2011 IL App. (3d) 090126-U; People v. Hollins, 2014 IL App. (3d) 120806-U; People v. Geiger, 2011 IL App. (3d) 090688, 958 N.E.2d 748, 354 Ill.Dec. 816; People v. Geiger, 2012 IL 113181, 978 N.E.2d 1061, 365 Ill.Dec. 558.

[¶6] Shortly after the homicides, both Geiger and Hollins gave statements to the police. The authorities interviewed Hollins before Geiger. Hollins was interviewed by the authorities on April 1, 1999, and again on April 2, 1999. During the first interview, Hollins told the police he was not involved in the shootings and that Mason, Dixon, and Geiger committed the crimes. During the second interview, Hollins said he acted as a lookout while Mason, Dixon, and Geiger murdered the two victims.

[¶7] A few days later after the police spoke to Hollins, the investigators questioned 15-year-old Geiger on April 8, 1999. Geiger's statement to the police in April of 1999 blamed Hollins for shooting both Martin and Cox. Geiger told the police that Hollins confessed to Geiger by admitting Hollins shot Martin in the leg. Geiger also told the police that Hollins admitted to Geiger that Hollins shot Cox with a pistol grip " Mosseberg" shotgun.[1] According to Geiger's statement, Hollins also told Geiger that Mason fired two shots into Martin's head on March 18, 1999.

[¶8] Hollins was arraigned on his criminal charges on April 5, 1999. A few weeks later, Hollins initiated contact with the prosecutor, on May 22, 1999, by writing a letter to the prosecutor. Hollins' letter provided a third version that differed from his two previous statements to the police officers. In the letter, Hollins explained that Mason shot Martin both in the leg and head. Hollins also indicated in writing that both Mason and Dixon fired shots into the car where Cox was waiting.[2]

[¶9] I. Proceedings Related to the Murder Convictions

[¶10] A. Dixon's Conviction

[¶11] Dixon was the first of the three men to be convicted for his role in the double homicide. The State charged 19-year-old Dixon with four counts of murder and two counts of armed robbery for the March 18, 1999, shootings. However, Dixon

Page 1209

entered a guilty plea to one count of murder before Judge Erickson on July 11, 2000. Judge Erickson sentenced Dixon to serve 23 years of incarceration.

[¶12] B. Mason's Conviction

[¶13] Joseph Mason was the second person to be convicted of offenses related to the double homicide. Judge Erickson presided over Mason's jury trial. During Mason's trial, which began on September 27, 2000, Geiger testified for the State. Geiger testified that a couple of hours after Hollins and Mason left a room at the Avis Motel on March 18, 1999, Hollins returned first, acting both excited and happy. According to Geiger's testimony, Mason returned to the same motel room a few minutes later acting normally. Geiger told the jury that, after returning to the motel room, Mason and Hollins went into the bathroom together. When both men emerged from the bathroom, Hollins said, " Let's go get the guns." Mason said, " Go get them." Consequently, Geiger left the motel room with Hollins and a person Geiger knew as " Terry." Geiger testified that Geiger accompanied Hollins and " Terry" to an address about five houses away ...

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