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People v. Moody

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division

October 29, 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DANYALE MOODY, Defendant-Appellant

          Modified upon allowance of rehearing May 5, 2016

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 09 CR 14267. The Honorable Mary Margaret Brosnahan, Judge Presiding.

         For Appellant: Office of the Illinois State Appellate Defender, Chicago, IL, Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender; Alan D. Goldberg, Deputy Appellate Defender; Sarah Curry, Assistant Appellate Defender.

         For Appellee: Office of the Illinois State's Attorney, Chicago, IL, Anita Alvarez, State's Attorney; Alan J. Spellberg, Janet C. Mahoney, Assistant State's Attorneys.

         Justices Howse and Ellis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

         COBBS, JUSTICE.

          [¶1] Defendant Danyale Moody was convicted of first degree murder pursuant to section 9-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Code) (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2008)) and aggravated kidnapping pursuant to section 10-2(a)(3) of the Code (720 ILCS 5/10-2(a)(3) (West 2008)), and sentenced to consecutive terms of 60 years and 25 years in prison. On appeal, defendant contends that: (1) the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the trial court erred when it denied his pretrial motion to dismiss the first degree murder charges; (3) the State failed to prove that Illinois had jurisdiction over the murder charges beyond a reasonable doubt; (4) he was denied his right to due process where the jury was not instructed that jurisdiction was an essential element of the offense of first degree murder that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt; (5) the trial court erred in issuing a jury instruction on causation in homicide cases, where it was not an issue at trial; (6) the State committed misconduct in closing argument when it erroneously tried to define the reasonable doubt standard for the jury, misstated the law regarding the presumption of innocence, impermissibly shifted the burden of proof to defendant, and misstated the facts regarding defendant's identification; (7) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request separate verdict forms supporting the three different forms of first degree murder; and (8) the fines, fees, and costs should be reduced. For the reasons that follow, we reverse defendant's first degree murder conviction and modify the mittimus to reflect a $660 assessment balance.[1]

          [¶2] In December 2007, defendant and codefendant, Anthony McGee[2] were formally charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery, aggravated unlawful restraint, and attempted murder of Frentsi Bridges. Defendant asserted his rights under the Speedy Trial Act (725 ILCS 5/103-5 (West 2008)), demanding trial on December 15, 2007. On August 7, 2009, the State brought a new indictment against defendant and codefendant, charging the men with all three forms of first degree murder (felony, intentional, and strong probability) and aggravated kidnapping of Bridges. The State nol-prossed the original indictment and proceeded to trial on the new indictment. Defendant and codefendant were separately represented, but tried jointly before the same jury.

          [¶3] Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion to dismiss the counts of first degree murder on speedy trial grounds. In his motion, defendant detailed that he had spent nearly 18 months in custody preparing for trial on the original charges before the State decided to charge him with first degree murder. Defendant argued that because the State was aware of all the relevant facts alleged in the subsequent indictment at the time of the original indictment, and because all of the offenses were within the jurisdiction of the criminal court of Cook County, the State was required to join the offenses in a single prosecution pursuant to section 3-3 of the Code. 720 ILCS 5/3-3 (West 2008). Defendant further argued that because the State was required to join the charges, but did not, the time within which the trial was to begin on the murder charges was subject to the same statutory speedy trial period as applied to the original charges. As none of the continuances obtained in connection to the original charges could be attributed to defendant with respect to the subsequent murder charges, because they were not before the court when the continuances were obtained, the State violated his right to a speedy trial with respect to the murder charges. The State responded that it was not required to join the murder charges in the original indictment because the jurisdiction over the murder of Bridges lay within the jurisdiction of more than one court. The court denied defendant's motion to dismiss. The following facts were adduced at trial.

          [¶4] Mark Cohill, fire investigator for the Indiana fire department, testified that on May 14, 2007, around 12:37 p.m., Bridges' body was discovered in an abandoned garage at 2274 Adams Street in Gary, Indiana after fire fighters extinguished a fire that had been set to the garage. He examined the exterior of the abandoned brick garage. Cohill noted that fire could not have been started by electricity or gas because there were no utilities hooked up to the building. He examined the interior of the structure and observed a body under a chair. Cohill did not know how long the body had been in the structure prior to the fire. The concrete floor under the body had spalling which was caused by extreme heat and acceleration from an accelerant such as an ignitable liquid like gasoline. Cohill also observed heavy charring on the ceiling and noted that the flames near the area of the chair and body had been very hot. The water used to extinguish the fire was discolored with a rainbow pattern which demonstrated that an ignitable liquid was used. Cohill concluded that the fire was set intentionally.

          [¶5] Dr. Young Kim, an Indiana medical examiner and expert in the field of forensic pathology, performed an autopsy on Bridges in May 2007. An external examination revealed five lacerations on the right side of the back of the head, one laceration on the left side of the back of the head, and a depressed fracture at the back of the skull. Dr. Kim retracted Bridges' scalp and observed a subdural hemorrhage, a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and a subgaleal hemorrhage. He also observed hemorrhaging in the jaw area and the right chest, a laceration of the lip, and three broken teeth. He opined that based on the extensive burns to the face and body, Bridges' was face down and not moving when the fire began. Upon internal examination, Dr. Kim found soot in Bridges' mouth and scant soot in his distal bronchi. He opined that when the body was dropped face down in the garage in Indiana, the pressure from falling could have caused the soot to be deposited in the mouth and the lungs. His coroner's verdict report indicated that the cause of death was " extensive craniocerebral injuries associated with facial and thoracic injuries related to blunt force trauma" and " extensive burns and charred body."

          [¶6] At trial, Dr. Kim testified on direct examination that he could not be certain whether Bridges was dead or alive when the fire started. He noted that the absence of carbon monoxide in Bridges' body indicated that he was not alive when the fire started; however, he also noted that Bridges' lungs contained fluid which could have been caused by smoke inhalation, indicating that he was alive when the fire started. However, he stated that the cause of death was " extensive head injuries, also facial and chest injuries due to blunt forced [ sic ] trauma." On cross-examination, defendant's attorney asked Dr. Kim if he recalled having a conversation with her and a colleague in August or September of 2009, where he opined that defendant was already deceased at the time of the fire. Dr. Kim responded that he recalled the conversation, but stated that his final opinion regarding the cause of death never changed from his initial autopsy report and indicated that the cause of death was " blunt force trauma and extensive burn, together." He also indicated that Bridges' wounds were fresh, occurring within two to three hours of his death and were likely caused by being hit with a blunt object such as a board.

          [¶7] Mariah Price testified that in May 2007 she was dating Bridges. One week before Bridges was kidnapped, she was with him and a man named George. Price, Bridges, and George went to a house and Bridges told Price and George to wait on the corner. Bridges walked through a side gate and down the gangway to the side of the house.[3] Later, Price noticed that Bridges had marijuana that she had not seen him with prior to entering the house. She spent the night of May 13, 2007, with Bridges at the home of a woman named Seka. Bridges introduced Seka as his sister. The next morning, around 10 a.m., Price and Bridges were picked up in a Grand Prix by two men that Bridges knew, but she did not know. They drove to the dollar store at 111th Street and Michigan Avenue. Price remained in the car while the front seat passenger and Bridges went into the store. When Bridges came out of the store, Price observed him speaking with a man with a green hat. The man in the green hat then punched Bridges in the face. When Bridges tried to escape, a shorter man in a white T-shirt came up and tried to grab Bridges and punched him in the ribs. The man in the green hat picked up Bridges and walked him toward a van that was around the corner, and the van pulled away. Price testified that neither she nor the men in the Grand Prix got out of the car. The men took Price back to Seka's house. Price told Seka what happened. Seka's mother, who Bridges had introduced as also being his mother, told Price not to call police. Price gave Seka a phone that Bridges had left in the backseat of the Grand Prix.

          [¶8] The next day, Price learned that Seka's mother was not Bridges' mother. Price then called Bridges' mother, Keena Thompson. A few days later, the police contacted Price; she gave a statement to the police regarding the kidnapping, and she described the two people she saw take Bridges. Price also accompanied a detective to the scene where Bridges was taken and showed him where the car she was in was located and where the van was during the incident. In September 2007, Price viewed a lineup and identified codefendant as the shorter man in the white T-shirt who had run up and punched Bridges. She never identified the man wearing the green hat because she was not able to see his face clearly. Price identified a surveillance video from outside the dollar store as depicting what she saw had happened to Bridges on May 14, 2007. The video was also played for the jury.

          [¶9] Leonardo Johnson testified that he lived in a home at 36 West 112th Street with his mother, sisters, and codefendant. Codefendant was the father of his sister's baby. The State elicited testimony that Johnson had a 2012 conviction for felony delivery of cannabis, and at the time of his testimony he had a pending drug case. Johnson had met defendant, who he knew as " Little G," through codefendant. On May 9, 2007, codefendant asked Johnson if he knew Bridges, and Johnson said that he did. He told Johnson that Bridges had stolen some marijuana and an Ipod from Latoya's house. Latoya was defendant's girlfriend. Johnson told codefendant that Bridges had asked him if he wanted to steal some marijuana from defendant, and Johnson told him no.

          [¶10] On May 14, 2007, around 10 a.m., codefendant awakened Johnson by shouting up to his bedroom from the front yard and told him to come down and take a ride with him. Codefendant was driving a van, and drove Johnson to Latoya's house on 114th Place. They entered the building and went to the basement, where defendant and Bridges were located. Codefendant was wearing a white shirt and blue pants, and defendant was wearing a white shirt, blue pants, and a green cap. Bridges was on his back, on the ground, and his hands and feet were tied. Defendant was standing over Bridges and repeatedly hitting him in the mouth with a two-by-four board. Bridges was crying and pleading with defendant. Bridges' mouth was bleeding and his teeth were coming out. Codefendant went up the internal stairs and returned with a silver eating utensil wrapped in a towel. He stuck the utensil on the left side of Bridges' chest and Bridges yelled that it was hot. Bridges said he would give back the marijuana, the money he got from selling some of the marijuana, and some guns if they would let him go. Defendant responded, " we supposed to be homies *** how you my homey [ sic ] and you stealing my [stuff]." Bridges asked for water, and defendant and codefendant sprayed Bridges with hot water from a hose hooked up to the laundry tub. Codefendant untied Bridges, turned him on his stomach, and tied his arms to a pole. He then placed a bag of dry concrete on Bridges' neck. Johnson told codefendant that he was ready to leave and codefendant drove him home. Bridges was alive when Johnson left. Johnson never saw Bridges again, nor did he speak to codefendant about what he had seen. He did not call the police because he was afraid of defendant and codefendant.

          [¶11] On July 8, 2007, Johnson and codefendant got into an argument at home about cleaning the house. Codefendant told Johnson that " y'all little niggers already know how we get down. We some beasts. Y'all already know what we do." Johnson thought the comment was referring to Bridges and he felt threatened. The police arrived at the house during the argument. Johnson told one of the officers that he knew about a kidnapping, and the officer took Johnson to the station. A detective then showed Johnson a surveillance video obtained from the dollar store at 11136 South Michigan Avenue. Johnson identified Bridges, codefendant, and a person he knew as Little G in the video. On September 9, 2007, Johnson gave a handwritten statement to the police and an assistant State's Attorney. He also identified a photo of defendant as a photo of Little G and identified the van codefendant had used to drive him to Latoya's house. Initially, Johnson told police that he had never seen the van codefendant used to drive him to Latoya's house. However, he later revealed that he had occasionally rented the van from a guy named " Mike the Crackhead" in exchange for crack. He stated that he had lied because he did not want to tell the police that he had given someone crack to rent the van. He identified defendant in court as the person he knew as Little G.

          [¶12] Lezly Reeves testified that in May 2007 she owned a two-flat building at 116 West 114th Place. Reeves rented the first floor apartment to Latoya. On May 14, 2007, Reeves and her brother, Tyson Jackson, went to the building to fix a window that Latoya had reported broken when someone broke into her apartment. They drove to the back of the building where Reeves observed a light blue minivan in the backyard and several men in the backyard and on the back porch. As she approached the back porch, Reeves observed Latoya's boyfriend, later identified as defendant, walk to the side of the building, " chirp" on his phone, and state that the landlord was there. Reeves and Jackson went into the enclosed back porch and Jackson began fixing the broken window. Reeves then heard someone say help me from inside the building. She also heard some tussling coming from the front of the apartment. Reeves saw Latoya's cousin, later identified as codefendant, walking from the front of the first floor apartment toward the rear. The man was breathing heavily and appeared to have blood on his hand. Reeves asked him about the sound and he claimed that he had been wrestling with the second floor tenant's grandson. Reeves did not believe him, and she walked through the apartment to the front living room to see what was happening. When she got there, she observed Latoya's boyfriend " straddling" a man who was on the floor on his back. The man's face was covered with a T-shirt and he did not have on a shirt. He was bleeding from his torso area. Latoya's boyfriend told her that the man had broken into Latoya's apartment and taken some electronics. He also told her that he had called the boy's mother to come and pick him up.

          [¶13] When Latoya arrived Reeves met her on the sidewalk in front of the building to talk to her about what was happening. She told Latoya, who had been living in the apartment for less than a year, that she needed to move out. Reeves went back inside the building and noticed that everyone had left. She also noticed that the blue van was gone. Reeves and Jackson left the building and went directly to the police station at 111th Street and reported the incident. The police told Reeves that if she did not know the names of any of the people involved, they could not do anything. Reeves later called the FBI and told them what she had seen. On July 13, 2007, the police showed Reeves a photo array consisting of six photos. Reeves identified a photo of co-defendant as Latoya's cousin. She did not identify defendant in the photo array. Reeves viewed a lineup in September 2007, and again identified codefendant. She viewed a second lineup in December 2007 and indicated that one of the participants closely resembled Latoya's boyfriend, but she couldn't be sure because the perpetrator was wearing a hat and had facial hair at the time. She made an in-court identification of defendant as Latoya's boyfriend and codefendant as Latoya's cousin.

          [¶14] Detective Fassl testified that on July 8, 2007, he spoke with Johnson about Bridges' kidnapping. Detective Fassl showed Johnson some photographs and Johnson identified co-defendant. Detective Fassl also showed Johnson the video surveillance taken outside the dollar store at 11136 S. Michigan Avenue, and Johnson identified Little G, codefendant, and Bridges. On September 9, 2007, Detective Fassl and assistant State's Attorney Susan Jakubiak met with Johnson and Johnson signed a prepared statement detailing his knowledge of the kidnapping. On that date, Johnson identified a photograph of defendant as the man he knew as Little G. Defendant was arrested on December 12, 2007. Detective Fassl also interviewed Reeves about the incident she witnessed in her building. On July 13, 2007, Detective Fassl received Reeves' permission to search her basement. Upon entering the basement, he noted that it was partially flooded. Detective Fassl saw a two-by-four against a wall which appeared to have blood stains and teeth imprints on it, a large bag of concrete, and a kitchen spoon. He contacted the crime lab to process the scene.

          [¶15] Donald Fanelli, a former forensic investigator with the Chicago police department, processed the basement. He photographed the exterior of the building and the interior of the basement. Fanelli collected and inventoried a spoon, a two-by-four that had possible blood on it, a bag of concrete, a sample of what appeared to be blood on a wall in the basement, and a sample of what appeared to be blood spatter on one of the two furnaces in the basement. He noted that the spoon was discolored, indicating that it has been subjected to heat.

          [¶16] The parties stipulated that the DNA from the blood stains found on the two-by-four and the furnace matched the DNA of Bridges. No fingerprints could be recovered from the two-by-four. The court admitted the State's exhibits into evidence and the State rested.

          [¶17] The court heard and denied defendant's motion for a directed verdict. Defendant waived his right to testify, asked the court to admit into evidence a photo array without witness identification marks, and rested without presenting further evidence.

          [¶18] Following closing arguments, the jury found defendant guilty of aggravated kidnapping and murder. The court subsequently denied defendant's motion for a new trial. After a sentencing hearing, the court sentenced defendant to 60 years in prison for murder and 25 years in prison for kidnapping to run consecutively. Defendant's motion to reconsider his sentence was denied.

         [¶19] ANALYSIS

         [¶20] Motion to Dismiss

          [¶21] First, defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss, claiming that the State violated the Speedy Trial Act by charging defendant with first-degree murder 18 months after the initial indictment. The State responds that the trial court properly denied defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment where it was not required to join the murder charges at the time the original charges were brought because the State was not aware that the acts that caused the victim's death occurred in Illinois and the murder fell within the jurisdiction of more than one court. We agree with defendant, and reverse his conviction for first degree murder.

          [¶22] We note that because we reverse defendant's conviction for the first degree murder charge on this issue, we need not address defendant's contention regarding whether the State proved jurisdiction over the murder charges beyond a reasonable doubt and whether the jury was properly instructed that jurisdiction was an essential element of the offense of first degree murder. Additionally, because the causation instruction regarding murder was not related to defendant's aggravated kidnapping conviction, we need not address defendant's contention that the trial court erred when it tendered a jury instruction on causation in homicide cases.

          [¶23] Initially, the State maintains that this issue should be stricken from the brief because defendant failed to provide a sufficient record of the hearing on his motion to dismiss. Even where the record on appeal is incomplete, the reviewing court may still consider the merits of a party's argument where the record contains sufficient information necessary to dispose of the issues presented in the appeal. Luss v. Village of Forest Park, 377 Ill.App.3d 318, 331, 878 N.E.2d 1193, 316 Ill.Dec. 169 (2007); see also Gonnella Baking Co. v. Clara's Pasta di Casa, Ltd., 337 Ill.App.3d 385, 388, 786 N.E.2d 1058, 272 Ill.Dec. 224 (2003) (reviewing the trial court's ruling on a motion to dismiss in absence of a transcript of the hearing on the motion, reasoning that the pleadings and supporting documents in the record were sufficient for reviewing the court's decision on de novo review). We find the absence of a report of proceedings, certified bystander's report, or agreed statement of facts does not preclude our review of defendant's claimed error as the record sufficiently contains defendant's motion to dismiss and the parties' pleadings in support of and in opposition to the motion presented to the trial court to allow this court to dispose of the issues.

          [¶24] Criminal defendants possess both constitutional (U.S. Const., amends. VI, XIV; Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 8) and statutory (725 ILCS 5/103-5 (West 2008)) rights to a speedy trial. While these provisions address similar concerns, the statutory right and the constitutional right are not coextensive. People v. Woodrum, 223 Ill.2d 286, 298, 860 N.E.2d 259, 307 Ill.Dec. 605 (2006); People v. Gooden, 189 Ill.2d 209, 216-17, 725 N.E.2d 1248, 244 Ill.Dec. 361 (2000). Whether a defendant's statutory right to a speedy trial has been violated is a question of law reviewed de novo. People v. Van Schoyck, 232 Ill.2d 330, 335, 904 N.E.2d 29, 328 Ill.Dec. 267 (2009). In the case at bar, defendant asserted solely a violation of his statutory right to a speedy trial and did not raise a constitutional issue.

          [¶25] Under the speedy-trial statute, every person charged with an offense shall be tried within either 120 or 160 days, depending on his custodial status, unless delay is occasioned by the accused. 725 ILCS 5/103-5 (West 2008). A defendant not tried within the statutory period must be released from his trial obligations and have the charges dismissed. 725 ILCS 5/103-5(d), 114-1(a)(1) (West 2008). Where a defendant is charged at different times with multiple factually related offenses, as in the instant case, the speedy-trial guarantee is tempered by compulsory joinder principles. People v. Williams, 204 Ill.2d 191, 198, 788 N.E.2d 1126, 273 Ill.Dec. 250 (2003).

          [¶26] The compulsory joinder provision of the Code provides in relevant part:

" (a) When the same conduct of a defendant may establish the commission of more than one offense, the defendant may be ...

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