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People v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

November 24, 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LENDELL WILLIAMS, Defendant-Appellant

Page 1204

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1205

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 09-CR-17192. The Honorable Maura Slattery-Boyle Judge, presiding.

         For PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE: Anita Alvarez, State's Attorney Cook County, Judy DeAngelis, Anthony M. O'Brien, Assistant State's Attorneys, Chicago, Illinois.

         For DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Ziad Alnaqib, Attorney at Law, Chicago, Illinois.

         Pierce, Presiding Justice and Neville, Justice concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

Page 1206

          HYMAN, JUSTICE.

          [¶1] Zachary O'Connor was shot and killed on the front porch of a house in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood. Also shot was Paul Rayon, who survived. Defendant Lendell Williams was indicted and convicted by a jury of two charges of first degree murder and of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. A jury convicted Williams on all counts. The trial court sentenced Williams to a total of 80 years' imprisonment.

          [¶2] Williams argues: (1) he raised a prima facie case of discrimination under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 96-98, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986); (2) the trial court erred in granting the State's motion in limine to restrict reference to a shooting a few hours earlier at the same address as an " incident" ; (3) the trial court unfairly limited cross-examination of the State's key eyewitness; and (4) the State did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Williams acted as one of the two shooters aiming at the people on the porch. We affirm, holding that defense counsel did not carry the burden of establishing a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination required by Batson ; Williams' cross-examination of the key eyewitness to the shooting was not unfairly limited because the trial court reversed its ruling to allow questions regarding an earlier shooting on the same day and same location; and the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt by credible eyewitnesses that Williams was one of the shooters.

         [¶3] BACKGROUND

          [¶4] Shortly after 5 p.m. on the afternoon of June 8, 2009, Zachary O'Connor, Paul Rayon, Anthony Watts, and Nikita Davis were celebrating Davis' sister's eighth grade graduation when a car drove slowly past the house and then disappeared around the corner. A few minutes later, two individuals approached the house on foot, pulled out handguns, and began shooting. Ten bullets hit Zachary O'Connor, killing him. Bullets struck Paul Rayon about the face and shoulder causing the loss of vision in his right eye.

          [¶5] Six hours earlier, a shooting took place at the same address (first shooting) in which no one was injured. Williams was never identified as being involved in the first shooting. Davis, Rayon, and Watts identified Williams as one of the two shooters in the second shooting.

         [¶6] Pretrial Motions

         [¶7] Motion to Suppress Identifications

          [¶8] Williams filed a motion to suppress the pretrial eyewitness identification of all three witnesses. The hearing on the motion disclosed the following evidence.

          [¶9] Chicago police department detective Silvia Van Witzenburg met with Anthony Watts and Nikita Davis at Area 2 headquarters on June 9, 2009. They had come to inquire about Watts' car which police impounded after the second shooting as it had been damaged by bullets. Van Witzenburg called the detective assigned to investigate both shootings, Timothy Murphy, but he was unavailable. Murphy briefed Van Witzenburg on the case and asked her to show Watts and Davis photographs of suspects in the two shootings.

          [¶10] Van Witzenburg showed Davis two photo arrays; the first had five mugshots and the second had six; both contained Juan Crump's mug shot. Detective Murphy did not give Williams' name to Van Witzenburg as a possible offender and neither array included Williams' photograph.

Page 1207

On the first array of five photos, Davis circled four, including Crump's, as being at the first shooting, and she wrote, " 4 was at the shotting [ sic ]." Davis wrote first names on three photos, spelling Crump's first name " Wan." On the second array of six photos, Davis again identified Crump and the same three as being at the first shooting. Davis wrote " First shotter gunman Wan [ sic ]" with an arrow drawn to Crump's photo. Davis identified the last mug shot of the six (an individual named Travell Adams) and wrote " 2nd shotter Lil-Nu [ sic ] main shotter [ sic ]" and signed " Nikita" on the photograph. Davis explained that at the second shooting, there were two shooters and the last photo showed the shooter who was trying to pull a gun out of his waistband. Davis said " Lil Nuk" was the main shooter, but did not identify any of the photos as being " Lil Nuk."

          [¶11] Watts, who was not present at the first shooting, viewed the same six-photo array that did not include Williams' photograph. Watts put an asterisk on Crump's photo and wrote, " Wayn [ sic ] was in the car." Watts did not view the five-photo array.

          [¶12] Detective Murphy, the lead detective on the murder investigation, interviewed " multiple witnesses," including Watts, Davis, and Rachelle Carson the day of the shootings. The next day, when Davis was at the police station, she told Murphy by telephone that she knew the nickname of one of the shooters. A few days later, on June 15, Murphy met with Davis and showed her a sequential photo array of five separate mugshots, one of them Williams' photograph. Davis identified Williams, using his real name that she had learned in the meantime.

          [¶13] On June 15, Murphy showed Paul Rayon, who was still in the hospital, a photo array of five mugshots that did not include Williams' photograph. He had a bandage over his eye due to the gunshot wound and told Murphy that he wanted to see a physical lineup. Two days later, Rayon viewed a photographic array that included Williams. Rayon tentatively identified Williams but requested to view a lineup.

          [¶14] On June 24, Murphy met with Watts and showed him the six-photo array that included a mug shot of Williams. Watts identified Williams and wrote " shooter" above his signature. Watts also identified Crump but only circled his mug shot, indicating Crump's presence.

          [¶15] On August 28, Davis, Watts, and Rayon separately viewed a physical lineup and each selected Williams as one of the shooters.

          [¶16] Murphy testified that bullet casings and cartridges found at the scene indicated that two types of guns had been fired, corroborating the involvement of two shooters.

          [¶17] After hearing arguments, the trial court denied the motion to suppress.

         [¶18] Motion In Limine Regarding First Shooting

          [¶19] The State filed a motion in limine requesting that both parties refer to the earlier shooting as " an incident" rather than " a shooting," arguing that allowing evidence of the earlier " shooting" would be more prejudicial than probative. The State also requested that the parties stipulate that Davis identified Crump in a photographic array presented to her on June 9, 2009, the day after the incident, and that the photographic array did not include a photograph of Williams. In opposition, Williams argued that the evidence about the earlier shooting would inform a jury about all the events on June 8, possibly reflecting on the witnesses' credibility. The trial court granted the motion, finding

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" no nexus" between the first shooting and the second relating to Williams as well as prejudice.

          [¶20] ...


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