Rehearing denied August 24, 2016
from the Circuit Court of McLean County, No. 12-CF-1193; the
Hon. Robert L. Freitag, Judge, presiding.
Michael J. Pelletier, Jacqueline L. Bullard, and John M.
McCarthy (argued), all of State Appellate Defender's
Office, of Springfield, for appellant.
Chambers, State's Attorney, of Bloomington (Patrick
Delfino, David J. Robinson, and Julia Kaye Wykoff (argued),
all of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's
Office, of counsel), for the People.
JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Harris and Appleton concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 On November 5, 2012, Robert Jackson was shot in the leg
after an altercation between members of two rival rap groups,
Money Over Bitches (M.O.B.) and Blackout Mafia (B.O.M.). The
State later charged defendant, Deandre D. Daniels, with
attempt (murder), aggravated battery with a firearm,
aggravated discharge of a firearm, possession of a firearm by
a street gang member (which the State later dropped), and
unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. In November 2013,
a jury found defendant guilty of all four counts. The trial
court later sentenced him to 47 years in prison.
2 Defendant appeals, raising the following issues: (1) the
trial court abused its discretion by denying defendant's
motion that the court question potential jurors about their
gang bias, (2) the court abused its discretion by admitting
specific acts of violence that occurred between the two
groups, (3) the court abused its discretion by admitting
evidence that defendant was visited in jail by his
codefendants, (4) counsel was ineffective for failing to move
to sever the charge of unlawful possession of a weapon by a
felon, and (5) the evidence was insufficient to prove that
defendant personally discharged a firearm that caused great
bodily harm or permanent disfigurement. We disagree and
3 I. BACKGROUND
4 Our review of the record indicates that some people are
referred to by their birth names and others by their
nicknames, depending on the witness testifying. In the
interest of clarity, in situations in which the evidence
clearly established that a nickname belonged to a particular
person, we refer to the person by his or her birth name, even
if the witness testifying used a nickname. In particular, we
have made the following substitutions: defendant (nicknamed
"Pimp"); Marcus Winlow (nicknamed "Li'l
Dude"); and Kaythiese Fitch ("K.K.").
5 A. The Charges Against Defendant
6 In November 2012, the State charged defendant with attempt
(murder) (720 ILCS 5/8-4, 9-1 (West 2010)), aggravated
battery with a firearm (720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(e)(1) (West
2010)), aggravated discharge of a firearm (720 ILCS
5/24-1.2(a)(2) (West 2010)), possession of a firearm by a
street gang member (720 ILCS 5/24-1.8(a)(1) (West 2010)), and
unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon (720 ILCS
5/24-1.1(a) (West 2010)). The charges alleged that on
November 5, 2012, defendant used a firearm to shoot Jackson
in the leg.
7 B. The Parties' Pretrial Motions
8 1. The State's Motion To Admit
9 In October 2013, the State filed a motion in
limine, asking the trial court to "permit evidence
of other crimes and bad acts relating to rival groups
[M.O.B.] and [B.O.M.] to be admitted at trial."
Specifically, the motion sought to admit the following
evidence, in relevant part: (1) that M.O.B. and B.O.M. were
"rival groups that produce rap music, " (2)
testimony from codefendant Jake Williams about prior acts of
violence between M.O.B. and B.O.M. members, and (3) testimony
from codefendant Raymond Davis about the altercations between
M.O.B. and B.O.M. members that occurred on November 5, 2012.
The State argued that the aforementioned evidence was
necessary to establish (1) "the continuing narrative of
the events giving rise to and intertwined with the offenses
charged" and (2) "the relationship and familiarity
of the parties."
10 2. The State's Motion To Introduce Evidence That
Defendant's Codefendants Visited Him in Jail After His
11 Later that month, the State filed a second motion in
limine, asking to introduce evidence that after the
alleged offenses in this case, defendant's three
codefendants visited him in jail. The State argued that the
evidence was relevant to establish defendant's guilt on a
theory of accountability.
12 3. Defendant's Motion To Exclude
13 In November 2013, defendant filed three pretrial motions.
The first was a response to the
first motion in limine. Defendant's motion
sought "to exclude all evidence of other crimes and bad
acts relating to the alleged rival groups [M.O.B.] and
[B.O.M.]" That motion stated further that "the
probative value of gang membership evidence *** is
substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair
14 4. Defendant's Motion for Voir Dire Questioning
About Gang Bias
15 Defendant's second motion was titled
"Defendant's Motion Requesting the Court to Ask
Specific Questions to All Potential Jurors Regarding Gang
Bias." Specifically, the motion requested that the court
ask the following questions of each potential juror during
"(a) have you, any member of your family or a close
friend of yours ever been involved in a gang; (b) have you
ever know [sic] anyone who is in a gang; (c) do you
think that someone who is in a gang is necessarily a
criminal; (d) do you understand that it is not a crime just
to join a gang; (e) do you understand that one member of a
gang is not legally responsible for the actions of other gang
members just because they are in the same gang; (f) would you
find a member of a gang less believable if you learned that
the witness belonged to a gang; and (g) would you be able to
put aside any feelings you may have about gangs, and give the
defendant a fair trial based on the evidence?"
concluding paragraph of the motion, defendant requested, in
the alternative, that defense counsel, instead of the court,
be allowed to ask the foregoing questions during voir
16 5. Defendant's Motion To Exclude Evidence of Jail
Visits by Codefendants
17 Defendant's third motion responded to the State's
second motion in limine and argued that the trial
court should prevent the State from introducing evidence that
defendant was visited in jail by his three codefendants.
Defendant argued that evidence of the visits was not relevant
to establish accountability and that the evidence was
substantially more prejudicial than probative because it
risked "guilt by association."
18 6. Hearing on Pretrial Motions
19 At a hearing later in November 2013, the trial court
addressed the parties' motions. The State asserted that
it intended to dismiss the charge of possession of a firearm
by a street gang member. The State confirmed that it did
"not intend to introduce any evidence in [its] case in
chief of gangs, gang involvement, gang affiliation, or street
gangs in general."
20 As to the State's first motion in limine-to
introduce "other[-]crimes" evidence- defendant
argued that he was not involved in the other incidents and
that the State intended to introduce those incidents to
"allude that [defendant] is some type of gang-related
member." The trial court decided that the other-crimes
evidence listed in the motion was admissible to show a
continuing narrative and motive. The court noted that the
other-crimes evidence was "relevant" and
appropriately limited in scope.
21 The trial court then addressed the State's second
motion in limine-to admit evidence that defendant
was visited in jail by his three codefendants. Defendant
argued that the State's motion framed this evidence as
relevant on an accountability theory but that the State did
not intend to pursue an accountability theory at trial. The
State conceded that it was not pursuing an accountability
theory but argued that the evidence was also relevant to show
a common purpose. The court asked defendant, "What is
the prejudicial effect of the fact that these folks
visited?" Defendant reiterated that he was concerned
about guilt by association. The court ruled the evidence
admissible, as it was probative of the relationship between
defendant and his codefendants and was not highly
22 The trial court then took up defendant's motion
regarding voir dire. The court noted that
"it's already been clarified that the State does not
intend to present any gang references whatsoever during their
case in chief." Defendant argued that his motion applied
"whether we call them gangs or we call them groups, it
doesn't matter to the jury" because "it's
going to be portrayed that it's a gang, even if you
don't call it a gang." Defendant requested to amend
his motion to have the jurors questioned about their
impartiality toward rap groups instead of gangs. The State
argued that questioning the potential jurors about rap groups
would be confusing and would create an inference that the rap
groups were indeed gangs.
23 The trial court found that describing M.O.B. and B.O.M. as
rap groups would not cause the jurors to conclude that those
groups were gangs. The court found further that there was no
"relevance whatsoever to questioning the jurors about
whether or not they're biased against street gangs in a
case where there is no intention to present evidence of
street gangs." The court denied defendant's motion.
The court ruled, however, that it would question prospective
jurors about any knowledge they had of M.O.B. and B.O.M.
because those groups had received some local media coverage.
If prospective jurors stated they were familiar with the
groups, the court stated it would respond by
"appropriately following up on those to make sure
there's no bias."
24 C. Voir Dire
25 Later in November 2013, the cause proceeded to a jury
trial. Prior to trial, the State dismissed count