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People v. Jackson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division

October 27, 2016

RODNEY CHANEY JACKSON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 07 CR 18677 Honorable Luciano Panici, Judge Presiding.

          PRESIDING JUSTICE ELLIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McBride and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 A jury found defendant Rodney Chaney Jackson guilty of two counts of aggravated vehicular hijacking, two counts of attempted armed robbery, one count of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and one count of aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced him to 25 years in prison for each of the aggravated vehicular hijackings, 19 years in prison for one attempted armed robbery, 7 years in prison for the other attempted armed robbery, and 7 years in prison for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, all to be served concurrently.

         ¶ 2 On appeal, defendant contends: (1) the trial court erred in declining his proposed jury instruction defining the defense of compulsion where the evidence at trial entitled him to the instruction and the court's decision was based on a mistake of fact, (2) this court should vacate one of his aggravated vehicular hijacking convictions based on the one-act, one-crime doctrine, (3) this court must vacate his sentences for aggravated vehicular hijacking and attempted armed robbery because they included firearm-sentencing enhancements that were not in effect at the time his offenses occurred, (4) the 15-year firearm sentencing enhancement does not apply to attempted armed robbery, and (5) his mittimus must be corrected to reflect the jury's verdicts.

         ¶ 3 We affirm defendant's convictions in part and vacate in part. Defendant was not entitled to an instruction on the defense of compulsion, where there was no evidence that the individual with whom defendant hijacked the car made an impending threat of violence toward defendant. Although defendant's co-offender testified that, while carrying a gun, he ordered defendant to get into the hijacked car, that evidence, even if believed by the jury, was insufficient to establish compulsion.

         ¶ 4 But we agree with defendant that one of his convictions for aggravated vehicular hijacking must be vacated under the one-act, one-crime doctrine. Although more than one individual was present during the hijacking, the presence of multiple victims does not change the fact that defendant committed only one criminal act-the taking of a single car-which cannot support multiple convictions.

         ¶ 5 We also agree, as does the State, with defendant's argument that he must be resentenced because the trial court applied an unconstitutional sentence enhancement to his aggravated vehicular hijacking sentence and his 19-year attempted armed robbery sentence.[1] We remand for resentencing and for the issuance of a corrected mittimus.

         ¶ 6 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 7 The State charged defendant with two counts of aggravated vehicular hijacking (counts 4 and 5), two counts of attempted armed robbery (counts 10 and 11), one count of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon (count 12), and one count of aggravated assault (count 16).

         ¶ 8 Prior to trial, defendant's original defense counsel filed multiple answers to discovery. In one, dated July 27, 2010, counsel attached a statement from codefendant Leonard Moore, who had pled guilty to the same aggravated vehicular hijacking and is not a party to this appeal. The statement said that, on the morning in question, defendant did not rob anyone, did not encourage Moore to rob anyone, did not take the vehicle by force or threat of force, and did not possess any weapons.

         ¶ 9 Another answer to discovery, dated November 1, 2010, indicated that defendant might assert the affirmative defenses of necessity and compulsion. Counsel named Moore as a possible witness and cited Moore's previous statement. The State subsequently filed a motion to disqualify counsel for violating the witness-advocate rule because he was the only witness present for Moore's statement. The court granted the motion, finding it foreseeable that counsel could be called as a witness to Moore's statement.

         ¶ 10 Defendant retained new counsel, who filed an answer to discovery on November 28, 2012, asserting that defendant would "rely on the State's inability to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, lack of intent, and lack of knowledge" as his defense. The answer listed Moore as a possible witness. On October 15, 2013, the first day of trial, counsel filed another answer to discovery, again asserting that defendant would "rely on the State's inability to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, lack of intent, and lack of knowledge" and listing Moore as a possible witness. Counsel also filed a motion for a continuance based on Moore's absence, with Moore's statement appended to the motion, as well as a motion to "Adopt and Incorporate All Prior Pleadings Filed by Former Counsel." The court denied the motion for a continuance and did not rule on the motion to adopt prior counsel's pleadings.

         ¶ 11 At trial, the evidence showed that at approximately 4:30 a.m. on July 28, 2007, Jamie Fair and Aleah Cooper were with James Brown, Brandon Lewis, and Reginald Burrell in a White Castle parking lot in Dolton, Illinois. They all were either inside or standing outside Fair's vehicle, a black Toyota Solera, with the vehicle's front doors open. Fair stood outside the driver's side door, Brown sat in the driver's seat, Lewis sat in the passenger's seat with Cooper on his lap, and Burrell stood outside on the passenger's side. Brown's green Pontiac Bonneville was parked directly to the right of Fair's vehicle and was running.

         ¶ 12 Fair observed two men, defendant and Moore, approach. Moore asked for a cigarette lighter, and Brown responded they did not have one. Moore then approached Fair, pulled out a firearm and said, "You are not going nowhere. Give us what you got." Cooper, whose back was to the driver's seat, only heard someone say, "Give up your s***." She thought it was a joke until she turned around and saw Moore holding a firearm. Fair testified that Brown gave Moore his "dog tags" and $65.

         ¶ 13 Fair testified that defendant approached the passenger's side of the car. Cooper heard someone say, "Get out the car, " and slowly began to get out. After Cooper got out, she saw defendant next to Burrell, "digging" his hands inside Burrell's pockets. Subsequently, both Cooper and Fair witnessed Burrell and defendant fight, though Fair did not recall if she told this to the police. Burrell managed to get away from defendant and ran out of Cooper's sight. As Burrell fled, Cooper slowly walked backward and eventually escaped. Cooper said that, at some point during the incident, defendant told her to empty her pockets and give him her "s***."

         ¶ 14 Fair also tried to escape, but defendant came around the vehicle and said, "No, Shorty, you ain't going nowhere." Defendant motioned toward his waist, which Fair understood as a gesture that he had a firearm. But Fair acknowledged that she never saw defendant with a gun.

         ¶ 15 Fair testified that defendant got into the driver's seat of the running Bonneville and Moore got into the passenger's seat. No one had given defendant or Moore permission to get into the car. As the men drove away into an adjacent parking lot, both Cooper and Fair said that they saw gunshots being fired into the air from the vehicle, though neither saw defendant fire any shots. Cooper and Fair ran into the White Castle and alerted a security guard to what happened. Shortly thereafter, the police arrived on the scene.

         ¶ 16 That morning, Dolton police Detective Major Coleman and his partner, Officer Joe McNeal, were in their unmarked car near the intersection of 148th Street and Dorchester Avenue when a green Pontiac Bonneville traveling at a "high rate of speed" nearly hit them. They activated their lights and sirens and pursued the Bonneville. After Coleman and McNeal chased the car for about five minutes, the Bonneville crashed into a parked car.

         ¶ 17 Coleman stopped just behind the Bonneville and got out. Coleman testified that defendant got out of the Bonneville from the driver's side and pointed a black handgun at him. Both Coleman and McNeal drew their guns and fired at defendant multiple times. Defendant fled, but Coleman eventually found him bleeding in a yard. Coleman did not find a gun on defendant. McNeal arrested Moore at the scene of the crash.

         ¶ 18 Later that day, both Fair and Cooper separately viewed photo arrays and identified defendant as one of the men they saw that morning.

         ¶ 19 At the conclusion of the State's case, the parties stipulated that defendant had previously been convicted of a felony in case No. 05 CR 14459.

         ¶ 20 Leonard Moore testified for defendant. Moore said that he was in prison for armed robbery and "vehicular carjacking." Moore said he went to the White Castle on July 28, 2007, with defendant and a man named "Do-Do." Moore admitted to robbing the group of people because he was high on "[a]lcohol, weed, marijuana, [and] ecstasy" and "pressed for money." Moore "took it upon [himself] to rob" the group of people using an unloaded gun. Moore identified the gun that Detective Coleman said defendant had as the gun he brought to the White Castle.

         ¶ 21 When Moore robbed the group, defendant stood 15 feet away, outside Do-Do's car. Moore testified that defendant did not know that Moore planned to rob anyone. He testified that defendant did not take anything from anyone, did not have a gun, did not encourage Moore to rob anyone, and did not have a fight with anyone.

         ¶ 22 After Moore robbed the group, he decided to get into the green Bonneville because DoDo had left. Moore told defendant to "get in the car, " but defendant was reluctant. Moore then told defendant to "get the f*** in the car."

         ¶ 23 Moore testified that defendant got into the driver's seat while Moore sat on the passenger side. Moore denied that ...

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