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People v. Doolan

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division

November 9, 2016

MATTHEW DOOLAN, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 11 CR 4654 Honorable John Joseph Hynes, Judge Presiding.

          PRESIDING JUSTICE FITZGERALD SMITH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Lavin and Cobbs concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 Following a jury trial, defendant Matthew Doolan was convicted of first degree murder, vehicular invasion, and aggravated battery and sentenced to an aggregate 24 years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends that (1) the State did not prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of first degree murder and vehicular invasion, and (2) his conviction for first degree murder should be reduced to involuntary manslaughter.[1] We affirm defendant's convictions but, at the State's request, amend the mittimus to reflect the correct offenses.

         ¶ 2 Defendant, along with codefendants Stephen Miller and Marchello Cappelletti, was charged, in relevant part, with first degree murder, vehicular invasion, and aggravated battery. Defendant and Miller were tried jointly. At trial, the State proceeded against both defendant and Miller on one count of intentional murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West Supp. 2009)), one count of knowing murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West Supp. 2009)), one count of felony murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3) (West Supp. 2009)), one count of vehicular invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11.1(a) (West 2010)), and one count of aggravated battery "on or about a public way" (720 ILCS 5/12-4(b)(8) (West Supp. 2009)).[2] The charges arose from an altercation that occurred at a Shell gas station, located at 87th Street and Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview, shortly after 12 a.m. on June 23, 2010. The trial evidence included videos compiled from surveillance cameras located inside and outside the gas station store. We have viewed the videos, which are included in the record, and, throughout this order, will describe their content as it relates to the witness testimony.

         ¶ 3 At trial, Ali Dajani testified that he rode to the gas station with Abdallah and Rahman in Rahman's black Maxima just before midnight on June 22, 2010. Rahman drove, Abdallah sat in the front passenger seat, and Dajani sat in the back seat. As they pulled into the gas station, Dajani noticed defendant and two other men standing by a van on the west side. Dajani identified defendant in court, and estimated that he was six feet tall and weighed 280 to 300 pounds on the day of the incident. Rahman parked at a pump on the east side of the gas station, near a man cleaning the "rims" of a silver car. Dajani denied that he, Abdallah, or Rahman flashed gang signs or said anything.

         ¶ 4 The State presented video from surveillance cameras located inside and outside of the store while Dajani testified. The video lacks an audio component, but we incorporate the dialogue described by Dajani. In the video, Dajani identified Rahman standing at a pump while Dajani and Abdallah sat in the Maxima. Miller, wearing a black shirt, pants, and black shoes, walked past the Maxima "[f]lashing gang signs" and shouting "Ambrose." Defendant, wearing a blue shirt, stood a few feet from the vehicle, holding a cell phone and shouting, "Ambrose." Miller leaned toward the Maxima's front passenger side window. Abdallah opened the door slightly, said "[g]o fuck yourself, " and closed the door. Miller turned toward defendant and pointed to the vehicle. A few seconds later, defendant and Miller approached the front passenger side door, again saying, "Ambrose." Abdallah held the door partially open and said, "F off" and "leave us alone."

         ¶ 5 According to Dajani, Miller "rip[ped] the car door open" and kicked into the vehicle, striking Abdallah "[b]y his upper chest, face area." The video depicts Miller next to the front passenger side door, his back to the camera, moving his left hand across his body and to the right. Then, Miller placed his right hand on the open door and his left hand on the roof of the vehicle, raised his right leg, and leaned backwards and to the left. Defendant stood just behind Miller, facing Abdallah, who swore at Miller and exited the Maxima. Dajani observed defendant draw back his left arm and punch Abdallah on the right side of the head, causing him to "stumble." The video depicts defendant squaring his body toward Abdallah and extending his left arm, his fist positioned beside Abdallah's head, while Abdallah leaned slightly with his feet together. Abdallah ran after Miller. Dajani testified that he lost sight of Abdallah, and did not hear Abdallah or Miller say anything.

         ¶ 6 Dajani exited the Maxima and observed Rahman and Cappelletti fighting at the front of the vehicle. Defendant faced Dajani with his hands fisted but his arms down, then pointed at Dajani and told him to "back off." Defendant punched Rahman, and Dajani punched Cappelletti, grabbed his shirt, and pulled him away. Defendant and Cappelletti stood across from Rahman and Dajani. Defendant said, "[t]wo on two, " and Dajani said, "[i]t's okay." Dajani heard the sound of a bottle breaking and observed Rahman fall to the ground. Then, according to Dajani, Miller threw "another bottle" at Rahman's head. Afterwards, Miller and defendant went to the other side of the gas station. Dajani found Rahman lying "[u]nderneath" the Maxima. He located Abdallah on the opposite side of the gas station, bleeding and unresponsive.

         ¶ 7 On cross-examination, Dajani acknowledged telling a detective that defendant, Miller, and Cappelletti yelled at the man who was cleaning the silver car. He acknowledged that the surveillance video depicted a "black line" between defendant's fist and Abdallah's face, and that he might not have told the detective that defendant punched Abdallah because there was "a lot going on at that time." Dajani denied that defendant made any "physical contact" with him, or that defendant kicked Abdallah.

         ¶ 8 Rahman testified that he noticed three individuals near a van as he drove into the gas station with Abdallah and Dajani. He had encountered the van on a prior occasion, and had observed "gang members" in the van "throwing gang signs." Rahman denied that he, Dajani, or Abdallah spoke to the individuals or flashed gang signs. He parked by a pump and exited the vehicle, then heard three voices behind him saying, "Ambrose, Ambrose love." Abdallah responded, "go fuck yourselves."

         ¶ 9 The State produced the same surveillance videos that were played during Dajani's testimony. Here, we incorporate the dialogue described by Rahman. In the video, Rahman stood at the pump with his back to the camera. While defendant and Miller confronted Abdallah on the other side of the Maxima, Cappelletti walked in front of the vehicle and lifted a trash can over his head, shouting, "Ambrose love" and "Ambrose." Rahman told Cappelletti, "we are not with that shit, " and ran to the front of the vehicle, "block[ing]" the trash can as Cappelletti threw it down. Rahman heard Abdallah swear. Then, Cappelletti struck Rahman in the face and Rahman placed Cappelletti in a "head lock." Both men fell to the ground, hitting each other, until Rahman felt someone punch him in the head and pull him away.

         ¶ 10 Rahman and Dajani stood across from defendant and Cappelletti, who were shouting "Ambrose." Defendant said, "two on two, " and Dajani said, "okay, let's go." Rahman felt someone strike his head from behind and fell to the ground, unable to feel "anything from [the] neck down." The video depicts Miller running towards Rahman, swinging his right arm, and throwing a "glass bottle" at Rahman's head. Rahman lay near the Maxima, going "in and out" of consciousness. In the video, Rahman raised his arm above his face and Miller threw a second bottle at his head. Rahman saw glass and blood "everywhere" and lost consciousness. He awoke at the hospital, with bruises and cuts to his face and the back of his head, and received stitches to his upper lip.

         ¶ 11 On cross-examination, Rahman testified that he did not see anyone attempt to open the door of his car or kick or reach into the vehicle while he was at the pump. He did not recall telling police that he observed anyone kick or reach into the vehicle and did not see defendant strike him or anyone else during the altercation. He did not hear anyone say, "Ambrose killers." After Miller hit him on the head, Rahman did not recall anyone saying, "stop, that's enough, let's go."

         ¶ 12 James Conroyd testified that he formerly belonged to the Ambrose street gang with Cappelletti and defendant, who he identified in court by the nickname "Fat Guy." Conroyd demonstrated the gang's hand signal and stated that its colors were "[b]aby blue and black." At approximately 11 p.m. on June 22, 2010, Conroyd was drinking beer at "the Magnotti's" with Cappelletti, Miller, and defendant. Afterwards, they conversed with a police officer, Officer Guerra, and left in defendant's gold van. Cappelletti cut his hand on a beer bottle, so defendant stopped at the gas station at 87th Street and Harlem Avenue.

         ¶ 13 The State showed video compiled from surveillance cameras located inside the gas station store.[3] In the video, Conroyd identified himself entering the store, along with defendant (who was wearing a blue shirt), Cappelletti (who was wearing a white shirt), and Miller (who was wearing a black shirt). The video, in relevant part, depicted defendant, Miller, and Conroyd standing near a doorway on the side of the store opposite from where they had parked. According to Conroyd, a man was cleaning the "rims" of his vehicle outside the door. Defendant and Miller shouted and flashed gang signs used by Ambrose and "S.D." (Satan Disciple) Conroyd returned to the back seat of the van and did not observe what happened on the other side of the gas station. He did not see defendant strike, kick, or throw anyone to the ground.

         ¶ 14 The State played video compiled from surveillance cameras located around the gas station. In the video, Conroyd identified Abdallah "on top" of the hood of the van, and stated that he believed Abdallah subsequently "fell off the van." Conroyd testified that Abdallah was chasing Miller and "screaming" the phrase "A.K., " meaning "Ambrose Killer." Miller retrieved a bottle from inside the van. Afterwards, Miller, Cappelletti, and defendant returned to the van and defendant drove them away. Conroyd acknowledged telling police that he did not hear Abdallah say "A.K." but testified that he meant he could not hear what Abdallah had said on the other side of the store.

         ¶ 15 Robert Rezzardi testified that he was working as a cashier at the gas station on the day of the altercation. At approximately midnight, he noticed a gold van park on the west side of the gas station and observed defendant, Miller, Cappelletti, and Conroyd enter the store. Cappelletti had a cut on his hand and went to the bathroom, but Miller and defendant, who he identified in court, stayed in the store, "flashing gang signs and yelling gang slurs."

         ¶ 16 The State showed surveillance video from inside the store. In the video, Rezzardi identified defendant and Miller looking out the east door. According to Rezzardi, an individual was cleaning the tires of a silver car parked outside. A black vehicle pulled into the gas station and the men exited the store, "yelling at the passenger in the front seat." Rezzardi stayed inside and heard faint noises, including Miller yelling, but denied hearing anyone yell, "A.K." Rezzardi observed "parts" of the altercation, including Miller "kick[ing] inside the car." Rezzardi called the police. After the van left, he went ...

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