from the Circuit Court of De Kalb County. No. 13-CF-898
Honorable John F. McAdams, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE SPENCE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Hutchinson and Birkett concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Following a jury trial, defendant, Demond L. Hunt, was
convicted of two counts of armed robbery (720 ILCS
5/18-2(a)(2) (West 2012)) and one count of aggravated battery
(720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(f)(2) (West 2012)). On appeal, he argues
that: (1) he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,
and (2) his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to
tender a jury instruction on accomplice witness testimony. We
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 On February 14, 2014, defendant was charged by indictment
with two counts of armed robbery, one count of aggravated
battery, and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon by
a felon. Prior to trial, the weapons charge was severed, and
the State proceeded to trial on the remaining counts.
4 Defendant's jury trial began on April 14, 2014. In his
opening statement, the assistant State's Attorney said
that the jury "should question" the credibility of
State witness Mariah Romero and that she was "a
liar" who had lied to the police. He further stated that
Romero had a deal with the State, allowing her to plead
guilty to obstructing justice rather than face charges for
armed robbery, and that the jury "should question her
credibility based on all of that." He additionally
stated that, if the case were based on Romero's testimony
alone, the jury should find defendant not guilty, but that
the jury was going to hear testimony from several other
witnesses. Defense counsel similarly argued that the Romero
was not believable.
5 We now summarize events according to the victims'
testimony. On November 27, 2013, Beth Keller and Britany
Garcia were working at the office of the University Heights
apartment complex, at 1120 Varsity Boulevard in De Kalb.
Keller was the property manager, and Garcia worked in the
office part-time. Shortly after 4 p.m., a woman came into the
office. Keller was on the phone and asked if she could help
her. The woman said that she had a question, and Keller asked
her to wait one moment. However, shortly before Keller got
off the phone, the woman left.
6 About 2 to 15 minutes later, a man with a rubbery white
"Michael Myers" mask came into the office. Keller
could see that the man was black, as she could see his skin
through the mask's eyeholes. Garcia could not see the
man's skin, but his voice sounded like that of a black
man. Garcia said that she was 5 feet 4 inches tall and that
the man was a couple of inches taller and "a little bit
heavier set." The man had a small black revolver in his
hands. He repeatedly told Keller and Garcia to get on the
floor. Garcia got on her knees and put her hands up. Keller
refused to get down, and she hit the "panic button"
to call the police. The man hit her on the right side of her
face with the gun, knocking her down. He asked for money, but
Garcia said that they could not open the safe. After the man
"realized he wasn't going to get anything, " he
took Keller's purse, which was under her desk, and
Garcia's phone before running out the door. Keller's
purse contained her engagement ring, wedding band, Social
Security card, and driver's license, and some credit
cards, cash, and cigarettes. Garcia's phone was a white
Nokia Lumia. After the man left, Garcia called 911.
7 Keller later learned that the police recovered the
engagement ring but not the wedding band. At trial, she
identified a photograph of the ring. Garcia testified that on
January 23, 2014, she went to the police department and
identified a cell phone as hers based on its contents,
including photographs and music. At trial, Garcia was shown a
picture of a gun recovered by the police, and she testified
that it appeared to be the same size and color as the
8 Romero provided the following testimony. Along with
defendant, she was charged with armed robbery in connection
with the incident. The minimum sentence for that charge was
21 years. She also had a misdemeanor shoplifting charge
pending in an unrelated case. Romero had spoken to the
assistant State's Attorney twice about her testimony. In
exchange for her "truthful testimony" at trial, the
State would dismiss the armed robbery charge and she would be
allowed to plead to obstructing justice and receive a
sentence of conditional discharge.
9 On November 27, 2013, Romero was living at 1120 Varsity
Boulevard, in apartment 314, with defendant. They were in a
dating relationship, and she was currently pregnant with
their child. Only Romero's name was on the apartment
lease, but they both had keys to the apartment. On the day in
question, Romero told defendant that she was going to the
apartment complex office because she wanted to
"break" her lease and move out. Romero went to the
office and saw two women there. The older woman asked her to
wait a minute, and Romero left. She returned to her apartment
briefly; defendant was not there at that time. Romero then
went downstairs to her neighbor's apartment. After a
couple of minutes, she saw defendant in the hallway. Two
police officers entered the hallway, and defendant
"basically fled" from Romero. One of the officers
asked her to step out of the apartment and state her name.
She gave the false name of Margaret Cartwright because she
had a pending warrant for retail theft. The officers took her
to the police station and questioned her.
10 At the station, a detective asked Romero about the robbery
that had just occurred in the office. Because of her warrant,
Romero initially lied and said that she did not know anything
about it. Romero later implicated Edcedric Williams and a man
named "John-John" as having been involved in the
robbery. She did not have any information suggesting that
they participated, and at trial she could not explain why she
11 At some point in the conversation, the detective said that
he knew that Romero was lying about her name and
"everything else, " so Romero told him her real
name. However, she identified Williams in a photo lineup as
having been involved in the robbery. She kept lying to
protect herself from the warrant, not to protect defendant.
The detective exited and entered the room again and said that
the police knew everything that had happened, so Romero then
implicated defendant in the robbery. Romero also identified
him in a photo lineup as having robbed the office. However,
she initially identified him as "Demond Oliver, "
even though she knew that Oliver was not his real last name.
12 Romero consented to a search of her apartment. At trial,
Romero identified pictures of her bathroom that showed a cell
phone on the vanity. She had been in the bathroom 20 to 30
minutes before the robbery, and she did not know how the cell
phone came to be there. Romero also identified pictures
showing a boot that belonged to her, with a gun inside.
Romero recognized the gun as belonging to defendant; she had
last seen him with it weeks before the robbery. Romero
further identified pictures of the following items as
belonging to defendant: a clipper bag, a wallet, and two
debit cards, an identification card, and a Social Security
card all with defendant's name.
13 Romero agreed that she had lied to the police several
times during the course of the investigation. She further
agreed that, in light of those lies and the deal she had made
with the State, people would have a hard time believing
anything she said. However, she said, her testimony that day
was the truth.
14 On cross-examination, Romero agreed that she had also told
the police that she was telling the truth. When she first saw
the two officers in the apartment building, she told one
officer that she had not seen anything suspicious. Romero
then told the second officer that she had observed two
unfamiliar males, and she described their clothing. At the
police station, Romero initially said that she had started
off that day in her apartment, with a person named Kiera
Evans, and that she then left and went to apartment 218 with
a person named Delaney Offord. Romero said that she went to
the office to get some change and that in the hallway she saw
a black male with a black or gray hoodie and a mixed-race
Hispanic man. Romero then changed her story and told the
police that she started off in apartment 218 with Offord,
Offord's sister "Jasmine, " and Jasmine's
boyfriend. Romero said that at this point John-John and a
biracial man came in and talked about committing a robbery.
15 After Romero gave the police her real name, she told them
that she had been at the apartment of Wargineele Dixon,
Williams' girlfriend, in University Village. Williams was
there and he asked her if she knew of a place that he could
rob. Romero suggested her apartment complex, and she went
there with him. Williams showed her the handgun he was going
to use, and she said that she would stake out the office
first. After telling the police this story, Romero identified
Williams in a photo lineup. Williams was a black male between
5 feet 4 inches and 6 feet tall.
16 Romero characterized defendant as living with her in her
apartment, but she agreed that he actually just stayed with
her on occasion. At the time of the robbery, she believed
that she was pregnant, but it had not been confirmed. She
knew that defendant also had another girlfriend. In
Romero's apartment, defendant's possessions were in a
single travel bag. When Romero was arrested, she had $87 cash
in her possession.
17 Romero agreed that it was her understanding that, in order
to get the plea deal, her testimony had to be against
defendant. Pursuant to the deal, she would not have to spend
additional time in jail and would not have to report to a
probation officer. Also, her retail theft charge would be
dismissed. Romero agreed that being in jail was "not
pleasurable" and that prison would likely be worse.
18 On redirect examination, Romero testified that, when
defendant fled from the hallway, he passed one of the
officers and went down a staircase in the middle of the
hallway. Immediately afterward, Romero testified that an
officer was coming toward them and "just ...