from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 09-CF-1537
Honorable John S. Lowry, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Jorgensen and Spence concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Defendant, Franklin T. Byrd, appeals from the judgment of
the circuit court of Winnebago County sentencing him to an
aggregate prison term of 86 years on his convictions of
intentional first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West
2008)) and armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(4) (West 2008)).
He contends that the trial court abused its discretion in
refusing to seat a potential juror as a remedy for a
violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986),
and in imposing the sentence. Because the court did not abuse
its discretion in refusing to seat the juror or in imposing
the sentence, we affirm.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 During jury selection, the State exercised peremptory
challenges on three African-American potential jurors (Nos.
1, 21, and 22). Following the challenges, defendant requested
a hearing pursuant to Batson.
4 At the outset of the hearing, in chambers, the State noted
that jurors 21 and 22 had not been excused and were still in
the courtroom. The trial court responded that going into the
courtroom to excuse the two jurors would draw unnecessary
attention. Because juror 1 had been peremptorily challenged
earlier that day, the court had already excused juror 1.
5 The trial court ruled that defendant did not make a
prima facie case of purposeful discrimination as to
either juror 1 or juror 22. As to juror 21, however, the
court found that defendant made a prima facie case.
6 The State then offered its race-neutral explanation for
challenging juror 21, stating that the juror's brother
had been arrested for a drug crime and the juror had visited
him in jail. The State maintained that the juror would
closely identify with defendant's sister, who had visited
defendant in jail. The State added that, when it questioned
juror 21, she appeared to be defensive, in that she "had
her brows knitted" and "had her arms crossed"
in reaction to being asked whether the criminal justice
system had been fair to her brother.
7 Before the trial court ruled regarding juror 21, the State
commented that "there's no remedy [for] a
Batson violation." When the court asked defense
counsel if she had any response to the State's comment,
she responded only that she "[thought] the Court [had]
the ultimate discretion whether or not to allow the State to
use a peremptory challenge to ensure someone a fair
8 Before ruling on the Batson issue, the trial court
gave all of the potential jurors a 15-minute break. After the
jurors returned to the courtroom, the court excused jurors 21
and 22. Defendant did not object to the court excusing juror
9 Upon returning to chambers, the trial court stated that it
was rejecting the State's race-neutral explanation for
challenging juror 21 and found a Batson violation.
In doing so, the court noted that it did not observe juror 21
cross her arms or be antagonistic or hostile toward the
State. The court added that, although juror 21 might not have
completely understood the State's questions, the court
did not interpret that as animus or hostility.
10 The State then stated that it misspoke when it earlier
told the court that there was no remedy for a Batson
violation. The State explained that it had found an Illinois
case that stated that when there is a Batson
violation "the proper remedy would be to impanel the
juror." When the court asked defense counsel to respond,
she stated that the State had accepted white jurors whom she
had seen crossing their arms and "[t]hat's the only
other thing [she would] add."
11 The trial court then discharged the entire jury pool.
Defendant did not object or request that juror 21 be seated.
The court then stated that it had "declared a mistrial
without prejudice." After ruling on various motions
in limine and other matters, the court ...