Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
March 28, 2017
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No.
10-CR-17983; the Hon. Stanley J. Sacks, Judge, presiding.
Counsel on Michael J. Pelletier and Melinda Grace Palacio, of
State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for
Kimberly M. Foxx, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J.
Spellberg, Peter Fischer, and Margaret M. Smith, Assistant
State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.
JUSTICE PIERCE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Hyman and Justice Neville
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 Defendant, Pharoah Morris, who was 16 years old at the time
of the offense, was convicted of first degree murder,
attempted murder, and aggravated battery with a firearm
following a jury trial. He was sentenced to an aggregate
sentence of 100 years in prison. Defendant appeals, arguing
that (1) he received a de facto life sentence
without meaningful consideration of mitigating circumstances,
(2) the applicable sentencing statutes that mandate firearm
enhancements are facially unconstitutional under the federal
and Illinois constitutions and under the Illinois
Constitution as applied to him, (3) section 5-130(1) of the
Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/5-130(1) (West
Supp. 2015)), which automatically transfers 16-year-olds
charged with murder and attempted murder to adult court,
therefore subjecting them to mandatory adult sentencing,
violates the Federal and Illinois Constitutions and due
process, and (4) he is entitled to a new sentencing hearing
under the newly enacted section 5-4.5-105 of the Unified Code
of Corrections (Code) (730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-105(a), (b) (West
Supp. 2015)), which requires trial courts to consider certain
factors before sentencing and gives trial courts discretion
to impose firearm enhancements for individuals under 18. For
the reasons that follow, we remand for resentencing.
3 On September 8, 2010, Pharaoh Morris fatally shot DeAntonio
Goss and attempted to kill Corey Thompson. Defendant was
charged with first degree murder, attempted murder, and
aggravated battery with a firearm.
4 Prior to trial, the State filed two motions to admit proof
of other crimes. According to the first motion, Marvin Floyd
was shot in the back on August 21, 2010, while riding his
bicycle near a gas station. Defendant was identified as the
offender. Subsequent testing of the .45-caliber bullet
recovered from Floyd's body and the .45-caliber bullet
recovered from Goss's body revealed that both bullets
were fired from the same gun. The State's motion sought
admission of this evidence to show identity and absence of
5 The second motion stated that while at the Cook County
jail, defendant discussed his pending murder case with his
cellmate, Ricky Whitehead. Defendant approached Whitehead
with a list of the witnesses in his pending case, each name
listed with their respective address and date of birth, and
asked Whitehead if he could "take care of them."
Understanding this to mean defendant wanted them killed,
Whitehead gave the list to sheriff investigator McCoy. The
investigator assigned an officer to act as a hitman and
introduced both him and defendant over a taped phone call.
Defendant asked that the undercover officer come to the jail.
Once at the jail, the officer recorded his conversations with
defendant, who gave him a list of names and asked that he
"get rid of them." The State sought to admit this
evidence of the solicitation to show defendant's
consciousness of guilt.
6 The trial court held that the evidence of the shooting of
Floyd and the evidence of the ballistics match admissible as
proof of identity. The court also held admissible the
solicitation of murder evidence to prove consciousness of
7 At trial, Marvin Floyd testified that on the date he was
shot, August 23, 2010, he had known defendant for about three
years. Floyd testified that on the afternoon of August 23,
2010, he was riding his bike to the gas station near his home
when he saw defendant at the gas station. He testified that
he saw a gun under defendant's pants and tried to flee on
his bike but was shot in the back. He stated he was taken to
the hospital where he stayed for two months and underwent two
8 Corey Thompson testified that on September 8, 2010, after
attending class at Bowen High School, he was walking home
with his friends, among them DeAntonio Goss. At some point,
Thompson and Goss reached the street corner of 86th Street
and Saginaw Avenue and saw that defendant and his friend,
Lacy Sheppard, were also there. Defendant began speaking to
Thompson and Goss and said, "This is what y'all
want, this is what y'all going to get, " and pulled
out a gun and pointed it at Thompson. Thompson testified that
he began running back toward school while noticing Goss
running in a different direction. Thompson stated that as he
was running he heard gunshots and then suddenly felt
something hit him in his buttocks. Thompson stated he felt
pain and fell down, but then got up to keep running before
beginning to feel drowsy, weak, and unable to run anymore. He
testified he lay down in the middle of the street, heard Goss
say, "CJ, where are you, where are you, are you
okay?" and then observed Defendant head toward
Goss's voice. Thompson testified he then heard a few more
gunshots before passing out. Thompson was taken to the
hospital where he stayed for three weeks and underwent two
9 Ricky Whitehead testified that he was defendant's
cellmate at the Cook County department of corrections. He
stated that while there, defendant gave him a list of the
names of witnesses in defendant's pending trial and asked
if he could "take care of them." Whitehead
testified he understood this to mean defendant wanted them
killed and subsequently gave the list to Investigator McCoy.
10 Eric Bucio testified that he is an instructor at the Cook
County jail complex. He stated that on August 9, 2012, he was
assigned to investigate defendant. He testified that he
recovered a list of witness names from defendant's
11 Hilary McElligott, an assistant medical examiner for Cook
County, testified that she examined Goss's body. The
bullet that caused his death entered the back of his right
arm, exited on the other side of the arm, and entered his
body again on the right side of his chest.
12 Patrick Brennan, a supervisor with the Illinois State
Police Forensic Science Center, testified that the bullet
recovered from Floyd's body, the bullet recovered from
Goss, and a cartridge case that was found at the scene of the
shooting were fired from the same firearm.
13 The State rested. Defendant did not present any evidence.
14 After hearing all of the evidence, the jury found
defendant guilty of the first degree murder of Goss, the
attempted murder of Thompson, and the ...