Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 13 CR 842401
Honorable James B. Linn, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE PIERCE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Mikva and Justice Griffin in the
1 Defendant, William "Dashawn"
Strickland, along with his grandmother, Janet
Strickland, were charged with multiple counts of first degree
murder and solicitation of murder, for his role in the death
of his grandfather. Following a jury trial, defendant was
convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to 40
years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant argues that the
trial court erred when it failed to submit Illinois Pattern
Jury Instructions (IPI), Criminal, No. 3.17 (4th ed. 2000),
the accomplice witness instruction, to the jury. In his
supplemental brief, defendant argues that the State violated
his fourth amendment right to be free from unreasonable
searches when it obtained his cellular location information
without a warrant and the trial court erred in denying his
motion to suppress this evidence. For the following reasons,
3 Prior to trial, defense counsel filed a motion to suppress
cell site location information (CSLI) for Janet
Strickland's cell phone, which defendant had before and
during the commission of the offense. In the motion,
defendant argued that he had a reasonable expectation of
privacy over the information and the State's acquisition
of this data without a search warrant or court order
supported by probable cause violated his fourth amendment
rights and the Illinois Constitution. The State responded
that its acquisition of the CSLI was pursuant to a grand jury
subpoena served by an agent of the grand jury, a Chicago
police officer, and thus the records became part of discovery
after the indictment. After hearing argument on the motion,
the trial court denied defendant's motion without
4 At trial, Edward Cleveland testified that he was a retired
medical transportation driver. Cleveland had been driving
72-year-old William Strickland, the victim, to and from dialysis
every Saturday for a year. Cleveland arrived at
Strickland's home at 454 East 95th Street in Chicago at
3:28 a.m. on March 2, 2013, and parked the car. Cleveland
heard several gunshots and saw Strickland collapsed in the
gangway. He saw a young man about five feet nine inches tall,
wearing a hoodie and baggy jeans, run out of the gangway and
head west. He saw another young man who was about six feet
tall, 160 pounds, wearing a hoodie, trying to take
Strickland's bag away from him. This man ran north toward
the alley. Cleveland got back into his car and drove around
to see if he could locate the offenders but he did not. He
then got out of his car and went to check on Strickland and
determined that he had been killed. He saw Janet Strickland,
William's wife, standing by the side door of the house
and told her to call 911. Cleveland spoke to the police when
they arrived. Defendant arrived at the house sometime later.
5 Chicago police officer Daniel Fava testified that he was on
duty with his partner on March 2, 2013, and responded to a
call of a person shot in the area of 454 East 95th Street.
When he arrived, he saw Cleveland waving his arms at them. He
also observed Strickland lying in the gangway outside the
door to the residence. Strickland had sustained multiple
gunshot wounds. There were shell casings and bullets on the
ground near his body. Janet Strickland, defendant's wife,
was standing in the doorway to the gangway on the side of the
6 Officer Fava spoke with Cleveland about the two possible
offenders that fled the scene. Officer Fava searched the area
but did not find anyone. Defendant arrived a short time
later. Officer Fava stated that defendant was "stone
faced" and "apathetic."
7 A forensic pathologist determined that the victim died as a
result of multiple gunshot wounds to his body, including six
gunshot wounds to his back.
8 Defendant's mother, and Strickland's daughter,
Lesley, testified that she received a call from Janet
sometime after 3 a.m. on March 2, 2013. Lesley drove from
Milwaukee to Chicago and when she arrived at her parent's
house, she noticed that Janet appeared intoxicated and was
9 Lesley testified that Janet was spending money unusually,
buying food and liquor for visitors, telling visitors to take
furniture and talking about how she wanted to redecorate the
house. The following day, a 60-inch flat screen television
and a television stand with a built-in fireplace and
refrigerator were delivered to the house. Lesley testified
that Janet was on a fixed income and often asked to borrow
money. On March 30, 2013, Janet went to a casino in
10 Lesley learned that defendant had been arrested and
visited defendant in jail on April 4, 2013. Defendant told
Lesley that "she had it done," which Lesley took to
mean that Janet had Strickland killed. Defendant told Lesley
that Janet had asked him if he knew anybody. In her prior
grand jury testimony, Lesley stated that defendant told her
he had "met with a guy" named "Black,"
and that defendant "was there at 2 o'clock to pick
up the guy, to set it up for the shooting."
"Black" was later identified as Danny Armstrong.
Defendant also told Lesley that Janet had bought him a car in
exchange for his silence. In her prior grand jury testimony,
Lesley stated that defendant said he met with Armstrong
around 2 a.m. to discuss shooting the victim. Lesley asked
defendant if that was why Janet bought him the car. Defendant
said "yes." ¶ 11 While Lesley was visiting
defendant in jail, defendant asked her to contact his
girlfriend Lavetta Smith, because he did not want her to
testify. Lesley told defendant that his fingerprints were
found on the gun. She did not know if this was true but was
fishing for information from defendant. Defendant called
Lesley several days later and told her that Janet had paid
him to take the gun out of the house. Defendant also stated
that his fingerprints were not on the gun and that he did not
shoot the victim.
12 Lavetta Smith, defendant's girlfriend at the time of
the murder, testified that in March 2012, she was living with
defendant, the victim and Janet in the victim's home.
Sometime before March 2, 2013, she overheard a conversation
with defendant and Janet, where Janet said that she was going
to poison the victim and defendant said he'd go upstairs
and kill him. Defendant and Janet began laughing. In February
2013, she heard another conversation between defendant and
Janet about killing the victim. Defendant said that he needed
a gun before the next day and would get it from Janet. The
gun he was referring to belonged to the victim.
13 On February 28, 2013, Smith heard defendant tell Janet
that "Black was playing," meaning that Armstrong
did not want to kill the victim. Defendant then said he was
"was gonna kill his grandfather himself." Janet and
Smith told him not to. Defendant said he was "gonna do
14 Smith had previously seen defendant with the victim's
gun. He had been carrying it for a month prior to the murder.
Defendant put the gun in a compartment under the passenger
seat of the victim's car, which defendant would often
drive. Smith identified the gun in open court.
15 On March 1, 2013, defendant drove Smith and Phillamena
Stitts to a party, dropped them off and left. Defendant did
not have his own phone and borrowed Janet's when he went
out. Defendant used Janet's phone to communicate with
Smith while she was at the party. Defendant picked up Smith,
Stitts and another friend from the party. He dropped Stitts
off at home and then went to another party. They left the
party after about 15 minutes, dropped the friend off and went
back to Stitts' house. Smith fell asleep on the couch.
16 Defendant woke Smith up and said they were
"fittin' to go, he was going to do this," which
Smith understood to mean that he was going to "kill his
grandpa." Defendant and Smith left Stitts house and
drove to the victim's home. They parked the car on the
next block in the alley. Defendant was armed with the same
gun Smith had previously identified in open court. Defendant
told Smith to keep the doors unlocked and ran toward the
alley. Smith locked the doors and fell asleep. She awoke to
defendant knocking on the window. Defendant had a brown bag
that looked full. He put the bag in the back seat and the
drove back to Stitts' house.
17 When they arrived, defendant said he had to check in with
Janet and used Stitts' phone to call her. Smith heard
defendant say, "Is he dead?" Smith and defendant
left Stitts' house and went back to the victim's
house. Smith heard defendant ask Stitts "to put up"
the gun for him.
18 After March 2, 2013, defendant began spending a lot of
money. He bought Smith a tattoo, shoes, and earrings and
bought himself a phone, shoes, and tattoos. Defendant also
bought a used Pontiac Grand Prix. Neither Smith, Janet or
defendant had a job.
19 On March 15, 2013, defendant and Smith went to Stitts'
house for a party. When they arrived, Stitts brought out a
black purse and handed it to defendant. Smith and defendant
then went to Armstrong's house and Armstrong got into the
car. Defendant took some bullets out of the purse and handed
them to Armstrong. Defendant also gave Armstrong something
else from the purse but Smith could not see what it was.
20 Smith was arrested for this offense and originally lied to
the police because defendant and his family had threatened
her family. After she told police what really happened, she
was released from custody. She admitted that she had a
contempt charge against her for failing to appear at trial.
She did not want to testify but she was telling the truth.
21 Phillamena Stitts testified consistently with Smith about
being picked up by defendant and Smith on the night of March
1, 2013, and going to several parties. Sometime after
midnight on March 1, 2013, defendant dropped her off at her
home and she went to sleep. She awoke later to defendant
knocking on her window. She opened the door and let defendant
and Smith in. Defendant asked to use the phone. While he was
on the phone, she heard defendant say, "Why can't I
come home?" After he hung up, he said, "My
granddaddy got shot." Smith and defendant then left.
22 Later that morning defendant and Smith came back to her
house. Defendant asked her to hold his gun and she agreed.
Defendant took the gun, which was wrapped in a t-shirt, out
of his hoodie pocket and gave it to her. Stitts put the gun
in a purse and put the purse in the basement closet. She
identified the gun that defendant gave her in open court.
Several days later, defendant sent her a message saying,
"[i]f the detective asks you anything you don't know
23 On March 15, 2013, Smith and defendant came to Stitts'
house. Defendant asked Stitts to get what she was holding for
him. She went inside, got the purse and gave it to defendant.
Defendant put the purse in a compartment under the back seat.
24 Stitts also had a contempt charge pending against her for
failing to appear in court. Those charges ...