from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will
County, Illinois. Appeal No. 3-17-0168 Circuit No. 14-CF-2407
Honorable Carla Alessio-Policandriotes, Judge, Presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: James E. Chadd, Peter A. Carusona,
and Bryon Kohut, of State Appellate Defender’s Office,
of Ottawa, for appellant.
Attorneys for Appellee: James W. Glasgow, State’s
Attorney, of Joliet (Patrick Delfino, Thomas D. Arado, and
Jasmine D. Morton, of State’s Attorneys Appellate
Prosecutor’s Office, of counsel), for the People.
PRESIDING JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the
court, with opinion. Justices Carter and McDade concurred in
the judgment and opinion.
SCHMIDT PRESIDING JUSTICE
1 Defendant, Aloysius A. Alexander, appeals his convictions
and sentences for first degree murder, aggravated battery
with a firearm, and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon
(UUWF), arguing (1) his UUWF conviction should be reversed
because it was predicated on a void prior conviction and he
should be resentenced on his other convictions because the
court considered the void conviction and (2) the court erred
by failing to appoint counsel to represent him on his
posttrial claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. We
affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for resentencing.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 The State charged defendant with two counts of first degree
murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1), (2) (West 2014)), one count of
aggravated battery with a firearm (id. §
12-3.05(e)(1)), and one count of UUWF (id. §
24-1.1(a)). The indictment for UUWF stated that defendant had
previously been convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a
4 Prior to trial, defendant filed a pro se motion
for substitution of judge naming Judge Daniel Rozak. Since
the public defender's office represented defendant, the
court struck the motion. However, on the court's own
motion it reassigned the case to Judge Sarah Jones.
Thereafter, defendant retained private counsel. The record
shows that on June 16, 2016, two motions for substitution of
judge were filed. The first motion named Judge Jones and
Judge Carla Alessio-Policandriotes as prejudiced against
defendant. The second motion solely named Judge Jones. The
court ultimately assigned the case to Judge
Alessio-Policandriotes without any objection, and the case
proceeded to a bench trial.
5 The evidence at trial established that on the evening of
December 5, 2014, Miya Morris went to an apartment where
Johnny Lockhart and his son, Ledontia, lived. Ledontia was in
his bedroom when he heard Johnny ask Morris why she had not
called or texted Ledontia before coming over so late.
Ledontia then exited his room and asked Morris if they could
go outside to talk. Ledontia and Morris went to the parking
lot, and Morris was upset because she believed that Ledontia
had taken money from her. Johnny called the police to have
Morris removed from the premises. Officer Robert Anderson
responded, told Morris that she needed to leave, and Morris
6 After that, Michael Smith, Morris's boyfriend and
Ledontia's friend, began contacting Johnny and Ledontia
threatening to fight them. He believed that Johnny had
threatened to push Morris. Smith intended to go to the
Lockharts' apartment to fight Ledontia. On his way, he
picked up Brian Gregory and defendant. Ledontia, Smith, and
Gregory all knew defendant by his nickname, "June."
At some point, Ledontia heard a car door slam and people
running up the stairs toward the apartment. He opened the
door, and defendant, Gregory, and Smith were standing in
front of the door. Ledontia told them they should go down to
the parking lot to fight. They went down to the parking lot,
and Smith threw two punches at Ledontia. Ledontia deflected
his punches and pushed Smith back. The two of them argued
until Johnny came outside. Johnny told Smith, Gregory, and
defendant to get off his property.
7 At that point, a gun was discharged two times. Ledontia
"As I was trying to turn [Johnny] to go up the stairs, I
look back, I see them all walking towards the car. I'm
figuring like they just fittin' to just leave. Then,
like, God made me look again. I just saw the fire coming from
[defendant's] hand. I just grabbed my pops. Then my
father told me I was shot."
said the fire looked "[l]ike when somebody shoots a
gun." He also heard "a bang." Smith stated
that he could see Johnny, Ledontia, and Gregory and knew the
gunshot did not come from them. Smith said there was no doubt
in his mind that defendant had shot the gun. Gregory heard
the shots coming from behind him. Gregory turned to look and
saw defendant holding a gun and fire coming from it.
Defendant was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood
up. Smith, Gregory, and defendant ran to Smith's car.
Smith asked defendant "why would you do that[?]"
Defendant said, "I don't know, shut up and
drive." Smith drove for a short period of time, and then
defendant asked Smith to stop the car. Defendant exited the
car near his apartment and said, "don't say
8 Ledontia blacked out after the first shot had hit him, and
when he awoke, he realized that Johnny had also been shot.
Johnny told Ledontia to get help. Ledontia crawled up the
stairs, and Johnny's girlfriend met him in the apartment.
Ledontia told her to call 911; he then went back down the
stairs. He left blood on the floor of the apartment. Officer
Anderson and Sergeant Scott Cammack arrived at the scene
around 12 a.m. on December 6 and saw Ledontia holding his
torso in pain. Johnny was covered in blood and was not
moving. Cammack asked Ledontia who shot him, and Ledontia
said "June." Cammack repeated and spelled
"June" back to Ledontia, and Ledontia confirmed.
Cammack asked Ledontia for more information about June, but
Ledontia was unable to respond as he was holding his chest
and having difficulty breathing. Ledontia spent 11 days in
the hospital recovering from the gunshot wound. After he was
taken to the hospital, he never saw Johnny again. The autopsy
revealed that Johnny died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Ledontia and Gregory later identified defendant as the
shooter in a lineup.
9 Sergeant Chris Delaney testified that on December 6, 2014,
he was a crime scene technician and responded to the scene.
He observed Johnny dead at the scene. He took photographs,
recovered spent projectiles at the scene, and observed blood
in the Lockharts' apartment.
10 Detective Jeffrey German testified that, as part of the
homicide investigation, he reviewed surveillance videos from
an apartment facing 301 North Bluff Street. The video showed
a man walking from behind 311 North Bluff Street to the front
door of the apartment complex at 301 North Bluff Street at
approximately 12:13 a.m. on December 6, 2014. The man
approached the door to the apartment complex and appeared to
motion toward the window. He then walked toward the parking
lot and then back toward the door. At that point, a person
inside the complex opened the door, and the man entered the
apartment complex. About seven minutes later, a woman and two
children exited the door, followed by the man. They entered a
vehicle and drove away.
11 The police executed a search warrant at 301 North Bluff
Street, Apartment 307. At the apartment, the officers found
documents on the kitchen counter with defendant's name on
them and the address of 301 North Bluff Street, Apartment
307. The documents were a red light camera violation notice
dated October 21, 2014, and a collection agency letter for
medical services dated November 10, 2014. Defense counsel
objected to the admittance of the letters. After hearing the
argument, the court said,
"These are billing statements that are purported to be
for [defendant], and each of them consistently indicating his
address of 301 North Bluff Street, Apartment 307, Joliet,
Illinois. Indicating that with, apparently, Provena St.
Joe's Medical Center and the Secretary of State, that is
the address in which he expects to receive and hopes to
receive mail placed in the U.S. mail. And I'll accept
that for what they are."
12 The officers also found a black hooded sweatshirt on the
kitchen table and ammunition in a clothes hamper. The
ammunition included five .38-caliber bullets: three were
Winchester, one was Federal, and one was W-W. The officers
recovered a .38-caliber revolver that had been covered in
leaves near 311 and 316 North Bluff Road. The revolver had
six shell casings inside: four were Federal, one was
Winchester, and one was W-W. An expert in forensic science
tested the gun and the spent projectiles obtained at the
scene and determined that the projectiles came from the gun.
A fingerprint expert tested the gun, casings, and projectiles
but did not find any usable fingerprints.
13 Officer John Ross was a detective in 2014 and processed
defendant at the jail on December 6, 2014. He said, "I
can't give you an exact time. It was sometime in the
afternoon." Defendant asked "if his girlfriend, who
was upstairs being questioned by detectives, was going to be
in trouble." Ross had not asked defendant anything about
his girlfriend before this. Ross told defendant that he
"did not know what was going to happen to his
girlfriend." Defendant then asked "why she would be
in any trouble." Ross replied, "because she ***
helped you try to get away with murder." Defendant said,
"she didn't have anything to do with it." Ross
said, "that's what you told the detectives upstairs,
that you guys didn't have anything to do with it."
Defendant then said, "she really didn't have
anything to do with it." The conversation then ended.
Defense counsel moved to strike Ross's testimony and bar
the evidence presented because Ross did not know if the
conversation had been recorded. Ross did not read defendant
his Miranda rights before answering defendant's
questions. The court noted that defense counsel had not filed
a pretrial motion to suppress but stated that it would allow
counsel to file a written motion. Defense counsel asked for
the motion to be heard when the State rested, and the court
agreed. Defendant was interviewed at the jail at 2:41 p.m. on
December 6, 2014, but the interview ended at 3:14 p.m. when
defendant asked for counsel.
14 The State entered into evidence a certified copy of
defendant's prior conviction, showing that he had been
convicted of AUUW pursuant to section 24-1.6(a)(1) of the
Criminal Code of 1961 (Code) (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1) (West
2008)). The State then rested, and defendant moved for a
directed verdict. The court stated that before it ruled on
the motion for directed verdict, it needed to hear and rule
on the motion to suppress the testimony of Ross. Defense
counsel stated that he was withdrawing that motion. The court
then denied the motion for directed verdict.
15 The defense called Officer Robert Korczak who testified
that he was in the back of the ambulance with Ledontia.
Ledontia told him that he had a problem with a man at a bar
and that man came to his house to fight him. He described the
man as a "little guy." However, Korczak
specifically asked Ledontia who shot him, and Ledontia said,
16 After taking the matter under advisement, the court found
defendant guilty on all counts. At sentencing, the State
asked the court to take defendant's criminal history into
account. The court stated that it considered all the
information presented but did not otherwise explain its
decision. The court sentenced defendant to 56 years'
imprisonment for first degree murder, 12 years'
imprisonment for aggravated battery with a firearm, and 3
years' imprisonment for UUWF. The 12- and 3-year
sentences would run concurrent to each other and consecutive
to the 56-year sentence.
17 Defendant filed a pro se motion for a new trial,
alleging inter alia, that defense counsel was
ineffective for failing to file (1) motions in
limine to prevent the introduction of the letters, the
hooded sweatshirt, and the ammunition found at the apartment;
(2) a motion to dismiss after Ross testified that he did not
read defendant his Miranda rights when defendant
asked the questions about his girlfriend; and (3) a motion to
exclude witnesses. Defendant attached three pro se
motions in limine, attesting, inter alia,
that his mailing address was actually 300 North Bluff Street,
Apartment 403, and he had lived there since 2010. Defense
counsel also filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that
defendant was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable ...