469 N.E.2d 119 (Ill. 1984), 55539, People v. Holman

Docket Nº:55539.
Citation:469 N.E.2d 119, 103 Ill.2d 133, 82 Ill.Dec. 585
Party Name:The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Tafford Lee HOLMAN, Appellant.
Case Date:June 29, 1984
Court:Supreme Court of Illinois

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469 N.E.2d 119 (Ill. 1984)

103 Ill.2d 133, 82 Ill.Dec. 585

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,


Tafford Lee HOLMAN, Appellant.

No. 55539.

Supreme Court of Illinois.

June 29, 1984.

Rehearing Denied Sept. 28, 1984.

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[103 Ill.2d 141] [82 Ill.Dec. 589] Neil F. Hartigan, Atty. Gen., Michael B. Weinstein, Michael V. Accettura, [*] Asst. Attys. Gen., Chicago, for appellee; Edward Petka, State's Atty., Will County, Joliet, of counsel.

G. Joseph Weller, Deputy State Appellate Defender, Kyle Wesendorf, Asst. State Appellate Defender, Elgin, Marilyn Martin, Asst. Public Defender, Public Defender of Cook County, Chicago, for appellant.

SIMON, Justice:

Tafford Holman, the defendant in this capital case, was indicted for the intentional murder of Anthony Townsend (Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1) ), armed violence based on the aggravated kidnapping of Antoinette Townsend, Anthony's mother (Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, pars. 10-1(a)(1), (2), 10-2(a)(3), 33A-2), [103 Ill.2d 142] and home invasion (Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, par. 12-11(a)(1) ). A second indictment was returned four weeks later which added three counts of felony murder (Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(3)), all based on the killing of Anthony Townsend and predicated on the felonies of armed robbery (Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, par. 18-2(a)), burglary with intent to commit a felony (Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, par. 19-1(a)), and burglary with intent to commit theft (Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, par. 19-1(a)). Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Will County defendant was found guilty on all counts. A sentencing hearing was held before the same jury, which found the existence of statutory aggravating factors and determined that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death sentence. (Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(b), (c).) The court thereupon sentenced Holman to death on the felony-murder counts, and also pronounced extended sentences of 60 years' imprisonment on the intentional-murder count and 40 years' imprisonment for armed violence and for home invasion (Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, pars. 1005-5-3.2(b)(2), 1005-8-2). Holman appeals directly to this court. Ill. Const.1970, art. VI, sec. 4(b); 87 Ill.2d R. 603.

The pajama-clad body of the victim, Anthony Townsend, was found in the early

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[82 Ill.Dec. 590] morning hours of February 22, 1980, in the kitchen of the house in Joliet where he lived with his mother and his younger brother Van. He had been shot in the side of the head and was dead. With the exception of the kitchen door, all of the outside doors to the house were open, including one leading directly into Anthony's bedroom, but a police officer, Gary Schild, who arrived at the murder scene, stated that there were no signs that any of them had been forced open. A woman's purse, identified as belonging to Mrs. Townsend, was found on the living room floor with its [103 Ill.2d 143] contents strewn around it. Officer Schild dusted these items and the kitchen and rear door but found no fingerprints. He found two .25-caliber shell casings in the Townsend home.

Mrs. Townsend was the chief prosecution witness. She testified that she was at home with Anthony and Van on the night of February 21, 1980, and that they were watching television at 11 p.m. when she went to sleep. Sometime in the night she was wakened by a sound. She called out to her sons to see if anything was wrong; receiving no answer she rose from her bed and was confronted by a man in the doorway, whom she later identified as the defendant. The man said, "No, it's me. It's a robbery." He fired one shot in her direction and instructed her not to turn on the light or look at his face. She complied with these directions, and the man next ordered her to show him her purse. The intruder took what he wanted from it and dumped the rest on the floor. He then ordered her to go outside and "drive me." As she crossed the living room toward the door she saw Anthony lying on the floor of the kitchen. The man told her he had shot Anthony because he would not let him inside the house.

Once they were outside the house Mrs. Townsend told the intruder that she did not know how to drive, and the intruder got into the driver's seat of the Townsend car himself and commenced driving eastward from Joliet while holding her at gunpoint next to him. After arriving in Gary, Indiana, he drove around that city for a while. Next, he pulled into an alleyway and ordered Mrs. Townsend to get into the back seat of the car. After a short time a bright light shone through the window. The man ordered Mrs. Townsend out of the car and followed her out at gunpoint. When she attempted to run away, the man fired four shots at her, hitting her twice. She fell to the ground and pretended she was dead. The man [103 Ill.2d 144] walked toward the highway and was picked up by an acquaintance a few minutes later.

According to Mrs. Townsend's testimony, a youth who had been fixing a tire by the side of the road noticed her and covered her with a leather coat which he found in the Townsend automobile, which remained where the assailant had parked it. She testified that the coat belonged to the assailant. The youth called for an ambulance, and it took her to a Gary hospital. Two Gary police detectives examined the coat in the hospital and found two gold rings and a medicine bottle in one of the pockets. The label on the medicine bottle indicated the prescription was made out to Anne Mae Williams, whom Lieutenant Wayne Brown, one of the detectives, visited twice at her Gary address.

On Brown's first visit, according to his testimony, he received no answer to his knock at the door but noticed a letter addressed to "T. Holman" in the open mailbox. He contacted Williams several days later and she took him to another house in Gary, from which she emerged with a photograph of a man wearing two rings on his left hand. This photograph was admitted into evidence over objection. An objection was sustained to Brown's statement that in his opinion the rings were the same as the ones taken from the coat. However, Brown was permitted to testify, over objection, that the man depicted in the photograph was the defendant. Williams did not testify.

During her stay in the hospital Mrs. Townsend was shown several photographs from the police files and identified one photograph as that of her abductor. At trial

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[82 Ill.Dec. 591] she was shown the same photographic lineup and identified the defendant as the man whose picture she had picked.

The defendant did not testify at the guilt phase of the trial but did so, against the advice of his attorney, at the [103 Ill.2d 145] first stage of the sentencing hearing. His version of events was that he had been drinking and visited relatives with two men, whose names he gave as Boogie and Zeich, during the evening in question. This was generally corroborated by several of Holman's relatives who also testified at this stage. Holman testified that he also visited his father, and that after this visit he and Zeich proceeded to the Townsend house, apparently because the defendant thought there had been a misunderstanding between Anthony Townsend and the defendant's father. Anthony recognized the defendant and admitted the two men through the door leading into his room, whereupon Holman questioned him about the earlier misunderstanding and an argument ensued. According to Holman's testimony, Zeich shot Anthony with no warning during the argument. Holman, who claimed he was drunk, panicked and tried to find an exit and heard a second shot while he was searching, but by the time he found the front door Zeich had fled and Mrs. Townsend had wakened and recognized him. He decided at this point to abduct her and, after rummaging through her purse for the keys to the Townsend car, he left for Gary, his home city, without taking anything of value from inside the house. He indicated that his intention had been merely to secure her car for getaway purposes and to release Mrs. Townsend once he reached the highway to Gary, but that the appearance of a police car at that point forced him to continue on to Gary before releasing her. He admitted firing one or several shots at her in Gary when she tried to flag down a passing police car.

At the hearing in aggravation and mitigation, evidence was introduced of a 1975 conviction of the defendant for robbery and a 1970 conviction for armed robbery, both of which resulted in prison sentences, and a 1966 adjudication of delinquency in connection with the robbery, abduction and sexual assault of a man. In addition, [103 Ill.2d 146] Thomas Wilson, a former Illinois judge, testified that in 1968 he sentenced Holman to prison for the misdemeanors of reckless conduct and unlawful use of a firearm, to which Holman had pleaded guilty. Judge Wilson could not recall whether Holman was represented by an attorney at any time during the proceedings, and although the docket sheet showed that at one point Holman stated he would obtain his own attorney there was no indication that he had done so.

The warden of the jail at which Holman was being held pending trial in this case testified that he received a note from an inmate which purported to solicit an assault on a lady who lived at Mrs. Townsend's address. The writer mentioned a desire to obtain a gun and gave as a reason for the assault the fact that the lady's son had "jumped on" the writer's father. The inmate who gave the warden the note told him that Holman had written the letter.

Mrs. Townsend testified that she had not heard of Holman prior to the assault...

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