People v. Caffey, 86975.

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Citation275 Ill.Dec. 390,205 Ill.2d 52,792 N.E.2d 1163
Docket NumberNo. 86975.,86975.
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Fedell CAFFEY, Appellant.
Decision Date18 October 2001

792 N.E.2d 1163
205 Ill.2d 52
275 Ill.Dec.

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
Fedell CAFFEY, Appellant

No. 86975.

Supreme Court of Illinois.

October 18, 2001.

Rehearing Denied February 4, 2002.

792 N.E.2d 1175
Michael J. Pelletier, Deputy Defender, and Patricia Mysza, Assistant Appellate Defender, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, Chicago, for appellant

James E. Ryan, Attorney General, Springfield (Joel D. Bertocchi, Solicitor General, and William L. Browers and Jay Paul Hoffmann, Assistant Attorneys General, Chicago, of counsel), for the People.

Justice FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

On November 16, 1995, Debra Evans was fatally shot and stabbed in the Addison apartment where she lived with James Edwards and her children, Samantha, Joshua, and Jordan. Debra was nine months pregnant. The baby she was carrying, Elijah, was cut from her womb. Samantha was killed in the apartment with her mother. Joshua and Elijah were taken from the apartment. Jordan was left alone in the apartment with his dead mother

792 N.E.2d 1176
and sister. The next day, police found Joshua's dead body in an alley in Maywood. Police arrested defendant, Fedell Caffey, that night. In connection with the murders and kidnappings of the members of the Evans family, defendant, his live-in girlfriend Jacqueline Annette Williams, and her cousin Laverne Ward were jointly indicted on several counts of first degree murder and aggravated kidnapping. They were tried separately

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Du Page County, defendant was convicted of the first degree murder of Debra Evans and her daughter Samantha, and the aggravated kidnapping and murder of Debra's son Joshua. See 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a), 10-2(a) (West 1994). At a separate sentencing hearing, the same jury found defendant eligible for the death penalty and further determined that there were no mitigating circumstances sufficient to preclude imposition of that sentence. Accordingly, the trial court sentenced defendant to death on the murder convictions and to a consecutive 30-year prison term on the aggravated kidnapping conviction. The death sentence has been stayed pending direct review by this court. Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 4(b); 134 Ill.2d Rs. 603, 609(a). We affirm.


The State's evidence at trial was essentially as follows. On November 16, 1995, Debra Evans was nine months pregnant with her baby, whom she had named Elijah. Debra was scheduled to be hospitalized to have labor induced on November 19. Debra had three additional children: Samantha, age 10; Joshua, age 7; and Jordan, age 2. Debra and her children lived in an apartment in Addison with James Edwards.

Edwards worked across the street from his and Debra's apartment. On November 16, 1995, at around 5:30 p.m., he left the apartment and went to work. He returned home after leaving his job at 2:30 a.m. on November 17. The back door to the apartment was unlocked. When Edwards opened the door, Jordan greeted him. Edwards found Debra lying on the living room floor completely covered by a blanket. Edwards lifted the blanket and saw a large wound to her stomach. Elijah had been cut from Debra's womb. Edwards ran to the children's bedroom. He found Samantha lying on the floor completely covered by a blanket. He lifted the blanket and saw that Samantha's neck had been slashed. Joshua was missing. Edwards telephoned 911. Several items were missing from the apartment, including Edwards' Grambling State University Tigers starter jacket and a pair of poultry shears.

Also on November 17, between midnight and 1 a.m., Williams went to the apartment of Patrice Scott in Villa Park. Scott lived with Dwight Pruitt and her three daughters; her youngest daughter, Alexis, was only 1½ months old. Williams and Scott were friends; they had known each other for two to three years. Approximately one month prior to that night, Williams had told Scott that she was pregnant and that Williams was going to have the baby in November.

Williams' knock at the door awoke Pruitt. He arose, went to the door, and saw Williams and a boy. Pruitt returned to bed and told Scott, who answered the door. Scott saw a gray automobile parked outside. Williams was wearing Edwards' starter jacket and a white sweater spotted with blood. Joshua was wearing a T-shirt, coat, and boots; he was not wearing socks or pants.

Williams told Scott that Joshua's mother had been shot, and that Williams was going to visit her in the hospital. Williams

792 N.E.2d 1177
asked Scott if Joshua could spend the night at Scott's apartment; Scott assented. Williams would retrieve Joshua in the morning. Williams also claimed to have given birth and would bring the new baby with her

After Williams left, Joshua used the bathroom and removed his coat and boots. Scott put him to bed on the living room couch. She heard Joshua whimpering and crying during the night.

Later that morning, at daybreak, Scott heard Joshua crying. Scott arose with Alexis and entered the living room. Joshua was upset. He told Scott that he had to return to his home because Jordan was there alone, and because Edwards would not know where he, Joshua, was.

Joshua explained that four burglars had entered his home through a window and cut his mother and sister. Scott asked Joshua who were the burglars, and Joshua answered "Annette, Levern [sic] and Fedell," and a person Joshua called "Boo Boo." Joshua repeated this more than three times. He explained that he was hiding and, as the burglars were leaving, he ran outside and bumped into Williams.

Pruitt was awake in the bedroom watching television with the volume lowered. He overheard Joshua name the four burglars: "Annette"; "Vern"; a name that sounded like "Vedelle," "Adelle," or "Ladelle"; and a fourth name that Pruitt could not understand. At that point, Pruitt entered the living room, greeted Joshua, and returned to the bedroom. Scott's two older daughters arose and prepared for school. They greeted Joshua; one of them read to him. After they left for school, Joshua told Scott "to lock the door because the burglars might come back."

Around 9 a.m., Williams returned to Scott's apartment. Williams drove the same gray automobile that Scott saw the previous night. Scott told Williams what Joshua had said. Williams became very upset with Joshua. She accused him of lying, she told him that "he talked too much," and she ordered him "to shut his damn mouth." In response, Joshua repeatedly asserted that he was telling the truth, and that Williams knew he was telling the truth because she was there.

Williams told Joshua that he had to take the medicine his mother had left for him. Joshua replied that he did not take any medicine. Williams asked Scott for a glass of water, which Scott retrieved from the kitchen. Williams took the water and led Joshua into the kitchen. Joshua came out of the kitchen gagging, went to the bathroom and vomited.

Williams said she had gifts for Alexis and wanted to check on her own baby. Scott asked Pruitt to watch Alexis, but he refused. So Scott left the apartment with Alexis, Williams, and Joshua.

Home alone, Pruitt continued to watch television. On the midday news, he saw a report regarding the murders. The report included a photograph of Debra and her children. Pruitt recognized Joshua in the photograph. Pruitt dressed, left the apartment, and looked for a telephone. He could not find one that worked and eventually returned home.

Williams first drove to a nearby store and then to the Schaumburg townhouse that she shared with defendant. It was a three-level residence: garage and laundry room on the bottom floor, living room and kitchen on the middle floor, and bedrooms on the top floor. Williams drove into the garage. They left the car and went up to Williams' living room. Williams invited Scott "to look around," since it was her first time in Williams' home. Joshua stayed with Alexis in the living room. On being called by Williams, Scott went upstairs and into a bedroom. Defendant was

792 N.E.2d 1178
lying on a bed with a "really pale" baby, who had "streams of blond hair coming down from his cap" and "tape across his navel."

Scott returned to the living room, where she gave Alexis a bottle of milk. Later, Scott heard Williams' voice instructing her to bring Joshua downstairs to the laundry room.

Scott did so. In the room, Scott saw defendant, Williams, and an unidentified man who soon thereafter departed. Scott denied that this man was Bo Wilson. Joshua was directed to sit on a daybed. Defendant asked Williams why she had brought Scott to the house and why she had not taken Joshua to "the projects" as defendant had instructed her. Williams answered that Joshua "talked too much" and that he knew their names: he knew defendant, Williams, and Ward.

Williams picked up a white cord. Joshua was ordered to lean forward. Defendant and Williams, each pulling on an end of the cord, began to strangle Joshua. He screamed and clutched at the cord. Scott screamed and pushed Williams, who released her end.

As Joshua was crying and rubbing his neck, Williams left the laundry room, returned with a knife, and placed it on the bed. Scott screamed and asked Williams to take her and Joshua to Scott's home. Williams directed Scott to retrieve Alexis. Scott took Joshua and went upstairs. She tried to leave through the front door, but it was locked.

Scott, with Alexis and Joshua, returned downstairs. Defendant warned Scott not to say anything, or else, according to Scott, he would "get me and my daughters." Defendant directed Williams to take Scott home. They all went to the garage and got in the car. Scott sat in the front passenger seat with Alexis. Joshua sat in the backseat on the passenger side. Defendant entered the car on the rear driver side. Scott looked in the back of the car and saw defendant repeatedly stab Joshua. Williams stood along the driver's side of the car...

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