People v. Chapman, 85332.

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Citation252 Ill.Dec. 474,194 Ill.2d 186,743 N.E.2d 48
Decision Date01 December 2000
Docket NumberNo. 85332.,85332.
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Reginald CHAPMAN, Appellant.

743 N.E.2d 48
194 Ill.2d 186
252 Ill.Dec.

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
Reginald CHAPMAN, Appellant

No. 85332.

Supreme Court of Illinois.

December 1, 2000.

Rehearing Denied January 29, 2001.

743 N.E.2d 57
Charles M. Schiedel, Deputy Defender, and Kim Robert Fawcett, Assistant Appellate Defender, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Chicago, for appellant

Richard A. Devine, State's Attorney, Chicago (Renee Goldfarb and Kathleen B. Lang, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

Justice BILANDIC delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Reginald Chapman, was charged in the circuit court of Cook County with six counts of first degree murder, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of concealment of a homicidal death. These charges related to the August 1994 murders of Angela Butler and Christopher Butler. The State nolprossed the aggravated kidnapping counts, the concealment of a homicidal death counts, and the two felony-murder counts. The jury returned separate general verdicts of guilty against defendant for the first degree murder of Angela Butler and the first degree murder of Christopher Butler.

743 N.E.2d 58
The same jury found defendant eligible for the death penalty based upon the following two statutory aggravating factors: that the defendant murdered two or more individuals (720 ILCS 5/9-1(b)(3) (West 1998)); and that the defendant murdered an individual who was under 12 years of age, and the death resulted from exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty (720 ILCS 5/9-1(b)(7) (West 1998)). Defendant waived a jury for the second phase of the death sentencing hearing. After considering evidence in aggravation and mitigation, the trial court found no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty and sentenced defendant to death

Defendant's death sentence has been stayed pending direct review by this court. See Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 4(b); 134 Ill.2d Rs. 603, 609(a). For the reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's convictions and death sentence.


The evidence at trial revealed that on September 4, 1994, a body was reported to be floating in the water in the Calumet Sag Channel in Alsip, Illinois. The Illinois State Police underwater search and recovery team and members of the criminal investigations unit were dispatched to the scene. When dive team members recovered the body, it was floating face down, and it was wrapped in orange and black electrical cord. The cord was attached to two free weights, one weighing 50 pounds, and the other weighing 25 pounds. The body was bloated, discolored, and decomposed from being in the water.

Investigators determined that the victim was Angela Butler. The police interviewed Georgia Anderson, Angela's grandmother, who told the investigators that Angela had a five-month-old son, Christopher Butler, and that Angela had been living with the family of her fiance, Louis Murillo. Angela's parents lived in Israel, which is where Angela had been raised. Angela had only lived in Chicago, where her grandmother lived, for a few years. Angela's grandmother informed the police that Angela had been missing since August 27, 1994, and that a missing persons report had been filed with the Chicago police department on August 31, 1994.

Testimony revealed that Angela's relationship with Murillo began soon after she moved to Chicago and lasted for a year and a half. After Angela ended the relationship, she began to date defendant, and they lived together for several months. On April 9, 1994, Angela gave birth to defendant's child, Christopher Butler. Their relationship ended soon after. Angela and Murillo then resumed their relationship and became engaged in June 1994, and Angela moved in with the Murillo family. At the end of August 1994, Murillo returned to college in Iowa. Angela planned to move to Iowa in October to live with Murillo.

Curtis Taylor, Murillo's brother, testified that on August 27, 1994, he, Angela, and other members of Murillo's family planned to attend a birthday party. At approximately 3 p.m., they stopped at a Dominicks grocery store to buy a cake. Angela and Taylor remained in the car. Angela's son, Christopher, was also with them and remained in the car. As they were waiting in the car, defendant approached, knocked on the window, and motioned for Angela to exit. Angela asked defendant what he was doing there. Defendant asked to see Christopher, stating that he had not seen him in over a week. After Angela gave the baby to defendant, they walked to defendant's car, where defendant shoved Angela into his car. Taylor went over to defendant's car and asked Angela where she was going. Angela responded that she was going for a ride and that she would be back in a few minutes. According to Taylor, Angela seemed frightened, and defendant seemed angry and upset.

When Taylor returned to his car, he realized that Angela had left the baby's

743 N.E.2d 59
diaper bag in the car. When the other family members returned from the grocery store, they waited for 10 minutes for Angela to return. When they reached the birthday party, Taylor unsuccessfully attempted to telephone Angela. Testimony revealed that Taylor identified defendant in a lineup as the person he saw with Angela and Christopher on August 27, 1994

Testimony from police officers revealed that, on Friday, September 9, 1994, at approximately 7 a.m., pursuant to the ongoing investigation into the murder of Angela and the disappearance of Christopher, officers arrived at defendant's apartment and knocked on the door. Defendant was in the apartment with his girlfriend, Tiffany Brownlee, and Tiffany's 18-month-old son, Jeremy. A police officer read defendant his constitutional rights pursuant to Miranda, and defendant waived these rights. Defendant also signed a consent to search his apartment and his car.

The police subsequently took defendant to the Illinois State Police station at 83rd and King Drive. At around 9:15 a.m., Officers Robert Amenitsch and Officer Kizart interviewed defendant for approximately 45 minutes after again advising defendant of his Miranda rights. Defendant stated that he did not recall the last time he saw Angela. Defendant initially denied owning any weight-lifting equipment, but then told the officers that he had recently sold his weight-lifting equipment to an individual named "Foy." Defendant subsequently told the officers that he had given the weight-lifting equipment to his brother. As we will discuss in detail later, throughout the course of that Friday, authorities interviewed defendant, but when they asked defendant if he knew the location of Angela and Christopher, he began to cry, and the interviews were terminated.

The next morning, Saturday, September 10, 1994, at approximately 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., defendant, after waiving his Miranda rights, made a statement to Assistant State's Attorney Pierre Tismo. Tismo testified that defendant admitted that he had spoken to Angela on August 27, 1994, at the grocery store parking lot. Defendant stated that they met to talk about Angela's upcoming move to Iowa. Defendant said that he, Angela, and Christopher drove in his car to defendant's apartment, where defendant and Angela argued. Defendant stated that he hit Angela with his open hand, with his fist, and with a baseball bat. When Tismo asked how Angela's body ended up in the Calumet Sag Channel, defendant responded that he put her there. When asked where Christopher was, defendant put his head down and cried, yet he stated that authorities could find Christopher where they found Angela. On September 12, 1994, Christopher's decomposed body was recovered from the Calumet Sag Channel. Christopher's body was tied with orange electrical cords to 40 pounds of weights.

Tiffany Brownlee testified that she was with defendant early in the day on August 27, 1994, the day the victims disappeared. She woke up with defendant at his apartment that morning. Later, they went to defendant's mother's house. They were watching television when defendant received a telephone call. He left and said that he would be right back. Tiffany left and went to her mother's house at around 5:30 p.m. after waiting for 1 ½ hours for defendant to return. She spent the night at her mother's house.

Tiffany saw defendant the next day, on August 28, 1994. Defendant picked her up in his car, and they went to defendant's mother's house. While they were there, Tiffany saw defendant clean out the trunk of his car. When they returned to defendant's apartment that evening, she noticed that it was in disarray and that certain items were missing. Among the missing items were a long orange electrical cord that connected the television to an electrical outlet. Also missing was defendant's weight-lifting equipment. When shown the photographs of the electrical cords and

743 N.E.2d 60
weights that were found on the victims, Tiffany identified those items as the same items that were missing from defendant's apartment. Tiffany also testified about the events of Friday morning, September 9, 1994, when the police arrived at defendant's apartment. Before defendant opened the door and allowed the officers into his apartment, defendant told Tiffany to tell the police that he had "been with you [Tiffany]."

Crime scene investigator Dexter Bartlett testified regarding his search of defendant's car. There was a contact blood smear on the rubber weather strip in the trunk of defendant's car. Bartlett recovered a pair of infant gym shoes from the trunk. These shoes had blood splatters on them. Bartlett testified that the blood splatters on the shoes appeared to have hit the shoes at a 90-degree angle. Crime scene investigator Paul Smith testified regarding his search of defendant's apartment. Smith recovered several items, including a blanket that had bloodstains on it and a baseball bat. Later...

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