People v. Cross

Citation2021 IL App (4th) 190114,184 N.E.3d 582,451 Ill.Dec. 995
Decision Date21 October 2021
Docket Number4-19-0114
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Latron Y. CROSS, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

James E. Chadd, Douglas R. Hoff, and Christopher G. Evers, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

Jacqueline M. Lacy, State's Attorney, of Danville (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and David E. Mannchen, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 In November 2018, a jury found defendant, Latron Y. Cross, guilty of the first degree murder of Ollie Williams. See 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1), (2) (West 2016). The trial court sentenced defendant to 59 years in prison.

¶ 2 Defendant appeals, arguing the trial court erred because (1) defendant was not tried within 120 days of his arrest in violation of his statutory right to a speedy trial, (2) the State did not prove defendant guilty of first degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt, (3) the trial court denied defendant his constitutional right to present a defense when it barred him from presenting evidence that another man, Albert Gardner, made a video in which Gardner took credit for shooting Williams, and (4) the court improperly relied on aggravating factors unsupported by evidence and ignored factors in mitigation when it sentenced defendant.

¶ 3 We disagree and affirm.


¶ 5 A. The Pretrial Proceedings Regarding Continuances

¶ 6 On July 9, 2017, defendant was charged, arrested, and jailed for the murder of Williams. Defendant was never released from custody.

¶ 7 On July 12, 2017, the trial court informed defendant of the charges, appointed the public defender, and set defendant's preliminary hearing for July 27, 2017. The court also set defendant's bond at $1 million.

¶ 8 On July 26, 2017, the State served upon defendant its motion for pretrial discovery. In its motion, the State requested the following:

"an Order directing the Defendant and his attorney:
1. To give written notice to the People of the State of Illinois of any defenses, affirmative or non-affirmative, which the Defendant intends to assert at any hearing or at trial. RULE 413(d)
2. To furnish in writing to the People of the State of Illinois the names and last known addresses of persons the Defendant intends to call as witnesses, together with their relevant written or recorded statements, including memoranda reporting or summarizing their oral statements, and record of prior criminal convictions of such witnesses known to the defendant or his attorney. RULE 413(c)."

See Ill. S. Ct. R. 413(d)(iii) (eff. July 1, 1982) ("[I]f the defendant intends to prove an alibi, [he must furnish to the State] specific information as to the place where he maintains he was at the time of the alleged offense.").

¶ 9 On July 27, 2017, the trial court conducted defendant's preliminary hearing and found that the State had established probable cause, following which defendant agreed to a continuance. That same day, the court made a docket entry in which it ordered that defendant had "30 days to respond to discovery."

¶ 10 Over the next year, defendant made six motions to continue on the following dates: September 13 and 21, 2017; November 20, 2017; and January 16, March 19, and June 18, 2018. The trial court granted all of those motions, each time attributing the delay to defendant. On June 18, 2018, when granting defendant's sixth and final motion for a continuance, the court scheduled a pretrial hearing for July 16, 2018.

¶ 11 On July 16, 2018, the trial court conducted a pretrial hearing, at which the court inquired about the status of the case. Defense counsel responded, "Your Honor, at this point I'm answering ready for trial and demanding speedy trial." The State responded that it was not ready and asked if the court "would be willing to set it on September 24th[, 2018]." The court agreed to that date and ruled that the delay was attributable to the State.

¶ 12 On August 21, 2018, defense counsel filed a document, titled "Supplemental Disclosure I to the Prosecution," in which he raised an alibi defense, identifying Naomi Cross, who was defendant's grandmother, as the alibi witness. Attached to the supplemental disclosure was a one-page report by an investigator, Steven Blaine, who had interviewed Naomi Cross.

¶ 13 Later that same day, the State responded to the alibi disclosure by filing a document titled "People's Response to Defense Motion Demand For Speedy Trial in Lieu of Defense Disclosure I on August 21, 2018" (People's Response). Therein, the State claimed that all of the information regarding the asserted alibi would have been known to defendant since July 12, 2017, when the trial court appointed defense counsel. According to the State, "[d]efense counsel ha[d] advised that there [would] be additional witnesses and statements forthcoming in disclosure"—all of which the State would have to investigate. The State argued that the time since July 16, 2018, should be retroactively attributed to defendant because of defendant's late disclosure to defense counsel regarding any possible defenses. The State requested a judicial determination "that the time since July 16, 2018[,] to the next trial date of September 24, 2018[,] be [a] delay attributable to the defense."

¶ 14 On August 24, 2018, the trial court conducted a hearing on the People's Response at which the prosecutor reiterated the request in her motion. Defense counsel opposed that request and reminded the court that on July 16, 2018, defense counsel (1) announced his readiness for trial and (2) demanded a speedy trial. "We were ready to proceed on that day," he said. Subsequently, he "received new information," which he disclosed to the State as soon as he received it. Defense counsel noted that because "[t]he trial date [was] still approximately one month out," the State had "ample time" to investigate "one witness." Counsel added that "I don't believe at this point it's appropriate to attribute any delay to [defendant], because at this point, I don't know that there is a delay."

¶ 15 After considering these arguments, the trial court decided to split the difference and "attribute the delay from [July 16 to August 21, 2018,] to the State" but to attribute "the delay *** from [August 21 to September 24, 2018,] to the [d]efendant, because of this late disclosure." After so ruling, the court reminded the parties that "the trial date for September 24, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. still stands at this time."

¶ 16 At the next hearing, on September 24, 2018, the trial court inquired regarding the status of the case. Defense counsel answered, "Your Honor, it's actually set for trial today. The speedy trial demand had been tolled. I'm going to be answering ready and demanding speedy [trial] again this morning." Again, however, the State moved to continue, explaining as follows:

"Your Honor, at this time the State is moving to continue. [Defense counsel] and I have had conversations based upon other scheduling that was canceled to try this case the week of November 5th, if possible. It appears we agree that the speedy [trial term] would run November 29th of 2018. I have contacted my experts, they are available that week. And there was additional discovery that [defense counsel] had tendered to me, I have tendered supplementals to [defense counsel] and indicated to him the circumstances around my cellular phone record expert."

¶ 17 The trial court ruled as follows:

"So State motion to continue over the objection of the Defendant, who announces ready for trial pursuant to the Speedy Trial Statute. The delay would be attributable to the State. *** [W]e are going to set it for trial actually November 6, 2018, at 9:00 AM."
¶ 18 B. The Pretrial Motions Pertaining to Evidence

¶ 19 In November 2018, the trial court conducted a hearing at which it heard the partiespretrial motions. The State moved in limine to impeach defendant, if he testified, with a 2013 unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon conviction, a 2013 mob action conviction, and a 2010 burglary conviction. The court denied the State's motion as to the possession of a weapon by a felon conviction but granted it as to the others.

¶ 20 The State also moved in limine to introduce, as a dying declaration and excited utterance, Williams's statement that defendant shot him, and the trial court granted that motion.

¶ 21 Defendant moved in limine that he be allowed to introduce at trial a rap video made by defendant's cousin, Albert Gardner, which defendant argued was a third-party confession to the shooting of Williams. In the video, Gardner raps, "N*** shot up Granny house. Had to hunt him down. He gone. Where he at? Body resting in the f*** ground. He gone."

¶ 22 In support of this motion, defendant noted that Naomi Cross was the grandmother of both Gardner and defendant. Defendant further argued that (1) defendant's sister, Latifa Cross, was killed when people shot up Naomi's house and (2) of the two men who pleaded guilty to Latifa's murder, Williams was now dead while the other man remained alive. Defendant asserted he would present evidence that on the very morning of the shooting, Gardner borrowed from defendant the car linked to Williams's shooting.

¶ 23 Defendant acknowledged that Gardner could not testify himself because he was later shot and killed in June 2018, but counsel argued that other relevant factors suggested Gardner's confession was trustworthy. The court denied defendant's motion, concluding that sufficient indicia of trustworthiness did not exist.

¶ 24 C. The Jury Trial

¶ 25 Later in November 2018, the trial court conducted defendant's jury trial.

¶ 26 1. The State's Evidence

¶ 27 Julie Groppi testified that she was a bus driver for Danville Mass Transit on July 7, 2017. Just before 1 p.m. that date, while driving her route, she saw a shooting,...

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1 cases
  • People v. Fox
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 2, 2022
    ...ruling regarding the admissibility of evidence is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. People v. Cross, 2021 IL App (4th) 190114, ¶ 126, 184 N.E.3d 582, 602. However, the proper interpretation of Rule 902(11) is a question of law that is reviewed de novo. People v. Risper, 2015 IL App (1st)......

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