People v. Easley, No. 69387

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtCLARK
Citation592 N.E.2d 1036,148 Ill.2d 281,170 Ill.Dec. 356
Docket NumberNo. 69387
Decision Date16 April 1992
Parties, 170 Ill.Dec. 356 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Ike J. EASLEY, Jr., Appellant.

Page 1036

592 N.E.2d 1036
148 Ill.2d 281, 170 Ill.Dec. 356
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
v.
Ike J. EASLEY, Jr., Appellant.
No. 69387.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
April 16, 1992.
Rehearing Denied June 1, 1992.

Page 1039

[148 Ill.2d 289] [170 Ill.Dec. 359] Charles M. Schiedel, Deputy Defender, and Allen H. Andrews, Asst. Defender, Office of the State App. Defender, Springfield, for appellant.

Roland W. Burris, Atty. Gen., of Springfield (Rosalyn B. Kaplan, Sol. Gen., and Terence M. Madsen and Bradley P. Halloran, Asst. Attys. Gen., Chicago, of counsel), for the People.

Justice CLARK delivered the opinion of the court:

On October 16, 1987, defendant, Ike J. Easley, Jr., was indicted on two counts of conspiracy (first degree murder) (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 38, par. 8-2(a)) and five counts of first degree murder (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), (a)(2)). The conspiracy counts against defendant were dismissed by the State before trial. Defendant was accused of killing Robert Taylor, a superintendent at the Pontiac Correctional Center (Pontiac), on September 3, 1987.

[148 Ill.2d 290] Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Livingston County, defendant was convicted of first degree murder. At a separate sentencing hearing, the same jury found defendant eligible for the death penalty on the ground that defendant's victim was a correctional officer, a statutory aggravating circumstance. (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 38, par. 9-1(b)(2).) The jury concluded that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty, and the trial judge therefore sentenced defendant to death. Defendant's death sentence has been stayed pending direct review by this court. Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 4(b); 134 Ill.2d Rules 603, 609(a).

On appeal, defendant argues that (1) his right to cut off questioning after being advised of his Miranda rights was not "scrupulously honored" by the police, which argument we reject; (2) the police engaged in "coercive behavior" and "overreaching" in violation of the due process clause in order to obtain an inculpatory statement from defendant, which argument we agree with, although we find that any error which may have resulted from the trial court's ruling on the admissibility of this statement was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt (People v. Howard (1991), 147 Ill.2d 103, 588 N.E.2d 1044); (3) his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination was denied where testimony at trial revealed that defendant had invoked his right to remain silent after receiving the Miranda warnings, which argument we agree with, although we find that defendant has waived review of this error (People v. Young (1989), 128 Ill.2d 1, 38, 131 Ill.Dec. 78, 86, 538 N.E.2d 453, 461) and the plain error rule is inapplicable. (People v. Hayes (1990), 139 Ill.2d 89, 143, 151 Ill.Dec. 348, 564 N.E.2d 803); (4) gang-related evidence introduced at trial in support of the State's motive for Taylor's death was improperly introduced at trial and (5) argued in the State's closing argument, which arguments we agree with, although we find that neither error denied [148 Ill.2d 291] defendant a fair trial or resulted in substantial prejudice (People v. Smith (1990), 141 Ill.2d 40, 152 Ill.Dec. 218, 565 N.E.2d 900); (6) he was denied a fair trial by the State's introduction of victim impact testimony during the guilt stage of his trial, which argument we reject (see, e.g., People v. Del Vecchio (1989), 129 Ill.2d 265, 135 Ill.Dec. 816, 544 N.E.2d 312); (7) the State used improper cross-examination techniques with two of his witnesses, which alleged error we find defendant has waived (People v. Enoch (1988), 122 Ill.2d 176, 186, 119 Ill.Dec. 265, 522 N.E.2d 1124) and plain error is inapplicable; (8) improper wording in the oral and written instructions given to the jury resulted in an improper finding of guilt, which argument we agree with, although we find that the error was harmless (People v. Tiggs (1976), 38 Ill.App.3d 72, 347 N.E.2d 389); (9) he was denied effective assistance of counsel where his counsel argued at the first stage of the sentencing hearing that defendant would sustain his burden to show that defendant's life would be spared, which argument we dispose of on the basis of lack of sufficient prejudice (Strickland v. Washington (1984), 466 U.S.

Page 1040

[170 Ill.Dec. 360] 668, 697, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2069, 80 L.Ed.2d 674, 699); (10) it was error for the trial court to instruct the jury that it could consider his potential for rehabilitation as a mitigating factor at the second stage of the sentencing hearing, which argument we reject (People v. Lego (1987), 116 Ill.2d 323, 350, 107 Ill.Dec. 647, 507 N.E.2d 800); (11) an outburst from Taylor's wife during closing argument at the sentencing hearing, coupled with the trial court's admonishment to the jury subsequent to the incident, has been condemned by the United States Supreme Court in Booth v. Maryland (1987), 482 U.S. 496, 107 S.Ct. 2529, 96 L.Ed.2d 440, which argument we reject (Payne v. Tennessee (1991), 501 U.S. 808, 111 S.Ct. 2597, 115 L.Ed.2d 720); (12) statements made by the prosecutor in his closing statement were improper and warrant a new trial, which argument we find defendant has waived (People v. Barrow (1989), 133 Ill.2d 226, 270, 139 Ill.Dec. 728, 549 N.E.2d 240) and plain [148 Ill.2d 292] error is inapplicable (People v. Mack (1984), 105 Ill.2d 103, 131-32, 85 Ill.Dec. 281, 473 N.E.2d 880); (13) the jury was improperly presented at the sentencing hearing with evidence of numerous offenses for which defendant had been charged but not convicted, which argument we reject (People v. Ramirez (1983), 98 Ill.2d 439, 460, 75 Ill.Dec. 241, 457 N.E.2d 31); (14) various aspects of the Illinois death penalty statute violate the eighth and fourteenth amendments; and (15) the Illinois death penalty statute is unconstitutional because it does not sufficiently minimize the risk of arbitrarily or capriciously imposed death sentence, both of which arguments we reject (People v. Howard (1991), 147 Ill.2d 103, 588 N.E.2d 1044). For the reasons set out below, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

Superintendent Taylor was killed in his office at Pontiac on the morning of September 3, 1987. A "shank," or homemade knife, was recovered from the office and identified as the weapon used to murder Taylor. At trial, inmate Lawrence Spillar testified to the following events occurring sometime prior to 11 a.m. on September 3, 1987. On that date, Spillar was housed in cell 811 on gallery eight in Pontiac. That morning, he and inmate Charles Nealy were talking to Taylor in his office, a converted inmate cell, number 552, located on gallery five in Pontiac. Spillar and Nealy were seated on opposite sides of the entrance to the office and Taylor was seated behind a desk, facing the two inmates.

As the three men spoke, defendant ran into the office, jumped on Taylor's desk and struck him in the face. Defendant then pulled a knife from his belt and appeared to stab Taylor. Spillar collided with another inmate, Roosevelt Lucas, who was entering Taylor's office as Spillar ran from it. Spillar saw Lucas hitting Taylor with a pipe before he, Spillar, ran out of Taylor's office to stand on the gallery in front of cell 546. Spillar watched defendant and Lucas as they ran from Taylor's [148 Ill.2d 293] office and down the gallery. Spillar testified that when defendant ran from Taylor's office, he was hurriedly discarding gloves, coat and hat as he ran down the corridor. He saw Lucas throw the pipe back into Taylor's office before he ran to the front of the gallery and jumped onto gallery seven. Spillar then ran into cell 546. Nealy was already in the cell when Spillar entered it.

Spillar stated that he agreed to testify because he was afraid that he would be charged with Taylor's murder and because he was afraid of being killed by a gang. Spillar testified that he was in a different gang than defendant or Lucas, who were members of the same gang, and the two gangs were not allied.

Inmate Demetre Brown, who was housed in cell 549, testified that shortly before 11 a.m. on September 3, 1987, he was standing on gallery five in the area of Taylor's office. Brown saw defendant sitting on a radiator located three cells from Taylor's office. Defendant was putting on a cap and gloves and was wearing "all blue state clothes," a winter coat and white gym shoes. Lucas was with defendant, and he, too, was putting on gloves and a cap. Brown testified that "when I seen them putting on gloves and * * * caps I figured something was up so, I just got away from him and went over and sit [sic ] by the

Page 1041

[170 Ill.Dec. 361] window in front of the Superintendant's office."

Brown saw Spillar and Nealy sitting in Taylor's office with Taylor. Brown then saw defendant and Lucas run into Taylor's office and saw defendant stab Taylor. Brown ran from where he was outside Taylor's office into cell 546 with Spillar and Nealy.

Correctional Officer Robert Baremore testified that immediately after Taylor was attacked, he locked the inmates into the cells on gallery five. Brown yelled to Baremore from cell 546, then whispered to him as he approached the cell, "They're in here." Spillar and Nealy [148 Ill.2d 294] were in the cell with Brown. In his testimony at trial, Brown denied telling Baremore that Nealy and Spillar had murdered Taylor.

Correctional Officer Walter Turner testified that he worked on the gallery across from gallery five. Shortly before Taylor was killed, a resident asked Turner to open his cell. As Turner did so, he heard a call on his radio that Taylor had been attacked.

Turner arrived at gallery five after Taylor had been attacked and helped lock the inmates who were on the gallery into cells. Turner testified that defendant, who was locked alone in cell 507, was wearing a white t-shirt and white tennis shoes. Turner...

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103 practice notes
  • People v. Brown, No. 74532
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • March 28, 1996
    ...recognized a narrow exception to the waiver rule. Rissley, 165 Ill.2d at 407, 209 Ill.Dec. 205, 651 N.E.2d 133; People v. Easley, 148 Ill.2d 281, 336-38, 170 Ill.Dec. 356, 592 N.E.2d 1036 (1992); 134 Ill.2d R. 451(c). [172 Ill.2d 46] Plain errors affecting substantial rights may be consider......
  • People v. Donahue, No. 1–12–0163.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 25, 2014
    ...at 123, 313 Ill.Dec. 1, 871 N.E.2d 728 ; People v. Johnson, 208 Ill.2d 53, 64, 281 Ill.Dec. 1, 803 N.E.2d 405 (2003) ; People v. Easley, 148 Ill.2d 281, 332, 170 Ill.Dec. 356, 592 N.E.2d 1036 (1992). For example in Easley, our supreme court concluded that “[t]he remarks by the prosecutor wh......
  • U.S. ex rel. Easley v. Hinsley, No. 01 C 7117.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • February 24, 2004
    ...a direct appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court, which affirmed Easley's conviction and sentence on April 16, 1992. People v. Easley, 148 Ill.2d 281, 170 Ill.Dec. 356, 592 N.E.2d 1036 (1992)(Easley I). Easley then filed a post-conviction petition with the Livingston County Circuit Court. On......
  • People v. Davis, No. 1-16-0408
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 23, 2019
    ...can provide important context for a defendant's actions, it is not itself an element of a criminal offense. See People v. Easley , 148 Ill. 2d 281, 325-26, 170 Ill.Dec. 356, 592 N.E.2d 1036 (1992) (citing People v. Smith , 141 Ill. 2d 40, 56, 152 Ill.Dec. 218, 565 N.E.2d 900 (1990) ). This ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
103 cases
  • People v. Brown, No. 74532
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • March 28, 1996
    ...recognized a narrow exception to the waiver rule. Rissley, 165 Ill.2d at 407, 209 Ill.Dec. 205, 651 N.E.2d 133; People v. Easley, 148 Ill.2d 281, 336-38, 170 Ill.Dec. 356, 592 N.E.2d 1036 (1992); 134 Ill.2d R. 451(c). [172 Ill.2d 46] Plain errors affecting substantial rights may be consider......
  • People v. Donahue, No. 1–12–0163.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 25, 2014
    ...at 123, 313 Ill.Dec. 1, 871 N.E.2d 728 ; People v. Johnson, 208 Ill.2d 53, 64, 281 Ill.Dec. 1, 803 N.E.2d 405 (2003) ; People v. Easley, 148 Ill.2d 281, 332, 170 Ill.Dec. 356, 592 N.E.2d 1036 (1992). For example in Easley, our supreme court concluded that “[t]he remarks by the prosecutor wh......
  • U.S. ex rel. Easley v. Hinsley, No. 01 C 7117.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • February 24, 2004
    ...a direct appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court, which affirmed Easley's conviction and sentence on April 16, 1992. People v. Easley, 148 Ill.2d 281, 170 Ill.Dec. 356, 592 N.E.2d 1036 (1992)(Easley I). Easley then filed a post-conviction petition with the Livingston County Circuit Court. On......
  • People v. Davis, No. 1-16-0408
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 23, 2019
    ...can provide important context for a defendant's actions, it is not itself an element of a criminal offense. See People v. Easley , 148 Ill. 2d 281, 325-26, 170 Ill.Dec. 356, 592 N.E.2d 1036 (1992) (citing People v. Smith , 141 Ill. 2d 40, 56, 152 Ill.Dec. 218, 565 N.E.2d 900 (1990) ). This ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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