People v. Edwards, 1-87-2785

Citation577 N.E.2d 1250,218 Ill.App.3d 184,160 Ill.Dec. 679
Decision Date22 July 1991
Docket NumberNo. 1-87-2785,1-87-2785
Parties, 160 Ill.Dec. 679 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Eddie EDWARDS, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Page 1250

577 N.E.2d 1250
218 Ill.App.3d 184, 160 Ill.Dec. 679
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Eddie EDWARDS, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 1-87-2785.
Appellate Court of Illinois,
First District, First Division.
July 22, 1991.

Page 1252

[160 Ill.Dec. 681] Office of the State Appellate Defender, Chicago [218 Ill.App.3d 188] (Michael J. Pelletier, Deputy Defender, James Chadd, Asst. Appellate Defender, of counsel), for defendant-appellant.

Eddie Edwards, pro se.

Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Chicago (Renee Goldfarb, William Pistorius, Asst. State's Attys., of counsel), for plaintiff-appellee.

Page 1253

[160 Ill.Dec. 682] Justice BUCKLEY delivered the opinion of the court:

After a jury trial, defendant Eddie Edwards (defendant) was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Defendant appeals his conviction on the grounds that he was (1) denied a fair trial because the prosecutor made an improper closing argument which shifted the burden of proof to defendant to prove his innocence, (2) denied his sixth amendment right to confrontation because the court sustained an objection to a question of a witness's sexual relationship with defendant which would show her bias, (3) denied his due process right to present a defense because the court sustained an objection to a question posed to a police officer regarding traffic patterns of particular streets, (4) denied a fair trial because the prosecutor, in closing argument, told the jury that the State represented everyone in the courtroom, (5) not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, (6) denied effective assistance of counsel, (7) denied a fair trial because of certain comments made by the State regarding his alibi witnesses, and that (8) the trial court coerced a deadlock jury into rendering a hastened verdict.

On July 18, 1986, Rhonda Jenkins (victim) was shot and killed outside her cousin Debra Mitchem's home at approximately 11:15 p.m. Defendant was indicted, tried by a jury and found guilty of murdering victim.

The evidence at trial showed that defendant dated victim approximately three years before victim broke off her relationship with him. The relationship had been over for about one year before victim was killed. Following their break-up, defendant and victim saw each other, although the nature of their continued relationship is disputed. Defendant testified that he continued to socialize with victim once or twice a week after she had moved out of the apartment he had rented [218 Ill.App.3d 189] for her. Defendant claimed that victim frequently stopped by the variety store he owned and occasionally spent weekends at his apartment. An employee of defendant also testified that victim seemed happy not frightened when she stopped by the store. The State's witnesses testified that defendant and victim did not continue to see each other socially, and in fact, victim ignored defendant when they were present at the same place.

The State's witnesses also disclosed situations where defendant and victim were hostile to one another. For example, Mitchem related an incident where she was forced to call the police on defendant after he pretended to pull a gun on victim. Mitchem, along with her brother John Relf, testified that about a week before victim was killed, defendant attended a birthday party at Mitchem's home. Victim was present and defendant attempted to talk with her although she clearly indicated to defendant that she did not want to speak with him. Defendant became agitated with victim and refused to leave her alone. Finally, defendant was asked to leave the party and when he refused, Relf physically pushed him out the door. The State also introduced evidence that victim filed a criminal complaint for assault against defendant which was to go to trial about a month after she was killed.

The day of victim's murder, Relf telephoned defendant and asked him to pick him up after work. At approximately 4 to 4:30 p.m., defendant picked up Relf and Henry Barnes and drove to his store. The men stayed at the store drinking beer and talking for about an hour until defendant's wife and son showed up at the store. Defendant drove his wife and son home, accompanied by Relf and Barnes. After dropping off his wife and son, the men continued on to another house where they stayed for about 20 minutes. Defendant then drove Barnes to his home and he and Relf arrived back at the store at approximately 6:30 p.m.

While at the store the two socialized until, as defendant testified, they went across the street to a tavern and shot a game of pool and then returned to the store. The two men stayed at the store until it closed. Relf testified that the store closed at 10:05 p.m., but defendant testified it closed at 10:30 p.m. According to Relf, the two men drove defendant's employee to 71st and

Page 1254

[160 Ill.Dec. 683] Indiana at approximately 10:15 p.m. Thereafter, defendant drove Relf to 1132 East 42nd Street. Relf claimed the traffic was light, however, defendant claimed it was heavy. Relf got out of the car to look for his friend. After about three minutes, Relf returned to the car and stated that he could not find his friend.

[218 Ill.App.3d 190] The two men proceeded west on 43rd Street until Relf recognized some friends and requested defendant pull the car over so he could get out. Relf got out of the car and went to talk to the friends. Relf stated that he talked to his friends for approximately 10 minutes. At approximately 10:45 p.m. Relf walked back to where the car had been parked and it was no longer there. Relf did not see the car leave and does not know when it left. The time period was corroborated by one of the friends with whom Relf spoke.

According to defendant, after Relf exited his car a police officer told him to move his car because he was parked in a bus stop. Defendant drove around the block and returned but the police officer told him to "move on." Defendant pulled around the corner and looked for Relf but he did not see him so he drove to Lois Craft's home at 70th and Halsted. Craft testified that he arrived at approximately 11:45 p.m. to midnight. The two drove in Craft's car to a lounge at 127th and Michigan but did not stay there long. The couple then went to the Holiday Inn at 172nd and Halsted where they spent the night and left the next morning at approximately 10 a.m. Craft corroborated the majority of this testimony.

Mitchem was a key witness for the State. Mitchem testified that she was victim's cousin and had known defendant for five years and was very familiar with him and his car. According to Mitchem, victim arrived at her home at about 10 p.m. on July 18, 1986. She and victim picked up a pizza, brought it to Mitchem's home and ate it with Mitchem's son. Victim decided to leave at approximately 11:10 p.m. Victim left out the back door as Mitchem stood on her back porch and watched her. As victim walked toward the gate, Mitchem saw defendant walking just inside the gate. Defendant said, "Hey, y'all. How y'all doing?" Mitchem said, "Hello" to defendant, but victim said nothing. Victim continued to walk to her car which was parked in front of Mitchem's home. Defendant turned and followed victim. Mitchem, at this point walked to her front door so she could watch victim get into her car safely. Mitchem heard victim scream, "Stop it, Edward." Mitchem rushed to the front door because she thought defendant was beating victim. Mitchem heard three gunshots which came from somewhere in front of her home.

When Mitchem got to the front door and went outside, she saw victim running down the street and defendant standing with a gun in his hands. After standing there a moment, defendant fled to his car. Victim fell in the middle of the street approximately four houses south of Mitchem's house. Defendant got into his four-door silver Cadillac which Mitchem identified and proceeded to victim's body [218 Ill.App.3d 191] and drove around it. Terrell Mitchem, Mitchem's son, testified that defendant had called and asked for victim just prior to coming to Mitchem's house. Mitchem ran over to victim who was not moving. An ambulance arrived and took victim to a hospital.

Dr. Eupil Choi, a Cook County medical examiner, performed an autopsy on victim. At defendant's trial he testified that victim had died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Following closing arguments, the jury retired to deliberate at 7:09 p.m. At 12:26 a.m. the jury sent a note to the court saying they were deadlocked. The court asked the foreperson if the jury could reach a verdict if they continued deliberating. The foreperson responded that the jury could. The court ordered the jury to continue deliberating and made arrangements for the jury to spend the night at a motel.

The following day at 5:07 p.m. the court went on record in the presence of the State and the defense and stated that it believed the jury had spent too much time deliberating on what the court believed was a relatively simple case. At that point the jury

Page 1255

[160 Ill.Dec. 684] had spent over 14 hours deliberating. Therefore, the court admonished the jury pursuant to People v. Prim (1972), 53 Ill.2d 62, 289 N.E.2d 601. The jury again retired and returned a verdict of guilty within three hours. The court sentenced defendant to 20 years imprisonment. This appeal was timely filed.

Defendant contends that the State's following argument denied him a fair trial:

"And then think about something else, if this man [Edwards] didn't kill Rhonda Jenkins, well, who in the world did, because there isn't one single sled [sic ] of evidence that anyone else killed her, anyone had any reason to do that."

Defendant asserts that the above statement was improper because it attempted to shift the burden of proof to the defense by asking the jury to find defendant guilty because there was no evidence anyone else had committed the offense.


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  • People v. Othman
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 12, 2019
    ...benefit of hindsight would have handled the case differently indicates the trial lawyer was incompetent. ( People v. Edwards (1991), 218 Ill. App. 3d 184, 198, 577 N.E.2d 1250 [160 Ill.Dec. 679] ). The defendant must overcome a ‘strong presumption that counsel's complained-of action or inac......
  • People v. Dixon, 1-16-0443
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    ...the benefit of hindsight would have handled the case differently indicates the trial lawyer was incompetent. ( People v. Edwards [, 218 Ill. App. 3d 184, 198, 160 Ill.Dec. 679, 577 N.E.2d 1250 (1991) ] ). The defendant must overcome a ‘strong presumption that counsel's complained-of action ......
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