People v. Henderson, 1-14-2259

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtPRESIDING JUSTICE GORDON delivered the judgment of the court with opinion.
Citation2016 IL App (1st) 142259,77 N.E.3d 1046
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Ronald HENDERSON, Defendant–Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 1-14-2259,1-14-2259
Decision Date31 March 2017

2016 IL App (1st) 142259
77 N.E.3d 1046

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellee,
Ronald HENDERSON, Defendant–Appellant.

No. 1-14-2259

Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division.

Filed March 31, 2017
Rehearing denied May 10, 2017

Michael J. Pelletier, Patricia Mysza, and Tonya J. Reedy, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

Kimberly M. Foxx, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg, Michelle Katz, Jon Walters, and Nancy Colletti, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.


PRESIDING JUSTICE GORDON delivered the judgment of the court with opinion.

¶ 1 Defendant Ronald Henderson was convicted after a jury trial of the attempted first degree murder of Andre Turner and Joe Walker and the first degree murder of Chastity Turner during a drive-by shooting on June 24, 2009, and sentenced to a total of 100 years with the Illinois Department of Corrections.

¶ 2 On this appeal, defendant claims: (1) that the State failed to prove defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) that the trial court erred by allowing testimony by a police officer that he issued an investigative alert for defendant's arrest after a photo array and statement by a witness who did not testify at trial; (3) that defendant was denied a fair trial when the State was permitted to introduce evidence of allegedly unrelated guns and other allegedly unrelated information; (4) that defendant was denied a fair trial by being tried jointly with codefendant Kevin Stanley when the evidence against Stanley was allegedly greater; (5) that defendant was denied a fair trial by allegedly inaccurate or misleading jury instructions; and (6) that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its closing arguments.

¶ 3 For the following reasons, we affirm defendant's conviction and sentence.


¶ 5 I. Procedural History

¶ 6 On September 15, 2009, a grand jury indicted defendant, and codefendants Kevin Stanley and Davionne Whitfield for the first degree murder of nine-year-old Chastity Turner, as well as for the attempted first degree murder of Chastity's father, Andre Turner; and Joe Walker. All three were shot in front of Andre Turner's home on June 29, 2004.

¶ 7 On October 29, 2012, defendant filed a motion for severance, arguing that both of his co-defendants might assert a defense antagonistic to him in the joint trial, which would then prejudice him and violate his right to confront witnesses if he could not

77 N.E.3d 1053

cross-examine his co-defendants. However, on May 13, 2013, when the motion was heard, the trial court asked defendant's counsel who defendant wanted to be severed from, and counsel replied only "I want to be severed from Mr. Whitefield [sic ]," but did not mention Kevin Stanley.

¶ 8 As a result, the trial court stated that it was granting defendant's motion and severed defendant and Stanley's trial from Whitfield's trial. Thus, defendant and Stanley were tried together before a single jury, while Whitfield had his own trial.

¶ 9 II. State Witness Testimony

¶ 10 At the trial, which began on March 18, 2014, the State called fifteen witnesses: (1) Dr. Lauren Woertz; (2) Andre Turner; (3) Julius Davis; (4) Donise Robertson; (5) Tawanda Sterling; (6) Joe Walker; (7) Officer Edward Garcia; (8) Officer John Sanders; (9) Officer Nancy DeCook; (10) Paul Presnell; (11) Mike Mazurski; (12) Aaron Horn; (13) Detective Timothy O'Brien; (14) Detective Michael O'Donnell; (15) Lakesha Edwards.

¶ 11 Codefendant Kevin Stanley called four witnesses: (1) Darren Keith Paulk; (2) Keyon Taylor; (3) Alfonzo Deadwiler; and (4) Sergeant John Nowakowski.

¶ 12 The State's theory of the case was that defendant was the driver of the van used in the drive-by shooting. The evidence showed that a van approached Andre Turner's home and that shooters inside the van opened fire, killing Andre's nine-year old daughter Chastity and also hitting Andre Turner and Joe Walker.

¶ 13 No physical evidence linked defendant to the shootings. The evidence against him consisted primarily of identifications by three eyewitnesses: (1) Andre Turner; (2) Andre's girlfriend, Tawanda Sterling; and (3) Julius Davis. At the time of the shooting, Andre Turner and Tawanda Sterling were in front of Andre's home,1 with the passenger side of the van facing them, while Julius Davis was across the street with the driver's side of the van facing him.

¶ 14 We provide below a detailed description of the evidence at trial because defendant argues on appeal that the three witnesses who identified him at trial all had obstructed or distracted views, that they did not identify him immediately after the shooting even though they had all known him for years, and that they all had a motive to frame him due to their connection to a rival gang. Defendant argues that, since their identifications were all weak or tainted, the scales were tipped against him by a police officer's testimony that a nontestifying witness viewed a photo array and the officer then immediately issued an alert for defendant's arrest.

¶ 15 We also provide a description of the evidence against codefendant Kevin Stanley and the evidence presented by Stanley, since one of defendant's claims is that he was denied a fair trial by being tried jointly with Stanley.

¶ 16 1. Dr. Lauren Woertz

¶ 17 Dr. Lauren Woertz testified that she has been an assistant medical examiner with the Cook County medical examiner's office since 2009, and that she is a forensic pathologist.

¶ 18 Dr. Woertz testified that, on June 25, 2009, a postmortem examination of Chastity Turner was performed by Dr. Valerie Arangelovich, who no longer works for the Cook County medical examiner's office. Dr. Woertz reviewed the postmortem examination performed by Dr. Arangelovich, since it is common practice for

77 N.E.3d 1054

forensic pathologists to review examinations by colleagues who have left the medical examiner's office.

¶ 19 The examination of Chastity's body revealed that she had a bullet entrance wound on the right side of her back. Given the lack of gun powder stippling, Dr. Woertz opined that this gunshot wound was not the result of close range firing. A bullet was recovered from the right side of Chastity's neck.

¶ 20 With a reasonable degree of medical and scientific certainty, Dr. Woertz opined that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the back and that the manner of death was a homicide. These opinions were consistent with those of Dr. Arangelovich in her postmortem exam of Chastity.

¶ 21 Dr. Woertz testified that Dr. Arangelovich noted some bruising on Chastity's body as well as three other healed wounds, none of which were gunshot wounds. Dr. Woertz noted that, given the "classic straightforward entrance wound," she was able to determine that this bullet was not a ricochet. The parties stipulated that a proper chain of custody was maintained at all times with regard to the sealed envelope containing the lead bullet fragment removed from Chastity's body.

¶ 22 2. Andre Turner

¶ 23 Andre Turner testified that Chastity was his nine-year-old daughter and that Lakesha Edwards was Chastity's mother. He identified both defendant and Kevin Stanley in the courtroom, and testified that had had known defendant for 10 or 11 years, and had known Stanley almost all of his life.

¶ 24 Andre testified that, in June 2009, he was the leader of a set of the Gangster Disciples ("GD") gang on the block of 7400 South Stewart Avenue, which was also where he lived. Andre knew a man named Gargamel, who was defendant's brother and the leader of the same set of GDs that occupied the 7500 block of South Normal Street, which was a short distance from Andre's block. Andre also knew Davionne Whitfield, otherwise known as Gucci, who was affiliated with the Normal block of GDs. At some point before June 2009, defendant and Whitfield were friendly with Andre and the Stewart block of GDs. However, by June 2009, they were no longer friendly with each other.

¶ 25 A few weeks prior to the shooting, Andre met with Gargamel, defendant's brother, to discuss a territorial proposition regarding the drug business between each other's blocks. Andre testified that he declined Gargamel's offer and, afterwards, Gargamel appeared to be upset.

¶ 26 Andre also testified that, in the few weeks before the shooting, there were several fights and shootings between his faction and Gargamel's faction, which revolved around disputes between the young members of each faction. Andre testified that he was present for some of these fights and shootings, and that at one point he had won a fight between himself and defendant.

¶ 27 On June 24, 2009, at 6:45 p.m., there was a sizeable group of both adults and children outside Andre's home on South Stewart Avenue, including his girlfriend, Tawanda Sterling. Andre and Chastity were in the process of washing their three dogs. Andre was standing in his driveway in front of his house and facing the street when he received a phone call from Deannosha Sharkey,2 and then observed

77 N.E.3d 1055

a van that he had never observed before driving on his street. Andre is colorblind, so he could not provide the accurate color of the van but he observed it was moving toward himself, southbound, at a high rate of speed. When the van pulled up to where Andre was standing, the passenger's side was facing him, and the passenger side sliding door was already open. In addition, the front passenger side window was down.

¶ 28 Andre testified that, as the van approached, he was able to observe the front of the van and identified defendant as the driver. He also identified codefendant Kevin Stanley as the person in the front passenger seat, who was hanging a little out of the open window and who began shooting at him. Andre believed that he heard over 10 shots fired, not all of which sounded the same. Andre witnessed only Kevin Stanley shooting, and observed that Stanley was using a rifle with a wooden stock.

¶ 29 Andre...

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5 cases
  • People v. Peters, 2–15–0650
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 6, 2018
    ...the chest were all fair characterizations of the evidence. See People v. Henderson , 2016 IL App (1st) 142259, ¶ 239, 413 Ill.Dec. 239, 77 N.E.3d 1046 (prosecutor may comment on the evidence and any fair, reasonable inferences). ¶ 62 We also find without merit the defendant's argument that,......
  • People v. Green, 1–15–2513
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 29, 2017
    ...have been divided regarding the appropriate standard of review. People v. Henderson , 2016 IL App (1st) 142259, ¶ 236, 413 Ill.Dec. 239, 77 N.E.3d 1046 (noting that the issue remains divided). The first and third divisions of the First District have applied an abuse-of-discretion standard, ......
  • People v. Cox, 1-15-1536
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 21, 2017 are before us, we apply a de novo standard of review. Cf. People v. Henderson , 2016 IL App (1st) 142259, ¶ 180, 413 Ill.Dec. 239, 77 N.E.3d 1046 (where the appellate court did "not even know the explanation of the objection offered by defense counsel or the reasons given by the trial co......
  • People v. Baker, 4-21-0713
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • October 17, 2022
    ...from raising th[e] issue on appeal, absent ineffective assistance of counsel." People v. Henderson, 2017 IL App (1st) 142259, ¶ 210, 77 N.E.3d 1046; People v. Patrick, 233 Ill.2d 62, 77, 908 N.E.2d 1, 10 (2009) (declining to address the defendant's plain-error claim because the defendant in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Summation
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Trial Objections
    • May 5, 2022
    ...a new trial. An attorney may not provide such opinions to the jury without any evidentiary support. ILLINOIS People v. Henderson , 77 N.E.3d 1046, 1084-86 (Ill. App. Ct. 2017). In order to preserve claimed improper statements during closing argument for review, a defendant must object to th......

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