People v. Houston, No. 4-93-0009

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtKNECHT
Citation258 Ill.App.3d 364,196 Ill.Dec. 229,629 N.E.2d 774
Decision Date14 February 1994
Docket NumberNo. 4-93-0009
Parties, 196 Ill.Dec. 229 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Thomas Earl HOUSTON, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 774

629 N.E.2d 774
258 Ill.App.3d 364, 196 Ill.Dec. 229
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Thomas Earl HOUSTON, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 4-93-0009.
Appellate Court of Illinois,
Fourth District.
Feb. 14, 1994.

Page 776

[258 Ill.App.3d 365] [196 Ill.Dec. 231] Daniel D. Yuhas, Deputy Defender, Office of State Appellate Defender, Gary R. Peterson, Asst. Defender, Springfield, for defendant-appellant.

Thomas J. Difanis, State's Atty., Urbana, Norbert J. Goetten, Director, State's Atty., Appellate Prosecutor, Robert J. Biderman, Deputy Director, Rebecca L. White, Staff Atty., Springfield, for plaintiff-appellee.

Justice KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Thomas Earl Houston, appeals from his conviction of murder, alleging he was improperly found guilty of the murder of Shelvin Johnson under an accountability theory (Ill.Rev.Stat.1991, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a), 5-2) and he was improperly convicted of five counts of murder with respect to the same victim. We affirm his conviction of first degree murder based on the intentional killing of Johnson, and vacate the four cumulative convictions.

I. FACTS

Shelvin Johnson and Martinez Gill were partners in a cocaine-selling operation. In April 1992, they had a falling out. On May 10, 1992, Johnson and Jimmie "Junior" Ross went to Gill's mobile home. Houston spotted Ross outside the mobile home and asked what he was doing there. Ross responded that he hoped to buy drugs. After Houston left, Johnson and Ross broke into Gill's mobile home and stole a television set, a camera, drugs, and some cash.

At approximately midnight, Houston and Willie "Prince" McClain went to the mobile home of Willie Dorsey, Johnson's uncle. Houston and McClain were looking for Johnson. Dorsey informed them Johnson was at the Green Apartments.

At approximately 2 a.m. on May 11, 1992, McClain met up with Sara Ellen Beatty Lambert. Lambert asked McClain whether he could get her some cocaine; McClain stated she would have to wait because he had to "find somebody." McClain instructed Lambert to drive him around Champaign in her car, which she did. McClain later explained Gill's trailer had been broken into and McClain was [258 Ill.App.3d 366] searching for the culprit. Lambert picked up Gill and Houston. The group

Page 777

[196 Ill.Dec. 232] stopped at the Green Apartments approximately three times. On one occasion, McClain left the car and the sound of breaking glass could be heard. Upon returning to Lambert's car, McClain explained he had smashed the windows of Johnson's car.

At approximately 3:30 or 3:45 a.m., one of the passengers instructed Lambert to follow a tan Chevette. There were three passengers in the car, later identified as Johnson, Ross and Eunice Gwendolyn Penerman. As Lambert's car approached it, the Chevette came to a stop and a woman, later identified as Juvions "Michelle" Meeks Cooley Gillespie, approached the Chevette and began speaking with one of the passengers.

Lambert stopped her car next to the Chevette. She heard McClain say "give me the gun. Let me do it." Lambert believed McClain directed this request to Houston, but later acknowledged she was not certain. McClain, Gill and Houston all exited Lambert's car and approached the Chevette. Lambert saw both McClain and Gill fire the gun. Lambert heard Houston yell "something about somebody was running toward the field or toward the alley." She additionally testified "when the shooting was going on, I could hear talking and it seemed like they were worried about who was getting away, whether they thought they had not got somebody."

According to Lambert, after shots had been fired, Gill, McClain and Houston got back into her car. McClain fired a final shot into the Chevette. The men instructed Lambert to drive away. As she drove they requested her to increase her speed and disregard stop signs. Lambert drove to the apartment of McClain's girlfriend. At the apartment, McClain gave Houston the murder weapon and instructed him to hide it. Houston took the gun and disappeared around the corner of the building. After instructing Lambert not to tell anyone what had happened, McClain permitted her to go home.

Johnson and Penerman died as a result of the bullet wounds. Ross and Gillespie were treated and recovered. Several days after the shootings, Lambert turned herself into the police and reported McClain, Gill and Houston had been involved in the shootings. The State agreed not to seek charges against Lambert with respect to her involvement in the incident and provided her with financial assistance for the purpose of relocation.

Houston was indicted by a grand jury of five counts of first degree murder of Johnson (counts XXIII through XXVII), five counts of first degree murder of Penerman, and one count of aggravated battery with a firearm of Gillespie.

At the trial, in addition to Lambert's account of the shooting, [258 Ill.App.3d 367] detailed above, Ross and Gillespie also testified. Ross testified that while Johnson and Penerman were talking, he noticed Lambert's car. Ross saw Gill exit Lambert's car and approach the driver's side of the Chevette with a gun in his hand. Gill fired a shot through the driver's window. Ross exited the car through the passenger side. Johnson attempted to leave the same way, but was shot. Ross attempted to run away and was shot in the leg. He was shot from behind and did not know who had fired the shot. Ross was able to hide at a nearby residence.

Gillespie testified she was about to enter Johnson's car when a second car pulled up and Gill and McClain got out. Shots were fired and Gillespie hid behind a tree. After shooting the individuals in the car and chasing Ross, McClain spotted Gillespie behind the tree. McClain "just shook his head." Gill then spotted Gillespie and shot her three times. Gillespie "laid down and played dead."

A jury found defendant guilty of the five counts of first degree murder of Johnson, not guilty of the five counts of first degree murder of Penerman, and not guilty of the aggravated battery of Gillespie. The trial court entered a conviction on each of the five counts of first degree murder of Johnson.

II. ANALYSIS

Houston alleges the evidence was not sufficient to support his conviction of the first degree murder of Johnson under an accountability theory. When presented with a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we do not retry the defendant. The relevant

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[196 Ill.Dec. 233] question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Hammond (1991), 214 Ill.App.3d 125, 133, 157 Ill.Dec. 907, 912, 573 N.E.2d 325, 330....

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13 practice notes
  • People v. Wilson, No. 1-16-2430
    • United States
    • Illinois Appellate Court
    • 26 d4 Março d4 2020
    ...the defendant " ‘had the specific intent to promote or facilitate a crime.’ " (Emphasis in original.) Id. (quoting People v. Houston , 258 Ill. App. 3d 364, 369, 196 Ill.Dec. 229, 629 N.E.2d 774 (1994) ). We therefore focus on whether there was evidence of a common criminal design with AJ, ......
  • People v. Turner, No. 3-05-0747.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 12 d3 Setembro d3 2007
    ...with any affirmative contact between the defendant and the codefendant indicates a shared criminal purpose. Compare People v. Houston, 258 Ill.App.3d 364, 368, 196 Ill.Dec. 229, 629 N.E.2d 774, 778 (1994) (finding a common criminal design that defendant accompanied the codefendant to the sc......
  • People v. Carr-McKnight, No. 1-16-3245
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 13 d4 Agosto d4 2020
    ...the defendant " ‘had the specific intent to promote or facilitate a crime.’ " (Emphasis in original.) Id. (quoting People v. Houston , 258 Ill. App. 3d 364, 369, 196 Ill.Dec. 229, 629 N.E.2d 774 (1994) ). Under the common-criminal-design rule, if " ‘two or more persons engage in a common cr......
  • People v. Manskey, No. 4–14–0440.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 14 d2 Junho d2 2016
    ...if any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Houston, 258 Ill.App.3d 364, 367, 196 Ill.Dec. 229, 629 N.E.2d 774 (1994).¶ 107 In this matter, People's exhibit No. 1 showed that on April 25, 2013, defendant registered ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • People v. Wilson, No. 1-16-2430
    • United States
    • Illinois Appellate Court
    • 26 d4 Março d4 2020
    ...the defendant " ‘had the specific intent to promote or facilitate a crime.’ " (Emphasis in original.) Id. (quoting People v. Houston , 258 Ill. App. 3d 364, 369, 196 Ill.Dec. 229, 629 N.E.2d 774 (1994) ). We therefore focus on whether there was evidence of a common criminal design with AJ, ......
  • People v. Turner, No. 3-05-0747.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 12 d3 Setembro d3 2007
    ...with any affirmative contact between the defendant and the codefendant indicates a shared criminal purpose. Compare People v. Houston, 258 Ill.App.3d 364, 368, 196 Ill.Dec. 229, 629 N.E.2d 774, 778 (1994) (finding a common criminal design that defendant accompanied the codefendant to the sc......
  • People v. Carr-McKnight, No. 1-16-3245
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 13 d4 Agosto d4 2020
    ...the defendant " ‘had the specific intent to promote or facilitate a crime.’ " (Emphasis in original.) Id. (quoting People v. Houston , 258 Ill. App. 3d 364, 369, 196 Ill.Dec. 229, 629 N.E.2d 774 (1994) ). Under the common-criminal-design rule, if " ‘two or more persons engage in a common cr......
  • People v. Manskey, No. 4–14–0440.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 14 d2 Junho d2 2016
    ...if any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Houston, 258 Ill.App.3d 364, 367, 196 Ill.Dec. 229, 629 N.E.2d 774 (1994).¶ 107 In this matter, People's exhibit No. 1 showed that on April 25, 2013, defendant registered ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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