People v. Jackson, 2-21-0186

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtJORGENSEN JUSTICE
Citation2022 IL App (2d) 210186 U
PartiesTHE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. WILLIE C. JACKSON, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket Number2-21-0186
Decision Date22 November 2022

2022 IL App (2d) 210186-U


WILLIE C. JACKSON, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 2-21-0186

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

November 22, 2022

This order was filed under Supreme Court Rule 23(b) and is not precedent except in the limited circumstances allowed under Rule 23(e)(1).

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 16-CF-3018 Honorable George D. Strickland, Judge, Presiding.

JUSTICE JORGENSEN delivered the judgment of the court. Justices McLaren and Hutchinson concurred in the judgment.



¶ 1 Held: (1) Defendant did not establish the mitigating factors to reduce his conviction from first-degree murder to second-degree murder. (2) The trial court did not err in denying defendant's motion to suppress his statements, where defendant did not invoke his right to counsel. (3) The trial court did not fail to consider mitigating evidence in sentencing defendant to 36 years' imprisonment. Affirmed.

¶ 2 After a jury trial, defendant, Willie C. Jackson, was convicted of first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 2016)) and sentenced to 36 years' imprisonment. He appeals, arguing that his: (1) conviction should be reduced to second-degree murder, because he had an actual, albeit unreasonable, belief that he had to shoot the victim to save his own life; (2) motion to suppress his


statements to police should have been granted, because he invoked his right to counsel during the interview; and (3) sentence was excessive, where the trial court did not find in mitigation that defendant acted under strong provocation. We affirm.


¶ 4 The victim, Daviontay Jackson (Daviontay), age 17, was killed on November 11, 2016, in Waukegan. Afterwards, around January 2017, defendant, age 18 and no relation to Daviontay, was arrested in Tennessee.

¶ 5 A. Defendant's Statements to Police

¶ 6 On January 3, 2017, Waukegan police sergeant Scott Thomas and detective Jaroslaw Grzeda drove to Tennessee to interview defendant. In Tennessee, they learned that defendant had waived extradition, and they asked him if he wished to speak with them in Tennessee or Waukegan. Defendant chose Waukegan.

¶ 7 On January 4, 2017, officers interviewed defendant at the Waukegan police station. The interview was recorded. In the video, Sergeant Thomas told defendant that he wanted to get his side of the story. He Mirandized defendant and led the questioning. Defendant stated that he knew there was a warrant for his arrest. He related that, on November 11, 2016, he had gone to "Ace's" (Aaron Kinzer's) house and was in the room when Daviontay was killed. Defendant next asked, "Can I call my grandma, cuz she said [indiscernible]," and Thomas replied that he could, but Thomas wanted "to get through some of this, what was going on" and to get defendant's side of the story.

¶ 8 Defendant stated that he and his uncle Jeremiah went to Ace's house, and Daviontay said that he was going to kill defendant. Ace, "D'tay" (Javante Kinzer, Aaron's brother) and "Shorty" (Daviontay) were there. Daviontay, according to defendant, was playing with a rifle, acting crazy,


and waving it around. Defendant told Daviontay to stop playing with the rifle and to put it down. Daviontay talked back angrily, and defendant told him to calm down. Daviontay responded, "I'll smoke you." Defendant replied, and Daviontay "kept talking." They wrestled over the rifle, and defendant got it. After that, defendant "blanked out."

¶ 9 When asked what he meant by "blanked out," defendant asked a second time to call his grandmother, "because she told me ***" Thomas interrupted, saying yes, "100%", and that defendant could make as many calls as he wanted and that his grandmother could even come down to the station. Defendant responded, "No, it's like." Thomas continued, noting that they were "halfway there," and he wanted to ask defendant a few more questions. Defendant responded, "all right."

¶ 10 Defendant stated that, after he blanked out, he ran outside of the Kinzer house and into the middle of the street. Defendant had not spoken to Jeremiah or the Kinzers since the shooting. Prior to the shooting, he had been to Ace's house "a lot" or about three times. However, he had never seen Daviontay before. The day before the shooting, defendant was at the Kinzers' house, and they took pictures together with the rifle. Defendant knew the gun was loaded. Defendant stated that the rifle was at the home when he arrived, and he believed it was the Kinzers' uncle's rifle.

¶ 11 Sergeant Thomas asked if defendant's fingerprints would also be on the .40-caliber handgun that had also been in the room and noted that forensics personnel could assist in determining whether there were fingerprints on the gun. Thomas noted that people lie to the police all of the time. No one was saying that defendant was a bad guy, but sometimes stupid things happened.


¶ 12 Defendant stated that he was confused. He asked a third time to call his grandmother: "I wanna call my grandma, cuz she told me not to even talk to y'all without, like calling her, cuz she got a lawyer." Defendant stated that his grandmother was in Chicago. Thomas asked if she was going to be able to help defendant. Defendant replied that she was "trying to send a lawyer" and "she says she got a lawyer." Defendant confirmed for Thomas that his grandmother answered her phone. Thomas asked for her phone number, and defendant gave it to him. The officers left the room.

¶ 13 Detective Grzeda returned, stating that Thomas was calling the number that defendant provided. He noted that defendant's demeanor had changed from the car ride. Grzeda stated that people make mistakes and that defendant was a good kid, so he should explain what happened. He reviewed photographs with defendant, who identified Ace, D'Tay, Daviontay, the AR-15 rifle, and a handgun. Defendant stated that he believed that the handgun belonged to Daviontay.

¶ 14 Addressing the rifle with which defendant had taken a photo the day before, defendant stated that he knew that it was loaded because he had taken out the clip and saw bullets in it. However, when Grzeda asked how a bullet had entered the chamber, defendant stated that he did not know, and he did not know what it meant to "rack" a rifle.

¶ 15 Defendant explained that Daviontay was "messing with" the rifle and waving it around. Defendant told him to calm down, but Daviontay started talking crazy, stating that defendant did not know him, and called defendant a "bitch." Defendant told Daviontay to put it down. Daviontay said that he was going to kill defendant. Everyone in the room said stop. Defendant grabbed the gun, and Daviontay pulled on it as well. Defendant got the trigger end and pulled the trigger. He did not know how many times.


¶ 16 Defendant stated that he told Daviontay to stop, but that Daviontay pointed the rifle and so defendant got up and wrestled with him. "And I grabbed it and shot him." After being shot in the face, Daviontay got up and rushed at defendant, and, so, defendant continued shooting. The first shots were to Daviontay's face or neck, and Daviontay came at defendant, who moved out of the way. Daviontay fell at the front door, and defendant left out the back door. Afterwards, outside, a dog ran up and scared defendant, causing him to shoot the rifle. Defendant dropped the rifle and ran off.

¶ 17 B. Motion to Suppress

¶ 18 On October 19, 2017, defendant moved to suppress his statements to police, arguing that they were made after he invoked his right to counsel. He asserted that, during the police interview, he told police on several occasions that he wanted to speak with his grandmother and, finally, that she had hired him an attorney and that he believed the attorney was going to come to the police station. He also told police that he was not supposed to speak with them until he spoke to his grandmother because she got him an attorney. In the motion, defendant argued that his statements reflected a clear desire to cease communication with the officers until he could speak to his grandmother and his attorney. Thus, his statements were elicited in violation of his constitutional rights and in violation of. Miranda v. Arizona, 3384 U.S. 436 (1966).

¶ 19 At the hearing on defendant's motion, Detective Grzeda testified that, while in Tennessee, he and Sergeant Thomas gave defendant the opportunity to speak to them there or to do so in Illinois. Defendant did not tell the detectives that he wanted to return to Waukegan because he had spoken to his grandmother and had an attorney. Grzeda further testified that at no time while he and Thomas spoke to defendant in the jail in Tennessee did defendant ask to speak to an attorney. Sergeant Thomas also denied that defendant told the detectives in Tennessee that his


grandmother had hired an attorney and that is why he wanted to return to Waukegan. During the interrogation, when he stepped out of the interview room, Thomas tried to call defendant's grandmother but could not reach her. An attorney eventually arrived at the police department, but it was after the interview with defendant had concluded.

¶ 20 Defendant testified that he called his grandmother from the Tennessee jail. She instructed him not to say anything and that she had an attorney for him. The next day, he met the Waukegan detectives, who asked him if he wanted to speak there or in Waukegan. According to defendant, he responded that he wanted to go back to Illinois because his grandmother had an attorney for him. He did not state that he was not going to speak to the detectives because he had an attorney. Defendant never said to the police that he wanted a lawyer, but that is what he intended/meant. "When I said I was going to call my grandma, that's what I meant."

¶ 21 Dorothy Jackson, defendant's...

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