People v. Jones, 1-18-1266

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation2021 IL App (1st) 181266,196 N.E.3d 1050
Decision Date07 June 2021
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Joey JONES, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket Number1-18-1266

2021 IL App (1st) 181266
196 N.E.3d 1050

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Joey JONES, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 1-18-1266

Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, First Division.

Opinion Filed June 7, 2021

James E. Chadd, Douglas R. Hoff, and Lauren A. Bauser, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

Kimberly M. Foxx, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg, Tyler J. Cox, and Natalie Sanchez, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 A jury found Joey Jones guilty of attempted murder for the shooting of Brion Payne. Jones testified that he acted in self-defense and only shot Payne because Payne threatened Jones and told him he would "get his gun." Payne testified that the shooting was unprovoked. A surveillance video admitted into evidence shows Jones shoot Payne in the back of the head from inches away and mere seconds after Payne turned around from their conversation. Jones argues that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because the State failed to disprove that he acted out of an unreasonable belief in the need for self-defense, which would be second degree murder had Payne not survived. But, because the offense of attempted second degree murder does not exist in Illinois, Jones argues he should be acquitted. We disagree and find the evidence was sufficient for the jury to reject Jones's defense and find he had the specific intent to kill Payne when he shot him.

¶ 2 We remand, however, because Jones made a challenge to the State's use of peremptory strikes during jury selection under Batson v. Kentucky , 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986). The State used all three of its peremptory strikes against Black venire members. And, as the trial court found, the three stricken jurors were a heterogeneous group, sharing race as the sole common characteristic among them. Nevertheless, the trial court found that Jones failed to make a prima facie case of racial discrimination and did not require the State to provide race-neutral reasons for its peremptory strikes. The trial court's conclusion was against the manifest weight of the evidence, and we remand for stage two and, if necessary, stage three Batson inquiry. We retain jurisdiction to review the court's ruling on remand and to resolve any remaining issues we do not address in this appeal.

¶ 3 Background

¶ 4 The State charged Jones with the offenses of first degree attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm based on the April 1, 2014, shooting of Brion Payne. Jones elected to be tried by jury, and the trial court conducted voir dire. We give some detail here but will expound more later as necessary to our analysis. According to the jury cards in the record, there were 50 people in the venire. To get a full jury of 12 jurors and 2 alternates, the trial court had to question 29 venire members. The trial court questioned the jurors in groups of 14.

¶ 5 After the trial court's questioning of the first group, Jones's counsel asked the jurors additional questions. The State did not. During the first round of strikes, the trial court struck John N., Carol B., and Tiffany W. for hardship. Of these three we

196 N.E.3d 1055

know only that Tiffany W. is a Black woman; we do not know the others’ races. Jones's counsel used four peremptory strikes on Christopher M., April D., Robert B., and Nicholas K. We do not know the races of the individuals Jones's counsel struck. The State used one peremptory strike on Tyrone D., a Black man. He had admitted to a 21-year-old felony conviction, and the State did not have any documentation to refute his representations or suggest any additional criminal history. The parties accepted two Black jurors, Diane M. and Jacqueline B.

¶ 6 At the beginning of questions for the second panel of 14, the trial court struck Jennifer G. for recent jury service. We do not know her race. After the trial court's questioning, Jones's counsel again asked a few questions, and the State declined to do so. Jones's counsel used another peremptory strike on Kelly B. We do not know her race. The State used two more peremptory strikes on Jessica J. and Traci M., both Black women. The parties accepted one more Black juror, Noelle D.

¶ 7 After the State used its third peremptory strike, Jones's counsel made a Batson motion arguing that all three of the State's peremptory strikes had been against Black venirepersons. Jones's counsel argued it was, therefore, the State's responsibility to provide race-neutral reasons for its strikes. The trial court denied the motion, finding:

"Well the first stage of the Batson analysis is to determine whether or not a prima facie case of discrimination has been shown for gender or race. Apparently, this instance, it's race, but—and considering all the circumstances of jury selection thus far the State has not stricken two individuals that are black and they have used three challenges but considering what I have seen and heard thus far, I don't believe the defense has established a prima facie case of race discrimination, and I'm not going to require the State at this juncture to give race-neutral reasons."

As for alternate jurors, the trial court granted a motion for cause as to Kerry B., whose race we do not know. Jones's counsel then used a peremptory strike against Edward P., whose race is also unknown. The parties eventually agreed on two alternates.

¶ 8 Before moving on, the trial court asked Jones if he agreed with his lawyer's performance during voir dire. Jones said: "I don't like the fact that they are striking all the Black people." In response, the trial court made additional findings:

"While the State used three peremptories on African Americans they did not strike all of the African Americans, there are a couple here that have been accepted by both sides. Compare the questions of the three individuals, first one, Mr. D[.] had a prior felony conviction along with he indicated several other arrests for what he termed as misdemeanor matters *** Ms. J[.] my recollection is unemployed. And *** the last one, Ms. M[.], is highly educated living in a northern suburb. So this is not an androgynous [sic ] group, they are all different. While I'm not requiring the State to state the reasons, the court can think of several race-neutral reasons on its own."

The court then confirmed with the State that the victim and witnesses were also Black and then "affirm[ed]" its original decision to deny Jones's Batson challenge for failure to make a prima facie case of discrimination.

¶ 9 Now ready for trial, Payne and Jones's father, Lenny Myles, testified for the State. Jones testified in his own defense. All three witnesses had slightly different perspectives on the shooting.

196 N.E.3d 1056

¶ 10 Payne's Testimony

¶ 11 On the day of the shooting, Payne worked for Safari, a company that picked up patients who used wheelchairs and took them to their various appointments. He normally clocked into work around 8:30 a.m., picked up and dropped off a couple of patients, then took a short break. During Payne's break on April 1, he received a call from Myles, his friend and coworker. Myles told Payne to meet him at a currency exchange so Myles could give Payne some money. The two had known each other for around a decade, and he and Myles would do favors for one another by picking up shifts and switching patient pickups. Sometimes they would give each other a little money or pay for lunch as a thank you for one of these favors.

¶ 12 When Payne arrived, Myles greeted him and introduced him to his son, Jones. Payne had never met Jones before. Payne waited for Myles, while he and Jones conversed but stood about 50 feet away because Jones "just kept staring" at him, making him feel "uncomfortable." After about five minutes talking with Jones, Myles told Payne, "I['ll] be right back," and walked to the currency exchange. Since his car was still running, Payne turned to walk back and turn the engine off. He took about three steps toward his car before feeling his "legs get swept out from under" him and hit the ground face first. Payne did not see or hear what caused him to fall. He tried multiple times to stand up but could not. Dazed, numb, and barely conscious, Payne heard someone tell him to stay down on the ground and that help was on the way.

¶ 13 Police eventually arrived, and an officer told Payne, "it looks like someone tried to kill you." An ambulance arrived and took Payne to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where medical staff determined that a gunshot broke bones in his neck and jaw.

¶ 14 Myles's Testimony

¶ 15 Myles planned to meet Payne at the currency exchange the morning of April 1 to pay Payne for helping him with a pickup the previous day. Jones had also called that morning and asked Myles for money. Myles told Jones to meet him at the same currency exchange where he was meeting Payne. When Myles arrived at the currency exchange, Payne was already there and the two exchanged greetings and made small talk. About five minutes after Myles and Payne started talking, Jones arrived with his girlfriend and children, and Myles introduced Payne to Jones. Myles and Jones made small talk for about five minutes.


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