People v. Kelley, 1–13–2782.

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtJustice GORDON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Citation41 N.E.3d 939
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Aaron KELLEY, Defendant–Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 1–13–2782.,1–13–2782.
Decision Date18 September 2015

41 N.E.3d 939

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellee
v.
Aaron KELLEY, Defendant–Appellant.

No. 1–13–2782.

Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division.

Sept. 18, 2015.


41 N.E.3d 942

Michael J. Pelletier, Alan D. Goldberg, and Brian E. Koch, all of State Appellate Defender's Office, Chicago, for appellant.

Anita M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg, Matthew Connors, and Bianca R. Pucci, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

OPINION

Justice GORDON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 Defendant Aaron Kelley was convicted by a jury of the first-degree murder of Edna Marie Smith and sentenced to 35 years with the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).

¶ 2 On this direct appeal, defendant claims: (1) that the State impermissibly shifted the burden of proof to defendant by eliciting testimony from its expert witnesses that defendant could have requested evidence to be tested; (2) that the State committed misconduct by attacking defense counsel's integrity during its closing and rebuttal arguments; and (3) that defendant's sentence of 35 years was excessive.

¶ 3 For the following reasons, we affirm.

¶ 4 BACKGROUND

¶ 5 I. Evidence at Trial

¶ 6 A. Summary

¶ 7 Defendant Aaron Kelley was convicted by a jury of the murder of Edna Marie Smith,1 who was found dead on the night of July 4, 2007, at the 7100 block of South Talman Avenue in Chicago, Illinois after being beaten and stabbed.

¶ 8 The evidence at trial showed that a witness had observed defendant in Marie's apartment earlier that day, and two other witnesses observed him leaving the apartment through a bedroom window shortly before Marie's body was discovered. When defendant was later arrested, he told the police that Marie was an old friend, and he had visited her apartment and they had sex. Defendant told police that, afterwards, he was attacked by a man whom he believed to be Marie's boyfriend, who stabbed him in the hand with a knife; and that defendant then fled out the back door.

¶ 9 The evidence at trial included the testimony of: (1) Sammie Smith, Marie's estranged husband; (2) Korderro Green, who observed defendant in Marie's apartment earlier that day; (3) Jessica Ford, who observed defendant descending from Marie's window and dropping a knife; (4) DeEdna Porter, who also observed defendant

41 N.E.3d 943

descending from Marie's window and dropping a knife; (5) Officer Paul Presnell, who investigated the murder scene; (6) William Kelley, defendant's brother; (7) Officer Alexander Parrilla, who interviewed defendant the day after the murder; (8) Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Cina, who reviewed the autopsy; (9) Sergeant John Foster, who flew to Los Angeles on June 21, 2008, to transport defendant back to Chicago; (10) Quiana Foster, Marie's daughter, who identified the victim's body; and (11) Jamie Jett, a hair analyst called by the defense.

¶ 10 B. Sammie Smith, Victim's Husband

¶ 11 Sammie Smith testified that he was Marie's husband, that they were separated, and that he lived in a different apartment in the same building. On the night of July 4, 2007, Sammie was outside the building, viewing the holiday fireworks. At 10:30 p.m., he noticed a crowd gathering outside the building and calling Marie's name. Sammie went to the front door of Marie's apartment, but the door was locked so he went to the rear entrance and, with the help of others, kicked open a locked gate. Sammie went inside the apartment and observed Marie's body on the floor of her bedroom. There was no one else in the apartment. Police and emergency personnel arrived shortly thereafter.

¶ 12 C. Korderro Green, Occurrence Witness

¶ 13 Korderro Green testified that his girlfriend lived in the same building as Marie, and that he went to visit his girlfriend at 4 p.m. on July 4, 2007, but she was not at her residence; so Marie allowed him to wait in her unit. Green noticed a red and black bicycle in the hallway and briefly observed a black male guest in Marie's bedroom. He described the man as in his twenties or thirties and having short hair. In court, Green identified defendant as the man he observed. After a few seconds, Marie closed the bedroom door and Green proceeded to the guest bedroom. There, he watched television, smoked marijuana, and napped. His girlfriend called him at about 7 p.m., and Marie let him out through the front door. He noticed that the bike he had observed earlier in Marie's apartment was now parked outside the building. Green further testified that he encountered Marie regularly, knew that she used drugs, and believed it was not unusual for her to have more than one person in her home at a time. Green had prior convictions for delivery of a controlled substance and possession of cannabis.

¶ 14 D. Jessica Ford, Occurrence Witness

¶ 15 Jessica Ford testified that she was at the building where Marie resided until about 4 p.m. on July 4, 2007. As she was leaving, a man on a bicycle approached the apartment, knocked on the front door, and was allowed in by Marie. She initially testified that the bike was black and blue, but then stated she could not remember the color. She described the man as wearing a hat. In court, she identified defendant as the man she observed. That night, Ford and several friends gathered on the street corner near Marie's apartment. DeEdna Porter, one of her friends, drew Ford's attention to Marie's bedroom window. Ford looked, and noticed a man climbing out of the window, hanging from the ledge and facing the building. Ford testified that she could observe his face and the side of his body. The man dropped to the ground, dropped a knife, and then picked it up before running toward an alley behind the building. The apartment's exterior was illuminated by a streetlight across the street and by a second streetlight located in the alley which

41 N.E.3d 944

was opposite the building from the bedroom window. In court, Ford identified defendant as the man whom she observed exiting the window. Ford attempted to enter Marie's apartment through the front door, but it was locked. She then walked to the rear entrance, where someone had already forced open the gate. Entering the apartment, she observed Marie's body. She testified that she gave a full statement to the police, but the parties stipulated that none of the responding officers reported speaking with her.

¶ 16 E. DeEdna Porter, Occurrence Witness

¶ 17 DeEdna Porter testified that she was with Ford and some other friends after 9 p.m. on the night of July 4, 2007. While outside, she observed a man at what she believed to be Marie's living room window. Porter testified that the man sat on the ledge of the window for 10 to 20 seconds. However, she had previously told police that the man was hanging from the window ledge, not sitting on it. Porter asked “who was that,” and the man looked at her and jumped to the ground. The man dropped a knife, picked it up, and ran to the alley opposite the building. Porter ran after him briefly, but stopped because he had a knife. She described the man as wearing a red baseball hat, and said that his hair had twists with braids. In court, Porter identified defendant as the man she observed.

¶ 18 F. Chicago Police Officer Paul Presnell

¶ 19 Officer Paul Presnell testified that Marie's body was found on the floor of a rear bedroom, next to a serrated knife and a wooden post. Investigators found bloodstains on the outside ledge of the bedroom window, and on that window's curtain. They also took swabs of bloodstains from the door, the handle, and the frame of the door leading to the bedroom. They recovered a towel with bloodstains from the kitchen, and took photographs of the kitchen sink which appeared to contain blood and water. Officer Presnell testified that he lifted a fingerprint from the window, and put bags around Marie's hands to preserve any possible evidence.

¶ 20 G. William Kelley, Defendant's Brother

¶ 21 The State called William Kelley, defendant's brother,2 who testified that defendant had been living with him and that he let defendant borrow his bike on multiple occasions. On July 4, 2007, at 10 p.m., William observed defendant outside his house. Defendant's hands were wrapped, and he asked William to take him to a hospital. William dropped defendant off at Mercy Hospital. After defendant returned from the hospital, he stayed at William's house for a week, until William asked him to leave, which he did.

¶ 22 H. Chicago Police Officer Alexander Parrilla

¶ 23 Officer Alexander Parrilla testified that he responded to a call at Mercy Hospital at 3:28 a.m. on July 5, 2007, where he met with defendant. Officer Parrilla testified that defendant stated that, at 9:30 p.m. on July 4, 2007, he had been approached by three black men who demanded his bike. One of the offenders fought with defendant and cut his hand. Officer Parrilla testified that defendant was not sober and had scratches on his right hand and arm.

¶ 24 I. Dr. Stephen Cina, Medical Examiner

¶ 25 Dr. Stephen Cina, the chief medical examiner for Cook County, testified that

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10 practice notes
  • People v. Murray, Docket No. 123289
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • October 18, 2019
    ...People v. Weinstein , 35 Ill. 2d 467, 470, 220 N.E.2d 432 (1966) ; People v. Kelley , 2015 IL App (1st) 132782, ¶ 62, 397 Ill.Dec. 288, 41 N.E.3d 939.¶ 29 The State concedes, as it must, that Dammon's direct testimony did not disclose the specific crime evidence required by the Act. Further......
  • People v. Sandifer, 1–13–3397.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • October 27, 2016
    ...54 The standard of review for closing arguments is currently unclear. People v. Kelley, 2015 IL App (1st) 132782, ¶ 74, 397 Ill.Dec. 288, 41 N.E.3d 939."Our supreme court has held: ‘Whether statements made by a prosecutor at closing argument were so egregious that they warrant a new trial i......
  • People v. Anaya, 1–15–0074
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 21, 2017
    ...to a prosecutor during closing argument, reiterate such a comment. People v. Kelley , 2015 IL App (1st) 132782, ¶ 84, 397 Ill.Dec. 288, 41 N.E.3d 939 (quoting Wheeler , 226 Ill. 2d at 123, 313 Ill.Dec. 1, 871 N.E.2d 728 ). It is "well settled that a prosecutor is allowed a great deal of lat......
  • People v. Austin, 1-14-2737
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • April 25, 2017
    ..., 2016 IL App (1st) 133397, ¶ 55, 408 Ill.Dec. 493, 65 N.E.3d 969 ; People v Kelley , 2015 IL App (1st) 132782, ¶ 74, 397 Ill.Dec. 288, 41 N.E.3d 939. Our supreme court has employed both a de novo standard of review ( People v. Wheeler , 226 Ill.2d 92, 121, 313 Ill.Dec. 1, 871 N.E.2d 728 (2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • People v. Murray, Docket No. 123289
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • October 18, 2019
    ...People v. Weinstein , 35 Ill. 2d 467, 470, 220 N.E.2d 432 (1966) ; People v. Kelley , 2015 IL App (1st) 132782, ¶ 62, 397 Ill.Dec. 288, 41 N.E.3d 939.¶ 29 The State concedes, as it must, that Dammon's direct testimony did not disclose the specific crime evidence required by the Act. Further......
  • People v. Sandifer, 1–13–3397.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • October 27, 2016
    ...54 The standard of review for closing arguments is currently unclear. People v. Kelley, 2015 IL App (1st) 132782, ¶ 74, 397 Ill.Dec. 288, 41 N.E.3d 939."Our supreme court has held: ‘Whether statements made by a prosecutor at closing argument were so egregious that they warrant a new trial i......
  • People v. Anaya, 1–15–0074
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 21, 2017
    ...to a prosecutor during closing argument, reiterate such a comment. People v. Kelley , 2015 IL App (1st) 132782, ¶ 84, 397 Ill.Dec. 288, 41 N.E.3d 939 (quoting Wheeler , 226 Ill. 2d at 123, 313 Ill.Dec. 1, 871 N.E.2d 728 ). It is "well settled that a prosecutor is allowed a great deal of lat......
  • People v. Austin, 1-14-2737
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • April 25, 2017
    ..., 2016 IL App (1st) 133397, ¶ 55, 408 Ill.Dec. 493, 65 N.E.3d 969 ; People v Kelley , 2015 IL App (1st) 132782, ¶ 74, 397 Ill.Dec. 288, 41 N.E.3d 939. Our supreme court has employed both a de novo standard of review ( People v. Wheeler , 226 Ill.2d 92, 121, 313 Ill.Dec. 1, 871 N.E.2d 728 (2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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