People v. Little

Citation2021 IL App (1st) 181984,191 N.E.3d 132,455 Ill.Dec. 173
Decision Date05 May 2021
Docket Number1-18-1984
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Diamond LITTLE, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

James E. Chadd, Douglas R. Hoff, and Maria A. Harrigan, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago (Joshua Sachs, of Law Office of Joshua Sachs & Associates, of Evanston, of counsel), for appellant.

Kimberly M. Foxx, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg, Marci Jacobs, and Susan Wobbekind, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

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

¶ 1 Following a bench trial, the trial court convicted defendant of attempted first degree murder and sentenced him to 30 years’ imprisonment. Defendant appeals, arguing that (1) the trial court erred in failing to hold a full hearing with new counsel, after a preliminary inquiry under People v. Krankel , 102 Ill. 2d 181, 80 Ill.Dec. 62, 464 N.E.2d 1045 (1984), on defendant's pro se posttrial motion alleging ineffectiveness of trial counsel and (2) the trial court improperly admitted into evidence defendant's recorded jail phone calls in the State's rebuttal case because they lacked adequate foundation. For the following reasons, we affirm defendant's conviction.


¶ 3 Defendant was charged by grand jury indictment with 12 counts of attempted first degree murder, 2 counts of aggravated battery, and 1 count of aggravated discharge of a firearm. The charges arose out of an incident on the night of February 2, 2017, when defendant fired shots at Quenten Clark's residence in south Chicago, injuring Malaka Johnson and Michael Harris. Prior to trial, the State elected to proceed on only 5 counts of attempted first degree murder along with the other offenses and nol-prossed the remaining counts of attempted first degree murder.

¶ 4 A. Trial Evidence

¶ 5 At trial, Johnson testified that she was 25 years old at the time of the trial and had prior convictions for fleeing and eluding and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. In February 2017, she was living with her mother on the west side for Chicago and attending Malcolm X College. On February 2, 2017, Johnson got into an argument with her mother and took a bus to visit her ex-boyfriend, Clark, who lived near 63rd Street and Rockwell Street on the south side of Chicago. Johnson testified that she frequently stayed with Clark, who lived with his mother, sister, and father. She testified that she exited the bus, went to Clark's house, and knocked on his door, but Clark's sister informed her that Clark was not home. She does not remember anything else after that. She later woke up in the hospital and learned she had been shot in the back of her head and in her back. As a result, she was blind in her right eye. She was in the hospital for one month and then moved to a rehabilitation facility for therapy to assist with regaining movement and speech and adapt to the loss of vision. After being in the rehabilitation facility for two weeks, she moved back to her mother's house. The bullet in her back worked its way out after she got home. She testified that her memory is "very messed up" because of the shooting and she did not return to college due to her vision loss. She does not remember Clark being at his house on the night she was shot.

¶ 6 Harris testified that he was 35 years old at the time of trial and was working for a temp agency. He has a prior conviction for possession of a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance. He testified that he was at Clark's house on the night of February 2, 2017, with the mother of his child, who was Clark's sister. He arrived at 10 or 11 p.m. Harris testified that Clark left the house around midnight to go to the liquor store nearby. Harris was inside watching a basketball game on the television when Clark returned. The doorbell rang; it was Johnson, Clark's ex-girlfriend. Clark went outside. Harris testified that he could hear Clark and Johnson arguing on the front porch. Harris went to the window and saw them outside. Harris testified that he then went toward the front door because he was about to go home, but Clark came inside at the same time. Clark pushed Harris in slightly and slammed the door. At the same time, Harris heard "a shot go off and I felt something hit me." Harris heard four or five gunshots total. The first gunshot occurred while Clark was still outside. Harris realized he had been shot in his right arm; he and Clark ran to the back of the house until the gunshots stopped.

¶ 7 When they returned to the front of the house, Harris observed Johnson laying on the front porch and bleeding from her head. Harris testified that Clark stated, "Oh, man, he shot Makala, he shot Makala." Clark's father called 911. Harris was taken by ambulance to Mt. Sinai Hospital. He had been shot in the bicep and was hospitalized for two weeks. As a result of the gunshot wound, he suffered nerve damage in his arm and has a limited range of use.

¶ 8 Clark, who was 37 years old at the time of trial and the father of six children, testified that he had two prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance and one conviction for delivery of a controlled substance. He testified that shortly before midnight on February 2, 2017, he went to the liquor store on 63rd Street near his home on Rockwell Street. When he left the store, he encountered Johnson, his ex-girlfriend. Clark testified that Johnson wanted to go to his house, but he did not want her to because his current girlfriend was at his house. He and Johnson argued about this while she followed him home.

¶ 9 Clark went inside his house, but Johnson started ringing the doorbell. Clark went outside to the front porch, and he and Johnson continued arguing. Clark testified that as they were arguing, he looked up and saw three men walking down the sidewalk on Rockwell Street and one of the men "walked past, looked dead in my face, you know. *** I saw him. He looked in my face." He recognized the individual who looked him in the face as defendant and identified him at trial. Clark indicated that he was on the porch and defendant was on the sidewalk, approximately two feet away, and he was able to see defendant's face, although part of it was covered by defendant's hoodie. Clark testified that he was familiar with defendant because he purchased a bag of cannabis from him approximately a year before and he also heard defendant's name around the neighborhood and saw him "every blue moon." Clark testified that the other two men with defendant were taller and had dreadlocks. Clark testified that one of the men was wearing a black hoodie and the other wore a hoodie with a dark blue coat.

¶ 10 Clark explained that "I don't mess with no young guys, period. And that's why *** I thought he respect me, saw my face, like." Clark testified that defendant

"looked at my face. I thought he was, like, no, that's the wrong man. He ain't no shorty. *** The next thing you know, he started shooting. He walked past us. He looked on my porch, had his hand in his pocket. He was on this side. The other two guys was [sic ] on the side—on the street side. They was [sic ] on the sidewalk with him. And when he looked at my face, he hesitated."

¶ 11 Clark testified that he was on the porch arguing with Johnson, and he opened the front door to go inside. As he did this, Harris was trying to come out. Clark testified that he and Johnson stopped arguing when Clark saw defendant and the two other men walk by. He testified that, "When I saw them, I got shocked, like, oh, s***. *** When I saw their face and he looked dead in my face." Clark testified that defendant walked past and then turned around and started shooting. He believed there were eight or nine gunshots. After the shooting stopped, he looked out and saw the men running towards 64th Street.

¶ 12 After the shooting, Clark realized that Harris had been shot in the arm. He also found Johnson lying on the front porch. Clark saw that Johnson had been shot in the back of the head, the bullet had come out of her right eye, and she also had been shot in the back. Johnson was lying on her stomach and breathing hard. Clark testified that he did not see Johnson get shot, but he did see who shot the gun. The police, fire department, and ambulance came. Clark spoke with police and identified defendant. He then went to visit Harris and Johnson.

¶ 13 Clark testified that he spoke with police at the station at 4 a.m. on February 3, 2017. He was shown a photographic lineup and identified defendant as the shooter. Clark testified that he went to the police station twice. The first time was on February 3, when he viewed the first photographic lineup. The second time was on February 17, when he spoke with an assistant state's attorney (ASA) and his interview was videotaped. He was again shown a photographic array in which he identified defendant. After he was shown the photographic lineup, the police showed him video footage from surveillance cameras that were located in the area of the shooting, and he was able to identify defendant in the videos because he could see his face and also identified defendant because he had a limp when he walked. Defendant had a limp when he saw him the previous summer. Clark explained that the videos showed that there was a fourth man behind defendant and the two other men, but Clark did not realize there was a fourth individual until viewing the videos. Viewing various clips of surveillance video footage at trial, Clark identified defendant in each one. He also identified defendant in the video, which showed defendant turn back toward him and begin shooting.

¶ 14 Detective Rivera testified that he received an assignment at 12:35 a.m. on February 3, 2017, regarding people who had been shot on Rockwell Street. At Clark's house, he observed a pool of blood on the...

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