People v. Lucas, Docket No. 69923

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtCLARK
Parties, 177 Ill.Dec. 390 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Roosevelt LUCAS, Appellant.
Docket NumberDocket No. 69923
Decision Date24 September 1992

Page 460

603 N.E.2d 460
151 Ill.2d 461, 177 Ill.Dec. 390
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
v.
Roosevelt LUCAS, Appellant.
Docket No. 69923.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
Sept. 24, 1992.
Rehearing Denied Nov. 30, 1992.

Page 463

[151 Ill.2d 468] [177 Ill.Dec. 393] Michael J. Pelletier, Deputy Defender and Patricia Unsinn, Asst. Appellate Defender, Office of the State App. Defender, Chicago, for appellant.

Roland W. Burris, Atty. Gen., Springfield, (Rosalyn B. Kaplan, Sol. Gen., and Terence M. Madsen and Bradley P. Halloran, Asst. Attys. Gen., Chicago, of counsel) for the People.

Justice CLARK delivered the opinion of the court:

On October 16, 1987, defendant, Roosevelt Lucas, was indicted on two counts of conspiracy (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 38, par. 8-2(a)) and five counts of first degree murder (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), (a)(2)). The conspiracy counts were nol-prossed by the State prior to trial. Defendant was accused of killing Robert Taylor, a superintendent at the Pontiac Correctional Center (Pontiac) on September 3, 1987. Taylor died as a result of a stab wound to his heart and suffered multiple lacerations to the scalp caused by a blunt instrument.

[151 Ill.2d 469] Upon a defense motion for change of venue, the cause was transferred to Grundy County. Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of first degree murder. At a separate sentencing hearing, the same jury found defendant eligible for the death penalty on the ground that defendant's victim was a correctional officer, a statutory aggravating circumstance. (Ill.Rev.Stat.1983, ch. 38, par. 9-1(b)(2).) The jury concluded that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty, and the trial judge therefore sentenced defendant to death. Defendant's death sentence has been stayed pending direct review by this court. Ill. Const.1970, art. VI, § 4(b); 134 Ill.2d Rules 603, 609(a).

Superintendent Taylor was killed in his office at Pontiac on the morning of September 3, 1987. A "shank," or homemade knife, was recovered from the office and identified as the weapon used to murder Taylor. At trial, the State presented a significant amount of evidence tying another inmate to Taylor's murder. That inmate, Ike Easley, had been tried separately and convicted of murdering Taylor in a trial that preceded defendant's trial. (See People v. Easley (1992), 148 Ill.2d 281, 170 Ill.Dec. 356, 592 N.E.2d 1036.) Easley and defendant were originally codefendants in the State's prosecution of Taylor's murder,

Page 464

[177 Ill.Dec. 394] but their cases were severed before trial. The prosecution presented essentially the same evidence at defendant's trial as it had at Easley's. Rather than repeat the evidence recounted in the opinion in Easley and duplicated at defendant's trial, we shall only refer to that evidence which is relevant to the resolution of the issues defendant raises on appeal.

The following evidence was adduced during the State's case in chief. Pontiac inmate Lawrence Spillar testified as to the following events occurring sometime prior to 11 a.m. on September 3, 1987. Spillar went to [151 Ill.2d 470] Taylor's office, a converted inmate cell in the south cellhouse on gallery five, to discuss his painting detail. Taylor called a second inmate, Charles Nealy, into his office. As the three men talked, Easley ran into the office, jumped across Taylor's desk and hit him in the face with his fist. Nealy turned and ran out of the office and into his cell, number 546. Easley then pulled a knife from his waistband and began to stab Taylor.

Spillar got up to leave the office, but collided with defendant as he was coming in the office doorway. After a brief struggle, Spillar stepped aside and let defendant enter the office. Defendant proceeded to beat Taylor on the head with a pipe. Spillar testified that he stood on the gallery outside of Taylor's office, and observed Easley as he exited the office and ran towards the front of the gallery. He then saw defendant exit the office, turn and throw the pipe into the office, and run down the gallery. At the end of the gallery, defendant jumped up to gallery seven. Spillar then joined Nealy in cell 546.

Inmate Demetre Brown was on gallery five outside of Taylor's office when the murder occurred. Brown testified that he saw Easley and defendant on the gallery near Taylor's office prior to the attack. Both men wore hats and gloves. From outside Taylor's office, Brown saw Easley stab Taylor and saw defendant hit him on the head with a pipe. Brown then went into his cell, number 549. From there, he saw Easley and defendant run to the front of the gallery, discarding hats and gloves as they ran. Brown testified that he left his cell and joined Spillar and Nealy in cell 546 after the correctional officers came on the gallery.

Correctional Officer Walter Turner testified that approximately one hour before the attack on Taylor, he had seen defendant with two other inmates on gallery five. On cross-examination, he testified that Easley had also been with defendant and that the four men had gone [151 Ill.2d 471] into Taylor's office. Turner and other staff members removed the men from Taylor's office and defendant went out to the yard.

Correctional Captain Donald Whitaker testified that he was on gallery six when he heard the call that Taylor was down. He had been in Taylor's office talking to him only 10 or 15 minutes prior to the attack. Several inmates were also in the office and defendant was in the area. Whitaker testified that he cleared the area.

After leaving Taylor's office, Whitaker went to gallery six and telephoned Taylor because he was concerned for Taylor's safety. He felt that "the mood was not right" in the south cellhouse. The day before, an officer who was assigned to the cellhouse had been assaulted by an inmate. Whitaker spoke with Taylor and asked him to go to lunch with him, but Taylor declined, saying that he could not leave his office at the time. Defendant objected at one point in Whitaker's testimony, arguing that no question was pending in response to one of Whitaker's answers. Other than this, defendant did not object to Whitaker's testimony about the attack.

Immediately after the attack on Taylor, the correctional officers conducted a lockup, securing all the inmates in their cells. Correctional officer Robert Baremore testified that while he was assisting in the lockup, Brown called to him in a loud voice from cell 546 and asked Baremore why he wanted to know his inmate number. Baremore had not asked Brown for his inmate number, so he approached the cell, believing that Brown wished to speak to him. Brown said to him in a low voice, "They're in here," and pointed to a curtain drawn across the rear of the cell. At Baremore's

Page 465

[177 Ill.Dec. 395] direction, Nealy and Spillar came from behind the curtain. Brown testified that what he meant by the statement was that he was not alone and that he did not want to speak to a correctional officer in front of other inmates.

[151 Ill.2d 472] Whitaker testified that he saw Brown standing at the front of cell 546. Nealy and Spillar went to the back of the cell as Whitaker approached it. Talking in a whisper, Whitaker asked Brown if Nealy and Spillar had committed the murder and Brown said no, but that he knew who had.

Approximately one-half hour after the attack, Correctional officer Don Lyons observed defendant in his cell, naked from the waist up, washing his arms, torso and hands. Defendant was calm and made no effort to conceal the fact that he was washing himself. Lyons testified that defendant's activities were unusual because all the inmates on gallery seven had been given the opportunity to shower that morning. On cross-examination, Lyons testified that he did not know whether defendant had showered that morning. While defendant was washing himself, other inmates on gallery seven were at the front of their cells with mirrors asking each other what had occurred.

Deputy Director Donald Long testified that he arrived at Pontiac between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. and immediately went to the south cellhouse where he was briefed. Initial interviews were set up with all the inmates on the galleries at the time of the murder. In his preliminary interview, at which Long was present, Brown said he knew who had murdered Taylor but that he wanted to make a deal before he cooperated. Long told him there would be no deals, whereafter Brown refused to cooperate. Read, who conducted the initial interview with Brown, gave substantially the same account.

During a second interview that afternoon, Brown identified defendant from photographs as one of Taylor's assailants. Spillar provided the same information during the second round of interviews. Long testified that after providing the Department with the information, Brown [151 Ill.2d 473] and Spillar were immediately transferred to separate institutions for their safety. Spillar was transferred a second time for safety concerns.

The State also elicited evidence from its witnesses concerning gang activity at Pontiac and specifically, defendant's involvement in this activity. The prosecutor revealed in opening argument that the State's theory was that Taylor's death was carried out by the Black Gangster Disciples (BGD) in retaliation for the death of a BGD inmate, Billy "Zodiac" Jones. The prosecutor argued that defendant was a BGD.

Sergeant Danny Jarrett testified as to the circumstances surrounding Jones' death. On July 20, Jones and his cellmate, Curt Williams, were being relocated from their cell to segregation. Jarrett, who participated in the relocation, testified that Williams became angry when the officers attempted to remove him from his cell. Other inmates on the gallery began to throw debris from their cells and chant "GD, one love," and "[C]ut one of us, we all bleed." With the aid of mace, the two men were removed...

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100 practice notes
  • People v. Tolliver, No. 1-01-3147.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 12, 2004
    ...a defendant must show a clear abuse of discretion resulting in manifest prejudice to the defendant to constitute error. People v. Lucas, 151 Ill.2d 461, 489,177 Ill.Dec. 390, 603 N.E.2d 460 (1992). Testimony regarding the background, history and criminal activity of the gangs is improper if......
  • People v. Oaks, No. 75541
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • February 15, 1996
    ...or request that a limiting instruction be given, he is in a poor position to claim that prejudice resulted. See People v. Lucas (1992), 151 Ill.2d 461, 487, 177 Ill.Dec. 390, 603 N.E.2d We next address defendant's contention that the State failed to prove him guilty of murder because it fai......
  • People v. Bowen, No. 1–13–2046.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 31, 2015
    ...officers found a homemade knife made of sharpened metal, called a ‘shank,’ in the recreation area”); People v. 38 N.E.3d 107 Lucas, 151 Ill.2d 461, 469, 177 Ill.Dec. 390, 603 N.E.2d 460 (1992) (“[a] ‘shank,’ or homemade knife, was recovered from the office and identified as the weapon”). Ba......
  • People v. Fontana, No. 2-91-1402
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • October 29, 1993
    ...other-crimes evidence. A defendant must specify the grounds for the objection that he wishes to raise on appeal. (People v. Lucas (1992), 151 Ill.2d 461, 481, 177 Ill.Dec. 390, 603 N.E.2d 460.) Thus, defendant has waived this issue. However, even if defendant had preserved the issue, it is ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
101 cases
  • People v. Tolliver, No. 1-01-3147.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 12, 2004
    ...a defendant must show a clear abuse of discretion resulting in manifest prejudice to the defendant to constitute error. People v. Lucas, 151 Ill.2d 461, 489,177 Ill.Dec. 390, 603 N.E.2d 460 (1992). Testimony regarding the background, history and criminal activity of the gangs is improper if......
  • People v. Oaks, No. 75541
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • February 15, 1996
    ...or request that a limiting instruction be given, he is in a poor position to claim that prejudice resulted. See People v. Lucas (1992), 151 Ill.2d 461, 487, 177 Ill.Dec. 390, 603 N.E.2d We next address defendant's contention that the State failed to prove him guilty of murder because it fai......
  • People v. Bowen, No. 1–13–2046.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 31, 2015
    ...officers found a homemade knife made of sharpened metal, called a ‘shank,’ in the recreation area”); People v. 38 N.E.3d 107 Lucas, 151 Ill.2d 461, 469, 177 Ill.Dec. 390, 603 N.E.2d 460 (1992) (“[a] ‘shank,’ or homemade knife, was recovered from the office and identified as the weapon”). Ba......
  • People v. Fontana, No. 2-91-1402
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • October 29, 1993
    ...other-crimes evidence. A defendant must specify the grounds for the objection that he wishes to raise on appeal. (People v. Lucas (1992), 151 Ill.2d 461, 481, 177 Ill.Dec. 390, 603 N.E.2d 460.) Thus, defendant has waived this issue. However, even if defendant had preserved the issue, it is ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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