People v. Reese

Decision Date24 September 2015
Docket NumberNo. 1–12–0654.,1–12–0654.
Citation42 N.E.3d 389
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Willis REESE, Defendant–Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Michael J. Pelletier, Alan D. Goldberg, and David T. Harris, all of State Appellate Defender's Office, Chicago, for appellant.

Anita M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg, Michelle Katz, and Annette Collins, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.


Presiding Justice McBRIDE

delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 Following trial, a jury found defendant, Willis Reese, guilty of aggravated vehicular hijacking, vehicular invasion, attempted armed robbery, and escape. The trial court subsequently sentenced him to concurrent extended-term sentences of, respectively, 50, 30, 30, and 14 years in prison, to be served consecutively to the natural life sentence defendant was serving on a prior murder conviction. Defendant appeals, arguing (1) the State failed to prove him guilty of aggravated vehicular hijacking, as it failed to show that he dispossessed the victim of the bus, (2) the State failed to prove him guilty of vehicular invasion, as it failed to show he used force to enter the bus, (3) a fatal variance existed between his attempted armed robbery indictment and conviction, (4) he was deprived of due process when he was shackled during jury selection without the trial court articulating the reasons for his shackling, (5) the State introduced excessive and irrelevant details regarding his prior murder conviction, (6) the trial court failed to comply with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 401(a)

(eff. July 1, 1984), thereby rendering his waiver of counsel invalid, (7) the court erroneously imposed extended-term sentences on offenses that were not among the most serious class of felony, and (8) his convictions for both aggravated vehicular hijacking and vehicular invasion violate the one-act, one-crime doctrine.

¶ 2 For the following reasons, we reverse defendant's conviction and sentence for aggravated vehicular hijacking, and affirm his convictions for vehicular invasion, attempted armed robbery, and escape. We affirm defendant's 30–year sentences for vehicular invasion and attempted armed robbery, and reduce his sentence for escape to 7 years.


¶ 4 On March 19, 2007, a jury found defendant guilty of first-degree murder. Three days later, before he was sentenced for that offense, defendant was taken to an appointment at Stroger Hospital (Stroger). Following his appointment, defendant went into a restroom, removed a shank he had hidden in his shoe, and fled the building, injuring several people during his escape. Based on the events that transpired that day, the grand jury returned an indictment charging defendant with, among other offenses, aggravated vehicular hijacking, vehicular invasion, attempted armed robbery, escape, disarming a peace officer, and aggravated kidnapping. The indictment also charged him with multiple counts of attempted first-degree murder, which the State later nol-prossed.

¶ 5 A. Pretrial Proceedings

¶ 6 The public defender was appointed to represent defendant, and, in October 2008, defendant told the trial court that he wished to “exercise [his] constitutional right” to proceed pro se. He expressed dissatisfaction with the public defender's office and stated he was making his “decision knowingly and intelligently.” The court advised defendant that two of his attempted first-degree murder counts alone carried 20– to 80–year prison sentences and possible extended-term sentences of 40 to 160 years' imprisonment. The court stated, “Basically, you are looking at massive time if you are convicted.” Defendant indicated that he understood. The court then advised defendant of the normal and extended-term sentences that Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, and Class X felonies carried. When asked whether he understood the penalties and sentencing ranges, defendant responded, “Perfectly, Your Honor, perfectly.” The court did not admonish defendant that any possible sentence in his case would run consecutively to the sentence he was serving on his murder conviction. After completing its admonishments, the court permitted the public defender to withdraw.

¶ 7 B. Jury Selection and The State's Motions In Limine

¶ 8 In November 2011, the parties appeared before the trial court for jury selection. Defendant indicated he was “ready to change into [his] clothes and get out of [his] shackles” so he could “prepare [his] paper work.” The court started to explain the voir dire procedure, and defendant stated, “I mean I would like to write this stuff down. This is just not good right now. I want to write what you're saying down. So if you would say it again later on that would be fine, too.” The court told defendant that [l]ater on,” his hands would be free and both tables would be covered with drapery so that the jurors would not be able to see defendant's leg shackles. The following exchange then occurred.

“THE DEFENDANT: But won't they be able to hear?
THE COURT: I guess if you move your legs around a lot.
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah. And I am a human being so that's a big possibility that would happen. Also—I mean the shackles why do they need to stay on at this particular portion of trial?
THE COURT: I will leave it at their discretion. I am not going to order them to take—
THE DEFENDANT: They take them off with other people. I've shown you approximately a year and a half ago that I can handle myself without being shackled when I argued the motion between [the assistant State's Attorneys]. I didn't have shackles then.
THE COURT: You are preaching to the choir. All you have to do is talk to the men in charge. If you can convince those three men that you don't need leg shackles, you don't have to have them on.
THE DEFENDANT: My point is I didn't have to convince them the first time you did it. But it's fine. We can do it that way this time.”

¶ 9 After the trial court further explained voir dire to defendant and a recess took place, defendant again brought up his shackles. The following exchange took place.

“THE DEFENDANT: Judge, one thing before we get started, and I don't mean to bring this back up and be difficult. But it's a very big problem. Will this be the case these shackles. When the jury come[s] in here, when trial officially starts, will I still be confined to this?
THE COURT: That's up to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
THE DEFENDANT: Judge, the Illinois Department of Corrections is not on trial. You see what I am saying. They're not on trial. Their constitutional rights are not being violated. And so they could care less. They have a system that they run down there. The only way they are going to come off is by court order.”

Defendant told the court, “I will give you my word if I so much as step in the wrong direction, I will willingly put these back on. But I am here to do a thorough job, and I can not work under these conditions.” The court indicated it would take the matter under consideration and make a decision the next day.

¶ 10 Later, jury selection commenced. The first panel of six potential jurors consisted of Tiffany Fourkas, Danielle Quinn, Alvin Hunt, Aaron Perry, Quinn McSorley, and Melissa Myles.1 When asked whether he accepted the panel of Fourkas, Quinn, Perry, and McSorley, defendant stated, “No, I don't accept three individuals.” The court asked defendant who he would not accept, and he indicated Fourkas. He then asked if the trial court could “possibly have him dismissed for a moment” because an “issue” was “going on” and he did not think the court “would want” the jurors to hear about it. The court asked whether defendant was only dismissing Fourkas, and defendant stated “Here's the thing, sir. Our reason for having these drapes here, what was our reason for having these drapes?” After the court dismissed the prospective jurors, defendant explained that Fourkas, McSorley, and Myles were “all sitting on this side here. And if you notice this little area right here is completely open. And it basically defeats the purpose of you having this drape up on the table. They saw me with the shackles on. If they saw me with the shackles on, then we might as well not have the drapes up.” The court asked defendant which people saw the shackles, and defendant stated Fourkas and McSorley.

¶ 11 The trial court asked that Fourkas and McSorley be brought back into the courtroom separately. Upon questioning, Fourkas said she could not see behind the drapes. Nonetheless, defendant exercised a peremptory challenge to remove Fourkas.

¶ 12 The trial court then questioned McSorley, who indicated he could see behind the drapery and saw “a little belt on [defendant]'s strap between his feet.” He denied that what he saw would affect his ability to be fair. Defendant then asked the following questions, and McSorley provided the following responses.

“Q. Does this [the shackles] mean anything of significance to you?
A. No.
Q. Not at all. Does it give you the impression that I can not control myself?
A. No, not at all.
Q. Are you sure about that?
A. Yes.
Q. So when you see a man with shackles on his feet, what do you think. Tell me the first thing that came to your mind.
A. What?
Q. Tell me the first thing that came to your mind when you saw these shackles on my ankles?
A. I knew you were being supervised by these two patrol men.
Q. That's a problem in itself. Okay. I won't strike.”

The other members of the panel returned to the courtroom, and the court asked whether anything about defendant's appearance would affect their ability to be fair. The court explained that it was referring to [h]is appearance with this drapery in front of him.” Quinn stated, “No I guess” and asked whether there was “something we should know that we don't know because now I am confused.” The court said there was nothing the jury should know. The record does not contain a response from any of the other...

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6 cases
  • People v. Reese
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • 19 Octubre 2017
    ..."cause[s] the victim to part with possession or custody of [the vehicle] against his will." ' " 2015 IL App (1st) 120654, ¶ 58, 397 Ill.Dec. 474, 42 N.E.3d 389 (quoting People v. Strickland , 154 Ill. 2d 489, 526, 182 Ill.Dec. 551, 609 N.E.2d 1366 (1992), quoting People v. Smith , 78 Ill. 2......
  • People v. Wilson
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 19 Agosto 2016
    ...courts. The decisions of foreign courts are not binding on Illinois courts. See People v. Reese, 2015 IL App (1st) 120654, ¶ 70, 397 Ill.Dec. 474, 42 N.E.3d 389. Instead, we are required to follow our supreme court precedent, which has interpreted Roper, Graham , and Miller to apply “only i......
  • People v. Applewhite
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 9 Diciembre 2016
    ...2014). The decisions of foreign courts are not binding on Illinois courts (People v. Reese , 2015 IL App (1st) 120654, ¶ 70, 397 Ill.Dec. 474, 42 N.E.3d 389 ), and we are required to follow our supreme court precedent, which has interpreted Miller , Roper , and Graham to apply "only in the ......
  • People v. Kindhart
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 27 Abril 2017 Comage, defendant's reliance on a Wisconsin Supreme Court case is misguided. See People v. Reese, 2015 IL App (1st) 120654, ¶ 70, 42 N.E.3d 389 ("this court is not bound by *** out-of-state decisions" and "reliance on *** out-of-state cases is particularly problematic, because courts in ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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