People v. Saulsberry

Decision Date23 September 2021
Docket Number2-18-1027
Citation2021 IL App (2d) 181027,191 N.E.3d 730,455 Ill.Dec. 423
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Chavez K. SAULSBERRY, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

2021 IL App (2d) 181027
191 N.E.3d 730
455 Ill.Dec.
423

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Chavez K. SAULSBERRY, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 2-18-1027

Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District.

Opinion filed September 23, 2021
Modified Opinion filed October 7, 2021


James E. Chadd, Thomas A. Lilien, Steven L. Walker, and Christopher McCoy, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Elgin, for appellant.

Jamie L. Mosser, State's Attorney, of St. Charles (Patrick Delfino, Edward R. Psenicka, and Katrina M. Kuhn, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

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

455 Ill.Dec. 426

¶ 1 Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Kane County, defendant, Chavez K. Saulsberry, was convicted of the first degree murder of Michael Moore (Michael) ( 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 2004)) and the attempted first degree murder of Jamarain Tuggles ( 720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 9-1(a)(1) (West 2004)), for which he received consecutive 25-year and 10-year terms of imprisonment. Defendant appeals aspects of the proceedings in the trial court, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective, the trial court abused its discretion by admitting prejudicial hearsay testimony, the preceding two claims of error constituted cumulative and reversible error, and his posttrial

191 N.E.3d 734
455 Ill.Dec. 427

counsel provided ineffective assistance. We affirm.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 We summarize the relevant facts appearing in the record on appeal. As an initial matter, we note that, on April 9, 2009, defendant was charged in the 2005 shooting of Michael and Tuggles. However, because of the number of defendants involved in the offenses, many of the attorneys available to serve as appointed counsel experienced conflicts that delayed the trial in this matter. On November 30, 2015, trial commenced.

¶ 4 A. Incident at the Chicago Style Barber Shop

¶ 5 On November 25, 2005, Michael, a Gangster Disciples gang member also known as Lebeau, borrowed his girlfriend's car and drove Tuggles, also a Gangster Disciples gang member, to get a haircut at the Chicago Style Barber Shop in Aurora. During his testimony, Tuggles answered nearly every question posed with "I don't remember." The State introduced as substantive evidence Tuggles's May 2021 testimony from codefendant Ruben Hernandez's trial.1 Tuggles testified that he observed four rival Latin Kings gang members enter the shop as he was receiving his haircut: Quentin Moore (Quentin),2 Salvador Gonzalez, Hernandez, and defendant. The parties stipulated that the shop's owner identified another Latin Kings gang member, Max Aguilar, as being present during the barbershop incident and did not identify defendant as being present. Similarly, while testifying on defendant's behalf, Gonzalez did not include defendant in those who were present during the barbershop incident.

¶ 6 Tuggles testified that he engaged in a " ‘[l]ightweight argument’ " with Quentin while receiving his haircut. Tuggles called Michael to pick him up and left the barbershop. The rival gang members also exited the barbershop. Tuggles challenged Quentin to "go to the back" and fight in the alley near the barbershop. Hernandez, however, displayed a handgun, and the owner told the group not to do that at his shop. Michael pulled up but, according to Tuggles, indicated that he did not want Tuggles to get in the car, over concerns that the rival gang members would be able to identify the car. Hernandez again displayed the handgun, and Tuggles jumped into the car and he and Michael drove off. The shop owner did not see a gun.

¶ 7 B. The Shooting

¶ 8 On November 28, 2005, Michael was shot to death after he and Tuggles had dropped off Cornelius Poole, Michael's cousin, at the parole office. Several witnesses gave accounts describing their roles or experiences.

¶ 9 Ezequiel Rivera testified that, on November 28, 2005, he was not yet a full member of the Latin Kings street gang, but was a "shorty."3 As such, he was required to follow the requests and orders of any higher-ranking persons in the gang, such as officers and full members (those who had received their crowns). Rivera testified that he borrowed his mother's minivan that day and personally checked in with the probation office. He received a call from a friend requesting a ride to work. When he arrived at the friend's house, he was approached by Augustine Montez, Hernandez, Aguilar, and defendant, all of whom were fully initiated members

191 N.E.3d 735
455 Ill.Dec. 428

of the Latin Kings gang. Rivera testified that defendant was wearing a black coat with no shirt and he could see a crown tattoo on defendant's chest. Rivera testified that Montez told him to take him to Joel Zapata's house. Rivera protested that he had agreed to give his friend a ride to work, but Montez told him to forget it. Rivera testified that, because he was still a shorty, he felt that he had to follow Montez's instructions, to avoid a violation.4

¶ 10 Rivera acquiesced and drove Montez, defendant, Hernandez, and Aguilar to Zapata's house. When they arrived at Zapata's house, Montez got out and spoke with Rudy Zapata (Joel's father). Rivera testified that the two men argued, after which Montez returned to the car. Rivera testified that, when Montez returned, he observed Montez carrying a black semiautomatic handgun. Montez handed the gun to defendant. Montez then told Rivera to drive to Gonzalez's house.

¶ 11 Rivera complied, and they picked up Gonzalez, who had been hanging out with his brother and Quentin. After picking up Gonzalez, the group went "hunting," meaning looking for rival gang members to shoot. Rivera testified that, while hunting, defendant recommended targeting a person he believed to be a rival gang member. Montez told defendant to stand down because that person was not a member of any gang. Rivera testified that Quentin then called Gonzalez and arranged to meet with them.

¶ 12 Rivera drove to the meeting place, and Gonzalez talked with Quentin. When Gonzalez returned to the van, he instructed Rivera to drive to the parole office because they were going to provide protection for Quentin as he checked in with the parole office. Rivera complied, and the group remained in Rivera's van as Quentin entered the parole office. While they waited, somebody in the van spotted a member of the rival Vice Lords street gang. Rivera testified that defendant and the others in the van "got to plotting" how to shoot the rival Vice Lords gang member.

¶ 13 During the "plotting," a white car driven by Michael, with Tuggles and another passenger, pulled up to the parole office. The second passenger exited the white car. Rivera testified that Gonzalez said to the group in the van, "[t]here goes Lebeau," and instructed Rivera to follow the white car. Rivera testified that he could have refused Gonzalez's order but he would have been subject to a violation. Rivera also testified that he believed he would have been subject to a violation had he refused a request from defendant.

¶ 14 Rivera testified that he followed the white car along the street. The other gang members in the van were telling Rivera how to drive. They told him to keep up with the white car and not to draw attention to the van. Rivera testified that, as he was catching up to the white car, someone told him to get ready to turn. Rivera testified that, from behind him in the van, he heard the passenger-side sliding door open. Rivera testified that he glanced back and saw defendant holding the black semiautomatic handgun. Rivera testified that defendant was holding the weapon with both hands and was turned in his seat toward the white car, aiming the gun toward the white car. Rivera testified that he saw Hernandez, who was seated behind defendant, holding open the van's sliding door. Rivera testified that, as he closed with the white car, he heard multiple gunshots and was told to turn. As he completed

191 N.E.3d 736
455 Ill.Dec. 429

the turn, Gonzalez exclaimed that Michael had been shot in the head.

¶ 15 Rivera testified that he drove to another gang member's house and dropped everyone off. Rivera then returned home and cleaned out the van. Rivera testified that, while cleaning, he found two empty shell casings, which he flushed down the toilet. Rivera testified that, at some time after the offense, he received his crown for his participation in Michael's murder.

¶ 16 Rivera also testified about significant concessions he received by cooperating with the State. Specifically, Rivera acknowledged that he would serve eight years in prison (pursuant to a 20-year sentence), which was significantly less than he would have faced had he not cooperated, and that, in exchange for his sentence, he provided testimony about the multiple murders in which he served as a driver and about other cases of which he had knowledge.

¶ 17 Tuggles testified that, on the morning of November 28, 2005, he...

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  • People v. Price
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 23, 2021
    ...other reason, such as to show the effect on the listener's mind or to show why the listener undertook subsequent actions. People v. Saulsberry , 2021 IL App (2d) 181027, ¶ 80, 455 Ill.Dec. 423, 191 N.E.3d 730. ¶ 138 The statement "delete this" was admissible as an out-of-court statement off......

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