People v. Trotter, 1-88-3793

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtCERDA
Citation626 N.E.2d 1104,254 Ill.App.3d 514
Parties, 193 Ill.Dec. 553 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Clarence TROTTER, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 1-88-3793,1-88-3793
Decision Date15 September 1993

Page 1104

626 N.E.2d 1104
254 Ill.App.3d 514, 193 Ill.Dec. 553
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Clarence TROTTER, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 1-88-3793.
Appellate Court of Illinois,
First District, Third Division.
Sept. 15, 1993.

Page 1105

[254 Ill.App.3d 516] [193 Ill.Dec. 554] Randolph N. Stone, Public Defender of Cook County, Chicago (Anna Ahronheim, of counsel), for defendant-appellant.

Jack O'Malley, State's Atty. of Cook County, Chicago (Rene Goldfarb, Maureen A. Harton, of counsel), for plaintiff-appellee.

Justice CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:

Codefendants, Clarence Trotter, Michael Tillman, and Steven Bell were charged with murder (Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1) and other offenses in connection with the July 1986 death of Betty Howard. Prior to Trotter's trial, Tillman and Bell were tried in a severed bench trial. Bell was acquitted of all charges and Tillman was convicted of murder (Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1)), aggravated criminal sexual assault (Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 12-14(a)(2)), and aggravated kidnapping (Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 10-2(a)(3)). On appeal, this court reversed Tillman's convictions and remanded his case for a new trial.

After a jury trial, Trotter was convicted of murder (Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1)), aggravated criminal sexual assault

Page 1106

[193 Ill.Dec. 555] (Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 12-14(a)(2)), aggravated kidnapping (Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 10-2(a)(3)), residential burglary (Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 19-3), and theft (Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 16-1). The jury declined to recommend the death penalty, and the trial court sentenced defendant to natural life imprisonment for murder and 15 years' imprisonment for residential burglary to be served concurrently.

On appeal, defendant asserts that the trial court erred (1) in denying his motion to suppress his statements; (2) in denying his constitutional right to represent himself at trial when he filed a motion to [254 Ill.App.3d 517] proceed as co-counsel; and (3) in limiting his attorney's attempts to present all the circumstances surrounding his alleged confession. In addition, defendant asserts that he was denied a fair trial (1) when the State introduced a witness's damaging out-of-court statements, but barred the defense from introducing the witness's inconsistent out-of-court statements; (2) by prosecutorial misconduct in closing argument; and (3) by the cumulative effect of the trial errors. Finally, defendant asserts that he must be granted a new hearing on his pro se motion for a new trial. We reverse and remand.

A key issue in this case is whether after defendant invoked his right to an attorney, the investigating officers and the assistant State's Attorney violated that right under all the circumstances.

Before trial, defendant filed a motion to proceed as co-counsel. Before setting a date for a hearing on that motion, the trial court informed defendant that he could represent himself or be represented by counsel, but nothing in between. The record does not indicate if that motion was ever argued or decided, but defendant proceeded with counsel.

During defendant's motion to suppress statements, defendant asked to question Detective Ollie Brownfield, arguing that he had a constitutional "right to defend in person and in counsel." When the trial court refused, defendant asked to represent himself, but subsequently proceeded with counsel.

Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress his custodial statements on the basis that they were involuntarily made and made in violation of his right to counsel during custodial interrogations. The motions were denied.

At trial, Eddie Howard, Jr., the victim's son, testified that his mother had lived at 2860 East 78th Street, Apartment 5E, in Chicago with her two-year-old son, Myron. Eddie last saw his mother on Saturday, July 19, 1986. The next day, she and Myron were expected at a picnic for Myron's birthday. When they did not show up by 4 p.m., Eddie and his fiancee, Rose Vontrese, drove to the victim's apartment. When they arrived, the victim's car was not in the parking lot.

Tillman, who was the building janitor, let Eddie and Rose into the building. Eddie used his own key to enter his mother's apartment, where he saw the contents of her purse strewn on the couch. Neither the victim nor Myron were there and the bedroom was in disarray. Missing were the victim's keys, VCR, mixer, turntable, and equalizer. Eddie called the police. Soon after, other family members and several police officers arrived.

[254 Ill.App.3d 518] Chicago police officer Arnold Martinez testified that he arrived at the scene to investigate a burglary. He saw that the apartment had been ransacked and was told that the victim's car and stereo equipment were missing.

Detectives Peter Dignan and Ronald Boffo arrived at the scene around 1 a.m. on July 21, 1986. After observing the apartment's condition, they spoke to Angelita Howard, the victim's daughter. She informed the detectives that Tillman had told her that he was painting an apartment on the seventh floor at about 1 a.m. Sunday morning when he heard noises coming from Apartment 7C. Dignan, Boffo, Tillman, and the victim's family went to Apartment 7C.

When Dignan opened the door, the apartment was completely dark. Boffo shined a flashlight into the various rooms. In one room, there was a woman's body tied by

Page 1107

[193 Ill.Dec. 556] her wrists to a wall radiator. Dignan felt the body, which was cold and stiff. He was unable to detect any pulse. The victim was wearing only a tube top that had been pulled above her breasts. She was lying on her back and her legs were spread apart. There was a piece of cloth stuffed in her mouth and another cloth tied around her head.

Assistant medical examiner, Dr. Joanne Richmond, performed an autopsy on July 22, 1986. She observed that the victim's wrists were both tied with ligatures, a yellow towel was stuffed in her mouth, and a gag was tied around her head. The victim was wearing a torn, bloody yellow blouse and bloody yellow tube top. Her left eyelids were bruised and swollen.

The victim had suffered a gunshot wound to the left temple. The tattooing around the wound indicated that the bullet was fired at close range, but was not a contact wound. Dr. Richmond also found two stab wounds to the right side of the victim's neck, a stab wound to the right upper chest, and a stab wound on the left chest, which had penetrated the left side of the heart, causing massive bleeding in the left chest cavity.

Charles Coker, 16 years old, testified that on Saturday, July 19, 1986, he told his friend, Boris Flowers, also known as A-Shay, that he needed a gun. The next day, Coker, nicknamed Bobo, and A-Shay went to a white house at 69th and Chappel Streets, Chicago, where A-Shay introduced Bobo to defendant. While they were in the house's basement, defendant gave A-Shay a loaded, silver .32 caliber revolver with a brown handle. A-Shay gave the gun to Bobo, who asked if the gun was hot, e.g., if it had any murder beats on it. Defendant replied, "Don't get caught with it because you will probably catch a case."

[254 Ill.App.3d 519] On a table in the basement, Bobo saw a VCR, an equalizer, a camera, and some film. When A-Shay asked if he could hold the VCR and equalizer, defendant agreed. Defendant and A-Shay also discussed a red Ford Fairlane car, that defendant had in his possession.

Bobo took the gun home later that day and kept it for three days. On the third day, Bobo's mother found the gun and told him to give it back to A-Shay or she would call the police. Bobo took the gun to A-Shay's house at 66th Street and Greenwood Avenue in Chicago. A couple of days later, in A-Shay's front room, Bobo saw the VCR and equalizer that had previously been in defendant's basement.

On August 9, 1986, Bobo was riding in the Ford Fairlane with Terrence, also known as Tracy Harrison, who was driving. On 51st Street, a police squad car flashed its lights and motioned for Terrence to pull over. Instead of complying, Terrence made a U-turn and drove off at a high rate of speed. After crashing into construction equipment and running, police officers caught Terrence and took him to the police station. Bobo got away. The car keys were in the ignition, the radio was missing, and a knife was found in the car. After the police took the car to the police station, a computer check of the vehicle identification number revealed that the car had been stolen in connection with the victim's murder.

Detectives Brownfield and Dignan testified about events occurring after Bobo was brought to the police station for questioning on August 10, 1986. Bobo accompanied the detectives to A-Shay's apartment, where Dignan saw stereo equipment matching the description of that taken from the victim's apartment. Dignan also found a pair of maroon-colored woman's shoes, which were later identified as belonging to the victim.

After the detectives recovered the equalizer and VCR from A-Shay's apartment, they transported A-Shay to Area 2, were he was questioned. Subsequently, A-Shay gave the detectives the gun used to murder the victim. The parties stipulated that the .32 caliber spent bullet recovered from the victim's skull was compared with the gun. Robert Smith, an expert in firearms identification and comparison, determined that the bullet taken from the victim's skull had been fired from the gun that A-Shay gave the police.

Page 1108

[193 Ill.Dec. 557] According to Brownfield, A-Shay then directed them to defendant's house because defendant had given A-Shay the gun. Jerry Brown, who is defendant's brother-in-law and the owner of the two-flat building where defendant rented a basement apartment, let in Brownfield and Detective Raymond Madigan. Brown summoned defendant from the basement by stomping on the floor. It was...

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