People v. Williams

Citation173 Ill.2d 48,670 N.E.2d 638,218 Ill.Dec. 916
Decision Date31 May 1996
Docket NumberNo. 76907,76907
Parties, 218 Ill.Dec. 916 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Frank WILLIAMS, Appellant.
CourtSupreme Court of Illinois

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670 N.E.2d 638
173 Ill.2d 48, 218 Ill.Dec. 916
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
Frank WILLIAMS, Appellant.
No. 76907.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
May 31, 1996.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 30, 1996.

Page 642

[173 Ill.2d 53] [218 Ill.Dec. 920] Charles M. Schiedel, Deputy Defender, and Allen H. Andrews, Assistant Defender, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, Springfield, for appellant.

James E. Ryan, Attorney General, Springfield, and Jack O'Malley, State's Attorney, Chicago (Arleen C. Anderson, Assistant Attorney General, Chicago, and Renee Goldfarb and Janet Powers Doyle, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

[173 Ill.2d 54] Chief Justice BILANDIC delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, Frank Williams, was convicted of first degree murder (Ill.Rev.Stat.1991, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1)), attempted murder (Ill.Rev.Stat.1991, ch. 38, par. 8-4), and aggravated battery with a firearm (Ill.Rev.Stat.1991, ch. 38, par. 12-4.2(a)). Defendant waived a jury for sentencing. The trial court found defendant eligible for the death penalty based on the statutory aggravating factor that the murder was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner. Ill.Rev.Stat.1991, ch. 38, par. 9-1(b)(11). The trial court further found that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty. Accordingly, the trial court sentenced defendant to death. The trial court also sentenced defendant to concurrent 30-year sentences for attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. Defendant's death sentence has been stayed pending direct review by this court. Ill. Const.1970, art. VI, § 4(b); 134 Ill.2d Rs. 603, 609(a). For the following reasons, we affirm defendant's convictions and sentences.


On January 3, 1991, at approximately 6 p.m., Anthony Cole drove Michelle Brueckmann, Noel Garcia and Francisco Mashane to Michelle's house at 1312 South Maple in Berwyn, Illinois. Anthony and Michelle went into the house while Noel and Francisco remained in the car, which was double-parked in front of Michelle's house. Anthony testified that around 6:30 p.m., he and Michelle were leaving the house and walking toward the street, when defendant emerged from behind a van. Defendant screamed, "I told you I was going to kill you when I saw you together." Defendant then pointed a .38-caliber revolver at Anthony and shot him in his [173 Ill.2d 55] left shoulder. Anthony fell to the ground. Anthony next saw defendant grab Michelle and heard a gunshot. Anthony witnessed Michelle fall to the ground. Anthony got up and ran. Defendant chased Anthony and shot him in the right shoulder. Anthony then ran into a building for help.

Noel Garcia confirmed Anthony's testimony. Garcia testified that, after defendant shot Anthony, defendant ran up behind Michelle, grabbed her hair and put the gun to her head. Defendant then shot Michelle in the head. Michelle fell to the ground. Next, Garcia saw Anthony get up and start running. Defendant ran after Anthony and shot him again.

Berwyn police officers Cladio Paolucci and Ronald Volanti responded to a call of shots fired in the 1300 block of South Maple in Berwyn. When they arrived at the scene at approximately 6:35 p.m., they saw Michelle lying on the parkway, bleeding profusely from the head with no apparent signs of life. The officers also found Anthony lying on the kitchen floor of an apartment next door. He

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[218 Ill.Dec. 921] was bleeding from the chest and shoulder. After talking to Anthony, Officer Paolucci made a radio dispatch indicating that the offender's name was Frank Williams, that he was a black male, approximately 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and 180 pounds.

Berwyn police detective Mark Cione obtained an arrest warrant for defendant that same night. After learning that defendant might be staying at a house at 5024 South Winchester in Chicago, Detective Cione and other police officers proceeded to that address. They arrived at that address around 3 a.m. on January 4, 1991. When they arrived, Detective Cione rang the bell and spoke with defendant's sister, Kimberly Alexander, who indicated that she had not seen defendant. She then gave the officers permission to enter the house to look for defendant. They found defendant in a storage area [173 Ill.2d 56] in the attic. Detective Cione placed defendant under arrest and handcuffed him. After taking defendant to the backyard, Detective Cione conducted a patdown search of defendant and asked him if he had any guns, knives or needles on him. Defendant responded that he did not, but said that he had a gun in his coat located in the attic. Detective Cione radioed Officer Paolucci, who was still in the attic, and told him to look for a jacket with a gun in it. Officer Paolucci found a jacket lying in the corner of the storage area. A .38-caliber revolver containing a few live rounds was in the pocket. Defendant was then taken to the Berwyn police station.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen White testified that she arrived at the Berwyn police station around 5:30 a.m. on January 4, 1991, and spoke with defendant. Assistant State's Attorney White advised defendant of his Miranda rights and he indicated that he understood them. Defendant agreed to give an oral statement but he refused to sign anything. Defendant discussed what had happened on January 3, 1991. Defendant stated that he became upset when he saw his girlfriend Michelle with his friend Anthony at a shopping mall during the afternoon of January 3, 1991. Later that evening, defendant took a loaded .38-caliber revolver from his dresser and drove to Michelle's house. Defendant stated that he parked the car around the corner from Michelle's house and stood behind a tree and waited for Michelle to come out of the house. When Michelle and Anthony came out of the house, defendant emerged from behind the tree with a loaded gun in his hand. Defendant walked directly up to Anthony and shot him in the shoulder. Defendant then shot Michelle in the head. Anthony suddenly got up, and defendant shot him again in the shoulder. Defendant then fled.

Anthony Cole testified that he and defendant had known each other for about 15 years. According to [173 Ill.2d 57] Anthony, defendant and Michelle had been engaged but had broken off their engagement in the summer of 1990. Anthony had dated Michelle for about one month before Michelle was shot. Anthony testified about a prior incident in which defendant threatened to kill Michelle and Anthony if he ever saw them together. On January 2, 1991, Anthony, defendant and Michelle were riding in Anthony's car. Defendant suddenly jumped over the seat with a large butcher knife and attempted to stab Anthony. Anthony was cut on his hand. Anthony and defendant jumped out of the car. While chasing Anthony around the car, defendant said, "I told you if I saw you together I would kill you." After both defendant and Anthony stopped running around the car, defendant went to open the passenger door. Anthony then ran to the police station for help. When he returned, Michelle came out of defendant's house crying hysterically with a cut on her hand. Anthony took Michelle to the hospital where she received stitches in her hand.

The State also presented the testimony of Donald Smith, a firearms examiner from the Illinois State Police. Smith examined the .38-caliber revolver recovered from defendant's jacket and the bullet that had been surgically removed from Cole. Smith concluded that the bullet could only have been fired from the gun recovered. Smith also testified that, from the single-action position, with the hammer cocked, the gun required 5 1/2 pounds of pressure on the trigger in order to fire. In the double-action position, with the hammer at rest, the gun required 13 1/2

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[218 Ill.Dec. 922] pounds of pressure on the trigger in order to fire.

As a final matter, the State presented the testimony of Assistant Medical Examiner Nancy Jones, who performed an autopsy on the body of Michelle. Jones testified that Michelle died as a result of a gunshot wound to her head. The bullet went through Michelle's [173 Ill.2d 58] head. The entrance wound measured about one-half inch in diameter and showed evidence of being a near contact range wound, meaning that the muzzle of the gun was very close to the body at the time the weapon was fired. This was further evidenced by charring or burning around the entrance wound. Jones determined that the muzzle of the gun was within an inch or less of Michelle's head when the gun was fired. Jones further observed a "graze" gunshot wound on the back of Michelle's left hand, indicating that Michelle's hand was in very close proximity to the muzzle of the weapon at the time the weapon was fired. Michelle's right hand also had gunpowder on the back of the thumb and wrist, indicating its close proximity to the weapon when fired.

After the State rested, defendant presented his case. Defendant's friend Darrio Ramirez testified that in December of 1990 defendant and Michelle were engaged to be married and he saw them together. Ramirez testified that he was with defendant at a shopping mall on January 3, 1991, but that he did not see Michelle and Anthony. Ramirez also testified that he saw Anthony at a laundromat the day after Anthony was released from the hospital. He asked Anthony what had happened the night of the shooting. Anthony told Ramirez that he tried to grab defendant's gun and it went off, with the bullet striking Michelle.

Defendant testified on his own behalf. At the outset of his testimony, defendant acknowledged that he was convicted of aggravated battery in 1986. Defendant then went on to explain that he, Michelle, Anthony, Darrio, Noel and Francisco were all "best of friends." He and Michelle became engaged in July of 1988, but their engagement ended in...

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