The People Of The State Of Ill. v. Leak

Decision Date26 February 2010
Docket NumberNo. 1-07-3374.,1-07-3374.
Citation338 Ill.Dec. 767,925 N.E.2d 264,398 Ill.App.3d 798
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,v.Edward LEAK, Jr., Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

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Anita Alvarez, Cook County State's Attorney, Chicago (James E. Fitzgerald, Matthew Connors and Cristin Duffy, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Douglas H. Johnson, Naperville, and Nicholas M. Curran of Kathleen T. Zellner & Associates, Naperville, for Defendant-Appellant.

Justice McBRIDE delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial, defendant, Edward Leak, Jr., was found guilty of first degree murder and of having procured another to commit that murder for money. Defendant was subsequently sentenced to a term of 75 years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends that: (1) the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the trial court erred by failing to declare a mistrial when an assistant State's Attorney testified that defendant invoked his right to counsel; (3) the trial court abused its discretion by prohibiting defendant from cross-examining a witness regarding her alleged bias; (4) the trial court erred by allowing testimony as to hearsay statements made by a coconspirator; and that (5) the court erred by conducting a simultaneous but separate jury trial with a codefendant. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

Prior to trial, the court determined that defendant would be tried along with his codefendant, John Brown, in simultaneous but separate jury trials. The court also granted a motion in limine filed by the State seeking to allow Alfred Marley, another alleged coconspirator, to testify to statements made by Brown pursuant to the coconspirator exception to the rule against hearsay.

The following evidence was presented at defendant's trial.

John McCall testified that he was the general manager of the Leak and Sons funeral home and that he had worked with defendant, who was a Chicago police officer and who had been a director at the funeral home for 15 years. McCall also knew the victim in this case, Fred Hamilton, who worked as a dispatcher at the funeral home from 1996 to 2003. McCall testified that the victim left the funeral home because funds were discovered missing and the victim had access to “some checks, they were cashed and he cashed them or we assumed he did.” The victim, however, was technically not fired because he left the day that McCall and others began to investigate the missing funds. McCall testified that the victim subsequently contacted him and made certain allegations against defendant. On cross-examination, McCall testified that he did not tell defendant of the allegations that the victim made against him and that, after the victim left the funeral home, defendant filed a complaint against the victim with the police department regarding the missing funds.

Corey Ankum testified that he worked at defendant's family's funeral home from 1998 to 2000 and that defendant and the victim also worked there during that time. In late 2003 or early 2004, after the victim no longer worked at the funeral home, defendant approached Corey in a nightclub and asked him if he had seen the victim. Corey replied that he was “not here for that.” Defendant then said, “when I see that mother fu---- I'm going to kill him.” Finally, Corey testified that he was interviewed by the police in 2005 and that he told them that defendant said something to the effect of “I'm going to kill Fred, tell your boy I'm looking for him, I'll kick his a--.”

Ned Hamilton, the victim's brother, testified that he had an encounter with defendant in the fall of 2003. Defendant came to the restaurant where Ned worked and asked if he had seen the victim. Ned responded that he had not and defendant said, “tell your brother that I'm looking for him. I know a lot of people out here and we gonna get him.”

Michelle Stokes testified that she dated defendant during the late months of 2003 and the early months of 2004. Stokes testified that she lived in an apartment above her nephew from 2001 to 2004 and that she met Brown through her nephew in early 2004. Stokes saw Brown in her nephew's apartment and also testified that defendant had been in her apartment. According to Stokes, the only time defendant had been in her nephew's apartment was when her nephew cut defendant's hair, although she testified that defendant knew both of her nephews and that he would talk to them.

Charmain Ankum, Corey Ankum's sister, testified that she was the victim's girlfriend and that they had one child together, Jaylin Hamilton. In the summer of 2003, Charmain learned that the victim was fired from the funeral home and she testified that he thereafter began to act “paranoid” and “ scared of certain things,” such as “phone calls” and people.” Around Thanksgiving of 2003, Charmain saw defendant circling the house in which she and the victim lived. She recognized defendant's vehicle and its personalized license plates, which said “drop cop,” because on several occasions she had seen defendant getting out of that car in front of the funeral home where he and the victim both worked. She related this information to the victim.

On February 3, 2004, Charmain spent the day with the victim at the daycare center where she worked. At approximately 6:30 p.m., Charmain and the victim were leaving the daycare center when Charmain noticed a brown van with a beige stripe and a broken headlight parked across the street from her vehicle. Charmain could not see inside of the van because it had tinted windows. Charmain testified that it was dark outside at the time and that there was snow on the ground. When Charmain and the victim got to her car, Charmain noticed “an antenna of some sort” sticking out of the vehicle's front passenger tire. The victim also looked at the tire and then he and Charmain walked back to the daycare center and called for a tow truck. When the tow truck company called to say the tow truck was in the area, Charmain and the victim left the daycare center and the victim asked Brian Miller, who also worked at the daycare center, to accompany them to the car because the victim was concerned about the brown van. The victim got into the tow truck and rode to Charmain's car while Charmain and Miller walked in that direction. The victim pulled the car into the street so it could be loaded onto the tow truck and then Charmain observed the brown van circling the block and asked the victim if he had seen it as well. The victim asked Charmain if she could see the license plates, but she could not because the van was too far away. The victim then walked over and stood in front of Charmain and Miller.

The victim subsequently looked down the block and then told Miller and Charmain to “walk away” and “run” because “it doesn't look right.” A man then came from a nearby gangway, bumped into Charmain, and went directly toward the victim while pulling a black gun out of his pocket. Charmain described this person as wearing a black ski mask that covered his face, gloves, mustard colored pants, and a black jacket. The armed man fired three or four shots at the victim as he chased the victim around the tow truck. The shooter knelt over the victim, who was trying to shield himself by climbing under a car, and then rolled the victim onto his back. The victim was saying, “no,” “don't shoot me, don't do this,” and “just go back and tell him I'm sorry,” and then the armed man shot him again. Charmain and Miller turned and ran away and Charmain turned and saw the man shooting the victim again. Charmain called the police as she was running away and heard more shots when she got to the corner of the street. She hailed a cab and was driven back to the scene, where the police had already arrived. The paramedics were trying to resuscitate the victim, but he died at the scene. Charmain was later taken to the police station, where she related these events to the police. She also identified the clothing worn by the man whom she saw shoot the victim.

On cross-examination, Charmain testified that she only saw one person shooting the victim but that she was on the side of a building when some of the shots were being fired and that she “wasn't really looking that way” because she was on the phone calling the police. She never saw the victim with a person named John Brown. Charmain also testified that the funeral home where defendant worked is several blocks away from the daycare center. After the victim's death, Charmain learned that there was an insurance policy on the victim and that defendant was the beneficiary. Charmain further testified that the victim drove various cars, including a Lexus, a Mercedes, and a Range Rover. After the victim died, Charmain also learned that the victim had obtained a life insurance policy on himself that would pay for the note on one of his vehicles.

Brian Miller testified to substantially the same sequence of events regarding the shooting as did Charmain. He added that he also noticed a small metal piece sticking into the front passenger-side tire of Charmain's vehicle. Miller also saw the victim throw the tow truck driver at the shooter and the shooter push the tow truck driver out of the way. As he and Charmain were running away from the scene, Miller noticed somebody “running in the same direction through the gangway going parallel, like the same direction as us.” This person looked like the person who shot the victim because he was wearing a black leather coat and a black, hooded sweatshirt. When he and Charmain stopped running away from the scene, Miller could still see this person standing with another man at the end of the alley behind a McDonald's. Miller could not tell what this person looked like compared to the other man because the two men were...

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