Articles Posted in Assault & Battery

Mental-HealthIn a recent Illinois appellate case, the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder under 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) and sentenced to natural life imprisonment. The defendant and several others were charged with six counts of first-degree murder in connection with the strangulation deaths of two men.

The case arose when the defendant’s father called the police to report two dead people in a residence occupied by a woman and her father. When the police came, the woman said there were two people hiding in the house. A cop found one of the hiding men upstairs with the bodies, which were face down with plastic bags over their heads. The man who was found said he’d killed one man, and the other man who was hiding had killed the other one.

The defendant wasn’t at the residence but was driving elsewhere. She was stopped and taken into custody, and she told the officer she wanted to talk and wanted to know how much time she’d have to serve as an accessory to murder. She was read her Miranda rights, which she waived. Her interrogation was recorded. She told the police she and her 15-month-old daughter were living in the woman’s house in Joliet. The woman lived on the second floor, and her father lived on the first floor. The woman’s boyfriend (the man who was hiding and then discovered) and the man who was hiding elsewhere in the house were with the defendant and the woman at the woman’s house.

caution tapeA recent Illinois appellate case involved first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm conviction. The case arose when the defendant fatally shot one victim and tried to kill the other. He was charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery with firearm, and attempted murder. Before trial, the prosecution filed two motions to admit evidence of other crimes by the defendant. One involved the defendant shooting someone in the back.

The other motion said that the defendant had talked about a pending murder case with his cellmate, and the defendant approached the cellmate with a list of witnesses, asking the cellmate to take care of them. The cellmate thought this meant the defendant wanted them killed, and he gave the list to the sheriff. The investigator assigned an officer to pretend to be a hit-man and taped a phone call in which the defendant asked the undercover officer to come to the jail, where he asked the undercover officer to get rid of the witnesses. The prosecution wanted to use evidence of these events to show the defendant was conscious of his guilt.

The trial court found that the evidence related to the shooting of a bicyclist in the back was admissible to prove identity. It also held that the evidence of soliciting murder could be admitted to prove consciousness of guilt. The bicyclist testified that he’d known the defendant for three years at the time he was shot in the back.

Continue reading

unnamedYesterday the United States Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld gun laws in New York and Connecticut which bans military assault style weapons, like the ones used in Sandy Hook in 2012, Santa Barbara a few months ago, and Orlando last week.  The gun laws in question were enacted by New York and Connecticut in 2012 after the school shooting in Sandy Hook Connecticut which took the lives of 20 young children and 6 teachers.  Gun rights advocates filed suit alleging that the prohibitions violated the 2nd Amendment and prior Supreme Court precedent which upheld the right of the public to own firearms for self protection.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers New York and Connecticut, found in favor of the states and upheld the laws which enacted gun prohibitions.  The gun rights activists appealed to the United States Supreme Court.  Yesterday, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, without comment, which has the effect of upholding the ban on assault weapons.  The decision keeps the prohibitions in New York and Connecticut, thought to be the most strict in the country, in place.  This decision sends many signals about the Supreme Court’s attitude towards guns.  First, the Court seems to be unwilling to get too involved in the public debate over guns.  Second, it appears as if the Supreme Court will allow for the banning of assault-style weapons.

The Court seems to see the laws enacted by states as more of a political decision and does not want to get involved in decisions made by legislatures and politicians.  Finally, it seems as if the Supreme Court has made it pretty clear that the right to own a firearm is not absolute and will uphold reasonable restrictions.  And when it comes to what is reasonable seems to be something that the Court is likely to leave to the individual states to decide. This decision is not surprising.  Last December the Supreme Court did the same thing involving a similar ordinance in Highland Park, Illinois, which banned assault weapons.  They refused to hear the appeal of a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision which upheld the ordinance.  In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court upheld the right to own firearms inside one’s home for self defense.  But the decision only applied to federal regulations.  In 2012, in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court held that Heller applied to the states.  Since then the Supreme Court has refused to overturn any statute which established restrictions on the right to own a firearm.  The closest they have come to doing this was in March of this year when they overturned a Massachusetts decision which held that stun guns were not protected by the 2nd Amendment and returned the matter to the lower courts for further proceedings.