Opinion of the Court
of the factors set forth in subsection (b) exist, the jury shall consider aggravating and mitigating factors as instructed by the court and shall determine whether the sentence of death shall be imposed." Ibid. As part of this balance, the jury is instructed to consider mitigating factors existing in the case, five of which are enumerated, but which are not exclusive. ¶ 9-1(c). The State may also present evidence of relevant aggravating factors beyond those enumerated by statute. Ibid. "If the jury determines unanimously that there are no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death sentence, the court shall sentence the defendant to death." ¶ 9-1(g).
Petitioner Derrick Morgan was convicted in Cook County, Illinois, of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. The evidence at trial amply proved that petitioner was hired to kill a narcotics dealer apparently competing with the El Rukns, one of Chicago's violent inner-city gangs. For $4,000, petitioner lured the dealer, who was a friend, into an abandoned apartment and shot him in the head six times. Upon consideration of factors in aggravation and mitigation, the jury sentenced him to death.
Three separate venires were required to be called before the jury was finally chosen. In accordance with Illinois law, the trial court, rather than the attorneys, conducted voir dire. People v. Gacy, 103 Ill. 2d 1, 36-37, 468 N. E. 2d 1171, 1184-1185 (1984). The State, having elected to pursue capital punishment, requested inquiry permitted by Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U. S. 510 (1968), to determine whether any potential juror would in all instances refuse to impose the death penalty upon conviction of the offense. Accordingly, the trial court, over opposition from the defense, questioned each venire whether any member had moral or religious principles so strong that he or she could not impose the death penalty "regardless of the facts." App. 9, 78, 90. Seventeen potential jurors were excused when they ex-Page: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007