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Jacqueline GIBONS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Murder for hire
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: July 29, 1982
Date of arrest: August 11, 1982
Date of birth: April 30, 1962
Victims profile: Benjamin Gibons, 62, and his wife, Sybil, 60 (her adoptive parents)
Method of murder: Beating with a claw hammer
Location: Skokie, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Status: Sentenced to natural life in prison, two consecutive terms of 60 years for armed robbery of both parents, 7 years for conspiracy and 5 years for concealment in June 1985. Convictions overturned on October 24, 1986. Pleaded guilty on June 26, 1989. Sentenced to 60 to 80 years in prison
photo gallery

Daughter Pleads Guilty In Slayings

By William Recktenwald -

June 27, 1989

A Skokie woman pleaded guilty Monday to the grisly 1982 murder of her mother as well as charges that she was involved in a conspiracy to kill her father.

Jacqueline Gibons, 27, had been charged with two counts of murder, but by pleading guilty to the lesser charge of conspiracy she avoided a death sentence. Judge Richard Neville agreed to sentence Gibons to 60 to 80 years, said Assistant State`s Atty. Scott Nelson who prosecuted the case with Lynne Kawamoto.

Gibons has agreed to testify in the trial of Barry Wilson, 30, who is accused of masterminding the killings, Nelson said.

Bobby St. Pierre, 26, formerly of 5550 N. Kenmore Ave., who actually carried out the killings is awaiting execution after his conviction of the double murder.

Gibons lived with her parents, Benjamin and Sybil, at 9151 N. Karlov Ave., Skokie. She had met Wilson, formerly of 1434 W. Granville Ave., while she was in a group home for girls, Nelson said.

She was an only child and regularly gave money to Wilson, Nelson said. Wilson had allegedly broken into the Skokie residence, and the parents were considering filing burglary charges when Wilson hatched the plot to kill them and recruited St. Pierre, Nelson said.

About 6 p.m. on July 29, 1982, St. Pierre waited in the Skokie home and when Benjamin entered the home he beat him to death with a claw hammer, Kawamoto said.

A short time later Sybil telephoned the home and told Jacqueline that she was leaving work and to pick her up at the train station, Nelson said. When she delivered her mother to their home, she, too, was beaten to death with the hammer by St. Pierre, Nelson said.

The three then wrapped the bodies, placed them in the trunk of a car and Wilson drove to a remote area outside of Albuquerque, N.M., where he allegedly dumped the bodies on the side of the road, where they were found a week later, Nelson said.

Wilson was arrested in Arizona, and Gibons and St. Pierre were arrested by Skokie police.


Convictions Overturned In Skokie Couple's Hammer Deaths

By Charles Mount -

October 25, 1986

The murder conviction of a Skokie women and one of her alleged co-conspirators for the hammer death of her adoptive parents was overturned Friday by a state appeals court.

Citing a major error by a Cook County Criminal Court judge, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the convictions and life sentences given Jacqueline Gibons, 25, and Barry Wilson, 29. New separate trials were ordered on grounds that Judge Leonard Grazian, who presided over their original murder trial, should have held separate trials because of conflicting defenses.

Despite the error, Appellate Justice James Murray wrote that "we believe the evidence at trial was sufficient for (the jury) to conclude that defendants were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This does not mean we are making a finding as to defendants` guilt or innocence which would be binding on retrial."

Gibons, Wilson and Robert St. Pierre were found guilty by a jury of the murders and armed robbery of Benjamin Gibons, 62, and his wife, Sybil, 60, as well as conspiracy and concealment of a homicide.

St. Pierre, convicted of being the actual killer, was sentenced to death by Grazian; his appeal is still pending before the Illinois Supreme Court.

Gibons and Wilson were each sentenced to natural life in prison, two consecutive terms of 60 years for armed robbery of both parents, 7 years for conspiracy and 5 years for concealment.

The Gibonses were murdered in their Skokie home July 29, 1982, and their bodies were found on Aug. 10 in Albuquerque, where they had been dumped by Wilson on a trip to Los Angeles to visit a friend.

Gibons admitted to police that Wilson talked of killing her parents because they were considering pressing burglary charges against him for breaking into their home and that he had recruited St. Pierre for the job, but she said she thought "it was just a game."

All three defendants told police that Wilson and St. Pierre wrapped the bodies before Wilson`s western trip.

The appeals court ruled that Grazian should have held separate trials for Gibons and Wilson because the statements given to police by the three differed on key points. Wilson did not admit to conspiring to commit the murders, that he robbed the victims, or that he paid St. Pierre to commit the crimes.

He admitted only to being called to the house from a nearby restaurant by Jacqueline after the murder of Mr. Gibons.

Gibons contended that although she agreed to pay St. Pierre $300 for the murders, she "thought it was only a game" and she did not admit to helping plan the murders.

By failing to separate the three cases the defendants were denied the right to confront the co-conspirators because St. Pierre chose not to testify at the trial.


Jacquelin had been away nearly nine years, but the Gibons...

By Bonita Brodt -

April 28, 1985

Jacquelin had been away nearly nine years, but the Gibons found their daughter still had many of the same problems. Only worse. Her room was filled with lacy designer lingerie, pots of lip gloss, stacks of records, expensive perfumes, costume jewelry and a display of at least 40 bottles of nail polish in every possible color. Dozens of packages of expensive silk underwear were stuffed into drawers, the tags still intact.

Jacquelin ran up hundreds of dollars in bills on charge accounts her parents had opened for her. She worked downtown as a secretary but hardly earned enough to cover her debts. Her parents, however, always rescued her when the monthly statements came. Jacquelin also wrote checks that would have bounced if her parents had not secretly covered them.

Financially the Gibons were comfortable. The mortgage on their Skokie home was paid off, and they had double-indemnity insurance policies on their lives. All this added up to an estate of some $250,000, which was to be Jacquelin's. Which is why they found their daughter`s continuing friendship with Barry Wilson so troublesome.

Wilson had begun to devote more time to Jacquelin, keeping her out late on weekends and spending hours with her at home. Suspicious, Ben and Sybil confronted their daughter, and she admitted she was still giving him money. She described how he would pick her up on paydays and drive her to the bank so he could pocket a portion of her check. Upset, the Gibons did an uncharacteristic thing: They tried to take control.

It proved to be their fatal mistake.

They reduced Jacquelin`s checking balance and threatened to cut off her charge accounts unless she stopped seeing Wilson. Ben began driving his daughter home on paydays. They banned Wilson from the house, only to discover she was entertaining him there while they were away. Then Sybil began to find things missing: small pieces of jewelry, expensive rings, trinkets, a favorite necklace.

"Sybil and I would talk on the phone every day during that time," recalled Mildred Reitman, a friend of some 45 years. "She was in a terrible state. She would cry and tell me she just couldn`t believe all of this was going on. 'Millie,' she would say, 'they are going to get to me. This is just going to kill me yet.'"

The idea of killing Ben and Sybil was not new to Jacquelin. One night at the Transitional Home, Jacquelin, Wilson and a few friends were talking about what an aggravation parents could be. Jacquelin startled the rest of the group by telling them she wished her parents were dead.

Jacquelin and Wilson had become increasingly annoyed at the Gibons' interference in their romance. They considered how much easier their lives would be without Jacquelin's parents. Their conversations turned to murder. Wilson suggested using "knock-out drops" or perhaps a gun. But neither wanted to do the actual killing.

In July of 1982 Robert St. Pierre struck up a conversation with Wilson in a neighborhood bar. St. Pierre had been released from prison two weeks earlier after serving a term for auto theft. He was 19, a tall and gangly street kid from Uptown with a lot of problems. As a child he had beaten his mother with a baseball bat and showed a morbid fascination with death, often killing animals, then bringing the carcasses home to dissect on the kitchen table. He had dropped out of school and had had counseling many times because of his problems with alcohol.

After the two got acquainted over a few drinks, Wilson tempted St. Pierre with a proposal. "He told me . . . he had a job for me that would pay good money in the long run . . . something like $1,000, $10,000," St. Pierre later explained. "And that kind of money sounded good to me."

Two days later, on her lunchbreak, Jacquelin met Wilson and St. Pierre in a litter-strewn Loop alleyway. St. Pierre was balking at doing the job unless Jacquelin told him in person that she wanted them murdered.

"Tell him what he wants to hear," Wilson said to Jacquelin.

"Yeah," Jacquelin said, nodding. "I want it done."

She agreed to pay an initial $300. That very night they carried out their plans.

The bodies of Ben and Sybil Gibons were temporarily put to rest on the floor of their bedroom in shrouds of woolen blankets and thick plastic sheets. By coincidence, Skokie Police Detective Greg McLaughlin called in the middle of this operation. He had met with the Gibons a few nights earlier and was helping them prepare a complaint against Wilson to keep him away from the house. Jacquelin told the detective her parents were out to dinner, adding that she would be happy to give them his message when they returned.

St. Pierre was ecstatic that night, proud that he had been the one to wield the hammer.

"Ain't I great?" he exclaimed as he stood in the blood-soaked blue jeans and white gym shoes he had worn for the killing. "I did this all for you, Jackie. I can't believe I did it. Ain't I great?"

Jacquelin agreed that he was.

Over the next three days, Jacquelin went on as if nothing had happened. On Friday she phoned her parents' offices to say they were sick, and then put in a full day's work. She shopped at the neighborhood Jewel. She cashed a $116.58 paycheck for Wilson. She bought liquor and partied with her two friends at a cheap Lincoln Avenue motel. And she fielded yet another phone call from Detective McLaughlin, telling him she had no idea why her parents had not returned his call.

On Saturday the three assembled again at the house. They felt they had planned the murders perfectly, but now they didn't know what to do with the bodies. Wilson said that without the bodies, the police could not charge anyone with a crime. He wanted to dump the corpses out of state. But just getting them from the bedroom to the garage posed a problem. Benjamin Gibons refused to have a door connecting the house and the garage, fearing a thief might break in that way. So for two hours Wilson and St. Pierre crouched in the bedroom closet and chipped a hole into the garage with the Craftsman hammer. Jacquelin guided her father's body through the hole first. Then her mother's, amid an argument over which of them had severed her dead mother's finger to get an expensive diamond ring. Soon the three drove off, the car's rear end dragging from the weight in the trunk. After St. Pierre departed, Wilson and Jacquelin cruised the North Side, stopping once to open the trunk and display the bodies to a man on the street. Wilson took the gasoline credit cards from Jacquelin, and headed West.

Jacquelin phoned her parents in sick again on Monday, but their employers became suspicious. Skokie police were called, and were shocked to discover the Gibons home in shambles, with buckets of bloody water sitting about and huge patches of blood-stained carpeting cut up from the floor and stuffed into garbage bags. Jacquelin phoned her house that afternoon, as if to confirm that her parents were gone. To her astonishment, a police officer picked up the phone. Everything began closing in. She volunteered that "something tragic" had happened in her house.

"She was not emotional at all," recalled Detective McLaughlin, one of those those who questioned her. "Initially she denied knowing what happened. She would tell a story, make changes, and say something else. Then all at once, she cracked. It was like--boom--she blurted out and almost shouted something like, 'All right, we killed them!'"

Just as easily as she had turned on her parents, Jacquelin sold out her friends. Police arrested St. Pierre almost immediately and tracked Wilson by a trail of gasoline credit-card recepits. Wilson had intended to take the bodies all the way to Los Angeles and show them to a friend before burying them. But the stench of the decomposing corpses was so overwhelming he had to change his plans. Arrested in front of his father`s house in Phoenix, he sent detectives on a series of phony leads, refusing to say where he had dumped them. Eventually it was a farmer in New Mexico scouting his range one afternoon who came upon two big bundles beside a clump of evergreens: Ben and Sybil Gibons. Jaqueline and her two friends were charged with the double murder, which could bring them the death penalty. Awaiting trial in the Cook County Jail, St. Pierre bragged he had finally made the big time in the criminal pecking order; he was a "hit man."

Barry Wilson kept to himself.

Jacquelin sent a mail order to Sears for some $400 worth of shoes, dresses, eye makeup, hosiery, bras, needlecraft kits and a pocket radio. To her order she attached a letter signed "B. Gibons" in a shaky script. It said: "Please forgive me if there are any errors (in this order), since my eyesight isn't too good. Since I have not used my card in a while, I do not recall what my limit is, but since my daughter needs these items, please send them to her as soon as possible and charge it to my account."

During the trial prosecutors Kenneth Malatesta and Carol McCarthy presented a grisly slide show of the bodies of Ben and Sybil Gibons. Tears streamed down the faces of several jurors. Wilson sat impassively with a finger held pensively at his cheek. St. Pierre was asleep. Jacquelin shed an occasional tear, but when the show was over, she was smiling.

"She was just not the grief-stricken daughter her attorney tried to portray," observed juror Kathy Merkelz.

The defense painted Jacquelin as the victim. Her attorney and social workers blamed the Gibons'` indulgences for most of Jacquelin's problems. Jacquelin, her lawyer contended, did not believe the plot was anything more than a joke. ("Was it a still a joke," Malatesta asked the jurors, "when she handed Robert St. Pierre the hammer?")

The jurors took less than two hours to convict all three. St. Pierre was sentenced by the jury to die in the electric chair. Jacquelin and Wilson opted for Judge Leonard Grazian to decide their punishment. Even though they had been the ones to orchestrate the killings, Judge Grazian gave them life in prison with no parole.

Had it been their decision, the jurors would have sentenced both to death.

A lifetime stretches before Jacquelin at the Dwight Women's Prison in downstate Illinois. "How do I feel about prison?" Do you want the honest truth?" Jacquelin pauses to light another in a chain of cigarettes. Her voice is almost a whisper. "I would rather have had him give me the death penalty. In here, I get very moody. People gossip a lot. It scared me to think about death, but I guess I didn't really think I would get it. One of the guards told me that no judge wanted to be the first one in Illinois to put a woman on death row."

Her hair is tangled and dirty, and she must weigh close to 300 pounds. She revels in being the subject of an interview, ever curious if a photographer will arrive to take her picture. About her parents' murders, however, she is curiously detached, careful to avoid that which she does not want to explain. If she feels any emotion as she speaks, she does not show it. "I am sorry. It should never have happened," she recites flatly. "I try not to think about it. . . I don`t think I betrayed them. . . . I loved them."

She has only the kindest of things to say about her parents. "They were loving and affectionate, my parents. And I really dislike the approach some have taken to this whole thing. They try to say I had this tragic life, a tragic childhood, and I don't recall ever having such a rotten time as a kid. I will say there was a generation gap. I never had the kind of talks some kids have with their parents."

Jacquelin won`t talk about why she wanted her parents dead. Nothing would ever have happened, she maintains, had it not been for Wilson. "I didn't love him, but I needed a friend. I realize now I was just his bank book. A lot of people told me that if I didn't watch myself, Barry would cause me a lot of pain in the future. Even his own mother told me to wise up. I guess I just blocked it all out. I sometimes wonder why I didn't pull back before it all happened, and I don't even know myself. I really don't know."

In the end she inherited nothing. The house was renovated and sold to the highest bidder, as was Benjamin's car. The estate will be divided among th Gibons' relatives. On the anniversary of Benjamin and Sybil's deaths, their close friends light a candle in the suburban synagogue where a plaque hangs in their memory.

"They were always trying to push me on to better things, and I always resisted them," Jacquelin said of her parents in a rare moment of reflection. "I think about that now. If I could change things, I would wish them alive. I miss their company and their advice."


“How Could You Do This To Me?”

Without a doubt, Benjamin Gibons and his wife, Sybil, loved their adopted daughter whom they named Jacqueline.

Unable to have children of their own, they brought Jacqueline into their home rather late in their lives — when both were in their 40s. However, it was clear their daughter was the center of their lives. Throughout the Gibons’s home there were photographs of the heavy, cross-eyed wirey-haired girl from infancy through her teens. A Chicago Tribune described her story in 1985 as “a twisted tale of two parents who gave everything to a daughter to whom everything was not enough.”

Jackie, as she was known, was somewhat hard to love.

Born in 1962, she was described as a bright child who could read and write her numbers before she entered kindergarten, but throughout her formative years, she found it difficult to make friends. She often lashed out at the other kids, kicking and punching them for no apparent reason. She was expelled from preschool for biting and in kindergarten stabbed a fellow student with scissors when he took a sheet of paper from her. By the time she was 10 years old, she was stealing money from teachers and lunches from other students.

Like so many other violent youngsters, what caused Jackie’s mean streak is a mystery. Once again, the age-old question of nature-vs-nurture arises. An EEG performed when she was a pre-teen revealed no brain abnormalities, but her birth family history reportedly shows that her mother was barely able to care for herself. Sybil told friends that she was haunted by images of Jackie’s birth mother.

In the early 1970s, Jackie was diagnosed as a teen with a passive-aggressive personality disorder, a chronic condition where a person paradoxically responds to the needs of others, but acts out aggressively against those needs.

Psychologists would later express concerns about her violent fantasies and “gruesome stories.”

“Her various hostile fantasies indicate strong, chronic, underlying anger,” one wrote.

During Jackie’s formative years, Benjamin was frequently away at work for long hours and Sybil was a strict mother with high expectations. Her parents were private people, the Tribune reported, and as a result Jackie rarely played with other children. During her childhood, Sybil’s elderly mother, a soap-opera fanatic and devout Jew who was, the Trib claimed, “by all accounts disturbed” lived with the family and was openly hostile to her granddaughter, whom she referred to as “garbage” for not being a “real Jew.”

When she was 10 years old, Jackie was placed in the first of many residential facilities for emotionally troubled girls.

She improved over time, but as a young teen she began experimenting with drugs and became sexually active. Then, as a 17-year-old, she met Barry Wilson who was 21 at the time. Two-thirds of a lethal trio was now assembled.

Wilson was an 8th-grade dropout whose mother considered him a chronic prevaricator and thief. He had a record for petty, nonviolent crimes. In December 1980, he convinced Jackie to pass some bad paper and she was arrested and jailed for writing bad checks.

Benjamin and Sybil had to take up a collection from friends to post her $1,000 bail.

Over the next two years Jackie lived with her parents with little motivation or direction in life.

She was a bomb waiting to explode and in the summer of 1982, Wilson, with the help of another lowlife named Robert St. Pierre, 19, lit the fuse.

In early 1982, Barry Wilson began to complain because Benjamin and Sybil had taken away her bank books and charge cards so that she could not provide him with money. Wilson reportedly told Jackie that he wanted them killed and that he had bought a gun and “knockout drops.”

The Skokie, Illinois police were summoned to the Gibons’s home on July 27, 1982 to take a report about an attempted break-in. The detectives spoke with Benjamin, Sybil and Jackie. The 20-year-old girl told authorities that Wilson was responsible for the break-in. Benjamin agreed to come to the police station the next day to swear out a complaint against Wilson.

He failed to show up and the detective called the home on July 29. He spoke to Jackie who told him that her father was out and that she would relay his message. The detective heard nothing and called back on July 31. This time, Jackie told him that both her mother and father were out for dinner.

At approximately 2:45 p.m. on August 2, the detective went to the Gibonses’ residence after a call from Mrs. Gibons’s sister, Harriet Metrick. Metrick had called the police after the Gibonses’ employers informed her that they had not been to work in several days.

It was apparent to the detective that an incredibly violent attack had occurred in the home. Inside the residence, he observed bloodstains in several rooms of the house and cleaning fluids and blood-soaked rags and towels scattered about. In the kitchen he found a bloody pair of gloves and Benjamin’s wallet. Holes had been cut in the living-room carpet, and in the master bedroom a large hole was discovered in the closet wall which led to the garage.

In the basement were more bloody towels and sheets, as well as a pair of blood-soaked gloves. An inspection of the garage revealed garbage bags containing bloodstained sections of carpeting and towels, a hammer covered with masonry dust and a bloodstained newspaper, dated July 29, 1982.

What police later discovered was a grotesque murder-for-hire plot targeted at Benjamin and Sybil.

On July 27, 1982, Jackie approached Wilson and told him that she wanted her parents murdered and that it would “pay good money” — Wilson later claimed $10,000 — if he would do it. After their conversation they went to the Gibons’s residence on Karlov where Wilson broke through a window, entered the home and took some bologna and cheese from the refrigerator.

On July 29, Wilson, St. Pierre — who had been released from prison just a few weeks before — met Jackie in an alley where they planned the murders. St. Pierre told Jackie that he wanted to hear her say she “wanted it to go down.”

“Yeah, she wanted it done.”

St. Pierre agreed that he would kill Benjamin and Sybil for $500 up-front for each murder and $2,000 later (although as much as $ 10,000 was discussed).

St. Pierre then suggested they use a blackjack but Wilson disagreed and told him to use a hammer. Jackie went back to work, and St. Pierre and Wilson picked up a 12-pack of beer. After drinking the beer, they went to a bar and had a couple of more drinks before taking a train to Skokie. At a restaurant a couple of blocks from the home of the Gibons, Wilson gave St. Pierre a phone number where he could be reached before St. Pierre left for the house.

When St. Pierre arrived at the house, Jackie let him in and introduced St. Pierre to her father. After Gibons walked into the kitchen, Jackie gave St. Pierre a hammer and he followed Gibons into the kitchen. There he confronted Gibons and repeatedly struck him about the head (11 times) with the hammer until he stopped breathing. He then handed Jackie the phone number he had obtained from Wilson and told her to call him.

Wilson arrived five minutes later, and for the next hour they attempted to clean up the spattered blood in the kitchen using rags and towels. They tied the body with tape and rope, wrapped it in plastic and a blanket, and placed it in the master bedroom. St. Pierre stated that before they moved the body he reached into the pocket of Benjamin’s pants and took out his wallet, which contained many $ 20 bills. He kept a $20 bill and gave the wallet to Wilson.

Sybil phoned her home and told Jackie that she wanted to be picked up at the train station. Jackie left in the family car, and in the meantime, Wilson and St. Pierre continued drinking. When Jackie and her mother arrived, St. Pierre was waiting in the hallway. As Mrs. Gibons walked through the front door, St. Pierre struck her a number of times on the head with a hammer.

Sybil’s last words were to Jackie, asking, “How could you do this to me?”

They then tied the body with tape and rope, wrapped it in a blanket and plastic, and placed it in the master bedroom. Because of the amount of blood that had soaked into the living-room carpeting, they cut out the stained section of carpeting and placed it in a trash bag. St. Pierre, Wilson and Jackie then took her parents’ and went for a “cruise” with Wilson driving. He dropped St. Pierre and Jackie off at a hotel and left.

“I did this all for you,” Wilson told Jackie. “I can’t believe I did it, it’s done.”

The next evening they returned to the crime scene. St. Pierre and Wilson broke through the wall in the bedroom closet that led to the garage and the bodies were passed through and placed in the trunk of the car. St. Pierre later told police that he noticed that the tip of one of Sybil’s fingers was missing. He said that either Wilson or Jackie must have cut the finger in order to remove her wedding ring.

For a second time they took the family car, and Wilson dropped St. Pierre off at a gas station and told him that he would be back at 10 p.m. He also told St. Pierre that when he returned they would drive to Arkansas to dispose of the bodies. Wilson, however, never returned and St. Pierre went home.

On August 10, 1982, the bodies of Benjamin and Sybil Gibons were found in a remote area near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The bodies were wrapped in blankets and plastic and tied with rope and tape. A forensic pathologist, testified that she performed an autopsy on each body and that both exhibited several skull fractures and torso injuries. She also stated that the end of one of the fingers on the body of Mrs. Gibons was missing, although she could not determine whether its absence was the result of injury or decomposition.

At the crime scene, police found a belt belonging to St. Pierre, bearing his name and prison identification number. The next day the police questioned Jackie Gibons and she gave the police a statement about the murders. The police then apprehended St. Pierre; Wilson was later arrested in Arizona.

Jackie was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison along with Wilson.

St. Pierre was tried and convicted of the murders in Illinois state court in 1983. On direct appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial based on the admission of an improperly obtained confession. On remand, St. Pierre accepted responsibility and pled guilty to the two murders in 1989, rather than face another trial.

He was sentenced to death, but was taken off death row when Governor George Ryan granted blanket clemency to the state’s condemned prisoners.


Appellate Court of Illinois — First District (5th Division).


500 N.E.2d 517

JACQUELINE GIBONS et al., Defendants-Appellants.

149 Ill. App.3d 37 (1986)

No. 83-2694.

Opinion filed October 24, 1986.

Steven Clark and Martin Carlson, both of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant Jacqueline Gibons.

Peter C. Rolewicz, of Chicago, for appellant Barry Wilson.

Richard M. Daley, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Joan S. Cherry, Thomas V. Gainer, Jr., and Mary E. Shields, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

Reversed and remanded.

JUSTICE MURRAY delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a joint jury trial defendants, Jacqueline Gibons, Barry Wilson and Robert St. Pierre, were found guilty of the murders of Benjamin and Sybil Gibons, defendant Gibons' adoptive parents, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, two counts of armed robbery and two counts of concealment of a homicidal death. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), (a)(2), (a)(3), 8-2(a), 18-2(a), 9-3.1(a).) Gibons and Wilson were sentenced to natural-life imprisonment for the murders, two extended terms of 60 years, to be served consecutively, for the armed robberies of the victims, two concurrent terms of 7 years for conspiracy to commit murder and two concurrent terms of 5 years for concealment of the homicidal deaths of the victims. St. Pierre was sentenced to death; the court entered judgments but no sentences on the other counts. St. Pierre is not a party to this appeal.

On appeal, Gibons contends that: (1) the trial court erred in denying her petition for severance in violation of her rights to a fair trial, to confront witnesses against her, and to present evidence in her defense; (2) the State failed to prove her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the armed robbery of Sybil Gibons; (3) the "death qualification" of prospective jurors during voir dire resulted in a biased jury favoring the prosecution in violation of her right to an impartial jury representing a fair cross-section of the community; and (4) the court erred in imposing extended terms of 60 years for armed robbery. Wilson contends that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion for severance in violation of his right to a fair trial; (2) the court improperly permitted the State to introduce evidence concerning a burglary of the Gibons' residence; (3) the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the armed robberies of both victims; and (4) his sentences were excessive. Both defendants also contend that the court erred in sentencing them for the inchoate offense of conspiracy to commit murder. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse Gibons' and Wilson's convictions and remand their cases for new, and separate, trials.

The record reveals that on July 29, 1982, Benjamin and Sybil Gibons, both approximately 62 years of age, were murdered in their home in Skokie, Illinois. On August 10, 1982, their bodies were found in a remote area of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Both had been beaten to death and the tip of one of Mrs. Gibons' fingers appeared to have

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 40 ]

been cut off.

Testimony at trial disclosed that on July 27, 1982, Detective Greg McLaughlin of the Skokie police department was assigned to investigate a burglary of the Gibons' residence. During his conversation with the Gibons, McLaughlin learned that defendant Gibons had told her parents that Wilson telephoned her earlier that day, told her he had fallen through a window of the house and that Gibons should "clean up the mess" before her parents discovered it. When Mr. Gibons later failed to appear before a judge the next day concerning the complaint he had signed, McLaughlin placed a call to the Gibons' residence on July 29, defendant Gibons answered and she told him her father was not at home. McLaughlin called again, on July 31, and received the same response from Gibons.

On August 2, Harriet Metrick, Mrs. Gibons' sister, called the police because she had been told by the senior Gibons' employers that they had not shown up for work. Police officers and Ms. Metrick went to the Gibons' home and entered the house when no one answered the doorbell. Detective McLaughlin arrived shortly thereafter. He found holes cut in the living room carpet and sofa, cleaning fluids and blood-soaked rags and towels scattered about, blood splattered throughout the kitchen, living room and master bedroom, and a large hole broken through the wall between the bedroom closet and the garage. Mr. Gibons' wallet was discovered in the kitchen with a traffic ticket in it describing a 1982 Buick automobile. A belt was found in the bedroom with St. Pierre's name and prison number on it. Further inspection of the garage revealed garbage bags containing bloodstained carpeting, gloves, clothing, and a hammer covered with masonry dust. The automobile was not in the garage, nor were the Gibons on the premises.

McLaughlin further testified he went to the police station to make out a report, then unsuccessfully tried to locate Wilson and Craig Rawlins, a friend of Wilson's. On August 3, McLaughlin met with Gibons; she had been brought to the police station at her own request. At that time, Gibons told McLaughlin how her parents had been killed, implicated Wilson and St. Pierre,1 told McLaughlin that Wilson was in Los Angeles, California, with Craig Rawlins, and gave him St. Pierre's address.

Gibons further related, in a formal written statement, that six

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 41 ]

months prior to the murders Wilson "started hinting" that he was "really thinking of killing her parents" and that he later told her he had bought sleeping pills and a gun with a silencer. During that time, Gibons stated there was never any discussion about her paying Wilson to kill her parents and that she did not think he was serious "until it really happened." On July 28, Wilson called Gibons, she told him her parents were considering pressing charges against him, and he told her he needed some money because her parents were "going down" that evening. The conversation ended when Gibons told Wilson she did not have any money and that she would have to get it the next day. On July 29, Wilson came to Gibons' office, they met with St. Pierre in an alley, and Wilson told her St. Pierre would kill her parents for $300. Although she stated she was in shock and thought that "it was just a game," she agreed to pay St. Pierre. Wilson then told Gibons to open the door of her home later that evening and St. Pierre "would come and do it," and he would "come a little later." At approximately 6 p.m., St. Pierre arrived at the Gibons' home, Gibons and her father admitted him, she went into the living room, and St. Pierre, having picked up a hammer which was lying on a chair in the hallway, followed Mr. Gibons into the kitchen where he killed him by beating him to death with the hammer. Gibons stated that after she heard the "hammering," she opened the front door and Wilson came in. He and St. Pierre wrapped Mr. Gibons' body in a blanket and placed it in the master bedroom. Prior to placing the body in the bedroom, Wilson came into the bedroom and gave Gibons her father's wallet from which she took all of his credit cards.

Thereafter, at approximately 7 p.m., Detective McLaughlin called to speak to Gibons' parents and she told him they were not at home. Mrs. Gibons called 10 minutes later and asked defendant Gibons to pick her up from the train station. Instead of doing so immediately, the defendants drove to a hardware store where Wilson purchased some plastic bags, a roll of tape and sheets of plastic which he said were for tying up Mrs. Gibons' body. When they returned to the Gibons' house, Mrs. Gibons again called to ask defendant Gibons to pick her up. Gibons then left to pick up her mother from the train station. After meeting her, defendant Gibons suggested they go for a drive before going home, her mother declined and Gibons drove home. When Mrs. Gibons entered the house, St. Pierre attacked her with the hammer and beat her to death. Wilson and St. Pierre then wrapped her body in a blanket and plastic and placed it in the bedroom. After they cleaned up the house, Wilson drove Gibons and St. Pierre to a hotel, left them there and drove away. During the drive, St. Pierre stated

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 42 ]

that "he did it [the murders] for them" and "they should thank him." Gibons responded that she agreed with him.

The next day defendants returned to the house, Wilson and St. Pierre knocked a hole through the wall of the bedroom to the garage, Gibons helped them push the victims' bodies through the hole, and Wilson and St. Pierre placed them in the trunk of the victims' car. Defendants then drove off in the car. After dropping St. Pierre off at his home, Wilson and Gibons drove around for awhile and discussed "how crazy St. Pierre was" and the fact that Mrs. Gibons' finger had been sliced "because of the ring and who did it." At one point, Wilson stopped at a hotel and showed the bodies to some "black dude." He dropped Gibons off downtown around midnight and told her he was going to take the bodies to Arkansas to be buried by his cousin.

On August 3, Assistant State's Attorney James Lieberman took a statement from St. Pierre. St. Pierre stated that he met Wilson in mid-July 1982. Toward the end of July Wilson told him he had a job for him, that Gibons wanted her parents killed and that St. Pierre would get $1,000 to $10,000 if he killed them. After this conversation, they went to the Gibons' home and Wilson broke in through a window. They were "suppose to get money," but Wilson only came out of the house with some food. On July 29, he met with Wilson and Gibons in an alley. Wilson told Gibons that St. Pierre wanted her to tell him that she wanted her parents killed, and Gibons nodded and said "Yes." They then planned "how they would do it." Wilson and Gibons doing most of the talking and deciding they would use a hammer. After getting $35 from Gibons, Wilson and St. Pierre had lunch and then drank a 12-pack of beer. Later, they went to a bar and had another drink before taking a train out to Skokie. At approximately 5 p.m. they went to a restaurant, Wilson gave St. Pierre the restaurant's telephone number, and St. Pierre left him there and went to the Gibons' home.

St. Pierre further stated that when he arrived at the Gibons' home, defendant Gibons gave him a hammer and asked him to put some gloves on. Refusing to put the gloves on, he followed Mr. Gibons into the kitchen and killed him with the hammer. He then gave Gibons the restaurant's telephone number and she called Wilson who arrived shortly thereafter. After wrapping up Mr. Gibons' body, they cleaned up the kitchen and had a drink. Gibons then left to pick up her mother. Subsequently, while waiting for Mrs. Gibons to arrive, St. Pierre stated that he and Wilson were drinking in the basement, he took a $20 bill from Mr. Gibons' wallet, which he had taken from the victim, and Wilson took the rest. Later, Wilson gave him another $20

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 43 ]

bill. St. Pierre also stated that when passing Mrs. Gibons' body through the hole in the closet wall he noticed that someone had cut her finger off apparently for the purpose of removing a diamond ring from her finger which he earlier had unsuccessfully tried to remove after killing her. St. Pierre's further account of the events following the murders until the time Wilson left Illinois were similar to those of his codefendants.

McLaughlin also testified that the police learned that instead of going to Arkansas, Wilson drove to Los Angeles to see Craig Rawlins. When Wilson arrived at Rawlins' home, he called Gibons and asked her to send him some money so he could return to Chicago, which she did. Thereafter, the police traced Wilson and Rawlins to Rawlins' father's home in Phoenix, Arizona. On August 5, McLaughlin and Sergeant Phillip O'Keefe flew to Phoenix to speak with Rawlins who was in police custody. Rawlins told McLaughlin that, while he and Wilson were in Phoenix, Wilson told him that "he and St. Pierre had killed the Gibons — St. Pierre killed the Gibons with a hammer," that defendant Gibons called Wilson to come over after Mr. Gibons was killed, that she later picked up Mrs. Gibons from the train station and St. Pierre killed her after she entered the house, that he helped clean up the house, that he helped knock a hole in the closet wall and push the victims' bodies through it, and that he helped put the bodies in the trunk of the victims' car. Wilson also told Rawlins he had wanted to bring the bodies to Los Angeles to show him, but instead had "dropped" them off near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Wilson further told Rawlins that "Jackie would get the insurance money, but didn't say he [Wilson] would."

McLaughlin also interviewed Wilson who had been taken into custody along with Rawlins. Wilson told McLaughlin he would help them find the victims' bodies and said they were in Missouri. When McLaughlin stated the police knew Wilson had not been in Missouri, Wilson said he could not remember where he had dropped them off because he had been drunk during his drive to Los Angeles. Subsequently, the officers returned to Chicago with Wilson. During the flight, Wilson made an oral statement to Sergeant O'Keefe, telling him he was not present when St. Pierre killed Mr. Gibons, he went to the house after defendant Gibons called him at a restaurant, he saw Mr. Gibons lying on the floor of the kitchen, he helped St. Pierre wrap up the body and carry it to the bedroom, and he helped clean up the kitchen. He further told O'Keefe he was not present when St. Pierre killed Mrs. Gibons, but when told his codefendants stated he was present, he told O'Keefe he was in the hallway when she was

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 44 ]

killed. Wilson also stated he helped wrap up Mrs. Gibons' body, knock a hole in the garage wall and put the victims' bodies in the car. After dropping off defendants Gibons and St. Pierre, he drove to California.

Additionally, Wilson stated he and St. Pierre had gone to the Gibons' home looking for defendant Gibons prior to the murders, had fallen through a window and had taken some food from the refrigerator. He denied, however, that he had told Rawlins he left the bodies in New Mexico, stating he did not remember where he left them. On cross-examination, O'Keefe stated that Wilson never said he conspired with his codefendants to kill the Gibons and he never asked Wilson about such a conspiracy. When O'Keefe did ask Wilson why he did not leave the house when he arrived and saw Mr. Gibons' body lying on the kitchen floor, Wilson replied, "I don't know why, I just didn't." He further commented to O'Keefe that St. Pierre was crazy and had just gotten out of jail.

Prior to trial, written motions requesting a severance were filed by each defendant. After examining the motions, the out-of-court written statements of Gibons and St. Pierre and a summary of Wilson's oral statement, as well as hearing arguments by counsel, the trial court denied the motions based on its determination that the statements were substantially the same. At trial, both Gibons and Wilson renewed their motions for severance at various times, but they again were denied. Gibons testified on her own behalf, but neither Wilson nor St. Pierre took the stand. Following trial, the jury found the defendants guilty on all counts, and the State announced that it would seek the death penalty against them. St. Pierre elected to have the jury decide the issue and, following a hearing, it returned a verdict sentencing him to death. Gibons and Wilson waived their right to a jury, and, following a bench hearing, the court found they were both eligible for the death penalty. After hearing further evidence and arguments in aggravation and mitigation, the court sentenced them to natural-life imprisonment for the murders. Gibons and Wilson were sentenced on the remaining counts as previously mentioned above. Their motions for a new trial were denied.


• 1 We first address Wilson's argument that the trial court's denial of his motion for severance deprived him of a fair trial. Generally, "defendants jointly indicted are to be jointly tried unless fairness to one of the defendants requires a separate trial to avoid prejudice." (Emphasis added.) (People v. Bean (1985), 109 Ill.2d 80, 92, 485 N.E.2d 349; People v. Daugherty (1984), 102 Ill.2d 533, 541, 468 N.E.2d 969,

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 45 ]

quoting People v. Lee (1981), 87 Ill.2d 182, 187, 429 N.E.2d 461.) A motion for severance is to be filed prior to commencement of trial (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 114-8) and must state how the defendant will be prejudiced by a joint trial; mere apprehensions are not enough (People v. Daugherty (1984), 102 Ill.2d 533, 468 N.E.2d 969). In ruling on a severance motion, the court is to make a prediction about the likelihood of prejudice at trial, taking into account "the papers presented, the arguments of counsel, and any other knowledge of the case developed from the proceedings." (102 Ill.2d 533, 541, 468 N.E.2d 969.) The trial court's decision will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion. People v. Lee (1981), 87 Ill.2d 182, 429 N.E.2d 461.

• 2 Illinois courts recognize two separate grounds for severance. (People v. Olinger (1986), 112 Ill.2d 324, 493 N.E.2d 579.) A defendant may be prejudiced when he is implicated in the hearsay admissions of a codefendant who does not testify, thereby depriving the defendant of his sixth amendment right of confrontation (the Bruton rule). (Bruton v. United States (1968), 391 U.S. 123, 20 L.Ed.2d 476, 88 S.Ct. 1620.) This form of prejudice may be cured by granting a severance or by removing all references to the moving defendant from his codefendants' statements. (People v. Olinger (1986), 112 Ill.2d 324, 493 N.E.2d 579.) An exception to this rule exists where "the defendant himself has confession and his confession `interlocks' with and supports the confession of his codefendant." (Parker v. Randolph (1979), 442 U.S. 62, 64, 60 L.Ed.2d 713, 718, 99 S.Ct. 2132, 2135.) In that event, severance is not required, the confessions are admissible and references to the defendant need not be removed; however, the court must give the jury cautionary instructions that it is to consider the statement of each defendant only as evidence against the maker. Parker v. Randolph (1979), 442 U.S. 62, 60 L.Ed.2d 713, 99 S.Ct. 2132; People v. Davis (1983), 97 Ill.2d 1, 452 N.E.2d 525.

A second ground for severance arises when the various defendants' defenses are so antagonistic that one codefendant cannot receive a fair trial when jointly tried. (People v. Olinger (1986), 112 Ill.2d 324, 493 N.E.2d 579; People v. Bean (1985), 109 Ill.2d 80, 485 N.E.2d 349.) Nothing short of severance of the trial of the prejudiced defendant cures this form of prejudice. People v. Olinger (1986), 112 Ill.2d 324, 493 N.E.2d 579.

In the instant case Wilson alleges both forms of prejudice. First, he contends that the trial court erred in its determination that his confession was substantially the same as those of his codefendants, and thus interlocking as the State contends, thereby falling under the

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 46 ]

exception to the Bruton rule. We agree. Although the rule governing interlocking confessions does not require they be identical (People v. Sanders (1982), 103 Ill.App.3d 700, 431 N.E.2d 1145, cert. denied (1982), 459 U.S. 871, 74 L.Ed.2d 131, 103 S.Ct. 157), they must agree on such crucial facts of time, location, felonious activity, and awareness of the overall plan or scheme (People v. Sanford (1983), 116 Ill.App.3d 834, 452 N.E.2d 710).

Briefly, Wilson's oral statement disclosed he was present at the Gibons' home after receiving a telephone call from defendant Gibons and subsequent to Mr. Gibons' murder; he was present when Mrs. Gibons was killed; he helped wrap up the bodies, clean the house, knock a hole in the garage wall and put the victims' bodies into the trunk of the Gibons' car; and he later dropped off his codefendants and left Illinois to dispose of the bodies.

• 3 Clearly, Wilson's confession was devoid of any admissions, similar to those asserted by his codefendants in their statements, that he participated in a conspiracy to murder the Gibons, that he aided or abetted his codefendants in the murders, that he robbed the victims or that he paid St. Pierre to commit the murders. Therefore, although his statement was similar to his codefendants with respect to the time and location of the crime, it only partially supported the felonious activity and it was crucially dissimilar concerning his alleged awareness of an overall plan or scheme to commit the murders and the subsequent robberies. At this stage, the only evidence that he participated in these acts was contained in Gibons' and St. Pierre's confessions, thus adding critical weight to the State's case against him which the State otherwise could not have obtained from him. (See Parker v. Randolph (1979), 442 U.S. 62, 60 L.Ed.2d 713, 99 S.Ct. 2132.) We further note that although Wilson had the opportunity to cross-examine Gibons, he did not have the same opportunity to confront St. Pierre, who chose not to testify. On this basis, the likelihood of prejudice to Wilson was manifest, and the trial court therefore should either have granted the severance motion or removed all references to Wilson from St. Pierre's statement. Since it did neither, and more weight was likely given to Gibons' testimony as a result of the improper admission of St. Pierre's statement, the court's denial of Wilson's severance motion on this ground of prejudice was reversible error.

We further note that even if the trial court had ordered a redaction of St. Pierre's statement or the State had agreed not to use his statement at trial, denial of Wilson's severance motion would still have been improper in view of the antagonistic nature of Wilson's defense

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 47 ]

and those of his codefendants. In People v. Daugherty (1984), 102 Ill.2d 533, 543, 468 N.E.2d 969, where each defendant made a statement to the police exculpating himself and inculpating the other, it was held that, although a stipulation by the State not to use either of the defendants' statements at trial would eliminate the source of any problem under the confrontation clause, it would do nothing "to alleviate the codefendants' concerns about their antagonistic lines of defense."

Here, the State argues that no "true conflict" among the defendants' defenses existed and, arguendo, that any possible prejudice was cured by the court's cautionary instructions to the jury that the statement of each defendant was to be considered only as evidence against the maker. (See People v. Davis (1983), 97 Ill.2d 1, 452 N.E.2d 525.) We disagree.

Notwithstanding Wilson's stated defense that he would rely on the State's inability to prove him guilty, Wilson contends that his severance motions contained facts, although "admittedly rhetorical," specific enough to show an antagonistic defense to those of his codefendants, i.e., that contrary to his codefendants' assertions, "he did not kill the Gibonses [sic], that he did not intend to kill them, and that at most he was guilty of attempting to conceal their bodies." More specifically, he stated in his initial motion for severance that the State would seek to introduce Gibons' and St. Pierre's written statements and that one of the State's theories would be that he was guilty of the murder of both victims "because he is accountable for the conduct of Robert St. Pierre and/or Jacqueline Gibons because he, Barry Wilson, solicited Robert St. Pierre to commit this crime and he, Barry Wilson, made arrangements through Jacqueline Gibons to pay money to Robert St. Pierre for killing Benjamin Gibons and Sybil Gibons."

Wilson's motion further alleged that defendant Gibons' confession would indicate that he called her asking for money on July 28 because her parents were to be killed that night; that he discussed plans to kill her parents with Gibons on two prior occasions; that he had procured sleeping pills and a gun to kill her parents; that he said "Bob would kill her parents" for $300; that prior to the murders he was prepared to assist in cleaning up the house and disposing of the bodies; that he was "at her front door immediately after her father was killed, inferring that he, Barry Wilson, was there while her father was being killed * * * [which was] * * * directly contrary to [his] * * * statement to the police"; that he gave her Benjamin Gibons' wallet after St. Pierre killed him which "could be used to prove that a felony murder occurred and therefore, [he,] * * * who had the proceeds of the armed

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 48 ]

robbery was therefore, guilty of the murder committed in the course of the armed robbery"; that he aided in the commission of the murder of Sybil Gibons; and that he wanted $1,000.

The motion also alleged that St. Pierre's confession would indicate that Wilson proposed the killing of the Gibons for $1,000 to $10,000; that Wilson "took an integral part in planning the method and means of committing the murders"; that Wilson helped with the plans to kill Sybil Gibons; that Wilson paid him $100 for the murders; and that Wilson or Gibons stole a diamond ring from the finger of Sybil Gibons.

Wilson further stated in his supplemental motion for severance that he would "admit to his limited participation in the events that led up to his arrest," but that he would be prejudiced if Gibons testified at trial "because she would testify that he compelled her to commit the acts which caused her to be charged with the murders of the victims, which would compel him to testify that Gibons requested him to provide information and assistance in disposing of her parents"; that Gibons and St. Pierre had made prior plans to kill Gibons' parents; that he never threatened defendant Gibons at any time; and that he would "accuse Gibons of soliciting for the murder of her parents." In Wilson's third severance motion at the close of voir dire, but before taking evidence, he alleged that Gibons' counsel clearly indicated that Gibons would testify at trial and that she would state he compelled her to perform the acts which formed the basis of the charges against her.

As our supreme court stated in People v. Daugherty (1984), 102 Ill.2d 533, 544, 468 N.E.2d 969:

"When codefendants have each made statements implicating the other but professing their own innocence, it is almost inevitable that their lines of defense at trial will become inconsistent and antagonistic and severance is necessary to forestall that result and ensure a fair trial. In such cases, the hostility between the codefendants is likely to surface at trial whether or not they each take the stand themselves. An unacceptable spectacle occurs in which the trial becomes as much a contest between the defendants as it is a contest between either defendant and the prosecution."

In the instant case, we believe Wilson's first severance motion indicated a likelihood of prejudice and set forth with specificity the antagonistic lines of defenses of his codefendants. Based on their statements, Gibons and St. Pierre accused Wilson of conspiring with them to kill the Gibons, aiding and abetting them in the murders and robbing

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 49 ]

the victims. Both Gibons and St. Pierre also specifically pointed to Wilson as the initiator of the conspiracy and the real perpetrator of the crimes. Conversely, Wilson in effect denied all allegations except for his being present when Mrs. Gibons was killed and in helping to conceal the deaths of the victims. We thus have the classic Daugherty situation in which codefendants point a finger at each other as the real perpetrator of the offenses. On the face of his motion, and in conjunction with his codefendants' statements, therefore, the case presented was Wilson's alleged position of extremely limited participation in the crime in opposition to his codefendants' accusations to the contrary. The trial thus became more of a contest between Wilson and his codefendants than the People and the defendants. Wilson therefore was unfairly placed in a position of having to defend against three accusers — the State and his two codefendants.

• 4, 5 Based on Wilson's demonstration of antagonistic defenses, nothing short of his severance from the trial of his codefendants was required. (See People v. Olinger (1986), 112 Ill.2d 324, 493 N.E.2d 579.) The trial court therefore erred in denying his severance motion. Additionally, since the court has a continuing duty at all stages of the proceedings to grant a severance when prejudice appears (People v. Murphy (1981), 93 Ill.App.3d 606, 417 N.E.2d 759), we further find that it was incumbent on the court to grant Wilson a severance at the time of hearing on his third motion when Gibons' counsel stated she would testify and would present her lack-of-intent defense. Thereafter, having failed to do so, the court certainly should have granted a severance after opening statements, when St. Pierre's counsel stated St. Pierre's defense would be that Wilson and Gibons exploited him, getting him drunk so they could manipulate him into committing the murders.

In accordance with the above, we hold that the trial court's denial of Wilson's motions on both grounds for severance resulted in substantial prejudice to him and constituted reversible error. Wilson's convictions are therefore reversed, and the cause remanded for a new, and separate, trial. In light of our disposition on this issue, it is unnecessary to consider Wilson's remaining arguments on appeal.


• 6 We next address Gibons' argument that the trial court's denial of her severance petition violated her rights to a fair trial, to confront witnesses against her, and to present evidence in her defense. Gibons, like Wilson, alleges both forms of prejudice set forth in part I of this opinion. Initially, she argues that the trial court erred in denying

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 50 ]

her petition for severance based on its determination that her confession was substantially the same or interlocking (Parker v. Randolph (1979), 442 U.S. 62, 60 L.Ed.2d 713, 99 S.Ct. 2132) with those of her codefendants and, therefore, fell under the exception to the Bruton rule (Bruton v. United States (1968), 391 U.S. 123, 20 L.Ed.2d 476, 88 S.Ct. 1620). We agree.

Under the circumstances, we believe the situation presented here is analogous to the one in the recent case of Lee v. Illinois (1986), 476 U.S. ___, 90 L.Ed.2d 514, 106 S.Ct. 2056. There, defendant Lee and her codefendant were charged with murdering Lee's aunt and her friend. The defendants were tried jointly in a bench trial at which neither defendant testified. The trial judge specifically relied on Lee's codefendant's confession and rejected her assertions that she had not participated in the murder of her aunt's friend and that she had acted either in self-defense or under intense and sudden passion in killing her aunt. This court, in affirming the trial court, conceded that the trial court considered the codefendant's confession as substantive evidence in finding Lee guilty, but held that her codefendant's confession was reliable2 and, moreover, interlocked with Lee's and thus did not fall within the rule of Bruton. (People v. Lee (1984), 129 Ill.App.3d 1167, 491 N.E.2d 1391 (order under Supreme Court Rule 23).) In reversing this court, the United States Supreme Court stated:

"If * * * portions of the codefendant's purportedly `interlocking' statement which bear to any significant degree on the defendant's participation in the crime are not thoroughly substantiated by the defendant's own confession, the admission of the statement poses too serious a threat to the accuracy of the verdict to be countenanced by the Sixth Amendment. In other words, when the discrepancies between the statements are not insignificant, the codefendant's confession may not be admitted." (Emphasis added.) (Lee v. Illinois (1986), 476 U.S. ___, ___, 90 L.Ed.2d 514, 529, 106 S.Ct. 2056, 2064-65.)

The court found that Lee had not confessed to a joint plan with her codefendant to murder her aunt, nor did her statement contain any admission of collusion to kill her aunt's friend. The court also emphasized

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 51 ]

that the discrepancies between the two confessions were critical with respect to the couple's premeditation or intent to kill the women. For example, Lee's codefendant stated they "had thought to put on gloves" prior to the killings, whereas Lee stated they put on gloves only to dispose of the bodies. The court stated that these discrepancies went to the very issue in dispute: the roles played in the killing of the friend of Lee's aunt and the question of premeditation in the murder of her aunt.

Here, Gibons does not argue that her statement did not interlock with Wilson's, but instead points to several statements contained in St. Pierre's confession which she contends were crucially dissimilar from her confession. Specifically, she complains that: St. Pierre stated that Wilson told him that "Jackie wanted this [the murders] done" and that in response "Jackie nodded her head and said `yeah, she wanted it done'"; that St. Pierre stated they all planned how the murders would be done, with Gibons and Wilson doing most of the talking and saying they were going to use a hammer; and St. Pierre's statement that Gibons gave him the hammer used to kill the victims and that she asked him to put some gloves on.

We note that although Gibons stated she met with Wilson and St. Pierre and agreed to pay St. Pierre $300 to murder her parents and she admitted to being told by Wilson of a plan — when to expect Wilson and St. Pierre at her home — she "thought it was only a game." Like the situation in Lee, Gibons did not admit that she planned the murders of her parents. In addition, Gibons' and St. Pierre's statements diverge with respect to the factual circumstances relevant to Gibons' premeditation or intent to kill her parents. For example, St. Pierre stated that Gibons helped decide what weapon would be used to kill her parents, that she handed him the hammer used in the murders, and that she told him to put on some gloves, whereas Gibons did not mention any decision concerning the weapon to be used, she testified that St. Pierre picked the hammer up from a chair, and she did not say anything about wearing gloves. Based on these discrepancies, clearly Gibons' case should have been severed from St. Pierre's or the court should have removed all references to Gibons from St. Pierre's statement in light of the fact that Gibons did not have the opportunity to confront St. Pierre. Accordingly, we hold that the trial court erred in denying Gibons' severance motion on this ground of prejudice.

• 7 We further find that the court initially correctly denied Gibons' severance petition based on the ground of antagonistic defenses. Gibons' petition stated, in pertinent part, as follows:
"That the out-of-court statements of WILSON and ST.

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 52 ]

PIERRE not only attempt to mitigate their own involvement in these homicides but also attempt to place maximum responsibility on the Petitioner.

* * *

* * * [I]t is further reasonable to believe that the defenses that will be invoked by both, will be antagonistic to the defense of Petitioner. This antagonism becomes especially critical in view of the fact that his [sic] case falls within the purview of the Death Penalty Statute where all parties may feel compelled to mitigate their involvement in an attempt to preclude imposition of the death penalty."

Gibons' petition clearly failed to state with specificity what her codefendants' defenses would be and how she would be prejudiced thereby; her petition is a recitation of mere apprehensions. See People v. Daugherty (1984), 102 Ill.2d 533, 468 N.E.2d 969.

On the other hand, we hold that the court erred in denying her a severance at the time of the hearing on Wilson's third severance motion and after opening statements. At the hearing on Wilson's third motion, as stated in part I of this opinion, it became clear that Gibons' defense would be antagonistic to Wilson's. Even though the court failed to grant a severance at that time, it had the authority to, and should have done so, upon Gibons' request after opening statements, when it also became clear that St. Pierre's defense similarly would be antagonistic to hers. Specifically, St. Pierre's counsel stated that his defense would be that Gibons and Wilson exploited him, getting him drunk so they could manipulate him into committing the murders. This was contrary to Gibons' defense that she lacked the requisite intent to aid or abet her codefendants in the crimes. Nothing short of severance of her trial from her codefendants could have cured such prejudice. (See People v. Olinger (1986), 112 Ill.2d 324, 493 N.E.2d 579.) We find that the trial court therefore erred in denying Gibons a severance at these stages of the proceedings based on the ground of antagonistic defenses.

In light of the above, we hold that the denial of Gibons' motions on both grounds for severance resulted in substantial prejudice to her and constituted reversible error. Gibons' convictions are therefore reversed and the cause remanded for a new, and separate, trial. Because of our disposition on this issue, we do not address Gibons' remaining arguments on appeal.

Finally, we believe that the evidence at trial was sufficient for the trier of fact to conclude that defendants were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This does not mean we are making a finding as to defendants'

[ 149 Ill. App.3d 53 ]

guilt or innocence which would be binding on retrial, but rather our consideration of the sufficiency of the evidence admitted at trial will remove the risk of subjecting defendants to double jeopardy. See People v. Taylor (1979), 76 Ill.2d 289, 391 N.E.2d 366.

For the foregoing reasons, defendants Gibons' and Wilson's convictions are reversed and their causes remanded for new, and separate, trials.

Convictions reversed and causes remanded with directions.

SULLIVAN, P.J., and PINCHAM, J., concur.


1. Gibons also implicated Andrea Markson and Sandra Zabrqewski, two girls she had known at the Price Group Home, a girls' "transitional home," where Gibons had lived prior to moving home with her parents. Their cases were severed from Gibons', Wilson's and St. Pierre's.

2. Lee's codefendant's confession was categorized as falling under an exception to the hearsay rule, i.e., a declaration against penal interest, which the United States Supreme Court subsequently rejected as a basis for determining the reliability of a confession of a codefendant inculpating another defendant where the defendant's sixth amendment right to confrontation of witnesses against him is at issue. Lee v. Illinois (1986), 476 U.S. ___, ___, 90 L.Ed.2d 514, 528-29, 106 S.Ct. 2056, 2064.



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