People v. Doolan, 2016 IL App (1st) 141780 (November). Episode 263 (Duration 6:47)
Defendant is accountable for first degree murder because him and his buddies decided to start a fight with a victim with an enlarged heart.
Other “1-Punch” Murder Cases:
- Episode 201 – People v. Yeoman, 2016 IL App (3d) 140324 (June)
- Episode 151 – People v. Nibbe, 2016 IL App (4th) 140363 (February)
The trial evidence demonstrated that defendant entered the gas station store with two fellow Ambrose gang members and stood in the doorway, flashing gang signs and shouting gang slogans at the victim and his buddies parked at the gas station.
Defendant and a codefendant left the store and approached his vehicle, shouting the name of their gang alongside the front passenger side door.
Defendant stood a few feet from the vehicle while his codefendant pulled the door completely open and kicked the victim in the face or chest.
When the victim exited the vehicle, defendant punched him on the right side of the head. Then, defendant punched another one of the victim’s buddies, who was fighting with the third codefendant.
Defendant also challenged other people with the victim to fight “two on two.” After the victim jumped on the van and collapsed, the codefendant returned to the fight and struck the second victim on the head with two glass bottles. Defendant then drove his three friends away from the gas station.
The Victim’s Condition
Victim had an enlarged heart.
Another doctor testified that he reviewed the autopsy report and video from the gas station surveillance cameras. He concurred with the opinion that the victim died from “stress due to the altercation,” and that the manner of death was homicide.
However, the this doctor opined that the heart was “30 or 40 percent” larger than normal for his size and weight, and that his ventricles were “thickened” and “hypertrophied.”
This condition rendered the victim’s heart susceptible to the effects of “fight and flight” hormones like adrenaline.
Cause of Death
The victim suffered “sudden cardiac death” resulting from “excited delirium syndrome,” a condition in which “surges” of adrenaline stimulate a “sensitized heart muscle cell” to enter a “fatal rhythm.”
This doctor stated that excited delirium syndrome cannot be “knowingly” caused by another person, but could result from the “emotional overlay of an interaction,” without “any physical interaction.”
While the victim’s physical injuries could have resulted from a punch, a “glancing” kick, or contact with the ground, the doctor did not believe they caused his death. Instead, “the physical aspects of this interaction were really immaterial” in view of the “emotional overlay of everything that took place.”
According to this doctor, the victim died from an accumulation” of adrenaline and no single event during the altercation was fatal.
Defendant claimed he could not be held accountable for this death because his buddy started the fight and he had nothing to do with it.
A defendant is legally accountable for another person’s criminal conduct when “either before or during the commission of an offense, and with the intent to promote or facilitate that commission, he or she solicits, aids, abets, agrees, or attempts to aid that other person in the planning or commission of the offense.” 720 ILCS 5/5-2(c).
To establish that a defendant intended to promote or facilitate a crime, the State may present evidence that either
(1) the defendant shared the criminal intent of the principal, or
(2) there was a common criminal design.
Then defendant and his buddies pick a fight with the victim and his buddies. The victim collapsed after he jumped on a van while chasing one of the codefendants. He died as a result of the stress due to the altercation, with multiple blunt force trauma to his face being a significant factor in his death, and the manner of his death was homicide.
Defendant’s involvement in the altercation and his affiliation with the other offenders established his accountability for both the vehicular invasion and the actions leading to the death.