Docket No. 105887.
THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Appellee, v. JAMES
Opinion filed October 29, 2009.
CHIEF JUSTICE FITZGERALD delivered the judgment of the
court, with opinion.
Justices Thomas, Garman and Karmeier concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
Justice Freeman dissented, with opinion, joined by Justices
Kilbride and Burke.
Defendant James Bannister was convicted of two counts of first
degree murder and sentenced to natural life imprisonment for his role
in a gang-related shooting. His convictions and sentence were
affirmed on direct appeal. People v. Young, 263 Ill. App. 3d 627
(1994). The defendant then filed a postconviction petition, alleging
actual innocence because the key witness for the State had recanted
his trial testimony. The trial court granted the defendant’s petition,
vacated his convictions, and ordered a new trial. After a bench trial,
the defendant was again convicted of two counts of first degree
murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant