Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal
Division, and writ of error to the Criminal Court of Cook County;
the Hon. ALFONSE F. WELLS, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.
MR. JUSTICE DRUCKER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
Rehearing denied October 5, 1964.
Defendant was tried before a jury and convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of two girls, and of drag racing. Judgments were entered on the verdicts of the jury and defendant was sentenced to two six-to-ten year penitentiary terms, and a one-year term in Cook County Jail, all to be served concurrently.
Defendant contends that he did not receive a fair trial; that the opinion of the state's expert witness was inadmissible; that the jury was improperly instructed; that it was prejudicial error for the Coroner's pathologist to describe the injuries causing the deaths of the two children; and that the state had knowingly used false testimony to obtain the convictions.
The evidence showed that on May 9, 1962, at about 9:30 p.m., the 52-year-old defendant stopped his southbound 1962 Ford Galaxie at a red traffic light at the intersection of Harlem and Armitage Avenues in Chicago in the lane adjacent to the western curb of Harlem Avenue. Next to defendant's car was a 1962 Chevrolet headed south and waiting for the light to change to green.
The evidence also discloses that at about the same time James Moreale stopped his 1957 Cadillac headed west somewhere between a stop sign and the east side of Harlem Avenue and Cortland Avenue which is one block south of Armitage Avenue. Moreale's wife sat on the passenger side of the front seat. In the rear seat were Roberta Menna, 11 years old, Paulette Menconi, 12 years old, and Moreale's only daughter, 12-year-old Deborah.
Moreale testified that "I drove west on Cortland to Oak Park Avenue, stopped and proceeded west on Cortland to Harlem where I stopped again. I looked to my left and no automobile was in sight. I looked to my right and I saw an automobile which would be to the north and I saw automobile lights approximately a block away. I proceeded across Harlem Avenue. I got to the west side of Harlem Avenue. My wife screamed we were going to be hit and that is all I remember." On cross-examination Moreale said that he "entered Harlem Avenue at a normal rate of speed from a standstill" and that when his wife screamed he stepped on the gas and "we were hit simultaneously."
Mrs. Moreale corroborated her husband's statement concerning the traffic conditions on Harlem. It was defendant's Ford which had collided with the Moreale Cadillac. Paulette Menconi and Deborah Moreale were fatally injured. The three other occupants of the Moreale automobile were hurt.
Albertus Woelfle testified that as he was approaching Armitage while driving his automobile south on Harlem, he noticed two cars at the stoplight, the Ford on the curb side and the Chevrolet in the inner lane; that he was between 50 and 100 feet behind the cars when the light changed from amber to green; that "as I approached the light, the light changed from amber to green, and the two cars took off peeling rubber." In reply to a question as to the speed at which the cars were moving as they left the stoplight and reached a point about two-thirds of a block down, Woelfle stated, "I would say at least seventy miles an hour. . . ."
Eugene Quaglia testified that he was working at a gas station at the southeast corner of Harlem and Armitage at the time of the accident. As set forth in the abstract, Quaglia described the events:
The cars were side by side and took off at a great rate of acceleration. I observed this for about two hundred or three hundred feet right in front of me. I was standing on the drive when they passed in front of me. There was no let up at all, just a slight pause when the engines let up and there was a constant rate of acceleration after that again. The cars were going south. These cars were within my clear visitation [sic] for about four hundred feet. After that, I could see the outline of the cars and the tail lights. The cars were almost abreast, side by side. They never changed from one lane to another for as long as I could see them. I turned around and I heard a tremendous impact. I turned around again in that direction and I saw a cloud of dust. I ran down to the corner of Cortland and Harlem. I noticed the Ford in the curb lane facing west. The Cadillac was up in the parking lot of Horwath's Restaurant on the northwest corner of Cortland and Harlem. I saw the people in the Cadillac. . . .
My opinion of the rate of speed is at least sixty miles an hour. I am referring to both cars.
Police Officer Carl Messina reached the scene about fifteen minutes after the collision. ...