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People v. Teague

JANUARY 7, 1966.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal Division; the Hon. HERBERT R. FRIEDLUND, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed. MR. JUSTICE BURMAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

The defendant, John Teague, was charged in separate indictments with the offenses of rape and robbery. After a jury trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to a term of not less than thirty nor more than sixty years in the penitentiary. On this appeal, he seeks a reversal of his convictions on the grounds that the indictments did not specify the time and place of the offenses with the degree of definiteness required by statute, and therefore did not properly state the offenses of rape and robbery. In the alternative, he seeks a new trial, contending primarily that the misconduct of the prosecutor and the admission of improper evidence deprived him of a fair trial.

The sequence of events which comprised the offenses, according to the testimony of the complaining witness, was as follows: On the date in question, December 30, 1963, she was twenty years of age, married and employed. At 5:50 a.m. that morning, she left her mother's apartment in a Chicago Housing Authority Building at 4947 South Federal Street to report for work. When she entered the elevator on the eleventh floor, there was one man inside, facing the door as she entered. She said, "Good morning" to him, but received no reply. She punched the first floor button, and he punched the fifth floor button. When the elevator reached the fifth floor, he said to her, "This is a stickup. Don't make a sound or I will shoot you." Keeping his left hand concealed within his jacket pocket, he forced her into the deserted laundry room on the fifth floor, where he raped her and took her watch and some money from her purse. She said she observed her assailant on the elevator, as well as in the laundry room, and described his clothing. In the weeks which followed the incident, she identified the defendant as her assailant from photographs and at a lineup. At the trial, she identified a pair of boots and a leather jacket as having been worn by her assailant. A police officer later testified that he had taken these items from the defendant's closet and from the trunk of his car.

The defendant claimed that on December 30, 1963, he was visiting his mother in Momence, Illinois. He stated that he had been accompanied on that visit by his brother, James Teague, among others; and this testimony was corroborated by that of his brother.

In claiming that the indictments in this case were fatally defective, the defendant relies upon Ill Rev Stats 1963, c 38, § 111-3(a) (4), which reads in relevant part as follows:

Form of Charge. (a) A charge shall be in writing and allege the commission of an offense by. . . . (4) Stating the time and place of the offense as definitely as can be done. . . .

It is defendant's contention that at the time the indictments were returned the State was aware of the exact street address at which the offenses allegedly were committed, and the precise time of day at which they allegedly occurred. The indictments, however, state merely that the offenses were committed on December 30, 1963, at and within the County of Cook. The failure of the indictments to state the additional facts, it is urged, constitutes a violation of the foregoing statute, and defendant seeks a reversal of his convictions on these grounds.

This question was presented in People v. Blanchett, 55 Ill. App.2d 141, 204 N.E.2d 173, and principal reliance is placed by the defendant upon the Appellate Court opinion in that case. The information in Blanchett was similar to the indictment here in that it only stated the date of the alleged offense, and the county in which it allegedly occurred. It was never denied by the State, however, that the exact address where the alleged offense occurred was known. The Appellate Court held that the information failed to comply with the statute, that the defendant's motion in arrest of judgment was wrongfully denied, and reversed the conviction.

But our Supreme Court recently reviewed the Blanchett decision, and reversed the finding of the Appellate Court. Docket #39232. The court pointed out that the former statutory provision had required only that the time and place of the offense be stated with reasonable certainty, Ill Rev Stats 1961, c 38, § 716. This language was held to be satisfied by an indictment stating that the offense was committed within a given county and on a given day (with certain exceptions not here relevant). The court then went on to hold that:

In view of the expressed purpose of the Code to secure simplicity in procedure . . . we believe that the language in section 111-3(a) (4) was not intended to change the former rule and require a more precise description of the time and place of the occurrence in order to charge an offense.

The information was then held sufficient in Blanchett, and the conviction reinstated. In our opinion, that holding is dispositive of this issue here.

In support of his allegation that he was denied a fair trial, defendant relies primarily upon the allegedly improper cross-examination of his brother, James Teague, and upon subsequent related remarks made by the prosecutor.

On direct examination, James Teague testified that he knew a girl at 4947 South Federal Street. On cross-examination he admitted that some time after December 30, 1963, he went to that address to talk to the complaining witness about the case pending against his brother. He testified that he went to the eleventh floor apartment of the complaining witness's mother, and after being told that the complaining witness was not at home he talked about the case with an elderly lady at that apartment. In the course of his testimony he was asked:

Q. In fact, you went there and you wanted to talk to the lady to change her testimony, isn't that right?

Mr. Brandvik [Defense counsel]: I will object, your Honor, I will object to that, ...

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