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People v. Pearson

SEPTEMBER 13, 1966.

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ROBERT PEARSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal Division; the Hon. EDWARD F. HEALY, Judge, presiding. Judgment of conviction affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE LYONS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

This is an appeal from a conviction for arson, after a bench trial, with sentence in the Illinois State Penitentiary for a period of twelve (12) to twenty (20) years.

On August 26, 1964, at approximately 2:00 p.m., the building located at 3639 South State Street caught fire. On January 13, 1965, defendant waived a jury and was tried on a charge of arson. Mr. Morris, who had a store located in that building, testified that prior to the fire he saw defendant enter the building with a can.

Winston Cater stated that he saw defendant come out of the building; that he accused defendant of setting the place on fire; that defendant replied "I don't give a . . . ." and when Cater said "Suppose my kids burn up there?" defendant said, "I burn them up too."

Officer Cephas testified that he arrested defendant in a truck, which was parked in the rear of the burned building; that defendant appeared to be sleeping; and that, in his opinion, defendant was under the influence of intoxicating liquor.

Officer Niehoff testified that he questioned defendant at approximately 6:30 p.m. on August 26, 1964; that at that time defendant admitted being in the vicinity of the building but denied that he was in the building proper; and that in his opinion defendant was under the influence of intoxicating liquor.

Defendant testified that he had drunk that morning; that he did not have much to drink — not enough to get drunk; that he estimated the amount to be one-half pint of whiskey; that he was near the building talking to Winston and Jesse Johnson; that he was standing there looking with everyone else when the fire started; and that he did not commit the offense of arson.

After hearing all the testimony, the trial court found defendant guilty of arson, and then stated:

Where a person gets intoxicated it is no defense to a crime. If it were why a person could get intoxicated, go out and kill people and say, well I didn't know what I was doing, I was intoxicated. This type of crime, intoxication, is no defense to the crime of arson.

In aggravation the State showed three misdemeanor convictions: (1) assault with a deadly weapon, 90 days, House of Correction; (2) tampering with an auto, one year, House of Correction; (3) petty larceny, one year, House of Correction. It was further pointed out that one Eugene Patterson lost his life in the fire. Defendant was sentenced and appeals from that judgment.

Defendant's theory of the case is (1) that the indictment was insufficient in that it failed to state the address of the property which was the alleged subject of arson, and (2) that the evidence failed to prove him guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

We disagree with defendant's first contention. The indictment was sufficiently definite to apprise the defendant as to the nature of the charge and enable him to prepare his defense. The case at bar falls directly within the application of the Supreme Court's opinions in People v. Blanchett, 33 Ill.2d 527, 212 N.E.2d 97 (1965) and People v. Reed, 33 Ill.2d 535, 213 N.E.2d 278 (1966).

The applicable statutory provision to be applied in response to defendant's second contention is found in section 20-1 of the Criminal Code, Ill Rev Stats ...


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