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People v. Harter

SEPTEMBER 20, 1967.

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ELTON HARTER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County, Seventeenth Judicial Circuit; the Hon. JOHN S. GHENT, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE DAVIS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

This is an appeal by the defendant, an indigent person, from the judgment order of May 26, 1966, entered on a jury verdict, determining him to be a sexually dangerous person.

The defendant was charged by information with the criminal offense of an attempt to contribute to the sexual delinquency of Dewey Renton, age 17, on January 6, 1966, in that he attempted to commit an act of sexual deviate conduct with Renton, in violation of section 8-4 of the Criminal Code. (Ill Rev Stats 1965, c 38, par 8-4.) On February 24, 1966, the defendant, through counsel, made a motion to quash the information, which was not argued, and entered a plea of not guilty to this charge.

Also, on that date, a petition was filed in accordance with the provisions of section 3 of the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act (Ill Rev Stats 1965, c 38, par 105-3), which alleged certain facts tending to show that the defendant was sexually dangerous; and that by virtue of such facts, he was, in fact, sexually dangerous. The petition requested the court to appoint two psychiatrists to examine him and report their determination to the court. The examinations were made and the psychiatrists filed their written reports with the court and delivered copies thereof to the defendant.

The court appointed counsel to represent the defendant at the hearing on February 24, 1966, and said counsel, on his own motion, was given leave to withdraw as attorney for the defendant on March 21, 1966. On March 23, 1966, the court appointed new counsel for the defendant and this attorney ably represented the defendant under most difficult circumstances in the trial court and in this appeal.

Originally, the defendant refused to permit the court appointed psychiatrists to examine him, and it was only after a court order had been entered continuing the case for compliance with the examination order, that the psychiatrists were able to complete their examination. Throughout the proceeding in the trial court and upon appeal, the defendant's conduct was erratic and was characterized by suspicion and emotional hostility and resentment. Independent of counsel, he filed motions, written instruments which were beyond classification, and wrote letters to a Federal Judge seeking intervention in the proceeding.

One psychiatrist reported that on the basis of the prior charges, coupled with the present examination, the defendant could be classified as a sexually dangerous person. The other reported that on the basis of the present examination and the present allegations and past history of sexual aberrations, the defendant was a sexually dangerous person. At the trial, each psychiatrist testified that, in his opinion, the defendant was a sexually dangerous person.

The evidence indicated that upon arrest, the defendant made a voluntary statement wherein he admitted the offense charged in the information, namely: that of an attempt to contribute to the sexual delinquency of Dewey Renton. One deputy sheriff testifed concerning the taking of the statement and its contents, and another corroborated this testimony. Dewey Renton, the complaining witness, testified for the People and his testimony likewise fully substantiated the charge.

Deputy clerks testified concerning the defendant's prior convictions with reference to sexual offenses. This testimony established that in cause number 2302, an information was filed which charged that the defendant on the 1st day of November, 1964, contributed to the sexual delinquency of a child. The first count of the information charged that Harter committed the offense of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor child in that he, with intent to arouse or satisfy his sexual desires, lewdly performed an act in the presence of Billy Peppers, Bobby Peppers and Mike Phillips, children of the age of 18 years, in violation of paragraph 11-5, chapter 38, Ill Rev Stats 1963; that the defendant was represented by counsel; that the case was tried before a jury which found him guilty as charged in Count I of the Information; and that the defendant was sentenced to the Vandalia State Farm for one year and a mittimus issued thereon.

In cause number 29208, the testimony proved that an information issued which charged that the defendant, on December 8, 1956, committed acts of assault upon Frank Stokes, with intent to commit a lewd and lascivious act upon the person of Stokes; that the defendant was represented by counsel in said case; and that thereafter, the defendant entered a plea of guilty, signed a jury waiver and was sentenced to four months confinement in the county jail.

The defendant testified on his own behalf. He admitted that he was with Renton on the date in question but denied the acts attributed to him. He endeavored to explain the prior conviction of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor in cause number 2302, by stating that the kids ran into his house while they were burning leaves; that beer and whiskey was in his house and that it was for this reason that he was convicted. However, the record belied this explanation. Sufficient evidence identified the defendant as the Elton Harter who was the defendant in causes numbered 2302 and 29208.

The defendant denied being arrested in connection with the Stokes charge and introduced his F.B.I. sheet which failed to note such arrest, but showed fourteen arrests, six prison sentences and one additional charge of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor. The court asked both the defendant and his counsel if they wished this exhibit admitted in evidence and each answered affirmatively.

On cross-examination, the defendant admitted his arrest in connection with the Stokes incident. A statement made by the defendant relative thereto, which constituted a confession of the deviate sexual acts with Stokes, a minor, was admitted in evidence. On cross-examination, the defendant denied making such statement. On rebuttal, the People introduced the testimony of a deputy sheriff that the statement was in fact made.

Various witnesses testified on the defendant's behalf that they had never known him to be involved ...


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