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People v. Adams

JULY 23, 1969.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD J. FITZGERALD, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.


Rehearing denied September 18, 1969.


Murder. Ill Rev Stats (1965), c 38, § 9-1.


Self-defense. Ill Rev Stats (1965), c 38, § 7-1.


After a bench trial, defendant was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter (Ill Rev Stats (1965), c 38, § 9-2) and sentenced to a term of 2 to 10 years.


(1) The evidence does not support a conviction for voluntary manslaughter.

(2) The sentence is excessive.


Robert Jackson, for the State

He is the stepfather of the deceased, Bernice Adams, and had known her for 27 years. On December 4, 1965, she was the wife of defendant. The deceased had spent the night of Friday, December 3, at the witness' house at 7113 South Racine. She left sometime the following morning, and he next saw her at noon that day in a tavern next to his home. He had been drinking with the deceased and defendant's brother when defendant entered the tavern, knocked her off the bar stool, and left. He next saw her at the Cook County Morgue, at which time she was dead.

Barbara Stevenson, Oscar Jones and Claude High, for the State

These witnesses, all of whom were fellow employees of the deceased at Knickerbocker Case Co., testified to having seen the killing. Their testimony contained no substantial contradictions and on all important points they corroborated each other. Piecing their testimony together, they gave this account:

On December 4, 1965, the deceased arrived at Mrs. Stevenson's apartment at about 10:30 a.m. and they left together in deceased's 1964 blue Falcon. On the way to deceased's home, they entered a tavern near 71st and Racine and had one or two beers at the bar with deceased's stepfather. Shortly after they arrived, defendant entered and tried to get the deceased to leave with him, but she refused. He hit her, knocking her off the bar stool, and then he left. The two women left about 1:30 p.m. to go shopping, after which, at about 5:30 p.m., they went to the home of Claude High. Deceased's automobile at that time was in good condition. Also present at High's apartment were Oscar Jones and Cora Barnes who had gone there to watch a football game.

Later, while in the apartment, a loud crashing sound was heard outside. Jones, Mrs. Stevenson, and the deceased went out and discovered that all the tires on deceased's car had been slashed and all the windows broken. They returned to High's apartment to call the police, and then, with High, the four of them returned to the car. Mrs. Stevenson and Jones were standing in the street at the rear of the car, and the deceased and High were on the sidewalk when defendant drove up, stopped his car in the middle of the street, got out, and walked over to the deceased. As he approached her, High saw that defendant had a knife with a 5- or 6-inch blade in his right hand. Mrs. Stevenson and Jones did not see a knife from where they were standing. The deceased asked defendant, "Why did you tear up my car?" to which he replied, using obscenities, "I tore it up and I will do you the same way." Defendant then began to swing, hitting the deceased numerous times. (The witnesses' estimates varied from "four or five" to "seven to ten" times.) High testified that defendant was striking her with the knife; that he then pushed her onto the hood of the car and stabbed her in the thigh. She did not put up much of a struggle and never struck defendant. She yelled, "Robert, you done cut me." Whereupon, defendant returned to his car and left. As he walked away, he was still carrying the knife, according to High. Deceased walked to the porch and collapsed. High wrapped her in a sheet and took her in his car to St. Bernard's Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Jones testified that he said nothing to defendant and did not try to strike defendant with an iron object; that he was a close friend of the deceased, but she was not his girl friend. She had lent him $65 when his daughter was hospitalized.

Dr. Eugene H. Tapia, for the State (by stipulation)

He is an assistant coroner's pathologist who, on December 5, 1965, examined the body of the deceased. There were multiple lacerations on the body, one such stab wound entering the abdominal cavity through the ribs, and another was a deep two-inch cut in the right leg which severed the right femoral artery. In his opinion, death was caused by a hemorrhage due to the stab ...

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