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People v. Vasquez

DECEMBER 17, 1969.

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JUAN VASQUEZ, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



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

MR. JUSTICE ENGLISH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

OFFENSE CHARGED

Murder. Ill Rev Stats 1965, c 38, § 9-1(a)(1), (a)(2).

JUDGMENT

After a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of the lesser included crime of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced by the court to a term of 7 to 9 years.

CONTENTIONS RAISED ON APPEAL

1. Defendant was prejudiced when the prosecutor, in his opening statement, related the coroner's findings to the jury.

2. Defendant was prejudiced when the prosecutor, in his final argument, made personal comment as to defendant's guilt.

3. References to defendant's family during trial and in closing argument were also prejudicial to defendant.

EVIDENCE

The evidence is undisputed, as no evidence was introduced on behalf of defendant. On August 5, 1966, defendant drove his automobile into the gas station of Ernest Medina, Sr., at a speed of approximately 30 miles per hour. The automobile narrowly missed Medina, who was leaning on a parked car, but did strike Medina's son, the parked car, and a tow truck. Defendant's automobile continued across a sidewalk where its left front fender struck the deceased, Nick Natale, who had crossed the street and was almost on the sidewalk, and knocked his body to the middle of the street. After continuing 10 to 15 feet past deceased, defendant put the automobile in reverse and backed it over deceased's body. Defendant continued to back his car to the gas station, where he emerged from his car carrying a 7-inch pipe.

Medina, Sr. had run to his home about 100 feet away. Defendant asked Medina, Jr. where his father was, and, upon being told, defendant started toward the house and was confronted by Medina, Sr.'s brother. Defendant told him he was going to "get" his brother. Medina, Sr. came out of the house with a gun. The brother, who also had a gun, apparently taken from the gas station, held defendant. After an exchange of words, defendant broke away and fled, but was apprehended by the brothers after a chase.

Adrian Ramos, an acquaintance of Medina, Sr. and defendant, testified that defendant had told him, approximately two months before the occurrence, that he was going to kill Medina, Sr. ...


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