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The People v. Cesarz

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 19, 1969.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,

v.

EDWARD RICHARD CESARZ, APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Logan County; the Hon. LELAND SIMKINS, Judge, presiding.

PER CURIAM:

Rehearing denied January 26, 1970.

The defendant, Edward Richard Cesarz, was tried by jury in the circuit court of Logan County, resulting in a verdict finding the defendant guilty and recommending punishment at death. The trial judge sentenced the defendant to a term of not less than 70 nor more than 90 years in the penitentiary and the defendant has appealed directly to this court. Constitutional questions give us jurisdiction.

The defendant's first claim is based upon Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510, 20 L.Ed.2d 776, 88 S.Ct. 1770. The prospective jurors were all questioned as to whether they had religious or conscientious scruples against the death penalty. In some instances further inquiry was made but many jurors were excused simply on the basis of an affirmative answer to the question concerning their scruples. Defendant argues that this procedure resulted in the impanelling of a jury which did not represent the conscience of the community and contends that his conviction must be set aside. We do not agree. The same claim was made in Witherspoon and the United States Supreme Court noted that the data in that case was too tentative and fragmentary to establish that jurors not opposed to the death penalty tend to favor the prosecution in the determination of guilt. In footnote 21 to the Witherspoon decision the court said, "Nor does the decision in this case affect the validity of any sentence other than one of death. Nor, finally, does today's holding render invalid the conviction, as opposed to the sentence, in this or any other case." (Emphasis in original.) In this case the trial judge, after studying the Witherspoon decision, decided that the death sentence would probably not be permitted to stand and therefore sentenced the defendant to imprisonment. As in Witherspoon there is insufficient data here upon which to conclude that a jury impanelled in violation of Witherspoon standards is an unfair jury on the issue of guilt. We therefore hold that the alleged improper exclusion of jurors with religious or conscientious scruples against the death sentence does not require reversal of the judgment of conviction.

The defendant's next contention is that a pretrial identification proceeding was conducted in violation of the defendant's constitutional rights and that the in-court identification testimony was improperly admitted. Consideration of this question requires a brief statement of the evidence. The deceased was employed as the registration clerk at the Holiday Inn in Lincoln, Illinois. In response to a telephone call the police arrived at the motel at about 3:30 A.M. where they found the deceased in a dazed condition standing behind the counter. Medical testimony later established that she had been shot three times and she died as a result of the gunshot wounds. One Robert Moll, an off-duty motel employee, was near the registration desk at about 2:30 A.M. and observed a man registering as a motel guest. The night janitor at the motel, Andrew Bentz, testified that at about 3:15 A.M., a man asked him for some help in opening a window in his room. Bentz and this man proceeded to the room where the man struck Bentz in the back of the neck. Bentz testified that the man had a gun and indicated that he planned to take money from the motel office. The man then directed Bentz to leave the motel and walk toward an adjoining field, count to 1,000, and not turn around before that. The murder victim lived for a short time after being shot and both she and Moll were able to provide the police with a description from which a composite picture was made. The next day, in response to information received from the Holiday Inn in Bloomington, Illinois, that a person resembling the composite picture was registered there, the police took Moll to the Bloomington motel. They sat in the dining room overlooking the swimming pool and the police officers asked Moll to look around and see if he saw anyone who looked familiar. He was aware at that time that the police had a suspect. Moll testified that there were about 50 or 60 people in and around the pool and he picked out the defendant who was wearing red swimming trunks and sun glasses. The police asked the defendant to come inside where Moll observed him more closely and identified him as the man who had registered at the Lincoln motel.

At the time of the courtroom identification defense counsel tried to establish that the police officers had pointed out the defendant to him but he denied this and insisted that they only asked him to look around at all of the people and see if he saw anyone who looked familiar. The identification at the Bloomington motel occurred after the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Gilbert v. California, 388 U.S. 263, 18 L.Ed.2d 1178, 87 S.Ct. 1951, and defendant argues that the identification was invalid as a matter of law because defendant was without counsel at the time of the identification. As we pointed out in People v. Palmer, 41 Ill.2d 571, the Gilbert decision applies only to post-indictment confrontations and the rule requiring automatic exclusion because of the absence of counsel is not applicable here. It would be strange indeed to require counsel in a case such as this where defendant had not been placed under arrest and was unaware that he was being observed. Nor does the doctrine of Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 18 L.Ed.2d 1199, 87 S.Ct. 1967, require exclusion of the in-court identification. Exclusion under that case is required only where the pretrial confrontation is so fundamentally unfair that the defendant was denied due process of law. A fairer identification procedure can hardly be imagined. According to the testimony of the witness that he was not coached by the police and that he picked the defendant out of a group of 50 or 60 people, in spite of the fact that defendant was in swimming attire rather than fully clothed as he was at the time of the registration, we are of the opinion that the court did not err in permitting the courtroom identification testimony.

Defendant also argues that the witness, Andrew Bentz, should not have been permitted to make a courtroom identification of the defendant without first determining that the identification had an independent source unconnected with an alleged pretrial identification. There is no showing that there was any pretrial identification proceeding involving Bentz. He admitted being in the Logan County jail where he made a written statement to the police but there is no showing that the defendant was in the jail at that time and no showing that any identification procedure was undertaken at that time. Bentz had an adequate opportunity to observe the defendant and identify him as the man who had induced him to come to the room and who had struck him on the neck and who had said that he intended to rob the motel. There was no error in admitting the identification testimony of this witness.

A further claim based upon constitutional grounds is that the court erred in denying a motion for a change of place of trial from Logan County on the ground of prejudicial publicity. The defendant filed a motion incorporating as exhibits certain newspaper and magazine articles and affidavits. The court denied the motion without conducting an evidentiary hearing. Defendant first contends that where such a motion is filed, section 114-6 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, par. 114-6) requires that the court shall conduct a hearing. Defendant argues that where the State introduces no evidence opposed to the motion the court must accept the allegations of prejudice and must grant the change. A "hearing" does not necessarily imply that evidence must be heard. It is common knowledge that many motions are decided without hearing evidence and it is common legal parlance to speak of the "hearing" on such motions. In our opinion the fact that the court did not conduct an evidentiary hearing does not require a holding that the change of place of trial should have been granted. In denying the motion the court stated that he would reconsider if it developed that it was impossible to obtain a fair jury. During the course of the voir dire examinations many jurors stated that they had read newspaper and magazine articles of the crime and had formed an opinion concerning the defendant's guilt or innocence. These persons were excused for cause. The 12 jurors who were ultimately selected stated that they had no preconceived notions of guilt or innocence and could be fair and impartial. In People v. Speck, 41 Ill.2d 177, we stated that the basic consideration is not the amount of publicity in a particular case, but whether the defendant in the case received a fair and impartial trial. In that case we relied in part on Beck v. Washington, 369 U.S. 541, 8 L.Ed.2d 98, 82 S.Ct. 955, where the court said that there is no constitutional infirmity if a defendant actually receives a trial by an impartial jury. This case, like Speck and others in which it has been held that a motion for a change of venue was properly denied, differs from cases such as Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U.S. 717, 6 L.Ed.2d 751, 81 S.Ct. 1639, where it was held that defendant did not receive an impartial trial. In Dowd, 8 of the 12 jurors finally selected stated that they had an opinion as to the defendant's guilt, whereas in the present case, none of the jurors who actually served on the trial jury had any such opinion. We are of the opinion that the trial court correctly denied the motion for a change in the place of defendant's trial.

The defendant's next argument is that the court should have allowed defendant's motion to sequester the jury. It was formerly the rule in a capital case that a defendant had an absolute right to have the jury sequestered. (People v. Konkowski, 378 Ill. 616, 622.) Under the Code of Criminal Procedure it is now the rule that the jury shall be permitted to separate in all cases until the final submission of the cause, except that no such separation shall be permitted after the court finds a probability that prejudice will result from such separation. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, par. 115-4(m).) The judge made no such finding here and any contention that separation of the jury operated to prejudice the defendant is based entirely upon conjecture. The jury was repeatedly admonished not to discuss the case, read newspaper accounts or listen to news of the case. Defendant contends, however, that the statute referred to is invalid because it is vague and indefinite and lacks sufficient standards. The decisions of this court have on many occasions discussed the question of prejudice and the possibility of prejudice to a defendant in the course of a criminal trial, and this background of case law affords a sufficient standard for determining whether sequestration should be allowed. As a further part of the same argument, the defendant contends that the section is invalid because it deprives the defendant of an impartial determination of the right of sequestration where the court has already made a ruling denying a motion for a change in the place of trial. We cannot accept defendant's argument. The motion for a change in the place of trial is based upon the ground that prejudice exists, generally as the result of pretrial publicity. A finding that such prejudice does not exist does not necessarily preclude the trial court from finding that the jury should be sequestered. The present case affords a good example of the distinction. Defendant moved several times during the trial for sequestration of the jury and the court denied his motion. However, at the close of the testimony on the next to the last day the court ordered sequestration, possibly on the basis of an incident which will be discussed hereafter in this opinion. It is apparent that the trial judge did not feel that he was bound by a ruling on the pretrial motion since he felt free to grant the motion for sequestration when he felt that there might be a possibility of prejudice. It is our opinion that the statute is valid and that the court did not err in denying the motion to keep the jury together.

The defendant exhausted all of his peremptory challenges and contends on appeal that the court should have allowed his challenges for cause against 3 jurors. One of these was employed as a nurse's aide at the hospital and was working at the hospital when the deceased was brought in. She was also a friend of the family of the deceased and talked to the family at the hospital and attended the visitation at the funeral home. This juror testified that her friendship with the family would not interfere with her impartiality. In response to a question as to whether she was in the frame of mind which she would like to have a juror be in if she were on trial, she replied that she thought that a person in that frame of mind would do a fair job. Defendant excused her by peremptory challenge. In view of the statements of the prospective juror the court did not err in denying the challenge for cause. The second prospective juror involved in this phase of the defendant's argument admitted reading a somewhat spectacular account of the crime in a magazine. The juror said that he could base his verdict solely upon the testimony and could be fair and impartial. He testified that he did not remember the details of the magazine articles and that he read only about half of the article and then laid it down and never resumed reading it. He also was excused peremptorily. The fact that the juror had read a portion of the article was an insufficient basis for the challenge for cause in view of his positive statements of impartiality. The third juror involved was a clergyman, who was the pastor of the church to which one of the testifying police officers belonged. He said that based on his acquaintance with the officer he had the feeling that the officer's testimony would be factual and truthful. When questioned by the court he said that he could subject the testimony of the officer to the same tests as anyone else as to credibility. The court posed an example to the juror in which he stated that if he were a prospective juror and someone asked him if he believed that his court reporter was truthful he would reply that he did so believe, but that this did not mean that he believed the testimony of the reporter would be infallible. The prospective juror stated that he believed that his friend, the police officer, was human and could be mistaken. This juror remained on the panel, defendant's peremptory challenges having been exhausted. We do not believe that the court was required to sustain defendant's challenge for cause as to this juror.

It is also argued that the indictment was fatally defective. Omitting formal language, the indictment charged that the defendant intentionally and knowingly, without lawful justification, shot the deceased and that she languished a short time and died. The act was alleged to be in violation of section 9-1 of the Criminal Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, par. 9-1.) Defendant claims that this indictment fails to allege the intent specified in that section.

The indictment charged that the shooting was done intentionally and knowingly and without lawful justification and specifies the statutory section. In our opinion the indictment was sufficient to allege the criminal intent.

A further contention relates to the instructions given the jury. There was no instruction tendered or given specifically advising the jury that the burden was on the State to establish defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We could properly refuse to consider this contention on the ground that defendant waived the giving of such an instruction by his failure to request it. However, in view of the seriousness of the offense and the severity of the sentence, we consider the claim. In the recently adopted Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions for criminal cases, the committee states that a commitment to presumed innocence which can be overcome only by proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the touchstone of American criminal jurisprudence and that an instruction to that effect must be given in all cases. (IPI — Criminal, sec. 2.03, committee note.) The court gave the following instruction: "The defendant is presumed to be innocent of the charge against him. This presumption remains with him throughout every stage of the trial and during your deliberations on the verdict, and is not overcome unless from all the evidence in the case you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty."

This is a verbatim copy of the first paragraph of the instruction suggested by section 2.03. The second paragraph of the instruction recommended in section 2.03 is as follows: "The State has the burden of proving the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, and this burden remains on the ...


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