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People v. Smith

MAY 23, 1972.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Massac County; the Hon. DOROTHY W. SPOMER, Judge, presiding.


Following a trial to a jury, the defendant, Willie Smith, Jr., was convicted of murder and of attempt to murder. The trial had been removed to Massac County from Alexander County.

The defendant was sentenced to a term of from 60 years to 100 years on the murder conviction and to a term of from 15 to 20 years on the attempt to murder conviction. The sentences are to run consecutively.

The crimes occurred on the evening of February 17, 1969, in Cairo. Mary Alberta Magee, a woman in heir eighties, was in her home at 416-10th Street on that evening in the company of Olivia Paurom. Olivia Paurom was a roomer or boarder in the Magee home and a hospital technician exchange student from the Philippines. The two women were home alone watching television in the living room. At approximately 10:00 o'clock P.M. someone came to the door of the house and rang the doorbell. Mrs. Magee went to the door followed by Miss Paurom. Miss Paurom observed a man through a glass door. There was a light at the front door. Mrs. Magee unlocked the door and the man rushed in.

The Magee home faces south on 10th Street. The house was situated about half way between Washington Avenue, the main north-south street in Cairo, and Walnut. The house is on the north side of the east-west running Tenth Street. On the south side of Tenth Street facing Washington Avenue there is located the Mark Twain Restaurant. A back door to the restaurant is located on Tenth Street, a little less than half a block from the Magee house.

The entrance to the Magee home is on the west side of the house. From the entrance, there is a hallway which leads to stairs to the second floor. To the right of the entrance there is a sitting room and behind it to the north is another room which was used as a living room. There is a third room behind the living room. To the left of the third room is the kitchen; behind the kitchen is a small room that leads out to the back door. Miss Paurom and Mrs. Magee were watching TV in the middle room, the living room, when the intruder arrived at the front door.

When the intruder rushed in, Miss Paurom was near the front door at the door into the sitting room. Miss Paurom testified that after the man rushed in, she ran to the telephone and completed a call for help, but she did not know if she was understood. She testified, "I was beaten bad". She also testified that she got a good look at the assailant and also noticed how he was dressed. She could not tell his age. She did identify the defendant as the individual that came in the door and beat her. Upon cross-examination she again stated, "Yes, I am very sure that I could identify him because I saw him". She further stated that she had identified him from many pictures that had been shown her by the County officials.

Miss Paurom sustained severe injuries which indicated she had been beaten, including numerous fractures, lacerations and was suffering from concussion and shock, as reported by the attending physician. The physician also reported that at 12:15 the night of the crime he was unable to obtain blood pressure. Miss Paurom has blood type "O".

Near noon the following day, Mrs. Magee died from intercranial bleeding due to skull fracture according to the opinion of the physician treating at the time of death. A pathologist, who examined Mrs. Magee after death, also testified that in her opinion death was caused by hemorrhaging of the brain. The hemorrhaging was in turn caused by fracture of the skull. When the attending physician first examined Mrs. Magee, he found her unconscious with a four-inch wound on the left side of her scalp extending down to the bone, bleeding from the right ear and blood behind the left eardrum, her left eye lid swollen and discolored, her left pupil dilated. Mrs. Magee had blood type "A".

The Chief of Police of the City of Cairo and the Cairo Fire Chief, had entered the Mark Twain Restaurant shortly after 10:00 o'clock. The two were having a cup of coffee when Fire Chief Edwards noticed a lady come in the back door looking as though "she has been beaten". The lady, who was Miss Paurom, was bloody all over with blood on her head, face, clothes and matted in her hair. Fire Chief Edwards assisted Miss Paurom and Chief Clutts telephoned for help.

After help arrived and Miss Paurom was sent to the hospital, Chief Clutts and Fire Chief Edwards received notification from another officer that there was "someone" at 416 Tenth Street. Upon entering the Magee home, Chief Clutts found Mrs. Magee lying on the floor by the stairway unconscious in a pool of blood about the head. He once again telephoned for aid, summoning an ambulance.

After Mrs. Magee had been taken away in the ambulance, Chief Clutts went to the rear of the house and found blood around the kitchen telephone, which was partly torn down. In the kitchen, he saw bloody tracks lead out the back door. There was snow on the ground in the back yard that had fallen prior to the 18th of February. He saw footprints and in the snow he found a metal object which he called part of a jack.

Chief Clutts then returned to the house to see if he could find any papers that might give him any "leads". He found a white envelope with blood spots on it addressed to Willie Smith, Jr., Clinton, Kentucky" and a return address of "Shirley Coates, 1106 Walnut, Cairo, Illinois". The envelope contained a valentine from Shirley Coates to the defendant. It was received into evidence as the defendant testified that he received it on the day of the murder, but asserted that he left it at Shirley Coates' house. Fire Chief Edwards also testified that there were two pocketbooks found that had no money in them.

Two police officers went to the home of Shirley Coates and from there to the defendant's grandparents' house, on 12th Street, where they met a Deputy Sheriff. They then went to 2104 Poplar where they were shown a picture of the defendant. From that residence, the officers went to the ...

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