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People v. Porter

AUGUST 24, 1973.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Kankakee County; the Hon. HERMAN W. SNOW, Judge, presiding.


Lawrence H. Porter appeals from judgments and sentences following a conviction for rape and burglary in a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Kankakee County. Porter was sentenced to serve terms of not less than five (5) nor more than ten (10) years on each of the two counts of rape and burglary with the terms to be served concurrently.

It is contended that the State did not prove defendant guilty of rape and burglary beyond a reasonable doubt. Complaining witness and defendant testified in direct conflict and told divergent stories. The complaining witness, Betty Logsdon, on the 14th day of July 1971, the date in question, lived alone in an apartment on the second floor of an apartment building. She was 5'5" tall and weighed 114 pounds. Porter was approximately 5'10" tall and weighed approximately 135 pounds. Miss Logsdon testified that she went to sleep on July 13, 1971, at about 10:30 P.M. She awoke at about 4:00 A.M. on July 14, 1971, and found Porter sitting on her bed to her right as she lay on her back with the bed sheet and spread covering her to her neck. Porter was lying halfway over her with his arm across her and his feet on the floor. She was wearing panties at the time.

As Miss Logsdon awoke she stated that Porter said, "Oh, Joan, Honey, I'm sorry I'm drunk and home so late." Miss Logsdon told Porter he was in the wrong apartment. He said, "You're right. Honest to God, I'm sorry that I scared you." The girl asked Porter to leave and also asked him how he had entered. He said he came through the doorway. She told him that was not true because she had locked the door. She noticed that the bedroom curtains were blowing and the screen had been pulled out. She told Porter he had come through the window and he admitted that he had come in through the window.

Porter then said that he wanted to meet her for a long time but had not known how. He repeatedly said he was sorry he had threatened her and would not hurt her. During this period of approximately half an hour she was on her bed with the sheet and spread pulled up to her neck. She continuously asked Porter to leave. He said that first he had to calm down. She asked him several times to leave the bedroom so she could dress. He finally left the bedroom and stood outside the bedroom door with the door ajar five or six inches. Miss Logsdon dressed herself in jeans and a terrycloth top. She was not wearing shoes. She turned on the bedroom light and went into her living room. Porter sat on the living room couch approximately 12 to 15 feet from the bedroom door. Miss Logsdon walked to the opposite end of the couch, got her cigarettes and leaned against the stereo. The stereo is located directly across the room from the outside door to the apartment. Miss Logsdon kept asking Porter to leave. She said she was tired and had to work the next day. He said he would leave when he finished his cigarette. He repeated that he wanted to meet her. He then said he wanted a drink, and she said he would have to go elsewhere. He lit another cigarette and said he would leave when he finished it.

Miss Logsdon said that he noticed that her hands were shaking; that he told her not to be afraid, and that he would not hurt her. He said he would leave if she gave him a glass of water. When she was in the kitchen to get the water, she found Porter standing at the door. He grabbed her by the arm, displayed a knife-like object, with a four-inch blade, and told her, "Now, get to the bedroom. You know why I am here." She asked Porter to leave but he responded he did not want to hurt her but he could if he had to. "It's something that I have to do, so quit stalling and let's get it over with," he said.

Miss Logsdon pleaded with Porter to discard the weapon. He said he would not have to use it if she did what he said. He took the girl to the sliding doors leading from the apartment to the balcony, pushed the doors open and laid the weapon outside on the balcony. She insisted that he throw the weapon over the balcony and said that, if he did, she would not scream. As she tried to pull away from him, he said, "I can choke you to death if I have to." He said that even though he had discarded the weapon, she still would have to do what he wanted. He emphasized his threat by saying, "You know what happened five years ago tonight? That was the night Richard Speck murdered the nurses in Chicago. I don't want that to happen to you. I don't want to hurt you, but I can."

Although Miss Logsdon kept begging Porter to leave her alone he ordered her to go to the bedroom. While holding her arm he said he was thirsty and pulled her into the kitchen. She tried to obtain a knife, but he knocked it from her hand, told her to quit stalling, and, while holding her by the arm and around the neck, pushed her into the bedroom. Miss Logsdon was crying. While he held her, Porter forcibly removed her pants and pushed her back onto the bed. He said he would hurt her if she screamed. She attempted to push him away with her free arm and continued to get him to leave her alone. He then used his knees to force apart her closed legs and had intercourse with her, with one arm across her throat. The struggle and the intercourse lasted approximately 15 minutes. Following the act of intercourse, Porter apologized but said it was something he had to do. He then said he was thirsty and obtained a coke in the kitchen and poured it into one glass for him and one for her. Still holding her by the arm, he took her back to the bedroom and said he would have to tie her arms and feet because he knew she would call the police. She asked him just to leave and said she would not report the incident to the police. The time was approximately 5:30 A.M. Porter then went into the bathroom. Miss Logsdon dressed herself in her jeans, without shoes or panties, unlocked the front door, and went to the car. She drove to the police station immediately. The police testified that she was crying and sobbing, barefoot, and with her hair in disarray when she came to the police station shortly after 6:00 A.M. saying that she had been raped. The police took her to the hospital for examination and then returned with her to the police station to take her statement.

Defendant Lawrence H. Porter was not arrested as a suspect until he surrendered voluntarily to the police in the middle of August. He said he was surrendering because he was involved in the incident, and that a man who had been identified as the assailant by Miss Logsdon in a line-up on August 11, 1971, had nothing to do with it. Porter said his conscience bothered him. Porter furnished a statement of his version as to what had occurred. His statement was admitted into evidence at the trial. His testimony at the trial was to the same effect.

In Porter's testimony, he stated that he left a bar shortly after 2:00 A.M. on the morning in question and that while proceeding to his home he saw a girl arising from grass along the street shortly after an automobile had left the vicinity. He asked her if she was all right and if she wanted to go to a hospital. She was wearing a pinkish robe at the time. She asked him to walk her to her door and he agreed, but the door was locked. He suggested she ask the manager for a key but she said she had been locked out before and asked for a screwdriver. He went to his car, obtained a brass rod he used in his work and, at the insistence of the girl, put it in the left-hand corner of the bedroom window, flipped the screen off, opened the window, got in and opened the front door for her.

He stated he was going to leave but that she asked him to stay for 10 or 15 minutes. He said he could not stay because his wife was waiting. She asked that he stay just a few minutes, because she did not want "that kid" to come back. He agreed. As he sat on the couch, she sat on the stereo about 4 feet in front of him. He stated her legs were apart and her robe was half opened at the legs. He could see that she was not wearing panties. He became nervous, his mouth got dry and he asked for a glass of water. She offered him vodka, but he said he could not drink whiskey. She got him a glass of water and she again leaned against the stereo. She asked his name and he said it was Lawrence Porter.

Porter stated he was ready to leave when Miss Logsdon asked him to lend her $20. When he said he had no money, she sat down next to him, put her arm around him, and asked him if he would make love for $20. When he arose to leave, she stood and walked to the door ahead of him and asked if it would be worth $20 for her not to "holler rape." He then gave her the $20 and said, "Here, let's get it over with," and went into the bedroom. She lay on the bed and opened her robe. He undressed and got into bed with her where they had intercourse, he stated. When they finished she asked if he wanted to split a Pepsi. They sat on the bed and conversed. He then took his clothes into the bathroom and washed and dressed and when he emerged, no one was there.

Paul McDowell testified as a rebuttal witness for the State. He was a radio station announcer and lived at apartment 18 in the building in which the incident took place. Miss Logsdon lived in apartment 19. McDowell testified that he arrived home from work about 11:15 P.M. on the night in question and then listened alone to his stereo until about 3:00 A.M. Between 2:00 and 2:15 A.M. he heard a ripping sound at the sliding glass door of his apartment. He remembered the time because he had been timing a record. He went to the regular door next to the glass door and he saw Porter standing on the balcony between the two doors. Porter asked if a female lived in McDowell's apartment. McDowell said she did not. Porter walked away. McDowell then went outside and found that the screen on his apartment sliding glass door had been cut and pushed back. McDowell knew this condition had not existed prior to that time, because the screen had been locked. McDowell said he called his landlord but not the police.

With respect to the issues of fact (and the conflicting testimony), the jury, as finders of fact in criminal litigation, normally is entitled to believe or disbelieve such evidence as it wishes, so long as the evidence, as a matter of law, raises a reasonable inference of guilt. (People v. Hoffman, 45 Ill.2d 221, 258 N.E.2d 326.) When the criminal trial involves a crime of rape, we recognize that somewhat different rules apply to determine compliance with the standard of proof. Where the act of sexual intercourse is not questioned, the accused inherently is vulnerable to conviction on the basis of facts, known only to the complainant and the accused, which if accorded a slightly different interpretation, could establish either guilt or innocence. (People v. Faulisi, 25 Ill.2d 457, 185 N.E.2d 211.) By reason of this situation, the testimony of a prosecutrix is required to be "clear and convincing" or independently corroborated. (People v. Scott, 407 Ill. 301, 95 N.E.2d 315.) To establish the crime of rape, the ...

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