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People v. Williams

SEPTEMBER 26, 1973.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ROBERT WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. KENNETH E. WILSON, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE BURMAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Robert Williams, was indicted on charges of murder and intimidation. After a jury trial, he was found guilty of both charges. He was sentenced to serve twenty to thirty years in the penitentiary for murder and one to two years in the penitentiary for intimidation, the sentences to run concurrently.

On appeal, defendant contends (1) that the court erred in refusing to give a tendered defense instruction on the effect of intoxication on the criminal responsibility of defendant; (2) that certain statements made by defendant to the police were erroneously admitted in violation of Miranda; and (3) that it was error to try the charges of murder and intimidation together.

The record reveals that the defendant called the Chicago police in the early morning of May 3, 1971, reporting that his wife had been shot. Officer Raymond Reynolds testified that he arrived at the scene at approximately 4:45 A.M. Defendant told him that his wife had shot herself or that someone else had shot her. Officer Reynolds observed Mary Williams dead, sitting in a chair with a gun across her body. On cross-examination, Officer Reynolds stated that when he first saw the defendant, he was crying. The officer had to help him up the stairs, and the defendant fell once. The witness stated that he detected an odor of alcohol on defendant's breath. He also said that the defendant lost consciousness once and was shaken by the detectives to revive him.

Homicide Investigator Robert Smitka testified that he arrived at the scene at approximately 5:20 A.M. with his two partners. Defendant was asked what had transpired. He related that he had been drinking most of the day and evening. At approximately 4:00 A.M. he had called his wife from a tavern on the south side. His wife told him to come home immediately because something bad was going to happen. Defendant proceeded directly home. When he entered through the rear door, he observed his wife sitting in the contour chair in the living room, dead.

Officer Smitka further stated that defendant was asked where the gun had come from which was lying on his wife's body. Defendant responded that he did not have any guns in the house. Investigator Smitka also testified that the officers made tests, with the gun and the victim in their original positions from which the officers concluded that the deceased could not have inflicted the wounds herself with that weapon because the gun was too long.

The witness stated that the defendant appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. On cross-examination, he further testified that he detected alcohol on defendant's breath and that defendant's eyes were glassy. He stated that defendant was coherent and never lost consciousness. At the police station, defendant fell asleep.

Irene Garlinghouse, who lived with defendant and his wife, testified that she was baby-sitting for their baby on the night in question. Defendant and his wife returned home at about 2:30 A.M. Defendant had an argument with his brother about a car battery. The witness stated that after his brother left, defendant and his wife began to argue. Defendant picked up a shot gun, pointed it at his wife, and asked the witness how she would like it if he killed his wife. At the time, Mary Williams was sitting on the couch, nursing the baby. Then defendant told his wife to put her mouth over the gun. She said, "Do I look like I'm crazy?" Defendant then told her to get up and leave the house. Mary said she did not want to leave and defendant shoved her. She fell on the floor and he kicked her and hit her on the head with the shotgun. Then defendant jerked her off the floor and shoved her to the chair. He stood there, pointing the gun at his wife, and again asked the witness how she would like it if he killed his wife. Then the gun went off.

Mrs. Garlinghouse further stated that after the gun went off defendant told her to leave. He said, "I'll make this look like a suicide." Defendant placed his deceased wife's hand on the trigger of the gun. Then he walked the witness to the bus station. On the way, he told her, "Don't burn me or I'll come back and I'll fix you, kill you." On cross-examination, Mrs. Garlinghouse testified that when defendant came home, he was drunk. She also stated, however, that he did not require support, was not falling over his feet, and was not mumbling his words or raising his voice.

Katie Williams testified that she was married to William Williams, the defendant's brother, and that she and her husband lived next door to defendant and his wife. She stated that she saw the defendant and his wife at a tavern on North Paulina on the evening in question. They all left the tavern at about 2:00 A.M. She said she heard defendant and his wife arguing when they got home. Then she heard her husband and defendant arguing about a car battery. Sometime after that she heard a shot. On cross-examination Mrs. Williams stated that defendant and his wife arrived at the tavern just before closing. She said she saw defendant with a drink in his hand, but never saw him drinking it. She further stated that when defendant walked into the tavern he appeared to have been drinking a lot.

William Williams, defendant's brother, testified that he and defendant and his wife went to a tavern on Paulina at about 9:30 P.M. on the evening in question. Defendant and his wife left after five or ten minutes. Later the witness' wife came to the tavern. At about 1:30 A.M., defendant and his wife returned and defendant had a drink. The witness stated that defendant was "packing a pretty good load."

The defendant testified on his own behalf. He stated that he, his wife, and his brother went to a tavern at approximately 10:00 P.M. on the night in question, and had a few drinks. Then defendant and his wife went to another tavern, where they had two or three drinks and watched a show. After the show, defendant and his wife went back to pick up his brother. Defendant went in and ordered a drink. William Williams' wife had come and at closing time they all went home. When they got home, defendant said he and his brother argued about a car battery. Defendant stated that he went out to do some work on his car and to get his wife some cheeseburgers. When he returned home, he saw his wife sitting in a chair with her head down and a shotgun lying across her lap.

Defendant stated that Irene Garlinghouse was lying on the couch in the room where his deceased wife was. She got up and asked to go home, but defendant said it would be better if she stayed. He finally agreed to let her go. He asked her if she knew how it happened and she said "no." He gave her some change and she left. Defendant denied walking her to the bus. Then defendant called the police and told them that his wife had been shot. They asked if it was a suicide and he said he didn't know. One of the police officers who arrived on the scene asked where he kept his guns and he replied "in the closet." Defendant said that he was crying and that he passed out once at the apartment. He denied that he had shot his wife and denied that he had intimidated Irene Garlinghouse by threatening to physically injure her if she called the police.

• 1 Defendant first contends that the court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the effect of intoxication on the criminal responsibility of the defendant. In order for voluntary intoxication to be a legal excuse, the condition of intoxication must be so extreme as to suspend all reason. (People v. Rose, 124 Ill. App.2d 447, 259 N.E.2d 393.) Merely being "drunk" or "intoxicated" is no defense. The condition must be ...


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