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People v. Gorsuch

MAY 2, 1974.

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

v.

TODD B. GORSUCH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. CALVIN R. STONE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE DIXON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After juvenile proceedings the defendant, Todd B. Gorsuch, was indicted for the murders of his sister, Theresa Gorsuch and her friend Rebecca Staley. A jury returned verdicts of guilty on both counts and on June 1, 1971, the defendant was sentenced by the Circuit Court of Peoria County to concurrent terms of not less than 25 nor more than 60 years. He appeals.

The contentions raised are:

1. That he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

2. That the trial court erred in not determining competency of an 11-year-old prosecution witness even though no objection was raised at trial.

3. That the trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to suppress an exhibit.

4. That the former section of the Juvenile Court Act which allows a child to be prosecuted as an adult is unconstitutional.

5. That the sentences are excessive.

Around 3 P.M. on the afternoon of October 3, 1970, the defendant, then aged 14, left the Gorsuch home to go into a nearby woods. He was accompanied by his younger brother and sister, Tim and Theresa and two neighbor children, Ed and Rebecca Staley. The defendant was carrying a .410-gauge shotgun and ammunition for the weapon.

The five children remained together until they arrived at a place in the woods called Suds Falls, a pond with a waterfall effect. The two girls and the defendant went on from there to pick up hickory nuts. Tim and Ed remained at the falls for 15 or 20 minutes and then went back to the Gorsuch home.

After they returned, the defendant came home without his sister, Theresa, or Rebecca Staley.

The two girls failed to return by early evening and so members of both families, a sheriff's group and volunteers formed a search party to look for them. The bodies of the two girls were found in the woods in the southeast corner of the Gorsuch property and, after an autopsy, were found to have been killed by shots to the heart from a .410-gauge shotgun.

On October 4, 1970, the sheriff of Peoria County asked to inspect the .410-gauge shotgun in the Gorsuch house, to have it shot and compared with markings on the shells found at the crime scene to eliminate any of the Gorsuch guns from the gun that may have murdered the girls. One of the sheriff's deputies, after inspecting the muzzle of the gun carried into the woods by defendant noticed a red substance inside the barrel which later testing proved to be human group B blood with fibers mixed in it. Theresa Gorsuch's blood was group B. An expert gave opinion that the fibers were similar to fibers from Theresa's T-shirt. The defendant was arrested for the murders of Theresa Gorsuch and Rebecca Staley.

A lengthy juvenile detention hearing was held and the judge found that probable cause existed that the defendant had committed the crime for which he was detained. On petition of the State's Attorney the defendant was removed from the jurisdiction of the juvenile court to be prosecuted as an ...


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