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People v. Camel





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. Birch E. Morgan, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied November 26, 1974.

Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Champaign County in March 1971, defendant, Steven Arthur Camel, was convicted of rape and aggravated kidnapping. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of 10 to 25 years in the penitentiary. His convictions were affirmed by the appellate court (People v. Camel, 10 Ill. App.3d 1022), and we granted leave to appeal. Defendant asserts that numerous errors occurred during the preliminary hearing and in the trial.

On March 17, 1970, following her usual custom, the 16-year-old victim of these crimes, left her home about 8 a.m. to walk to the home of a girl friend with whom she would then walk to high school in Champaign. While on the way, a man walking in the same direction passed her, stopped, turned around a few feet away from her and asked the location of the university. The victim pointed in the general direction. The man had a scarf wrapped around his head covering the lower portion of his face up to about the middle of his nose. He was not wearing a hat.

Following this encounter the victim crossed the street to avoid further contact, but the assailant also crossed the street and blocked her path. He again asked the location of the university, to which she briefly replied that he had a long way to go. The assailant, who had both hands in his pockets, told her that he had a gun and wanted all her money. She attempted to comply but he ordered her to come with him instead.

When they began walking, he placed a knife at her back, then told her to keep her head down as they approached a four-door car that she described as "greenish-bluish" in color. After she got in the passenger side of the car, he ordered her to keep her head down close to her knees and he blindfolded her. When she began to cry, he told her to "shut-up" and he put a knife to her throat. He started driving for a few minutes and then he stopped to tie the girl's hands behind her back. He threatened her with the knife when she again started to cry. The assailant resumed driving and ordered the victim to take off her underpants. When she responded that she could not because her hands were tied behind her back, he stopped the car and removed them. He then continued driving and told the victim to climb in the back seat. Several minutes later he stopped the car, climbed into the rear seat and raped her.

The assailant released the victim at a park in Champaign after telling her to face the opposite direction of the car and not to look back until he was gone. She then ran to her school where she made an immediate complaint to the dean of girls. Her parents arrived, and they took her to the family doctor for treatment.

Later that morning the victim talked to the Champaign police and gave a statement describing her attacker as between 21 and 22 years old, around 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a small build, dark brown hair combed over his forehead and hanging down around his ears, small hazel eyes, medium voice, and wearing a hip-length brown corduroy jacket. The same day she also viewed some suspects at the police station by means of closed-circuit television and did not identify any of them. Some days after the attack, she viewed numerous photographs and again did not identify her assailant's picture as being among them.

Defendant was taken into custody for an unrelated matter on March 30, 1970. Though he had not yet been identified by the victim as the attacker, a preliminary hearing was held May 28, 1970, on these charges of rape and kidnapping in addition to other criminal charges. The victim and her father were present and she made a positive identification of defendant as her assailant at this time. Defense counsel did not appear, although the record and the defendant's brief filed in this appeal indicate that counsel was aware that the proceeding would occur on this date.

Prior to trial a hearing was had on a motion to suppress this identification and the motion was denied. Defendant's girl friend, Victoria Booth, who later married defendant, had attended the preliminary hearing, and she testified that there were no other persons present on other cases, nor were other accuseds at the proceeding. She stated that defendant was the only Caucasian brought before the bench during the hearing which lasted 30 to 45 minutes. She testified in an offer of proof that defendant informed the court his attorney was not present and he wanted a continuance which the court denied. She further indicated that the victim and her father were in court, that prior to the hearing they conversed together, and both spoke with an assistant State's Attorney. The trial court refused to allow an offer of proof as to the conversation between the victim and her father. An offer of proof, however, was permitted as to the conversation with the assistant State's Attorney. The witness Booth asserted that the father asked if his daughter would have to testify and the assistant State's Attorney responded that she was just to watch.

Defendant called the victim to testify at the suppression hearing. She stated that she had attended the preliminary hearing in order to familiarize herself with court procedure, and that she was unaware that defendant would be present. In describing the several matters heard that day, she testified that two or three cases were called before defendant's. She asserted that she identified one of the men talking to the judge as her assailant, and did so prior to knowing the reason for his presence. She identified defendant by viewing him from the back and by hearing his voice. She stated that her father, not she, had spoken with the assistant State's Attorney, and that she did not hear what was said. When questioned by defense counsel on redirect if the man she identified was the same man she had seen in a photograph, she replied that he was not. When defense counsel attempted to question her further as to previous photographs she had viewed, the court ruled that it was improper redirect examination and refused an offer of proof.

The victim's father testified that they attended the preliminary hearing to find out whether it would be possible for his daughter to identify her assailant, or whether the police should keep looking for him. He stated he knew defendant would be present in court and there would be a preliminary hearing, but denied he knew it was for defendant, or if he was even sure he knew defendant's name. He was uncertain concerning when defendant's case was called that day. He said, however, his daughter had identified defendant prior to any testimony related to the present offenses and it was subsequent thereto they first realized defendant was there in regard to his daughter's case. He denied speaking with the assistant State's Attorney.

At trial the victim identified the defendant as her assailant. She admitted viewing a closed-circuit television display the day of the attack, and looking at numerous pictures, though she could not remember when the latter occurred. She could not ...

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