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People v. Linwood

JULY 15, 1975.




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


After a trial by jury, the defendant, John Linwood, was found guilty of murdering his wife and was sentenced by the circuit court of Peoria County to a term of from 16 to 45 years in the penitentiary.

The defendant, John Linwood, and his wife, Shirley, were married in 1962 and thereafter resided in the Peoria area. According to the defendant, their relations were satisfactory until about 1968. Thereafter, numerous episodes took place involving Shirley's mental problems, rage and marital disharmony. She was hospitalized on at least six occasions for mental disorders at facilities in the Peoria area and was, more or less, continuously under doctors care for several years prior to the incident which resulted in her death.

On November 26, 1971, Shirley was in a rage at about 3:30 in the afternoon. She broke dishes and tried to get out the back window of the apartment. John and Shirley Linwood had both been drinking that day. At about 4 o'clock, John and their daughter, Kathy, went for a ride, ran a couple of errands and at about 6 o'clock John stopped at his mother's house. He called Zeller Zone Clinic from his mother's house and told them that Shirley was enraged. He also called Dr. Cibelli to ask for medicine or something for Shirley. He then went to the police station and asked if they could lock Shirley up for the night. He returned to the apartment at about 7:30. Shirley was seated in a chair next to the record player, listening to records. From about 7:30 to 10:30 John and Shirley and their daughter, Kathy, sat in the apartment drinking beer and listening to records. At about 10:30, Kathy walked Shirley to the bedroom and then left.

During their marriage Shirley had owned several guns. However, all of the guns had been disposed of except one .22 handgun which John bought about 11 months before the trial. This handgun was customarily kept in the trunk of the car or in the bottom drawer of the chest of drawers in the house.

When Kathy left, John, thinking that Shirley might wake up and get the gun out of the bottom drawer of the chest of drawers, went into the bedroom and took the gun out of the drawer to hide it. Then John's sister came in. The gun, which was wrapped in a man's handkerchief when he removed it from the drawer, was lying on the cocktail table.

At about 20 minutes to 12, John went to bed. He took the gun, still wrapped in the handkerchief, into the bedroom and laid it on the night stand. He got a phone call from his son John, Jr. He returned to the bedroom, pulled off his clothes, turned out the light and went to bed. He got in on the side nearest the wall and laid there on his left side facing the wall. He heard a bang and could hear his sister calling him. He got out of bed and went to the door in his shorts. His sister was yelling what happened, what happened. John turned on the light and Shirley was lying in bed and the gun was in her left hand. He pulled the gun from her left hand and took it to the kitchen. He went back to the bedroom, got dressed and started to go back to bed when he heard someone knocking at the door. It was the police.

The defendant was questioned that night at the apartment, at about 4 a.m. at the police station, at about 4:20 p.m. at the police station and again at 4:30 p.m. the next day at the police station.

Pursuant to an indictment charging him with two counts of murder, defendant was found guilty and has appealed his conviction and sentence.

On this appeal the defendant argues that: (1) statements and admissions were erroneously admitted which deprived him of a fair trial; (2) physical evidence and testimony were erroneously admitted; (3) prejudicial and erroneous statements were made by the State's Attorney in opening and closing argument; (4) the prosecution engaged in unfair and prejudicial cross-examination of defense witnesses; (5) the prosecution elicited and presented improper and unfair evidence from a witness for the State; and, (6) the verdict is not supported by sufficient evidence.

Defendant's first assignment of error, regarding statements and admissions, involves the incidents which took place after the police officers arrived at the scene. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence of his statements or admissions. After a hearing the motion was denied. Defendant renewed his objections to such testimony during trial but again his objections were disallowed.

The initial events were described by Charles Bridgewater, a police officer of the Peoria Police Department. He testified that during the early morning hours of November 27, 1971, around midnight, he responded to a radio call of a possible shooting in the homes at MacArthur and Adams. Upon his arrival, he asked if there had been a shooting at the address, and defendant's sister, who answered the door, said that there had been and that the body was in the bedroom. He then went into the bedroom, viewed the body and then stepped back out of the bedroom and asked the defendant where the weapon was. The defendant told him he had taken the gun from the bedroom and placed it in a cabinet over the sink in the kitchen. The police officer found the handgun in the cabinet above the sink where the defendant had placed it. Officer Bennett followed Bridgewater into the kitchen and stayed there to watch the weapon until sergeants or detectives arrived. The defendant then returned to the living room where he received the Miranda warnings. Bridgewater testified as to his conversation with the defendant including his questions to the defendant and defendant's responses thereto. He also testified it was approximately 5 minutes before Sergeant Taylor arrived.

Sergeant Taylor testified that, after his arrival at the apartment and after his examination of the deceased, he was standing inside the living room and heard the defendant mumble something. He said he looked at the defendant and the defendant looked at him and said, "I hope I get a hundred years." He said he then asked the defendant why, and the defendant said something to the effect that, because I took the gun in there.

With respect to the testimony of Officers Bridgewater and Taylor, it is defendant's contention that the testimony regarding the location of the gun and the reference to "I hope I get a hundred years" as well as the utterance which followed should have been suppressed at ...

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