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People v. Land

DECEMBER 4, 1975.

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

v.

CURTIS D. LAND, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. GEORGE E. DOLEZAL, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MCNAMARA DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Curtis D. Land, was charged in the circuit court of Cook County with the murder of Albert Berry. A jury found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter and the court sentenced him to a term of 7 to 15 years. On appeal defendant contends that the trial court erred in admonishing and correcting defense counsel for misrepresenting the evidence in the presence of the jury, and that the court erred in not further instructing the jury upon their request. In view of the nature of the argument, the facts may be summarized briefly.

Defendant and decedent were guests at a party in an apartment located at 22 East 58th Street in the City of Chicago. The two men were seated across from each other arguing and exchanging insults. Three witnesses for the State testified that defendant pulled a gun and shot decedent after the latter had continued verbally abusing defendant following a warning to desist. The witnesses further testified that after defendant shot decedent in the left arm, decedent continued advancing toward defendant who was retreating towards a door. Defendant then shot decedent several more times, fatally wounding him. Defendant testified that decedent was abusing him and as he attempted to leave the apartment, decedent threatened him with bodily harm and came up behind him. Defendant turned, took his revolver out of his pocket, and fired one shot hitting decedent's arm. Decedent continued coming at defendant and threatening him. Defendant fired several more shots and left the apartment.

In view of our holding, we need only consider defendant's argument that the trial court committed reversible error in refusing to further instruct the jury when they requested additional instructions.

After the jury had commenced their deliberations, they requested further instruction from the judge. In the presence of the prosecutor and defense counsel, the trial court assembled the jury in open court. Thereafter the following colloquy ensued:

"THE COURT: Someone asked for me?

JUROR: Yes, we had a question.

THE COURT: I cannot interpret the instructions for you, you must read these instructions and interpret them yourself.

JUROR: There is a very slight difference in the meaning, I don't know some words.

THE COURT: I cannot interpret the instructions, they are instructions that are used by the Supreme Court and approved by the Supreme Court, you must interpret them yourselves. I wish I could, but it would be error if I did.

JUROR: Well, can we tell you where we are having difficulty?

THE COURT: No. I am sorry. Once again, I wish I could. If I could I would be influencing the jury and I don't want to do that."

The trial court then ascertained the identity of the foreman of the jury, and asked if he believed the jury could reach a verdict. When the foreman replied affirmatively, the judge had the jury resume deliberations.

The instructions given to the jury were taken from Illinois Pattern Instructions in criminal cases and had been agreed to by both sides. The instructions included those for murder, ...


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