APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. GEORGE
E. DOLEZAL, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE HAYES DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
In Indictment No. 69-972, Michael Parra (hereinafter defendant) was charged with the offenses of murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a) (1) and par. 9-1(a) (2)) and with the offense of involuntary manslaughter (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, par. 9-3(a)) in the death of Sharon Dobosz, who died as a result of injuries sustained by having been struck by an automobile. After a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of the offense of reckless homicide (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 38, par. 9-3(b)). *fn1 He was sentenced to a term of not less than two nor more than five years in the Illinois State Penitentiary. From that judgment and sentence, defendant appeals. He was admitted to post-conviction bail pending the disposition of his appeal.
In his appeal, defendant raises eight issues. Of these issues, the most important is whether the evidence is legally sufficient to sustain his conviction. The consideration of this issue requires the following detailed recital of the evidence adduced at the trial, which recital we now undertake.
Cheryl Dobosz, the mother of the victim, testified that her daughter, Sharon Dobosz, resided alone in a second-floor apartment at 5903 West Huron Street in Chicago. *fn2 On 18 November 1968, Sharon had visited at the home of her parents, arriving at about 7:15 p.m. and leaving at about 7:40 p.m. The witness next saw her daughter at about 5 a.m. on the following morning in the emergency room of the West Suburban Hospital. The witness made an in-court identification of a photograph of her daughter, of five articles of clothing which her daughter had been wearing on the night of 18 November, and of Michael Parra, the defendant. The witness testified that Sharon had known defendant for about nine or ten months. At the hospital, defendant had given the witness' husband a keycase containing keys to Sharon's apartment. The witness recognized the keycase as one which her husband had given to Sharon. Over objection, the witness was permitted to identify the signature of her daughter on a document identified as People's Exhibit 3. Unknown to the jury at this stage of the trial, this document was an insurance policy on the life of Sharon; under the terms of the policy, defendant was the designated beneficiary. *fn3
Walter Frank Dobosz, the father of the victim, testified to substantially the same matters as his wife and made the same identifications of the photograph, the articles of clothing, and the signature of their daughter on People's Exhibit 3. In addition, he stated that, at the hospital, his wife had said: "Who could have done this awful thing?" Whereupon defendant had hit his fist on a wall. Defendant's motion to strike this item of testimony was denied. According to the witness, defendant then asked a police officer whether he (defendant) could go back to secure the victim's apartment; the police officer told defendant he could not. Defendant then gave keys to the apartment to the officer, who requested the witness to return to the apartment and lock it up, which the witness did. The witness was shown a keycase and recognized it as being one which he had previously given to his daughter. The witness testified that he had recovered People's Exhibit 3 from his daughter's apartment, and that the insurance policy was among papers which he had found in her apartment two days after her burial. Defendant moved for a mistrial on the ground that People's Exhibit 3 had now been identified to the jury as an insurance policy. The motion was denied, but the jury was immediately instructed to disregard the description of People's Exhibit 3 as being an insurance policy.
Donna Mary Dobosz, the sister of the victim, testified that she saw Sharon at the witness' own apartment at about 8:10 p.m. on 18 November 1968. The victim arrived in Michael Parra's automobile. The victim made a telephone call at about 9 p.m. and then left the apartment at about 9:20 p.m. The witness identified the photograph of Sharon, the five articles of clothing which Sharon had been wearing, and Sharon's signature on People's Exhibit 3.
Janet Selers testified that she was visiting the apartment of Anna Palana at 5903 West Huron Street in Chicago on the evening of 18 November 1968. At about 11 or 11:30 p.m., she and other persons in the front room of the apartment of Anna Palana heard arguing between a man and a woman coming from upstairs. She next heard footsteps coming down the stairs, first one set of footsteps and then a minute later a second set. She testified that she heard the woman's voice say: "Mike, I want my keys." The second set of footsteps sounded as if the person did not have shoes on. The footsteps then went outside, and a door slammed from outside. The witness went to a window in the front room of Anna Palana's apartment, which window faced north. When she looked through the window, she saw a white Pontiac Tempest convertible parked in front of the building at 5903 West Huron, on the south side of the street facing west. She had seen the automobile before. She heard the woman's voice saying again in a loud tone: "Mike, I want my keys." She and the other persons in the room then sat down and began to talk. She then got up again and looked out a window of the front room, which window faced west; she saw the white Pontiac making a right turn onto Austin Boulevard, which is a northsouth street (6000) at the west end of the 5900 block of West Huron Street. "At about not even a second" later, she noticed the white car again in front of Anna Palana's apartment headed west. The white car then approached a body lying in the street; the car stopped; the driver got out of the car, looked at the body, and got back into the car. The witness was unable to determine who the driver was.
After the driver got back into the car, he drove around the body to Austin and made a right-hand turn onto Austin. The witness and Anna Palana then went outside when they noticed the body. They went up to the body and a Fire Department ambulance came headed west on Huron. The same white car then drove up headed east on Huron and the driver got out. The witness testified that the victim said: "Mike, if I ever needed you, I need you now."
The witness did not see the driver of the car so as to be able to identify him. The driver of the Pontiac asked the ambulance driver where they were taking the girl. The witness did not see the white Pontiac leave the scene. The witness identified People's Exhibits 4 and 5 as pictures of the white Pontiac convertible.
On cross-examination the witness testified that, after she heard the car's engine start, she heard the girl ask for her keys for the second time. The voice sounded like it was outside the car. When the witness looked out of the apartment for the second time thru the front room window which faced west, she did not see anything in the street but saw the white Pontiac down by the corner at Austin Boulevard. The witness did not see a female then running down the street nor on the sidewalk.
The next time the witness looked out the window, the white Pontiac was again stopped in front of the apartment, on the south side of Huron Street facing west, but the witness did not know how much time had elapsed. At the time she noticed the white Pontiac again in front of the apartment, she first noticed the body in the street. From the time that the witness first looked out the front window facing west and saw the white car make a right turn at Austin until she saw it again in front of 5903 West Huron facing west was about a "second or so" later. After stopping in front of the apartment, the driver drove up to the right of the body. He parked in the middle of the street. There were other cars parked along the curb (on the north side of the street).
The only conversation this witness heard was the girl asking for her keys. The witness did not hear any noise that sounded like a car running over a body, nor did she hear a screeching of brakes.
Anna Palana testified that on 18 November 1968 she was living at 5903 West Huron, which is a two-story apartment building containing four apartments. The witness lived in the west apartment on the first floor. Shortly after arriving home from work at about 10:30 or 10:45 p.m., the witness heard an argument between a man and woman coming from the apartment directly above hers. The witness recognized the girl's voice as that of Sharon Dobosz. The witness heard one person leave and go downstairs. Shortly thereafter she heard a second person going down the stairs. The witness heard the girl calling on the stairway "Mike, give me my keys," and "I need my keys." The witness heard the doors to the building slam and again heard the girl hollering for her keys from outside of the apartment.
The witness went to the window facing north and didn't see anything. She went to the window facing west and saw a small white car going towards Austin. The car was a couple of doors from the corner of Austin when she saw it. When the white car reached Austin, it made a right turn. The witness next saw the car come around the corner from Mayfield (a north-south street at 5900 West), making a right turn on to Huron and traveling west. The car pulled up in front of the apartment building for a second or two, pulled away, and again stopped. The witness then first saw the body lying in the street. The driver got out of the car, bent down a little bit, got back in the car, and drove off again. The driver had stopped approximately in front of 5938 West Huron. The witness had seen the car on numerous occasions but had not seen the driver. She had seen Sharon Dobosz drive the car. The witness then identified the car from photographs (People's Exhibits 4 and 5).
After the white car had pulled away again, the witness left the apartment with Janet Selers and both went to the body. After they got to the body, an ambulance pulled up and then the car the witness had identified from photographs came from the west and pulled up on the north side of the street. As they were putting the victim in the ambulance, she said: "Mike, if ever I need you, I need you now." The witness did not remember seeing the car leave the scene. When the witness had seen the white car approaching Austin Boulevard for the first time, the witness had not then seen a body on the street.
On cross-examination, the witness testified that she saw the white Pontiac approximately three times on the night of 18 November 1968. The first two times were prior to her going out of her apartment; the third time was after she had left her apartment and had gone to approximately 5938 West Huron.
When she had first looked out the west window of the apartment towards Austin, the witness had not seen any bodies lying in the street. When the witness then first had seen the white car, it had already proceeded beyond the point of 5938 West Huron. A minute or so later, the white car pulled up and stopped in front of 5903 West Huron headed west. The driver then pulled away, drove a little better than a half block, stopped again, and got out. The driver then drove off again and turned right on Austin Boulevard.
The witness did not see the white car hit the body, or hear screeching of brakes or anything that sounded like a body being dragged along the street. The witness could not identify the driver of the white car.
Teresa Garcia Terrana testified that on 18 November 1968, the witness' mother lived in the third-floor apartment at 5933 West Huron. At 11:30 P.M., the witness was going to visit her mother. The witness was in front of 5933 West Huron when she first observed a girl running after a car, yelling something about wanting her keys. The car was a Pontiac convertible, white with a black top, and was then about three houses down the street to the east of the witness [hence, about in front of 5927 West Huron]. The car stopped directly opposite the witness. The witness heard "loud voices between the driver and the girl", and heard the girl crying. The witness identified the driver of the car as Michael Parra.
The girl was outside the passenger side of the car. The witness heard the loud voices for approximately two or three minutes. The witness then heard a thud, like a car door closing, and then saw the white car go towards Austin Boulevard.
The witness entered the apartment building at 5933 West Huron and stopped first to visit her girlfriend in the first-floor apartment. She glanced out the window and saw something lying in the street. The witness went out and saw a girl lying in the street. The witness was then shown a photograph of the deceased. She identified the person shown in the photograph as the girl who was lying in the street. The man who had been talking to the victim then came back driving the same car eastward on Huron Street. He parked on the north side of the street. After the ambulance left, the driver of the white car pulled into a driveway and went west towards Austin. The witness saw blood in the street in front of 5933 West Huron.
On cross-examination, the witness testified that, when she first saw the car from her position in front of 5933 West Huron, the girl was about 15 to 20 feet behind the car and was running after it. As the witness was about to go up the outside stairs leading to the apartment building at 5933, the car was slowing down and the girl was right behind it. As the witness was going in the entrance doorway, she heard the thud to which she had referred, and saw the car drive away, but did not see a body.
She was in her girlfriend's apartment for about five minutes before she noticed the body in the street. The white car came back from the direction of Austin Boulevard after the witness had gone back outside. The ambulance was there when the car came back. The witness never saw the girl get in front of the car.
John Harrington testified that on 18 November 1968, he resided at 5921 West Huron. At about 11:30 P.M., he was in bed asleep. He heard a girl screaming "I got no keys." He went to the front room window facing north and saw a girl lying in the middle of the street, about 15 or 20 yards west of his apartment under a street light. An elderly man walked up and bent over her. The witness observed car headlights approaching the two persons in the street from the east; the car had already passed Mayfield Avenue and was in the same block of West Huron Street as the two persons. When the car passed his apartment, it was going about 30 to 35 miles per hour. The car went right over the body of the girl; its wheels appeared to straddle the girl's body, but the body spun around in the street. The car did not stop; it kept going west on Huron to Austin. The car was a light-colored intermediate car.
On cross-examination, the witness testified that he saw an elderly man walk up to and bend over the girl. The girl did not move at all. The witness was at the window about a minute when the car went over the body. The witness could not observe the driver of the car that hit the girl or tell whether there was more than one person in the car. The car was a cream or light-colored car. He didn't know whether it was a hardtop or convertible. Blood was forming around the body after the body was struck by the car.
Joan Amatore testified that, on 18 November 1968, she was visiting her girlfriend Veronica Burbo who lived in the second-floor apartment at 5933 West Huron. They were in the front bedroom. The witness looked out the window and saw a body in the street. She saw an old man walking over and then a car pulled up. The driver was male; she could not identify him. Her girlfriend called an ambulance.
On cross-examination the witness testified that, prior to observing the body, the witness did not hear the noise of a car sounding as though it had been in contact with any other object. The white car with black top came from the east going west. The car stopped five feet from the body. The witness did not observe the car run over the body. There was a lot of blood in the street. When the ambulance arrived, the same white car with the black top came back from the west and parked on the north side of the street.
Veronica Burbo testified that she resided at 5933 West Huron on the second floor. The witness saw a body lying in the street. After she called the ambulance, she went back to her window and saw an old man trying to help the victim. She went outside and waited for the ambulance. After the ambulance drove up, a white car drove up. The defendant, Michael Parra, was driving. The car was not near the body or the blood in the street.
On cross-examination the witness testified that, when the car in question drove up, the ambulance was already there. Prior to seeing the body, she had heard no unusual noises.
Ann Burbo, the mother of Veronica, testified that on 18 November 1968, she lived in the second-floor apartment at 5933 West Huron. On that night she was visiting in the third-floor apartment. She saw a body in the street. A little girl hollered and she went to the window of the apartment. She went outside and saw that the body was that of a female. The witness attempted to talk to the body but received no response. A white car with a black top pulled up. The driver came from the direction of Austin Boulevard and parked on the north side of the street facing east. He parked two or three car lengths west of the body. The witness identified the defendant as the driver of the car. The girl hollered: "Mike, Mike." He came running and hugged her and grabbed her like he was sorry that she was hurt. The witness knew he said he was sorry. Later, an ambulance pulled up and they put her into the ambulance.
On cross-examination the witness testified that the defendant was at the scene when the ambulance drove up. He was there while they were putting the victim in the ambulance.
Eileen Deasey Shannon testified that, on 18 November 1968, the witness was living at 5927 West Huron. She and her sister were upstairs in a bedroom when they heard screaming. The voice was female. The noise came from the street, and seemed to get louder or closer to her house. The witness went to the front bedroom. The witness saw a white convertible with black top with its headlights on and a man standing in front of the car and then saw what she now knew was a body. The witness told her father to go outside and then she went out. The body was a little west of her house. An ambulance came and a white convertible with a dark top pulled up on the north side of the street and a man got out. The car was facing east. The man asked the crowd if anyone saw the accident. The witness could not identify the driver. The victim was put in the ambulance and the ambulance drove off. The man got back in the white car and followed the ambulance. The white car went west towards Austin. The witness identified the car from photographs.
On cross-examination the witness testified that the first time she heard the screams was shortly after 11 P.M. A minute or two later, she heard another scream and went to the front bedroom. The witness saw a body in the street and a gentleman standing in front of the car. The car was east of the body. When the witness got to the street, the car and the gentleman were gone. Not more than a minute elapsed after the ambulance arrived before the white car with a black top arrived on the scene facing east. The car followed the ambulance west. The car turned around but the witness could not recall how the turn was accomplished.
Maureen Deasey Addison testified that, on 18 November 1968, the witness resided at 5927 West Huron. At about 11:30 the witness and her sister were talking when they heard screams. They paid no attention to the screams because they subsided. A minute to a minute and a half later, the screams started again, only louder. She looked out the window and saw beams from a car's headlights and what appeared to be two people standing in the street. The witness could not tell whether the people were men or women because all she could see were their legs.
The witness' sister had gone to the front bedroom window which faces north. At this time, the witness was in bed. The sister explained that something had happened on the street and the witness got out of bed. The witness went downstairs to the front porch and saw a person lying in the street. Her sister called an ambulance which arrived in a few minutes. A white compact convertible came from Austin and parked on the north side of the street. The witness could not identify the young man who got out of the car. The young man went to the girl who was on the stretcher and then went to the crowd and said: "Nobody saw it, did they?" When the ambulance left, the white car turned around on the street and followed to the west towards Austin.
On cross-examination, the witness testified that she was on the street when the white car pulled up from the west. The white car came from Austin at such a speed that the witness did not think it was going to stop. Nobody answered the driver when he asked whether anybody had seen the accident.
Alyce Dity, the former wife of defendant, identified the defendant's car. The witness then testified that, on 14 November 1968, the witness and the defendant entered into a transaction whereby the witness signed over the title to the identified Pontiac car to the defendant, and the witness took over the title to and the payments on defendant's former car, a 1965 Grand Prix. There was about $1500 owing on the Grand Prix. The defendant told the witness he was in debt and that he had several bills to pay. He also stated he couldn't keep up the payments on the car and he would either have to come up with a buyer or the lender-bank would repossess the car. While the witness and defendant were in the Tempest on the 14th, after they had left the bank, defendant received a citation for speeding.
Frank Konieczka testified that he is a group supervisor for the Travelers Insurance Company. The witness was shown People's Exhibit 3 and recognized it as a life policy issued by his company. Defense counsel objected and moved for a mistrial. The motion for mistrial was denied, but the court then prohibited the witness from testifying as to the existence of the policy or as to the name of the beneficiary. The jury was then immediately instructed entirely to disregard the testimony of Frank Konieczka.
Arthur Lawrence, a doctor on the staff of West Suburban Hospital, described the victim's wounds, and stated that she had a black mark across her chest which appeared to be a track. The victim had B positive blood. The witness' opinion as to the cause of death was a severe brain injury caused by a tremendous trauma caused by a blunt instrument.
James Mockler testified that he owned a 1967 maroon Bel Aire Chevrolet parked facing west in front of 5930 West Huron. At about 4 A.M. on the 19th of November, the police called his attention to a red substance on the front left bumper which appeared to be blood.
Sergeant Robert J. Doherty, a Chicago Police Officer, testified that he arrived on the scene at about a little after midnight. The witness noted a pool of blood at approximately 5930 West Huron. The witness proceeded to the emergency room at West Suburban Hospital, where he saw the defendant. He obtained the victim's clothing and had a conversation with the defendant who was not then a suspect.
The witness asked the defendant if he knew the victim so that he (the witness) could make a complete police report. Defendant thereupon made a statement to him. Defendant stated that he and his fiancee, the victim, had gone shopping. They had returned to her apartment at 5903 West Huron and had had an argument relative to a traffic ticket that his wife had received, but which ticket was in his possession. So as to prevent any further argument, defendant then stated that he was going to leave the apartment. As he went down to his car, she came running out of the apartment yelling to him. Defendant stated he pulled from the curb, went westbound to Austin, and then around the block so as to return to his fiancee to see if he couldn't clarify the argument. Upon his return, he said he pulled back alongside the curb in front of 5901 West Huron and he saw an elderly gentleman down in the middle of the block and an object or body in the middle of the street. He thereupon pulled out from the curb and went down to where this object lay in the street and found it to be his fiancee. He got back in his car and went to West Suburban Hospital, and notified the personnel there of the accident.
After the foregoing conversation with the defendant, the witness returned to the scene where he took various photographs and measurements of the blood stains on the street.
The witness then returned to the hospital where he met an Officer Healy. They and other officers went to the rear of the white Pontiac convertible, parked in front of the hospital. The officers visually inspected the vehicle's undercarriage. The witness observed a brownish stain in the right rear tire well. In addition the transmission housing was devoid of grease on the underside of the housing. The other portions of the housing had grease on them.
The witness returned to the scene of the accident and other officers conducted a canvass of the area. The witness drove around the block at a speed of 30 miles per hour. The time it took to drive around the block was 74 seconds.
On cross-examination, the witness testified that the pool of blood was 13 feet from the north curb. The street is 33 feet wide. The witness also testified that the ...