APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon.
BIRCH E. MORGAN, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE REARDON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendant, Ira Leroy Jones, was indicted, tried and found guilty in a jury trial of the murder of Larry Pearson. Defendant was sentenced to an indeterminate term of imprisonment with the minimum fixed at 20 years and the maximum at 30 years. Defendant appeals.
The incident which gave rise to this cause occurred on December 1, 1973, at defendant's residence, which was located at 1306 West Beech, Urbana.
On the evening in question Pearson walked from his residence at 1305 West Beech over to 1306 West Beech and met defendant. He and defendant then engaged in a discussion and an argument ensued. According to defendant, Pearson threatened him and then returned to his residence. A few minutes later Pearson returned to the defendant's residence and confronted the defendant. They exchanged some words and then Pearson began to come toward the defendant. Defendant testified that he told Pearson to stop but that Pearson kept coming. Defendant then took a revolver, which he had obtained just prior to the time Pearson returned to defendant's residence, and fired into the ground. According to defendant, Pearson kept advancing and at the same time reached into his pocket. Defendant then fired another shot, this time into the air. When Pearson failed to halt, defendant shot him in the lower right side of his neck, mortally wounding him. Defendant insisted that he shot Pearson in his own self-defense.
The trial court gave the following instruction to the jury regarding the offense of murder:
"To sustain the charge of murder, the State must prove the following propositions:
First Proposition: That the defendant performed the acts which caused the death of Larry Pearson;
Second Proposition: That when the defendant did so, he intended to kill or do great bodily harm to Larry Pearson, or he knew that his acts would cause death or great bodily harm to Larry Pearson, or he knew that his acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to Larry Pearson, and
Third Proposition: That the defendant was not justified in using the force which he used; and
Fourth Proposition: That the defendant did not believe that circumstances existed which justified the use of the force which he used.
If you find from your consideration of all the evidence that each of these propositions has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, then you should find the defendant guilty of murder.
If, on the other hand, you find from your consideration of all the evidence that any of these propositions has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, then you should find the defendant not guilty of murder."
As the verdicts were returned and the jury discharged, the trial judge made the following statement for the record:
"The Court states for the record that while the jury was deliberating on their verdict on the evening of June 12, 1974, and at approximately the hour of 9:30 to 10:00 o'clock p.m., the bailiff presented the Court with a note brought from the jury room, together with the People's Instruction Number 22. The note was as follows: `Can the Judge interpret the fourth proposition? Not evidence to prove or disprove it. Just a statement?' The instruction was returned to the jury room because the Court felt there was no way he could by written instruction clarify what was said in it; and of course realizing he could not properly orally talk to the jury or interpret anything. The bailiff was ...