Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Richard
Stengel, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendant, Antonio DeHoyos, indicted for the murder of Jose Pallares, was tried before a jury in the circuit court of Cook County, convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and sentenced to the penitentiary for not less than three nor more than nine years. The appellate court reversed and remanded for a new trial (31 Ill. App.3d 12) and we allowed the People's petition for leave to appeal.
The facts are adequately stated in the appellate court opinion and need not be repeated. Pallares died as the result of a gunshot wound suffered at the apartment of his aunt, Mary Sanchez, where he was then living. Although there was a sharp conflict in the testimony concerning what occurred immediately prior to the shooting, it was not disputed that the fatal shot was fired from a pistol owned by defendant.
The appellate court reversed the judgment on the ground that the admission of the testimony of Frank Rogers, a rebuttal witness, concerning his prior conviction of a felony, was error so prejudicial to defendant as to require reversal. The People contend that the circuit court did not err in admitting the testimony and assuming, arguendo, that its admission was error, "it was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt under the facts of this case." Defendant contends that in admitting the testimony the circuit court improperly permitted the People to impeach its own witness and that the appellate court correctly reversed the judgment.
The shooting occurred on September 20, 1972, and defendant testified that he sought the advice of Frank Rogers "as to what I should do, in terms of, you know, the police and what not." He stated that with Rogers' knowledge and permission he stayed in his home from September 20 until he was arrested there on September 22, 1972. Called by the People in rebuttal, Rogers testified that the police had arrested defendant at his apartment and had also placed him under arrest "For having him at my house, which I didn't know he was there." During Rogers' direct examination the following ensued:
"Q. Mr. Rogers, have you been convicted of any crime?
A. Yes. You have that on evidence.
MR. ENGEL: Objection, he is trying to impeach his own witness.
MR. KARAVIDAS: I have a right to bring that out.
MR. ENGEL: Is he impeaching his own witness?
MR. KARAVIDAS: What were you ...