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People v. Trock





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD J. FITZGERALD, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Richard A. Trock, was charged in a two-count indictment with the murder of his wife Violet in violation of section 9-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 9-1). After a bench trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to the Illinois State Penitentiary for 25 to 35 years. Defendant appeals, contending that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant intentionally shot his wife.

Darol Snow, an automobile salesman at a Pontiac dealership in South Holland, Illinois, testified that defendant spoke to him on March 12, 1973, about the purchase of a new Grand Prix automobile, and on March 13, 1973, the defendant told him he would bring his wife to the dealership to look at the automobile. At approximately 7:30 p.m. on March 14, 1973, the defendant and his wife came in to discuss the purchase of the Grand Prix. After 20 minutes of discussion, the defendant's wife stated that she did not like the price of the Grand Prix and that the car they had was fine. A trade-in of the car they owned had been mentioned, but the Trocks owed so much money on that car they would receive very little credit against the purchase price. Defendant was insistent upon buying the Grand Prix. A fairly loud conversation between defendant and his wife ensued without changing the positions of defendant and his wife.

Linda Cservenyak testified that on March 14, 1973, she lived at 17726 Arcadia, Lansing, Illinois. Her apartment was directly below that of the Trocks. On March 14, 1973, she went to bed at about 10:30 p.m. and was awakened at 10:50 p.m. by a loud, rumbling sound which came from the Trock apartment. She heard loud footsteps in the Trock apartment after the rumbling sound.

David English, a Lansing police officer, testified that on March 14, 1973, at 11:15 p.m., he was in the communications room when the dispatcher received a telephone call. The dispatcher said the caller was a Mr. Trock at 17726 Arcadia, who said he had shot his wife. Approximately two minutes later, English and two other officers were outside the 17726 Arcadia building. The officers pressed the button for the Trock apartment and the inside door was opened. While they were ascending the stairs, they heard a male voice yelling, "Up here, up here, I killed my wife." When they arrived at the Trock apartment, they saw the defendant standing in the doorway with a large amount of blood on him. Defendant walked through the living room saying, "I did it. I did it. I shot my wife."

When English entered the apartment, he saw a woman, covered with blood, sitting on the couch in the living room, with her head resting on the back of the couch. The woman had a large hole in the center of her forehead. She had no pulse. He went to the telephone in the dining area to place a call and saw that the telephone was smeared with blood.

English asked defendant what had happened. Defendant said he was sitting in a chair, cleaning a gun and it discharged. The defendant indicated that he was sitting in the chair near the end of the couch where the victim was seated.

Robert Turbin, a detective lieutenant of the Lansing Police Department, testified that when he arrived at the Trock apartment he saw defendant sitting in the dining area. Defendant was saying, "Oh my God, oh my God, I shot her; that makes me a murderer."

Turbin examined the apartment. He found a .45-caliber Colt single-action revolver on a piece of paper toweling on the end table in front of the victim. On another table were three other guns, one of which was in a closed pouch. The only loaded weapon was the Colt, which had six shells in it, including one expended shell. There was blood on the wall and on the end table to the left of the victim. There was a spot of blood on a guncase in front of the victim.

On a shelf in a bedroom closet, Turbin found a motor vehicle title with blood on it and four cigar boxes containing live and expended shells for the Colt revolver. There was a patch of blood on the carpeting below the shelf. The motor vehicle title was the title to the Pontiac convertible which the victim and defendant owned. Defendant told Turbin that the blood and the title were in the bedroom because he put them there.

Defendant was given the Miranda warnings by Turbin at the Lansing Police Department. Defendant then made a statement, telling Turbin, "I wasn't cleaning my weapon. I was showing my wife how to load and unload the weapon. I had just previously purchased this weapon a short time before and she wasn't familiar with it." Defendant stated he was sitting in the chair to the left of the victim, who was on the couch. Turbin measured the distance between that chair and the victim; it was eight feet. Turbin testified about the operation of the Colt revolver. He stated there were three hammer positions on the weapon. The first position is safety, the second is loading and unloading, and the third is firing. The third position can only be arrived at manually. The revolver would discharge if, while turning the cylinder, the hammer is let down.

The parties stipulated that Pasqual Culala, a licensed medical doctor specializing in forensic pathology, examined the body of Violet Trock internally and externally on March 15, 1973, and found a stellate-shaped bullet wound in the forehead and fragmented skull bones. It was his opinion that she died as a result of the bullet wound to the head and brain. Culala removed the bullet from her head.

The parties stipulated that Burt Nielson, a qualified ballistics expert employed by the Chicago Police Department Crime Laboratory, compared bullets fired from the Colt revolver with the bullet removed from Violet Trock's head and that in his opinion the latter was fired from the defendant's Colt revolver.

It was also stipulated that Mary Ann Mohan, a qualified microanalyst employed by the Chicago Police Department Crime Laboratory, conducted serological tests on a patch of gold rug taken from the bedroom of the Trock apartment and on the motor vehicle title found on the closet shelf ...

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