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People v. Williams

OPINION FILED JANUARY 18, 1977.

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

v.

CHARLES WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. NATHAN J. KAPLAN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE JIGANTI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Charles Williams, shot and killed Jackie Shaffer. He was indicted for the offense of murder. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 9-1.) Following a bench trial he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 9-2) and sentenced to the Department of Corrections for two to six years.

On appeal defendant argues that the evidence at trial failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was guilty of voluntary manslaughter under section 9-2(a) which provides that a killing is voluntary manslaughter if the defendant was under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation and further that the evidence failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that under section 9-2(b) defendant was unreasonable in his belief that the killing was necessary for his self-defense. Defendant also charges that the court's rendition of the facts was not supported by the evidence adduced at trial or reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence; that the trier of fact erred in refusing to allow defendant to testify as to his fear of the deceased and deceased's companions; and that the trial court erred in not allowing defendant to testify as to his reason for carrying a gun on the date of the occurrence.

The occurrence took place on April 8, 1974, at the southwest corner of Fulton and Kedzie in the City of Chicago at about 10 p.m. Defendant shot Jackie Shaffer who died of a bullet wound to the chest-lung area. There also was a wound in his arm. The State presented three occurrence witnesses.

Thomas Davis testified that for a considerable period before the shooting he was standing on the sidewalk near his house at 3151 Fulton talking to Horace Morff and another person. His house is on the south side of Fulton and a couple of doors east of the southeast corner of Kedzie and Fulton. He did not see Shaffer prior to the shooting. His attention was drawn to the scene when he heard a shot. He looked around and saw that Jackie Shaffer had fallen to the ground at Kedzie and Fulton near the store on the corner. The defendant was standing on the side of the mailbox several feet from where the victim was. The witness heard another shot and then went into his house to call the police.

Horace Morff testified that he had been talking to Davis near his father's house which he described as being three or four houses east of the southeast corner of Fulton and Kedzie. He had been talking with Davis and someone named Lydell for about a half hour before the occurrence. At the time of the trial he did not know Lydell's whereabouts. The witness testified that he observed Shaffer for a couple of minutes when Shaffer started to cross the street and defendant walked up to him and shot him. After the witness heard the shots he saw Shaffer grab himself and heard him say, "Hey, man," then he fell. When Shaffer fell defendant kept shooting at him. There were five or six more shots. Defendant walked away and Shaffer got up and ran across the street where he fell. Shaffer had nothing in his hand. Defendant then went into a tavern.

Theodore Harris was walking in a northerly direction on Kedzie on the west side of the street about four doors south of the southwest corner of Kedzie and Fulton when he heard about three shots. He looked to see from where the shots came and saw two men at the corner. Defendant was holding a gun standing over Shaffer. The witness heard defendant say he was going to kill Shaffer and Shaffer said, "What do you mean? I didn't have anything to do with it." After that he heard two more shots. Shaffer got up to go across the street and fell. Defendant, after the shooting, walked into a church where he stayed a few minutes and then went into a liquor store.

Defendant testified in his own behalf. On the evening of the occurrence he left his place of employment at Kedzie and Carroll Avenues in Chicago at about 10 p.m. Although his normal shift lasted until 12:30 a.m., he left early because his supervisor assigned him a job he did not like. He was carrying a pistol in his waistband when he left work that evening. He walked south on the west side of Kedzie toward the Lake Street elevated railway train station which is about a block and a half south of his place of employment. As he was walking he saw four or five young men at Kedzie and Fulton who stopped him and had a conversation with him. They asked defendant if he wanted to buy some reefers. Defendant said he had no money. They asked him if he had enough to buy some wine. Defendant said he did not have enough money and they threw a quarter at him and told him "to get in there and get it." The liquor store was a few doors south of the scene and the witness testified that after making the purchase he walked back north to where the boys were. Shaffer opened the wine and passed it around. Defendant was told to drink some of it and had one swallow of the wine. One of the boys put an arm around his neck and put a gun in his back. Shaffer took defendant's wallet at that time. Defendant was shoved by the boy with the gun and told to go ahead. Defendant walked about 15 or 20 feet toward the elevated train station when Shaffer called him back and threw his wallet toward him. Defendant picked up the wallet and put it in his back pocket. Shaffer was walking toward defendant at this time and said, "Come back here, nigger, we're not through with you." At that time, defendant "discovered" he still had his pistol and testified that he was so nervous he thought maybe they had taken it. Defendant then started shooting. Shaffer was about five feet from him. He struck Shaffer, at whom he was shooting, in the chest. Shaffer fell back and defendant came close to him and shot him again in the arm. He fired the other three shots in the ground to scare the other boys. Shaffer said, "I'm not the one. I didn't do it. I'm not the one." Defendant never saw the decedent with a gun. Only a second elapsed between the first shot and the next three shots.

In order to obtain a conviction for voluntary manslaughter the State had to prove either of the following under section 9-2:

"(a) A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he was acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by:

(1) The individual killed * * * * * *

Serious provocation is conduct sufficient to excite an intense passion in a reasonable person.

(b) A person who intentionally or knowingly kills an individual commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he believes the circumstances to be such that, if they existed, would justify or exonerate the killing under the principles stated in ...


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