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People v. Goolsby





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. PHILIP ROMITI, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE O'CONNOR DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Ralph Goolsby, was indicted for the murder and attempt robbery of William Byrne, a Sun-Times delivery truck driver. Before trial, defendant unsuccessfully moved to suppress various items of bloodstained clothing taken from the home of his mother, Eroline Goolsby. A jury found defendant guilty of murder, but not guilty of attempt robbery. Defendant was sentenced to 30 to 90 years. Defendant appeals, contending (1) that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress the introduction of his bloodstained clothing as evidence, (2) that the trial court should not have allowed the State's witness, a forensic pathologist, to conclude that some of the decedent's wounds were "defense wounds," (3) that his right to a fair trial was prejudiced when the prosecutor improperly cross-examined him and made prejudicial statements to the jury in final argument, (4) that the State failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and (5) that his sentence was excessive.

On February 24, 1973, William Byrne died from a stab wound he suffered during a fight with defendant, Ralph Goolsby, who worked for Byrne as a helper on his delivery truck. At 7:30 p.m. on the night of the incident, James Caruso, a student at the University of Illinois, saw a Sun-Times truck moving north on South Wentworth Avenue in Chicago. The truck was "switching and weaving" and came to rest against a fence at approximately 25th Street. He passed the truck, turned around, passed by the truck again and went to look for the police.

Eugene Harper, a C.T.A. bus driver, stopped at the scene and saw Byrne staggering from the truck. Byrne was bleeding profusely and did not speak. Harper helped him to the back of the truck and went to seek police assistance. Neither Harper nor Caruso saw defendant or anyone other than Byrne in the vicinity of the truck.

Officer John Maier of the Chicago Police Department responded to a radio call concerning the truck and proceeded to 25th Street and Wentworth Avenue. He found Byrne lying in the back of the truck and radioed for an ambulance. Subsequently, Byrne was taken to Mercy Hospital where he was pronounced dead. At that time $480 was recovered from his trousers.

Curtis James testified that on February 24, 1973, at 8:15 p.m., he talked to defendant in the lobby of the building at 3653 South Federal. James stated that Ralph Goolsby told him that he (defendant) had just made a "sting" and "cut up a man." James also testified that defendant told him the man was Byrne, the man he worked for, but that he didn't get any money. According to James, defendant told him he had gone to his mother's house to change clothes and that the police would be looking for him.

James further testified that three days later, on February 27, 1973, he was at his mother's house. Goolsby arrived and told James that he (Goolsby) had called the police and arranged to meet them at his own mother's house. Goolsby asked James to switch identities with him so that he (James) could talk to the police. James identified himself as Ralph Goolsby when the police arrived and left with them. James stated that he talked to the police for an hour and a half before he told them he was not Goolsby. When the police told him Goolsby was wanted for murder, he gave the police a statement concerning Goolsby's involvement.

On cross-examination, James testified that the "sting" took place at 29th and Dearborn and that Goolsby jumped off the truck at that point because the police were coming. James stated that Goolsby also told him he had thrown the knife on the railroad tracks.

Defendant testified and admitted he stabbed the deceased, but claimed he did it in self-defense. He stated that after making their last stop at 83rd Street and King Drive, he and Byrne proceeded north on the Dan Ryan Expressway toward 2930 South Dearborn. While they were still on the Dan Ryan between 39th and 35th Streets, they "got to combat," arguing, yelling and hollering at each other about the money which Byrne was to pay defendant as Byrne's helper. Later, on LaSalle Street between 29th and 31st Streets, Byrne stopped the truck to continue the argument. Defendant told Byrne he would return to the garage with him to submit their dispute to the division boss. Byrne said he wasn't going to give defendant the money and told defendant to get off the truck. Defendant refused and the two exchanged punches. Defendant testified that at this point Byrne picked up a lead paper weight, six inches in length and weighing five or six pounds, and "took a couple of swings" at him. Defendant testified he could not get the side door of the truck open and did not want to turn his back on Byrne. Defendant stated that after he had been hit several times with the weight, he picked up a knife which he used to open newspaper bundles. He testified he thought this action would frighten Byrne and give him (defendant) time to get out of the truck. Instead, Byrne grabbed defendant and the two of them wrestled. During the course of this struggle, Byrne was mortally wounded.

Defendant further stated that he remembered stabbing the deceased, but he could not recall how many times.

Dr. Pascual Culala, a coroner's pathologist, testified that there were six stab wounds on the deceased's body. He characterized five of these as adynamic or nonfatal. Over defendant's objection, Dr. Culala characterized two lacerations on the deceased's left hand as "defense type wounds" and stated that the lethal wound pierced the deceased's right cheek, penetrated to the inside of the mouth downward and lacerated the left carotid artery. The result was a fatal loss of blood.

Defendant testified that when the deceased released him, defendant saw the blood and was frightened. He stated that he dropped his knife in the truck and ran to his mother's house at 2930 South Dearborn.

Officer John Maier testified that he found a knife on the right front step of the truck and, at trial, defendant identified it as his own.

At the pretrial hearing on the motion to suppress, Investigator John Kennedy of the Chicago Police Department testified that on February 27, 1973, he and another officer went to the apartment of Eroline Goolsby, defendant's mother, at 2930 South Dearborn, Chicago. They announced that they did not have a warrant to search her apartment; however, defendant's mother voluntarily admitted them. Investigator Kennedy stated that when he explained that they sought a torn jacket and a bloodstained pair of pants belonging to her son, Mrs. Goolsby led him to a dirty clothes closet and produced the garments. Mrs. Goolsby then signed a consent form for a search of her apartment, as did her daughter Annette, who lived in the apartment with her.

At that hearing, Annette Goolsby testified that her mother had been in mental hospitals three times; that she had been hospitalized two years earlier and was released in February 1972. Since that time she had been treated as an outpatient at a clinic, making visits there approximately three times a week.

Dr. Rafael Correira testified that he had examined Mrs. Goolsby at the Psychiatric Institute in December 1971. At that time he determined she suffered from schizophrenia and recommended immediate hospitalization. Mrs. Goolsby was then hospitalized for about two months. Upon her ...

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