APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES
E. STRUNCK, Judge, presiding.
MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE JIGANTI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied March 13, 1978.
A jury found the defendant, Patsy Brown, guilty of both the attempt to murder Cheryl Edwards (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 8-4) and the murder of Cheryl Edwards (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 9-1). The trial court entered judgment on the verdict of murder only and sentenced the defendant to imprisonment for not less than 14 years and not more than 14 years and a day. The defendant appeals the conviction of murder, contending that the medical evidence presented by the State fails to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Edwards' death was caused by an act of Brown.
On September 12, 1975, outside of the Tough Rabbit Lounge in Chicago, Illinois, the defendant stabbed Edwards several times about the arms, chest and stomach. Shortly thereafter, the police arrested the defendant and rushed Edwards to a hospital. Edwards underwent emergency surgery; one week later on September 20, 1975, she was discharged from the hospital. She remained at her home until September 23, 1975, when according to her husband, she experienced discomfort because a wound opened, and she went to the private office of the surgeon who treated her at the hospital, Dr. Henry Pimental. After an examination, Dr. Pimental readmitted Edwards to a hospital; that night, while in the hospital's intensive care unit, she died.
Dr. Pimental, testified for the State at the defendant's trial regarding his treatment of the decedent and the cause of her death. The State presented no other expert medical testimony. Early on the morning of September 13, 1975, as the chief surgeon in the emergency room of the hospital, Dr. Pimental examined Edwards, finding several superficial stab wounds on her chest and both arms; another, more serious wound, had penetrated into her abdomen about five to six inches, lacerating her liver and stomach and causing internal bleeding, leaving about 300 cc's of blood in the stomach cavity. He performed immediate surgery to repair the damage. After a stay of seven days in the hospital, Dr. Pimental determined Edwards' condition had greatly improved, and permitted her discharge. He subsequently saw Edwards on September 23 at his private clinic. She complained to him of abdominal pain and shortness of breath. Again she was admitted into a hospital. At the hospital he inserted a chest tube to prevent damage to her lungs from bleeding. At 11 o'clock that night she died.
Based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty and experience as a physician and surgeon, Dr. Pimental testified that Edwards' death was caused by a massive pulmonary embolism, that is the lodging of blood clots in the main vessels of the lung. The State supported its contention that the acts of the defendant caused Edwards' death with the following testimony:
"Q. Now, once again, based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty, upon your experience and treatment of Cheryl Edwards, do you have an opinion as to what caused the pulmonary embolisation in this particular case as to Cheryl Edwards?
A. Since in this particular case we ruled out the abscess [sic] of vericose [sic] veins, we surmised that the blood clots originated from the site of injury, either abdomen, chest wall, or both arms.
Q. Doctor, what is the process in which a blood clot originating from a wound will travel to the lung of the patient?
A. It usually travels to the blood vessels.
Q. And, the clot then settles in the lung, is that correct?
Q. And, that is the cause of death of Cheryl Edwards, ...