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People v. Callaham





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD L. CURRY, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied June 8, 1978.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the circuit court of Cook County, subsequent to a jury trial, convicting Clyde Callaham, Sr. (hereinafter called the "defendant") of involuntary manslaughter. The defendant was sentenced to five years probation with the condition he serve the first eight months on work release.

The issues presented for review are: (1) whether the indictment failed to state an offense, (2) whether the People failed to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, (3) whether the court erred in refusing to instruct the jury as to the defense of compulsion and prohibiting the defendant from testifying as to his state of mind as to compulsion, (4) whether it was error to allow the decedent's sister to testify, as her testimony was prejudicial, (5) whether the defendant was denied a fair trial when the jury heard the prosecutor cross-examine the defendant as to the reason he left his last job, (6) whether it was error to allow into evidence statements made by the defendant, where the People did not specifically disclose such statements on discovery, (7) whether it was error to instruct the jury the defendant could be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter based upon his failure to take action, and (8) whether the defendant was denied a fair trial because of the prejudicial comments made to the jury by the prosecution.

At approximately 8 p.m. on June 17, 1973, a fight occurred between a group of blacks, one of whom was the defendant, and a group of Caucasians at Calumet Park in Chicago. After receiving numerous punches and kicks the defendant, along with the group of blacks, ran to his station wagon, jumped inside and the defendant quickly drove off, in an escape. The defendant, bleeding from one eye, stopped the car next to a police car in order to receive protection. The officer, who was in the process of writing an unrelated traffic citation, saw the defendant and told him he would have to wait. Instead of waiting, the defendant drove off. He sped around a curve and twice successively veered toward groups of people, forcing them to jump away. He then veered a third time, struck Frank Stevenson from behind and knocked him several feet into the air, causing his death. The defendant failed to stop to inquire about the victim's injuries or to render aid, but instead continued to drive off. He swerved to avoid a car in the roadway and increased his speed as he left the park. The defendant stopped the car briefly, about two to three blocks outside of Calumet Park, allowing one of the passengers to wipe blood from his eye. The defendant then proceeded to drive directly to Cabrini Green housing project. He went by Mercy and Michael Reese hospitals on the way home, as well as going by several police stations, but did not stop. Instead, he went straight to his home. There, he received a telephone call from the police, asking him to come down to the police station in the morning, and he said yes. The next morning he went to defense attorney Howard Savage's office, where pictures were taken of the defendant and his auto. Mr. Savage called the police to come to get the defendant, which they did. The defendant voluntarily left with the officers. While at the police hit-and-run office, officers Manella and Duncan had a conversation with the defendant. The defendant was asked if he had any personal knowledge of a vehicle being used to run down a person in the Calumet Park area and he said he knew nothing about it. He was then transported to Area Two and placed in a lineup. After the lineup, he was asked if he wanted to say anything about the incident in the park, and he stated he had been attacked in an unknown park by a group of white youths and sustained an injury to his left eye. He said he got to the park in his car and did not know where the car was presently located.

Officer Manella typed in his police report the following: The suspect was placed under arrest and advised of his constitutional rights, and asked if he would relate to the officers what occurred on the day in question. Callaham stated he was attacked in an unknown park by a group of white youths and sustained an injury to his left eye. A statement by the accused that he did not know anything about the incident was not included in the report.

The defendant was indicted for the crime of involuntary manslaughter and a jury found him guilty of that offense. The trial court sentenced the defendant to five years probation with the first eight months to be served under the work release program. From this judgment and sentence this appeal is taken.

The defendant claims the indictment fails to state an offense.

The involuntary manslaughter section of the Illinois Criminal Code provides:

"A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits involuntary manslaughter if his acts whether lawful or unlawful which cause the death are such as are likely to cause death or great bodily harm to some individual, and he performs them recklessly." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 9-3(a).

The indictment returned by the grand jury of the circuit court of Cook County, in this cause charges as follows:

"* * * [O]n June 17th, 1973 * * * Clyde Callahan [sic], Senior committed the offense of involuntary manslaughter in that he, acting in a reckless manner, killed Frank Stevenson with an automobile without lawful justification * * *."

The defendant maintains the indictment was deficient in that it failed to allege the acts performed recklessly by the defendant were such as to likely cause death or great bodily harm.

Generally, an indictment is sufficient if it adequately informs the accused of the nature, cause and elements of the charge. (See People v. Collins (1972), 6 Ill. App.3d 616, 286 N.E.2d 117.) Plainly put, an indictment which informs the defendant of the charge against him, enables him to prepare a defense and bars any further prosecution for the same offense, is sufficient. (People v. Harvey (1973), 53 Ill.2d 585, 294 N.E.2d 269.) In People v. Adams (1969), 113 Ill. App.2d 276, 252 N.E.2d 65, the court, in an appeal of an involuntary manslaughter conviction, heard an argument similar to the defendant's, and held the indictment was sufficient. We agree with the court in Adams.

• 1 The Illinois Criminal Code provides if the indictment fails to specify the particulars of the offense sufficiently to enable the defendant to prepare his defense the court may, on written motion of defendant, require the State's Attorney to furnish the defendant with a bill of particulars supplying whatever omissions there may have been in the indictment as may be necessary for the preparation of the defense. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 111-6.) No such motion was made by the defendant in the instant case. The indictment was sufficient and the court properly refused to dismiss it.

The defendant next claims the People failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant was guilty of reckless conduct. Put another way, it is claimed the prosecution did not prove the defendant acted without lawful justification. To support this conclusion much emphasis is placed on the claim the defendant's conduct in traveling through the park while injured was not reckless since, as the defendant claims, he reasonably believed such conduct was necessary to prevent further injury to himself and his friends.

The concept of recklessness as included in this involuntary manslaughter charge means the defendant is charged with consciously disregarding an unjustified risk, that death or great bodily harm to another will result, and such disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in the same situation.

Throughout his extensive arguments the defendant continually reverts back to the claim he was not guilty of recklessness since the extent of his injuries reduced the rationale of his thought process from one of a reasonable man to one of a man in a state of shock.

It is well settled, a jury's determination of guilt will not be set aside when the jury acted reasonably on the evidence presented and reached the only conclusion possible, beyond a reasonable doubt. (See People v. Camberis (1921), 297 Ill. 455, 130 N.E. 712.) However, while questions of the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be accorded to the testimony of witnesses are ordinarily for the jury, it is the duty of the reviewing court to carefully review the evidence, and if it is not sufficient to remove all reasonable doubt of the guilt of ...

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