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People v. Graham





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. KENNETH R. WENDT, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Luther Graham, was charged by indictment with rape (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 11-1), indecent liberties with a child (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 11-4), contributing to the sexual delinquency of a child (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 11-5), and two counts of aggravated kidnapping (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 10-2). After a jury trial, the defendant was found guilty of both counts of aggravated kidnapping, rape, and indecent liberties with a child. The court vacated the judgment on one count of aggravated kidnapping, and indecent liberties with a child. The defendant was sentenced to 7 to 21 years, concurrently, in the Illinois State Penitentiary for one count of aggravated kidnapping and rape. From that judgment of conviction and sentence, the defendant appeals.

We affirm.

The facts adduced at the motion to suppress the evidence hearing are as follows:

Police officer John Tomasetti testified that on November 19, 1973, he had a conversation with rape victim, Christine Pietras. She related to him the facts of the incident, the fact that she was tied up with rope in the basement of a single-dwelling residence, and a description of the location of the residence. About 20 minutes later, he went to a residence at 737 North St. Louis. Other officers had already arrested the defendant on the first floor of the house, in either the living room or bedroom. The officer further stated that he and Officer Bolling then proceeded directly to the basement of the house where they recovered some rope. He continued that the physical layout of the basement corresponded to the description the victim gave him, including the fact that she left the basement door open slightly when she escaped. The officers did not have a search warrant. The basement was the only area of the house searched. The judge ruled that the search was reasonable and denied defendant's motion.

At the trial, the victim, Christine Pietras, was the first to testify for the State. She related the following facts: Around 7:50 a.m., on November 19, 1973, she left for Our Lady of Angels School, located at Hamlin and Iowa Streets, where she was enrolled. On that date, she was 13 years old and resided at 903 North Homan, Chicago, Illinois. As she approached Iowa and Trumbull Streets, the defendant came up to her, armed with a knife, and ordered her to come home with him. She related that she never saw the defendant before nor did she want to go with him. He took her down St. Louis Street past Chicago Avenue and into an alley that was behind some stores, and then proceeded down the alley until they arrived at the back of the defendant's house. Christine observed a light-colored "abandoned car" that had no tires and no license plates. The defendant took her up the back stairs of the house. They entered the kitchen, he put her lunch bag on the table, and then proceeded to the living room where he ordered her to take off her clothes. She refused. He slapped and punched her on the left side of her face, causing her to cry. He again ordered her to undress, and this time she complied.

Defendant Graham told her to go into the adjacent bedroom and get into the bed. He removed his clothes and had sexual intercourse with her. She stated that she experienced pain in her vagina during the act of intercourse. Subsequently, he dressed and told her to put on all of her clothes except her underpants. He next took her downstairs to the basement where he tied her hands and legs to an oil tank with rope and her neck to a door knob with wire. He loosened her feet a little, picked up her skirt, and had intercourse with her again. Upon withdrawing, he tightened the rope around her feet. He then went upstairs and left her in the basement.

Sometime later, the defendant came back to the basement, partially untied Christine, and took her upstairs into the kitchen. He asked her where she wanted to have intercourse this time. Christine testified that she picked the couch in the front room. On the defendant's command, she lay down on the couch where the defendant, completely naked, again had sexual intercourse with her. After awhile, the defendant fell asleep, but soon awoke when he fell off the couch onto the floor. Upon awakening, the defendant once again had sexual intercourse with Christine.

The victim testified that the defendant then took her back into the basement, tied her up again, and went back upstairs. She lay on the basement floor until dark, at which time she heard men's voices upstairs. She did not scream until she heard a lady's voice. When no one answered her screams, she attempted to untie herself. She soon worked herself free and then ran out of the basement door, leaving it slightly ajar.

As Christine was running, she saw her girl friend, Belinda Cerilli, and told her what had happened. Belinda's parents took her into their house and called the police. When the police arrived, Christine related what had transpired and then accompanied the police to her own home one block away. More police arrived at her home. She again related the incident, describing her assailant as approximately 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet in height, with curlers in his hair, and wearing a coat and purple hat. Thereafter, she led the police to the house where she had been raped. She stated that she was able to pick out the defendant's house because she recognized the "abandoned car" in the backyard and the rear of the house. One of the officers knocked on the front door and a lady answered, letting them in. She observed the defendant sleeping in the first floor bedroom and told the police "that's the man." She noticed that the defendant still had curlers in his hair. She then led the policemen down to the basement and showed them where she had been tied up. She recognized the rope, oil tank, rags, wire, and the basement door ajar. She observed the police remove the rope from the basement, which she identified at trial.

Christine further testified that she was then taken to the hospital where a doctor examined her. The left side of her face was swollen, and her left eye area was bruised. She had rope burns on her wrists, legs, and neck.

At trial, Officer John Tomasetti testified that on November 19, 1973, he received an assignment at 6:45 p.m. and proceeded to 900 North Trumbull Avenue, the residence of the Cerilli family. Christine Pietras told him she had been raped. Christine's clothing was in a state of disarray, and she was very sick. The left side of her face was bruised, and she had red lines around her neck and both wrists. She stated that the rape occurred in a house that had an abandoned automobile in its backyard, and that its fence was knocked down. He, his partner, and Christine next went to the Pietras' residence where they met a number of other policemen. From Christine's house, he went to the defendant's house where he observed a light-colored abandoned automobile in the backyard that looked inoperable, a broken-down fence, and the basement door ajar. Upon entering the defendant's house, he noticed that the defendant had pink curlers in his hair. He, Officer Bolling, and Christine then went into the basement and observed a large tank, rags strewn about the floor, rope, and plastic cord. Officer Bolling took the rope. He and his partner then took Christine to the hospital.

Officer Horace Bridges' testimony was substantially the same as that of Officer Tomasetti. He added that Christine led him to and pointed out the defendant's house. He knocked at the front door and a woman invited him in. She turned on the light in a bedroom adjacent to the living room. The officer woke the defendant who was in bed. Christine positively identified the defendant as her assailant. He advised the defendant of his rights after arresting him. The defendant had pink curlers in his hair which were removed by his wife while she and defendant were in the squad car.

Officer Bolling also testified, substantially corroborating the testimony of Officers Tomasetti and Bridges. He added that someone mentioned Christine had been gagged.

Dr. Tonse Raju testified that on November 19, 1973, he was working at Cook County Hospital where he had occasion to examine Christine Pietras. He made an external examination and found a slap mark on her left cheek and two parallel reddish marks on each wrist and ankle. He also conducted a genital examination and discovered that there were no marks on the thigh, but that there was a recent, small wound to the victim's hymen, with a slight ooze of blood from the wound. No spermatozoa was found.

The last witnesses for the prosecution were Investigators James Cornelison and Ronald Goscinski. After speaking to Officers Bridges and Bolling at the 11th district station on the same date, they talked to Luther Graham in the lockup. The defendant first contended that he did not commit the rape of Christine Pietras, but later admitted: "Hell, yes, I did it. * * * I'm going to plead guilty to it."

The defendant took the stand as the sole defense witness. He testified that during November 1973, he was employed at the Best Line Casting Company, Monday through Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On November 19, 1973, he resided at 737 North St. Louis with his common-law wife, Loretta Jones, and their two young children. On the day in question, Loretta woke him at approximately 5:45 a.m. because his cousin, Henry Greer, was ...

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