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People v. Wesley

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 29, 1978.

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

v.

WILLIE WESLEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. PHILIP ROMITI, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE WILSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant was indicted for murder. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 9-1.) After his first trial ended in a mistrial, the jury at his second trial convicted him of the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 9-2(a).) At both trials, defendant proceeded pro se. The trial judge sentenced him to the penitentiary for a period of not less than 5 and no more than 15 years. On appeal, defendant contends that the State failed to prove him guilty of voluntary manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

The State's first witness, Roosevelt Luie, testified that at approximately 6 p.m. on August 12, 1975, he and some of his friends were playing baseball in a gravel lot across the street from the housing projects at 5001 and 5041 South Federal. He heard a window break and immediately looked over at the buildings. After having first looked at 5041 South Federal, he noticed a man pulling on a screen on the ninth floor in one of the apartments at 5001 South Federal. He later identified People's Exhibit #1 as a photograph of the building at 5001 South Federal. On the photograph, he indicated where he was positioned at the time of the incident and drew a circle around the window where he had seen the man. The window was later identified as being part of apartment #902, the apartment of the deceased. Luie testified that the man he had seen was wearing a brown shirt and was trying to pull the screen into the apartment.

At this point, Luie told his friends to look up at the window. When Luie next looked up, he saw a woman sitting in the window. Her back was facing the witness and there was a man standing in front of her. She appeared to be trying to pull herself back into the room. The woman was screaming and had made two attempts to pull herself back into the room. She fell from the window backwards, flipped, landed on her face, and then bounced onto her back. When she fell, Luie saw defendant, whom he had known for about a year from the building.

After the woman had fallen, Luie ran over to her. He recognized her as Eloise Moore. *fn1 Luie had known the deceased and her family for about three years. After awhile, Luie saw defendant kneeling over the body. Within 15 minutes, the police arrived. At the time, Luie told only one person, Theresa Richmond, that "that man [referring to defendant] pushed her out the window." Later that evening, he went to the police station and told a police officer what he had seen happen.

On cross-examination, Luie testified that while he was playing baseball, he was not positioned so that he was looking directly at the window in apartment #902. He testified that he was standing at the southwest corner of the building. When the glass broke, he looked first at the 5041 building. He scanned the floors going from the bottom to the top and only after doing this did he look to the 5001 building. He first looked at the second floor, then he looked at the ninth floor when he saw a man pulling out the screen. Luie did not know how the woman got in the window. However, he did testify that he saw the man's hands in the area of the woman's chest. He did not know what the man was doing with his hands and he did not see anybody push her out the window. He did, however, state that the woman was trying to get back into the room.

Danny Morris stated that he too was playing baseball at approximately 6 p.m. on August 12, 1975. He first looked at the window on the ninth floor of the 5001 building when Luie called his attention to it. He later identified People's Exhibit #2 as a photograph of the building at 5001 South Federal. He indicated on the photograph where he was positioned at the time of the incident and drew a circle around the window where he had looked. The window was later identified as part of apartment #902.

When he looked at the window, he saw a man and woman "tussling." He later identified defendant as the man he had seen in the window. He said that the man pushed the woman and she was trying to get back into the window. The woman was facing inside the apartment. Morris said that he could only see the man's brown shirt sleeves and the side of his face. He could not recall whether the woman was screaming. Morris' testimony concerning the events after the fall substantially corroborates Luie's.

During cross-examination, Morris testified that during the baseball game he was positioned directly across from the 5001 building. He was between 100 and 150 feet from the building. His left side was facing the window. When Luie told him to look up at the 5001 building, he looked to where the noise was coming from and noticed a man and woman "tussling" or fighting.

Morris also testified that he did not see any broken windows or anybody pulling on a screen. The first thing that he saw was the woman sitting in the window. He said that the man's hands were on the woman's chest, but he later testified that he was not certain that the man's hands were on her. When asked by defendant how he could say that defendant was the one he had seen in the window after having only seen the side of his face, he stated that "I know it was you, because you came downstairs."

Robert Moore, one of the deceased's sons, testified that he lived with his mother. He stated that he had known defendant for two years and that defendant visited their apartment almost every night.

During cross-examination, Moore testified that he did not actually see anyone push anyone out of the window. When asked by defendant whether he had spoken with any of his brothers about what had happened, he testified that he had spoken with his eight-year-old brother, Anthony. Anthony told him that defendant had "checked" their mother around the neck and then pushed her out the window. Moore also testified that he did not like defendant.

Officer James Scott of the Chicago Police Department testified that at 6:45 p.m. on August 12, 1975, he went to Provident Hospital to observe the body of Eloise Moore. While there, he noted that both her arms were broken, there were contusions about her body, and there were lacerations on her left ankle and her left index finger. Joseph Claparols, a pathologist, performed an autopsy on the deceased. The results of the autopsy indicated that the deceased had suffered multiple injuries, including fractures and substantial hemorrhages. He stated that the injuries were consistent with a fall from a height of 75 feet.

On cross-examination, Claparols testified that the injuries would result whether a person had been pushed or had fallen from a ninth floor window. He also testified ...


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