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People v. Coe

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 22, 1978.

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

v.

LENELL COE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ANTHONY J. SCOTILLO, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE WILSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied January 22, 1979.

After a bench trial, defendant was convicted of rape (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 11-1) and acquitted of armed robbery. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 18-2.) He was sentenced to a term of four years to four years and a day on the rape conviction. This appeal raises the following two issues: (1) Whether reasonable doubt exists where the trial court's findings in a two count indictment are so logically inconsistent that they are against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (2) whether the defendant was denied due process as a result of prejudicial information independently acquired by the trial judge prior to the filing of post-trial motions and the entry of judgment. We affirm on both points.

Janice Thompson, the complainant, testified that on the evening of February 25, 1976, she visited a friend and her 26 year old grandson. At 9:15 p.m., he walked with her to a cab. She took the cab to the Dan Ryan "L" train on Lake Street, and then took the train home. At approximately 9:30 p.m., she left the train at the Cicero Avenue station and began walking towards her home at 4925 West Hubbard. While she was heading westbound on the south sidewalk of Hubbard Street, she noticed that someone was following her. She later identified the man as defendant. She said that she had just passed an alley when she noticed her pursuer on the corner of Hubbard and Cicero. She quickened her pace and began walking in the middle of the street. He continued to follow her and eventually began running after her. She began running too, however, he caught up with her. She said that he caught up with her within two car lengths. He grabbed her by the neck and pointed a gun at her head, just above the left ear. At this time, even though there were lights on Hubbard, she was unable to see his face because he was behind her.

He told her to keep quiet and then pulled her off the street. They went into a gangway between two houses. He took her to the back of one of the houses and ordered her down a stairwell. When she refused, he again grabbed her around the neck and ordered her into the alley behind the houses. He then took her into a vacant warehouse with his arm still held tightly around her neck and with the gun still visible. Although the alley had the usual lighting, she still was in no position to see his face or to observe anything unusual about him.

After they had entered the warehouse, he took her purse and again told her to keep quiet. She could not see him because it was dark in the warehouse and she had been told to stoop down with her back towards him. All that she could see were items which were being thrown from her purse. During his search of the purse, he asked her if she had any money. She told him that she did, but he did not ask her where it was. However, later that evening, she noticed that four dollar bills which she had placed in her checkbook were missing. While he was going through her purse, complainant attempted to stand. He pointed the gun at her face and again told her to keep quiet. Shortly thereafter, complainant heard a noise outside of the warehouse. When she tried to call out, he put his hands over her mouth and told her to keep quiet. He kept his hands over her mouth for about ten minutes. Then, when the noise subsided, he continued his search of her purse. When he had finished and had put everything back into the purse, he searched in her bra and panties.

A short time later, he told her to stand up and take off her coat. When she refused, he brought out the gun again and pointed it at her. She then took off her coat. When she stood, she was able to clearly see his clothing because he was standing in the doorway and the alley light was shining into the warehouse. She noticed that he was wearing green pants, black Army boots, and a green Army-like jacket with a zipper up front. She could not see his whole face because he was wearing a knit multicolored cap pulled down on his face. However, she did note that he had a goatee.

After she had removed her coat, he told her to lie down on a mattress which was on the floor of the warehouse. He then placed the coat over her face, removed her clothes, and raped her. A short while later, she heard a ripping sound which she said was similar to the sound made when removing a paper from a stayfree minipad. She said that she was wearing a minipad that evening. Later she tried to remove the coat from her head, but her assailant would not let her. He told her to keep her hands at her side at all times.

After a five-minute period of silence, he then began talking to her. He first threatened her. He said that he knew where she lived and that he would come after her if she called the police. She testified that he could have gotten her address from a number of items in her purse, including her checkbook. She testified that he did go through her checkbook. After the threat, he then apologized to her. When she nervously asked him why he raped her, he initially did not answer her question. He began talking about her, stating that she had a job, a checking account, and money. He then said that he raped her because she had a job. When she asked him why he did not look for a job, he said that he could not find one. He added that he had no luck with a job or with his girl friend. He said that she had turned away from him. During the conversation, complainant said that she remained very nervous. After about 20 minutes, he allowed her to take the coat off her face and to put on her clothing. She said that she still could not see his face because he had turned his back towards her. When she had fully dressed, he gave her back her purse and offered to walk her home. She said that she could not go home looking like she did and said that she had to go to a phone. He then left the warehouse with her.

They walked eastward through the alley towards Cicero. For the first time, she was able to see defendant's face clearly under the alley lights. She said that she had never seen him before. He walked alongside of her onto Cicero. They passed a number of passing cars and people standing outside of a tavern. She did not want to go into the tavern to make her phone call because the people in there appeared to be drunk. She said that she did not say anything to the people outside of the tavern or to any other people they passed because she was afraid.

She testified that as they walked southward on Cicero, she did not notice anything unusual about defendant's walk. She did notice that he wore a gold digital wristwatch and a gold ring on his finger. She also repeated her description of his clothing, adding that he wore a multicolored hat which exposed some hair on the back of his head. She described the hair as being natural or kinky. She said that defendant did not have his gun drawn while they were walking. However, she did say that he had one of his hands in his pocket and that he was walking alongside of her.

Eventually, they arrived at a laundromat which was attached to a 24-hour store. The store was brightly lit and complainant was once again able to see defendant's face clearly. They went into the laundromat together. She did not talk to any of the people in the store. She went directly to a phone and made her call with defendant standing next to her. She told defendant that she was calling her brother. Complainant testified that she called her friend, Nancy Zick, and told her that something was wrong. She could not say much more than that because defendant remained very near to her for part of the conversation. After about five minutes, she noticed that he had left. She then told Zick where she was at that time.

Complainant testified that while she was waiting for Zick, she did not call the police because she was very nervous and she did not have enough money to call them. When Zick arrived, they went to the police station and made out a report. After making the report, she led the police to the warehouse where the rape had occurred. When they entered the warehouse, they saw a minipad, a wigpiece, and a newspaper on the ground. She said that those items belonged to her. After they had finished their visit, the officers took complainant to a hospital.

The next day, she left her house at 11 a.m. and went to a corner grocery store to make a telephone call. While she was there, she saw defendant walking in the store. She saw his face clearly and noticed that he was wearing the same clothes as the night before except that he was now wearing a solid colored hat. He apparently did not see her. When he left the store, she walked to the entrance and watched him for about five minutes. She then called the police. When the police arrived, she gave them a description of defendant and then rode with them as they searched for him. They saw him bending over a car at Hubbard and Cicero. She told the officers that he was the man who had raped her. They then phoned for another unit to pick up defendant.

Nancy Zick testified that at approximately 11 p.m. on February 25, 1976, she received a phone call from the complainant. Complainant told her that "something terrible had happened" to her. When Zick asked her what had happened, complainant repeated her statement that "something terrible had happened." Zick then asked her if she had been raped and she said that she had. She also told Zick that she had not called the police because her assailant was still with her. After awhile, complainant told Zick that the man had left and she then gave her the address to the laundromat.

When Zick arrived at the laundromat, she noticed that it was "very brightly lit." She saw complainant sitting on the window ledge. She noticed that complainant looked sad and that her hair was messed and her clothes were rumpled. Zick drove her to the police station to report the rape.

Officer Richard Blackman testified that he was assigned to complainant's rape on February 26, 1976. He said that she gave him a description of her assailant. She said that the man was a "male Negro about five seven, 170 (pounds), 22 to 23 years old, wearing a green jacket, green pants, and multi-colored knit cap." After he had spoken with her, he drove her to the vacant warehouse where the rape had occurred. He testified that the lighting conditions were not very good. However, he said that as he approached the doorway of the warehouse he could see a mattress on the floor because an alley light cast a reflection on the entrance. After he had entered the ...


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