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People v. Mosley





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. HOWARD M. MILLER, Judge, presiding.


Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County the defendant, Brenda Mosley, was found not guilty of attempt murder and guilty of aggravated battery. She was sentenced to a term of five years on felony probation. On appeal the defendant argues (1) she was not found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt after presenting a credible and consistent defense of self-defense and (2) that the trial court abused its discretion in not allowing the defense to question the defendant concerning the victim's use of drugs.

The arresting officers were the first witnesses for the State. Officers Woods and Johnson testified that at approximately 6:45 p.m. on October 21, 1975, they received a radio call directing them to investigate shots fired in an apartment at 8151 South King Drive in the City of Chicago. When they arrived at the apartment building entrance they heard a shot and a child screaming. As the officers entered the building they saw the defendant coming down the stairs. She was wearing a beige jacket which had what appeared to be a small amount of blood on the right side near her face. As the officers tried to stop her she told them to "turn me loose, I want to go. I want to go where my children are." When asked about the gunshots the defendant said she had shot her boyfriend. The defendant told the police that she had a gun in her waistband. Woods removed a .38-caliber revolver with two spent cartridges from her person. The defendant made no attempt to escape and offered no resistance. The police officers' testimony was conflicting as to whether the second gun, found in the apartment, was a .45 or a .357 magnum. That gun was lost and was not produced at trial.

Johnson and Woods went up to the defendant's apartment where they found Charles Hood, the complainant, on the kitchen floor. He was bleeding from the right side of his stomach. Woods testified that when he saw the defendant at the police station he noticed a slight bruise around one of her eyes. Johnson did not notice anything unusual about the defendant's face.

Hood testified that he was employed by the sheriff's department as a correctional officer at the time of the shooting. He has been trained in the skills of martial arts. When on the job he usually carried a .357 magnum Colt revolver, and he also owned a .38 revolver which he generally left at home on the top shelf of the linen closet. Hood testified he had been living with the defendant for three years at the time of the shooting. They lived with the defendant's three children. Hood was the father of the youngest of the children.

After finishing work on the day of the shooting, Hood went to the defendant's apartment where he found the defendant, her children, and Brenda Allen, a friend of the defendant's. Hood went to the master bedroom to pack his clothes, credit cards and papers. The defendant had packed his clothes the previous day and put them in the trunk of their car. Hood could not find some of his papers, his credit cards, or the .38 revolver. The defendant told him she did not know where they were.

Hood and the defendant then went to her grandmother's house. The defendant's grandmother tried unsuccessfully to persuade Hood to change his mind about moving out of the defendant's apartment. Upon their return to the defendant's apartment, Hood and the defendant continued to quarrel. While Hood searched the bedroom for his belongings the defendant ran out of the apartment and tried to lock the others inside. Hood grabbed her and brought her back into the apartment. He testified that the defendant fell against the banister, which produced some bleeding on her face. Hood asked the defendant either to let him leave or to leave herself. Hood then pushed a large television set in front of the main door to keep the defendant in the apartment.

Hood went to the master bedroom to call the defendant's father. When the defendant discovered what he was doing she pulled the phone cord out of the wall. Hood then tried to use the phone in the living room, but the defendant pulled that cord from the wall too. Hood returned to the master bedroom while the defendant went into the children's bedroom where the two younger children were. Hood heard a shot and ran into the children's room where he saw the defendant with the .38 in her hand. Hood took the baby and put it on the living room couch. Brenda Allen left the apartment with the oldest child after the first shot was fired.

Hood then returned to the children's room where he unsuccessfully tried to talk the defendant into giving him the gun. He next went to the kitchen to call the defendant's aunt, Verta Watkins. The defendant entered the room, pointed the gun at him, and told him to hang up the phone. Hood complied and the defendant went back to the children's room. Hood called Watkins again and told her what was happening. He asked Watkins to come over with the defendant's father to help calm the defendant down. The defendant returned to the kitchen during this phone conversation and shot Hood in the stomach from a distance of ten feet.

The defendant ran out of the kitchen, returned wearing a leather jacket, leaned over the victim and apologized, and then departed. Hood denied hitting the defendant at any time that day. On cross-examination Hood said he had pushed the television in front of the door to prevent the defendant from running out again and from locking him in the apartment.

Brenda Bilbrew testified that she had been a friend of the defendant's for six years but said at trial that she presently strongly disliked her. She said she had received a phone call from the defendant on the day prior to the shooting. According to the witness, the defendant said she would kill Hood before she would let him go. On cross-examination Bilbrew conceded that she had not told the police or the State's Attorney about the phone call until the day before she testified.

The defendant testified in her own behalf. She said Hood started pushing her around when he first got home from work because he could not find some of his belongings. She also testified that Hood threw a vase at her after the visit to her grandmother's house. When she tried to leave the apartment Hood came down the stairs after her and "popped" her twice in the face with his fist. Hood dragged her back into the apartment and blocked the door with the television set. The defendant said Hood kept coming at her and calling her "bitch." She kept asking him to leave her alone and to stop bothering her. After the defendant shot the gun into the floor in the children's room, Hood pursued her around the apartment and said "bitch, I am going to make you shoot that gun again today." The defendant told him "I wasn't moving no more, I wasn't going to run." She shot him because she was afraid he would hit her again and seriously injure her.

The defendant testified she was going to call an ambulance but then remembered the phones were not working. She went to a neighbor's for help, but no one was home. She then went downstairs for assistance and discovered the policemen there.

The defendant also testified she believed the .357 magnum was in the apartment at the time of the shooting and that because she had not seen Hood remove this gun, to the best of her knowledge he was still carrying it. The defendant denied making a phone call to Bilbrew on the day before the ...

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