APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EARL E.
STRAYHORN, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE WILSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied April 25, 1979.
After a jury trial, defendants were convicted of murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 9-1) and each sentenced to 75 to 100 years. On appeal, the following issues are raised: (1) Whether defendants were found guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) whether the trial court committed reversible error by threatening a prosecution witness; (3) whether the trial court erred in admitting into evidence photographs of the murder scene; (4) whether defendant Hayes was denied a fair trial where members of the jury saw photographs which the trial court ruled were not to be displayed to the jury; (5) whether defendants were denied a fair trial when the assistant State's Attorney assumed facts during his rebuttal argument; and (6) whether defendant Hayes' sentence was excessive. We affirm on all points raised.
Patrice Freeman, who was 13 at the time of the incident in this case, testified that at around midnight on May 16, 1975, she was on an elevator with her friend, Joanne Jones, at 5201 South Federal, a high-rise public housing project. The elevator failed to stop on the fourth floor, where Freeman lived, and despite her efforts, it did not stop until it reached the fifteenth floor. They got off the elevator and began walking down the staircase to Freeman's apartment.
When they arrived at the fifth floor, they saw George Wormley, whom Freeman had known for about three years, standing about 80 feet from the laundry room on the fifth floor. Jones asked Wormley where she could find Larry Hayes, her boyfriend. He told her that Hayes had gone home. After he had said this, Hayes, whom Freeman had known for about a year, came walking down a large hallway. Wormley asked Jones to get a knife for him, but she refused and told him that she was staying with Hayes. He then asked Freeman to get the knife. When she asked him why he wanted the knife, he told her not to worry about it.
Freeman went to apartment 701 and asked a person named Wardell if she could use his knife. She told him that Wormley wanted to use it. When she went into his kitchen, he told her to bring the knife back. She took two knives which she described as "silver and curled at the end." She said that they were not sharp and were blunted at the end.
After she had obtained the knives, Freeman went back to the fifth floor. When she arrived, she saw Wormley, Hayes, and Edward Murphy, whom she had known for about three years. She noticed blood on their clothes and she testified that she thought that she saw blood on Wormley's shoes. She gave the knives to Wormley and asked him what he intended to do. He told her that they were "trying to kill a Stone." When he said that, she asked for the knives back because she did not want to get involved. However, Wormley said nothing. She then asked to see the boy before they did anything. She went into the laundry room with Jones and saw the boy, later identified as Stanley Beck, lying face forward on the floor. She said that he was bloody and was naked from the waist down except for a sock which he was wearing. While she was there, the boy did not move or say anything, and she said that he "looked dead." While she was in the laundry room, Wormley, Hayes, and Murphy were outside, about six feet away from the door.
After seeing the boy, Freeman and Jones ran down to the fourth floor. Freeman could not get into her apartment, so she and Jones went out onto the porch area of the fourth floor. There they saw a boy talking to Freeman's aunt. Freeman told the boy that "they" were going to kill somebody. She refused to identify the boy at trial, but she did say that her aunt heard her tell the boy about the killing. She stated that even though she knew a number of people in the building, she did not ask anyone to call the police. She said that she and Jones remained on the porch for about 15 minutes and then began walking upstairs.
When they reached the sixth floor, Freeman and Jones heard Wormley, Hayes, and Murphy talking. They first saw them on the porch area outside apartment 610. One of them told Freeman and Jones not to say anything about what had happened. At some point, Hayes and Wormley tried to hand the knives back to Freeman, but she refused to accept them. She said that the knives had blood on them. After she had entered the apartment, one of them again told her not to say anything about what had happened. She said that she thinks that it was Hayes. She noticed that the three of them had changed most of their clothes and thought that they had taken off their shirts. She also noticed that both Wormley and Murphy were wearing the same kind of gym shoes which they were wearing when she had seen them on the fifth floor. She remained in the apartment for about five minutes and then left with Jones.
Freeman walked with Jones to her apartment at 5135 South Federal. When they arrived at the building, they met a boyfriend of Freeman's mother. He told Freeman to go back to the building. When she returned to 5201 South Federal, she saw her stepfather and mother but did not tell them what had happened. Also, she said that she did not call the police.
On May 18, 1975, Freeman first spoke to the police in her apartment in the presence of her mother, aunt, and friends. At that time, she told the police that she did not know anything about the boy in the laundry room. When asked if she ever had occasion to learn that her brother had been arrested and questioned about killing the boy in the laundry, she answered that she had not.
About a week after the incident, Freeman began a series of four or five visits to the police station. Upon separate questioning by counsel for each defendant, she testified to different dates for some of the visits, but consistently testified that she had given two written statements to the police. She said that in each instance she was called to come over to the station by the police, and, although she travelled to the station on her own, after each visit the police drove her home. He mother was with her on all but one of the visits and whenever she was asked to give a written statement, her mother was present. Each visit began in the early or midafternoon and most visits lasted for at least four hours.
Freeman told the counsel for Hayes that she went to the police station on May 24, 1975, but that she did not tell the police anything about what had happened. She said that while she was there the police were mean to her and were yelling at her. They told her that they had a witness who said that she had borrowed two knives from him on the night that the boy was killed. They also told her that they could charge her with murder. She said that she was frightened and that she lied to the police because she was afraid of getting hurt. On redirect examination, she testified that she was afraid that she was going to be hurt by friends of Wormley, Murphy, and Hayes.
Freeman told counsel for Hayes that about four days after the first visit, she returned to the police station. Two of the police officers who questioned her on this occasion were Investigators Kehoe and Kennedy. She told them that she did not know anything about what had happened in the laundry room. They yelled at her and once again she was told that she could be charged with murder unless she told the truth. She gave them a written statement which made no mention of any involvement by Hayes in the events of May 16-May 17. After this visit, she returned to the police station on two or three other occasions.
Freeman also told the counsel for Hayes that she was called to testify before a grand jury in June of 1975. Prior to her appearance, she was taken into a small room where Investigator Kehoe again yelled at her. She then testified before the grand jury. When she came out of the grand jury room, Kehoe tried to serve her with a subpoena for her appearance at the trial of this case. She refused to accept the subpoena. After her refusal, there was more yelling and, eventually, Kehoe pushed her brother. She said that she agreed to testify only after the assistant State's Attorney agreed to move her mother out of the building at 5201 South Federal.
Freeman told counsel for Wormley that her first visit to the police station occurred about a week after she had seen the boy in the laundry room. She said that Investigators Kehoe and Kennedy questioned her in a small room for a number of hours. She said that she was afraid while she was being questioned because she "had to go home."
Freeman told counsel for Wormley that her next visit occurred around a week later. During that visit, she gave a written statement to the police. The statement essentially included the matters testified to at trial by her. However, in that statement, she omitted mentioning anything about Hayes, her visit to apartment 610, or her seeing her stepfather on May 16 or May 17. She also stated that she had taken only one knife out of Wardell Robinson's apartment. She said that the police were not mean to her after she had given this statement. She testified that this statement was not the truth. On her third visit, which occurred more than three days after the second visit, she was asked to give another statement because the police did not believe that she told the truth in her first statement. This time she mentioned Hayes' involvement in the incident.
Freeman told counsel for Murphy that on May 24, 1975, the date of her first written statement, she told the police what she thought would get her out of the police station. She said that both she and her mother signed the statement. When she went home that night she told her stepfather that she had not told the police the truth, but he did not call the police and tell them that.
On May 27, she went back to the police station and told the police that the first written statement was not the truth. During this visit, she was questioned by Kehoe and Kennedy with her mother and boyfriend present. While she gave her second statement one of the officers typed it up. Then the officers read it back to her. She said that she had trusted that the officers had typed up what she had said. Both she and her mother signed the statement. In this statement, she stated that "King" had sent her for the knife and that she had brought the knife to him. She said that "King" was Larry Hayes. She testified that this was untrue. In her statement, she also stated that after he had received the knives, King said that he was going to kill "this fellow." She testified that she could not remember if that was true. When asked by Murphy's counsel whether she recalled testifying before the grand jury that she gave the knife to Larry, she said that she could not remember.
Linda Burnett testified that she lived in apartment 1202 at 5201 South Federal on May 16 and May 17, 1975. At around midnight on May 16, she arrived home with a number of her friends whom she did not wish to identify at trial. She said that she saw Patrice Freeman and some of her friends on the first floor of the building. Since both elevators were broken, Burnett and her friends had to walk up to her apartment. When they arrived on the sixth floor, they rested. While there, they saw a couple of people, including George Wormley and Edward Murphy. At first, she testified that she did not notice anything special about their clothes. However, upon further questioning by the assistant State's Attorney, she said, "I could have seen dirt spots, I could see dirt spots, I don't know what kind of spots you want for me to say." On cross-examination, she stated that the spots were larger than quarters and, although she first indicated that she could not say whether she saw more than one spot, she subsequently stated that the spots were on more than one area of their clothing.
About a half hour later, Burnett heard a lot of noise on the fifth floor and she went down to see what was the cause of the commotion. When she arrived, she saw Wormley and Murphy standing by the elevators. The elevators were located just across from the laundry room. She also said that there could have been five more people on the fifth floor. They were standing apart, about 10 to 15 paces from Wormley and Murphy. She said that neither Wormley nor Murphy was doing anything unusual. One of them had a knife, but she thought that they were just playing around. When asked what type of shoes they were wearing, she said that they "could have been wearing gym shoes, could have been [wearing] shoes." After about 10 minutes, she left the fifth floor.
About four days later, Burnett was called to the police station to give a statement. She could not remember if the date of this visit was May 28, 1975, but she did say that she had only been to the police station on one occasion. She arrived at 8 or 8:30 p.m. and was questioned by Investigators Kehoe and Kennedy concerning the events of the night of May 16-May 17. Among other things, she told the investigators that she had not seen Larry Hayes on the night in question. She said that they tried to get her to change this statement, but she never changed the statement. One of the investigators typed up her statement and only one half hour after she had arrived, she signed it. She did not read the statement because she "believed that what [she] * * * was saying was typed down." After she had given her statement, she was kept in the police station until 1 or 2 a.m. During that time, the investigators repeatedly told her that she would be jailed until the trial unless she told them that she had seen Hayes. She testified that she never told them that she had seen Hayes on that night.
Eric Rogers testified that he was a schoolmate of Stanley Beck. He said that Beck was 14 years old on May 16, 1975, and he lived at 101st Street and Malta. He said that Beck's mother lived in the vicinity of 52nd Street and Federal. He had previously been in that vicinity with Beck. At around 11:30 p.m. on May 16, he was waiting with Beck for a northbound bus at 99th Street and Vincennes. Eventually, he left Beck at the bus stop and went home. It was stipulated that Rogers would identify People's Exhibit No. 5 as a photograph of Beck.
Eric Beck testified that she was Stanley Beck's mother. On May 16 and 17, she was living at 5201 South Federal. On May 21, she heard about Stanley from either her daughter or her sister.
Officer Richard Thompson, a mobile lab technician, testified that at approximately 2:25 p.m. on May 18, 1975, he went to the fifth floor laundry room at 5201 South Federal. The laundry room was divided into three cubicles and, as far as he could remember, there was a light in the room. He found Stanley Beck's body in the south cubicle. Although the cubicles were divided by metal mesh partitions, the body was visible from the doorway. When he saw the body, it was in a state of decomposition. Thompson said that the victim was lying face forward in some garbage and burned debris. There was some burned garbage on top of the victim's stomach. There were blood spatterings on the floor and wall around the body. Also, Thompson stated that he saw a shoe, stocking, beer can, and length of wire on the floor near the victim. No weapons were found at the scene.
Thompson photographed the scene. He took a photograph of a shoe print which had been made in the blood. He described the print as "gym-shoe type," but stated that it was possible that other types of shoes could have left a similar impression. He measured the footprint with a scale but not with a "rule." He also attempted to take fingerprints but he was unable to find any suitable prints in the cubicle.
Joseph Claparols, a pathologist employed by the Coroner of Cook County, testified that he performed an autopsy on Stanley Beck on May 19, 1975. His external examination revealed that Beck had been dead for a period of time. Although his report, signed on June 5, indicated that the date of death was May 18, 1975, he said that he did not independently determine that date but was given the time when the victim was pronounced dead.
Claparols noted that the victim had suffered extensive burns to portions of his body and a number of severe lacerations and abrasions to the face, scalp, abdomen, scrotum, and perineum. He characterized many of the lacerations as "stab-like wounds." Two of the lacerations to the head caused fractures. Claparols stated that the fracture to the left eye region "could be associated with a perforating wound into the eye socket region," whereas, the fracture to the back of the head could be associated with a blunt instrument. Claparols testified further that the types of injuries which he observed would give rise to substantial bleeding. Also, he stated that wounds inflicted before death practically always evidence vital changes such as hemorrhaging.
Claparols' internal examination revealed several rib fractures. He also said that the skull evidenced wounds consistent with those found on the external examination. When asked for his opinion on the cause of death, he stated that the cause was craniocerebral injury, extreme.
At the close of the State's case, several exhibits were admitted into evidence. Also, it was stipulated that each defendant was 17 when arrested on May 28, 1975.
The defense only called two witnesses. Linda Burnett, called on behalf of defendant Hayes, was shown a statement which she identified as the one which she signed for the police on May 28, 1975. She said that it was unusual that the statement mentioned Larry Hayes since she had not said anything about him to the police. She said that she had specifically told Investigators Kehoe and Kennedy that she had not seen Hayes on the night of May 16-May 17. She also stated that although the statement mentioned blood, she had never mentioned blood to the police or said that she had seen blood on Murphy and Wormley.
Eddie Freeman, Patrice Freeman's brother, was called on behalf of defendant Hayes but refused comment on any of the questions asked him.
At the close of the defense case, it was stipulated that on May 24, 1975, various items of clothing, including two pairs of gym shoes, were taken from Wormley and Murphy and tested for the ...