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People v. Adams





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. JOHN L. HUGHES, Judge, presiding.


Anna Mae Adams was convicted of murder following a jury trial and sentenced to 14-25 years imprisonment. She appeals, contending that she was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; alternatively, that prejudicial error was committed in denying her the right to show that the deceased had previously committed a specific act of violence of which she had knowledge.

It is not disputed that on November 17, 1976, defendant shot and killed Albert Johnson with whom she had been living for the previous 5 1/2 years. The shooting took place at 1321 Ridgeland Avenue in Waukegan, the residence where defendant and the deceased lived together. On some unspecified date before the shooting the defendant had rented a second apartment in Zion, spending about two nights a week at the Zion residence and the other five nights with Johnson at the Waukegan residence.

The evidence showed that Johnson had beaten the defendant several times over the years and on one occasion, when the defendant had just returned from a stay in the hospital, kicked the defendant down the basement stairs.

On the morning of November 16 previous to the shooting Johnson came to the defendant's apartment in Zion. Johnson accused the defendant of preparing to go to Milwaukee, apparently to see another man, which she denied. She said that he then slapped her, knocked her to the floor, straddled her and tortured her with a lighted cigarette.

On the evening of November 16, 1976, the defendant went to a bingo game with other women. While they were at the game Johnson arrived with a Mrs. Jessie Moore. Johnson and Mrs. Moore sat at the table and an argument took place between the deceased and the defendant.

The evidence shows that the defendant spent that night at her residence in Zion while Johnson spent the night with Mrs. Moore in the house on Ridgeland. Mrs. Moore said that during the night she heard a shot fired and on later inspection a bullet was found lodged in a wall of the house. A firearms examiner testified that in his opinion the bullet retrieved from the wall was discharged by the same firearm as one found in the driveway after the killing; but the examiner had not written this down in his records.

There was undisputed testimony that very early on the morning of Wednesday, November 17, 1976, the defendant arrived at the house on Ridgeland, knocked on the door but was not admitted by either Mrs. Moore or Johnson; that she then punctured all four tires on Johnson's car using an ice pick she had brought with her; and defendant returned to her Zion residence.

The defendant then returned to the house on Ridgeland between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on the same day. At this time Johnson was in the driveway of the house in the process of changing his four flat tires; Mrs. Moore was with him in the driveway.

The defendant testified that she emerged from the car with some laundry in her hands. Mrs. Moore, on the other hand, testified that defendant came out of the car with a gun in her hands. Mrs. Moore thereupon entered the house and proceeded to call the police. She was not an eyewitness to the shooting. A statement given by defendant to the police after the shooting was similar to her trial testimony except that she then stated that the deceased said he was going to shoot her and pulled his gun; she wrestled with him, he dropped it, she picked it up; she pulled the trigger.

The defendant testified that after Mrs. Moore left, Johnson began to advance towards her with a tire iron in his hand, stating, "I am going to kill you, bitch." Defendant said that Johnson hit her on the side of her head with the iron, hit her on her shoulder and over her back, again repeated that he was going to kill her. As she was backing out into Ridgeland and saying "Don't, don't," she pulled a pistol out, again asked him not to come at her any more, then shot him in the left side as a "warning" but "didn't try to kill him." She testified that defendant kept on coming, that she was getting back to the end of her car and asked him not to come closer but that he took the iron back and that she shot him again whereupon he fell and she drove away.

Myrna Christakis testified for the State. She said she was driving west on Ridgeland at about 10 a.m. on November 17, 1976, when she heard a noise that sounded like a firecracker. She observed a man and a woman in front of the house at 1321 Ridgeland for a period between 90 seconds and two minutes. After hearing a shot and while her car was stopped at the stop sign, she testified:

"* * * he was backing, she was going forward and the man — well, there was another pop and the man was shot and fell ...

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