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People v. Mcknight





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. FRED G. SURIA, JR., Judge, presiding.


After a jury trial, defendant was convicted of aggravated kidnapping, rape, and deviate sexual assault and was sentenced to concurrent terms of six to nine years for each offense. On appeal, he contends that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and that prosecutorial misconduct denied him a fair trial.

It is undisputed that at dusk on an October evening, sexual intercourse occurred between complainant and defendant in the basement apartment of his family's home; however, their accounts of the surrounding circumstances are markedly different.

Complainant, a 13-year-old first-year high-school student, testified that at approximately 7 p.m. on the evening in question she decided to go to a friend's home to borrow a book to complete a homework assignment. Not knowing the exact address, she proceeded in what she believed was the general direction of the friend's home but inexplicably walked a block out of her way. As she was proceeding down a street lined with a large high-school building on one side and homes on the other, she was approached from behind by a man whom she later identified as defendant. He grabbed her hair and, when she screamed, he threatened that she would never see her home again if she did not keep quiet. At no time, however, did he produce a weapon. After he pushed her into the passenger seat of a green car which was idling at the curb, defendant ran around the vehicle to the driver's side and then drove to a nearby alley where he exited the car, went around to the passenger side, and pulled her from the vehicle. Twisting her arm behind her back, he forced her through the back yard and gangway adjoining his parents' home. She did not see anyone on the back porches or looking out of the windows of nearby homes; but, nonetheless, she hollered for assistance. At this point, defendant again threatened that she would never return home if she did not keep quiet. He then led her to the front door of the house and, seeing no one in close proximity, she did not shout or attempt to escape during the short time they stood on the porch.

Once inside, defendant forcibly removed her coat as she tried to keep it on, and he then took her into the basement apartment via a back stairway located off the kitchen. In the basement, defendant pushed complainant onto a couch where she struggled with him to prevent the removal of her clothing. During the course of this action she heard a movement upstairs but, as she began to shout for assistance, defendant again threatened her and placed his hand over her mouth. Defendant then called out to ascertain whether it was Greg who was upstairs, and a voice replied affirmatively. Defendant continued to hold his hand over her mouth for a few minutes until Greg left the house. Thereafter, he resumed disrobing her, after which he undressed himself, and when she tried to move away he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her toward him. After two attempts at intercourse with complainant were unsuccessful, he forced his penis into her mouth — overcoming her resistance by vigorously pulling her hair. In doing so, he attained an erection and then penetrated her vagina with his penis.

After they dressed, he drove her home where, upon entering, she saw that three of her mother's friends were visiting. Without saying anything, she went to her bedroom and moments later began vomiting in the bathroom. When her mother inquired concerning her condition, she replied that she had been raped. Her mother called the police, and complainant told one of the officers what had occurred. She pointed out defendant's house to the officers, who then took her to the hospital with her mother. There was testimony at trial that a pap smear taken from complainant at the hospital was positive for the presence of spermatozoa, but there was no testimony of vaginal trauma.

Defendant, a 23-year-old hair stylist and barber, testified that a month prior to the incident in question he met complainant at a disco and, believing her to be 18 or 19 years old, he talked to her for two to three hours that night before driving her home. During this conversation, she gave him her telephone number and, on the day before the incident in question, he telephoned her for a date. She suggested meeting between 5 and 6 p.m. the next day at his house.

That day, he had been working on his car at a friend's house and used the latter's car to return home to pick up a hair dryer. Driving back to the friend's home, he saw complainant and called to her. She told him she had been on her way to his house and accepted his invitation to enter the car. They went to his home where, without direction from him, she walked through the main floor of the home and down the stairway to the basement apartment where he customarily entertained. He remained behind in the kitchen to consume a soft drink before joining her in the basement apartment, where he turned on some music and they engaged in sexual intercourse for 20 to 30 minutes. At no time did she resist his advances, and he had no difficulty achieving penetration. While they were together in the basement apartment, his brother Greg entered the main floor of the house and called to him. At this time he was not subduing complainant in any fashion, and she made no effort to call out to Greg. After they dressed, he drove her home and lingered in front of her house for 10 minutes while investigating a "knocking" sound made by his friend's car. He spent the remainder of the evening with friends and, upon returning home in his own car, was arrested.

At trial, complainant's mother testified that she was at home when her daughter arrived, and shortly thereafter she heard her vomiting in the bathroom. She then followed complainant to the bedroom, where she began crying and said that she had been raped.

A police fingerprint technician testified that a latent print belonging to complainant was found on the passenger door of the car driven by defendant when he arrived home shortly before his arrest, and documentation disclosed him to be the purchaser of license plates of that car (not the car of his friend, which he claimed he was driving when he picked up complainant). Further, an assistant State's Attorney who questioned defendant after his arrest testified that defendant told him he had nothing to do with the incident involving complainant and that he had been elsewhere with friends during the time in question.

Gregory McKnight testified that on the evening in question, after he entered his family's home, he heard defendant call to him from the basement. Greg announced his presence and, while making a sandwich, he heard defendant and a woman conversing in the basement apartment but could not understand what was being said. He heard no sounds of a struggle and left within a few minutes of his arrival.

The two police officers gained entry to the McKnight home when defendant's parents arrived at 10 p.m. The officers and the parents were in agreement that the furnishings on the main floor and in the basement were not in disarray. One of the officers testified that he found a button on the basement floor, and complainant identified the button as having been torn from her blouse when defendant was trying to remove her clothing.


• 1-3 Defendant contends first that the evidence was insufficient to prove his guilt of rape beyond a ...

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