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People v. Rankin





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ADAM N. STILLO, Judge, presiding.


Defendant Bruce Rankin appeals from his conviction for rape and aggravated battery following a jury trial. In this appeal he questions the verdict upon two grounds: failure to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; and failure to appropriately consider his alibi defense.

For the reasons hereinafter stated, we affirm.

Gereta Tammara Adams (hereinafter "complainant"), a 15-year-old high school student, testified that on the evening of May 26, 1976, she was at home, 3040 W. Cullerton Avenue, in Chicago, with her mother, Eileen Adams, her sisters Jodette and Margaret, her brother-in-law Walter Petty, and a nephew, Gregory. A few minutes after 9 p.m. the doorbell was rung by Alvin Rankin, defendant's younger brother, who told complainant that defendant, age 18, whom she had known for four years, wanted to see her. After obtaining her mother's permission to go next door where defendant lived, she knocked at the front door of defendant's house and, receiving no answer, called out his name. When no one answered, she looked up and down the empty street while standing in front of the gangway beside the house. She heard footsteps behind her and, turning around, saw defendant approaching her with a hammer. He walked up to her, twisted her right arm behind her back and clamped a hand over her mouth. Defendant warned her not to scream or fight him; when she resisted, he struck her on the head with the hammer. Still holding her arm behind her back, he then pushed her inside a doorway farthest from the street leading to his residence, and up the stairs until they reached the third floor attic apartment. Pushing open the door, he shoved complainant inside to a room furnished with a bed, a dresser, and a table supporting a television set, which was running at the time. A window facing the street was open.

Defendant locked the door and, holding the hammer, ordered complainant to undress. Initially she refused but, when defendant threatened to kill her, she removed her clothes and defendant removed his. He pushed her down onto the bed and forced her to have intercourse with him. While the rape was occurring he tried to kiss her, which complainant resisted, turning her head from side to side, and she was crying. The hammer was at the foot of the bed. When finished, defendant ordered her to get dressed. He would not release her because she would go to the police. He warned that if she did so he would kill her. Blood was coming from the right side of her head where she had been struck by the hammer. Defendant gave her an old shirt and a jar of water with which she wiped the blood away. He then had intercourse with her a second time. She again turned her head to avoid him and cried during the rape. Afterwards he fastened her clothes and removed the bed sheets bloodied by her head wound.

Complainant then heard her mother's voice calling, but she did not respond because of defendant's threats. She noticed that the 10 p.m. news was being broadcast on the television when, a few minutes thereafter, she heard Betty Rogers, a neighbor, call out. Using the name by which complainant was known to her friends, Ms. Rogers said, "Bruce, is Tammie up there?" to which the defendant replied, "No, she isn't here." He then pushed complainant down onto the bed and raped her a third time. Thereafter defendant reminded her that he would kill her if she went to the police, unlocked the door, and with complainant walked down the stairs and left the house. After warning her again, defendant ran west down the street. Complainant then returned home and the police were summoned.

Officer John Byra testified that he received the assignment to investigate the rape complaint at about 10:45 p.m. When he arrived at complainant's house she was "* * * crying and bleeding from the head." Finding no one home at 3038 W. Cullerton, where complainant had directed him, Byra toured the area with her in his squad car in an attempt to locate defendant, but was unsuccessful. He then took complainant to St. Anthony's Hospital, where she received stitches in her head and a pap smear was taken. Rodney Blach, a microanalyst employed by the Chicago Police Department Crime Lab, testified that he examined the slides containing the pap smear, and that the tests were "positive for spermatozoa."

Christine Menchavez testified that she was the nurse on duty in the hospital's emergency room at about 11:30 p.m. when she saw complainant. Mrs. Menchavez observed the injury to complainant's head and heard her speak of the circumstances of the rape. She later made out a report in which she wrote: "Patient states she is 6 weeks pregnant."

Eileen Adams, complainant's mother, testified that at about 10:15 p.m. that evening she sent her daughter, Jodette, outside to look for complainant at defendant's house. When Jodette returned without her, Mrs. Adams went there and called out for complainant, but no one answered. While looking for her, Mrs. Adams noticed that a light was on in the attic window of defendant's house that it went out when she called for complainant. At about 10:30 p.m., complainant returned home and said she had been raped.

Betty Rogers, who lived nearby and who had known defendant for six years, testified that she was watching a television program at about 10:05 p.m. that evening when she heard Eileen Adams call out complainant's name. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Rogers heard Alvin Rankin calling out for defendant. She had a short conversation with Alvin at about 10:15 p.m., then she called out for defendant and also spoke briefly with him.

Police Officer Richard Allen testified that on June 10, 1976, he arrested defendant at 8600 South Yates in Chicago, at which time defendant told him that he knew the police on the west side were looking for him.

Geraldine Boone, who lived nearby, testified for the defense that she saw defendant talking to a friend of her daughter's, one Leroy Brown, outside her front door a few minutes after 10 p.m. Brown testified that he was inside Geraldine Boone's house watching television with her daughter, Carla, when he heard defendant knock on the window a few minutes after 10 p.m. Brown spoke to defendant outside.

Brian Dosch, a law student who was employed as a law clerk for the Cook County public defender, testified that he accompanied David Daniels, an attorney with the public defender's office on August 5, 1976, during an interview of complainant at her home. She responded affirmatively to a question put to her by Mr. Daniels as to whether she had ever asked defendant or he had ever volunteered "`to take care of the child'."

The jury found defendant guilty of rape and aggravated battery. His motion for a new trial was denied and after a hearing on aggravation and mitigation, he was sentenced to seven to fourteen years for rape and three to ...

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