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People v. Haar

OPINION FILED AUGUST 29, 1979.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

BARBARA HAAR, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Clinton County; the Hon. GEORGE R. KELLY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GEORGE J. MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant Barbara Haar appeals from a judgment of the circuit court of Clinton County entered on a jury verdict finding her guilty of the crime of attempted murder.

Appellant first contends that she was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because the State did not prove that she was not acting in self-defense when she stabbed James Renth with a knife. There was undisputed evidence that the defendant stabbed Renth with a knife and inflicted rather severe abdominal and chest wounds on him during a brawl when both were guests at a wedding reception. She testified that she stabbed Renth in self-defense. Several witnesses testified on behalf of the State that Renth did not strike or threaten the defendant prior to the stabbing.

• 1 Self-defense is almost always a question of fact to be determined by the trier of fact. (People v. Adams (1969), 113 Ill. App.2d 205, 252 N.E.2d 35.) The decision of the jury on the issue of self-defense will not be disturbed unless the evidence is so unreasonable, improbable, or unsatisfactory as to suggest a reasonable doubt. (People v. Watts (1968), 101 Ill. App.2d 36, 241 N.E.2d 463.) Where there is a guilty finding in a case in which self-defense is at issue, a reviewing court will not reverse such determination unless it is so unsatisfactory or improbable as to justify a reasonable doubt of defendant's guilt. (People v. Adams.) This was a jury issue.

Defendant also contends that the jury was improperly instructed that if they found the defendant intended to kill or cause great bodily harm, then they could find the defendant guilty of attempted murder.

• 2 The trial court gave the following instruction on attempt (murder):

"To sustain the charge of attempt, the State must prove the following propositions:

First: That the defendant performed an act which constituted a substantial step toward the commission of the crime of murder;

Second: That the defendant did so with intent to commit the crime of murder; and

Third: That the defendant was not justified in using the force which she used.

If you find from your consideration of all of the evidence that each of these propositions has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, then you should find the defendant guilty.

If on the other hand, you find from your consideration of all the evidence that any of these propositions has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, then you should find the defendant not guilty."

The trial court also gave the following instruction defining murder:

"A person commits the crime of murder who kills an individual if, in performing the acts which cause the death, she intends to kill or do ...


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