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People v. Eagle





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


A jury found the defendant Joseph Eagle guilty of rape, deviate sexual assault, robbery and theft. The defendant's post-trial motion to vacate the verdict or grant a new trial was denied. Judgment was entered on the verdict and he was sentenced to two concurrent terms of 8 to 18 years in the penitentiary for the offenses of rape and deviate sexual assault to run concurrently with a sentence of 5 to 15 years for the offense of robbery. The theft verdict was vacated as being a lesser included offense of the robbery conviction. The defendant appeals.

The issues presented for review are (1) whether the prosecutor's comments in closing argument were so prejudicial as to deny the defendant his right to a fair trial, and (2) whether the trial court committed error by admitting into evidence fingerprints taken from a beer can which the police had subsequently flattened for storage purposes.

On September 15, 1976, at approximately 10:25 p.m., the complainant, who was a law school student, left the school library. Using her roommate's car, a blue Plymouth with a black vinyl top, she started driving towards her apartment located on West Haddon Street. She stopped to purchase a six-pack of beer, Old Style half quarts, and then drove to Pine and Haddon Streets where she parked the car. As she stepped out, two men appeared at the driver's side of the car. One of the men pointed an object at her, which she thought to be a gun, and ordered her to slide over to the passenger side of the front seat. He sat in the driver's seat and the other man, the defendant, got into the rear seat. The defendant warned her to keep her head down and not look at them or they would kill her.

The driver then ordered the complainant to give him the car keys. He asked her how much money she had and was told $6. The driver ordered her to give him her purse, and he handed it to the defendant. The driver drove the car into an alley between Haddon and Thomas Streets and headed west for approximately one-half block. He stopped the car, unzipped his pants and forced the complainant to put her mouth on his penis. Meanwhile, the defendant got out of the back seat and sat next to her. He unzipped her pants and forced his fingers into her vagina. The driver told the defendant to get out of the car to make sure no one was coming.

The driver got out of the car, walked around and re-entered from the passenger side. He forced the complainant down on the front seat and partially undressed her. After smashing out the dome light of the car, the driver forced the complainant to have intercourse with him for approximately 45 seconds. He then dragged her out of the car and pulled her down the alley toward the defendant when a dog began to bark. The driver immediately forced the complainant back into the car and the defendant returned and sat next to her. She was again warned to keep her head down; as the car proceeded through alleys the defendant again inserted his fingers into her vagina.

Approximately three minutes later, the driver stopped the car, pulled the girl out and forced her into an area between two garages, near a large yellow vapor light. There he forced her to lie down, undid her blouse and again had intercourse with her. The complainant testified that while this occurred the defendant was standing in front of her. After the driver stood up, the defendant forced her to have intercourse with him. He then told her to get dressed and led her to the car. While sitting beside her in the car, he took one of the half-quart cans of Old Style beer and offered it to her. She refused. The driver then pulled her from the car, gave her her books and told her to stay in the alley for 20 minutes.

After the assailants drove off in the blue Plymouth, the complainant picked up her purse, which she found lying on the ground, and ran a block to the home of friends. A friend called the victim's roommate and drove the complainant home.

Two Chicago police officers arrived at approximately 11:45 p.m. They accompanied the complainant to the second alley where the alleged offenses occurred and recovered a half-quart Old Style beer can. The officers then took the complainant to the emergency room at St. Anne's Hospital for an examination and left the beer can in the police room at the hospital.

The complaining witness testified that the car keys and $6 were missing from her purse. When she returned home from the hospital, she further examined her purse and discovered a Zippo lighter, a small gold pill case, a lavender checkbook and an eyeglass case were also missing. She described the top of the pill case as being ceramic and yellow with a fruit design and stated the checkbook cover was embossed with her name.

In the early morning hours of September 16, 1976, the complainant went to a police station and, after viewing a lineup, identified the defendant as one of her assailants. She also was shown a pill box and checkbook which she identified as belonging to her. In court the complainant again identified these items and also the jacket and hat the defendant was wearing at the time of the alleged offenses. She also made an in-court identification of the defendant.

A witness for the prosecution testified that the complainant rang the doorbell at approximately 11:30 p.m. on September 15, 1976. He also stated that she was very upset as she told him she had been raped and her roommate's car had been stolen.

Doctor Tobin Torralba, a licensed physician at St. Anne's Hospital, testified that he examined the complainant in the emergency room during the early morning hours of September 16, 1976. He conducted an external and pelvic examination of the complainant. A smear of her vaginal canal proved positive for sperm.

Chicago Police Officer James Maylon testified that on September 16, 1976, at approximately 2:30 a.m. he and his partner, Officer Gallagher, received a radio call concerning a man stripping an auto at 71st and Halsted. The two officers proceeded to that location and observed the defendant holding a screwdriver by the trunk of a blue Plymouth with a black vinyl top. The defendant fled but was apprehended by Officer Maylon. The officer searched the car and recovered the ...

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