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People v. Price





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. MARVIN ASPEN, Judge, presiding.


The unarmed victim is dead, killed by the knife wielded by the defendant. The jurors were asked to determine if it was murder, voluntary manslaughter or self-defense. They decided murder. Price was sentenced to a prison term of 14 years to 14 years and one day. We affirm.

On the afternoon of January 9, 1971, Melvin Clark and a man named Rudy met defendant Archie Price in his Chicago apartment. The three went to the nearby apartment of Adline Lloyd, the defendant having purchased some liquor on the way. They entered Lloyd's apartment through the back door and met Lloyd, her daughter Alma, Johnny Jones and James Petty. The seven sat on the enclosed sunporch of the apartment, watching television and drinking. Price shared some of the liquor he had purchased with the others.

When Price arrived, James Petty was sitting on a chair near the entrance to the kitchen. Price first sat down in the kitchen, then moved to a stool near Melvin Clark, and ended up on a couch next to Petty's chair. Price offered Petty some wine, and Petty poured it into a jar he was using as a glass. Price complained about the amount of wine that Petty had taken by asking Petty if he was trying to take the whole bottle. Petty responded by asking if Price wanted the wine back. Price said no.

The defendant then left the sunporch. Lloyd, who testified at trial that she had "a little difficulty" seeing, saw Price return to the sunporch through the kitchen. She had not seen Petty move from his chair. Neither Lloyd nor Clark saw what happened next, but when Clark looked up he suddenly noticed that Petty and Price were scuffling. Their struggle carried them over the top of Petty's chair, and Clark and Lloyd both heard Petty ask Price, "What's wrong with you, man?" The two men landed at Clark's feet, and Petty let out a sigh. Petty lay on top of Price, holding the defendant's right hand. After a moment the struggle stilled. Price extricated himself and rose to his feet holding a butcher knife in his right hand. He said, "Call the police," and walked out of the apartment.

When police arrived several minutes later, they found Petty lying face down on the porch, breathing shallowly and bleeding from wounds in his left side, left arm and right hand. He was taken to the hospital, but died on the way. An autopsy later disclosed that Petty died of a stab wound in his left side which punctured a lung and drained the body of blood. The autopsy also revealed that at the time of his death Petty had a blood alcohol content of .274 milligrams percent. The pathologist who conducted the autopsy testified that a reading of .100 milligrams percent was considered to indicate intoxication.

After Petty died, police returned to Lloyd's apartment, where they were given Price's name, description and address. They went to the address and had the manager open the door to Price's apartment after no one answered their knock. The entry was made without a search warrant. Although Price was not in his room, police searched the area and removed Price's social security cards, his phone bill, a letter from Buffalo addressed to him and a photograph.

In the course of their investigation over the next few days the police called numbers on the phone bill, spoke with Adline Lloyd's other daughter who also knew Price and put a stop order on his paycheck from the University of Illinois Medical Center. On January 11, 1971, an arrest warrant for Price was issued. That same day the manager of Price's building told police that Price had returned to his room early on January 11, taken his television set, and left. The Chicago police were unable to locate Price, and the F.B.I. was asked to obtain a Federal warrant for his arrest.

On June 26, 1974, F.B.I. agents in Peoria went to an apartment in that city and were admitted by its occupant. Inside, the agents saw Price. When an agent told him that the bureau had a warrant for his arrest on charges in Chicago, Price responded, "Yes, I know." He was then taken into custody.

Brought to the Peoria county jail, Price declined to make a statement to the agents. Two days later, Price was driven to Chicago by two Chicago police officers. One of the officers testified that Price told them that he had offered wine to Petty, that Petty had taken more than he should have and that he had pointed this out to Petty. When he had returned from the bathroom Petty kicked him in the leg, and he then took a butcher knife and stabbed Petty. Price also told the officers that after the incident he went outside and threw away the knife.

At trial, the State introduced this statement. Price took the stand to offer his account of the stabbing. Price testified that he, Clark and Rudy met Petty and the others at Adline Lloyd's. Price, who knew Petty and had never been mistreated by him, thought that Petty was intoxicated. When Price asked Petty if he was trying to pour out all the wine, Petty replied by asking if Price wanted the wine back. Price said no. When Price tried to return to his seat from the bathroom, he had to pass in front of Petty who was sitting in a chair. Petty kicked Price in the leg. Price testified that when he went for his coat pocket, Petty jumped up and tackled him. Price hit the floor, got the knife out of his pocket and "tussled" with Petty over the knife. Price got up and told the others to call the police when Petty weakened. According to the defendant, events took place so fast that he was on the floor before he realized what was happening.

When confronted with his statements at the preliminary hearing, Price agreed that he had testified that Petty was trying to take the knife away from him and that they scuffled on the floor over the knife. He denied testifying that he had taken the knife out and told Petty, "I'm going to use it," before he and Petty fell to the floor. Price told the jury that his back had been on the floor, that he had not wanted to hurt anyone and that he was trying to get the knife out of his pocket to defend himself.

Archie Price was 55 years old at the time of the incident. Petty was 26. Price was 5 foot, 5 inches tall and weighed 168 pounds. Petty was 6 foot 1 and weighed 175.

Price also testified that when he emerged from under the wounded Petty, he was torn between staying at the scene and leaving. He told the jury that he followed that part of his mind which urged him to leave. Price said that he threw away the knife and went to the home of a friend in Chicago, where he stayed for the next 3 weeks. According to Price, when he returned to his room the day after the stabbing, the manager told him to get out because Petty had died and the police were looking for Price. After visiting Melvin Clark and telling Clark that he did not know what had happened to make Petty jump on him, Price followed the manager's advice, took his radio and television set from his room and returned to his friend's house. Price tried to pick up his ...

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