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People v. Cornes

OPINION FILED JANUARY 7, 1980.

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

v.

ERNEST CORNES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Williamson County; the Hon. SNYDER HOWELL, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE KARNS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Williamson County, defendant, Ernest Cornes, was convicted of rape, deviate sexual assault and intimidation and sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 60 years for rape, 60 years for deviate sexual assault and 10 years for intimidation. The trial court ordered the sentences to run consecutive to a 1-year to life sentence on which defendant had been paroled. From his conviction and sentence defendant appeals.

Complainant testified that she lived in an apartment in Cambria, Illinois, with her 11-year-old son, Matthew. At approximately 3 a.m. on October 11, 1977, she was awakened by a knock at her door. She turned on the porch light, looked out the peephole of the door and saw defendant, who lived across the street from her. Complainant explained that she and defendant's family had been neighbors for two years. She visited with Mr. and Mrs. Cornes frequently and babysat for their son. The two families went on picnics and ate meals together on several occasions. Defendant had repaired complainant's television set and had given her a ride to Carbondale when she had car trouble.

Complainant asked defendant what he wanted and he told her that his wife was ill and they needed help. She then put on her quilted bathrobe and let defendant in the door. After defendant sat down on the couch, complainant asked him what was wrong with his wife. He replied that there was nothing wrong and stated that he wanted to make love to complainant and that he needed her. She told him that she did not want to make love; that she was not attracted to him; and that he should think about his wife and not hurt her. He responded, "I am going to make love to you. If you don't make love to me, I am going to kill you." She believed he was serious and began to scream hoping that someone would hear her and that defendant would leave. At that point, her son came into the room. She went over to her son and demanded that defendant leave the premises. Defendant refused to leave, hit complainant on the face and told the boy to go to the bedroom. Complainant ran into the bedroom to make a telephone call to defendant's wife, but defendant came in after her and disconnected the phone. She called to her son and sat with him on the edge of the bed with her arms held tightly around him. Defendant stood over them and said, "Matthew, I'm going to tell you just exactly what your mother is. * * * Matt, your mother is a whore. She's a slut and she uses men to run over you with." Defendant put his fist by complainant's jaw and added, "Matt, if you don't leave the room, I'm going to break your mother's jaw." Matthew left the room and complainant attempted to make another telephone call, which defendant once again disconnected. When defendant told her to remove her robe, she began to scream. After threatening her again, he told her to lay on the bed and spread her legs. Complainant complied with his demands for fear of her life. Defendant stood over her and said, "You're ugly. You're pathetic. You're nothing but trash. You're prejudiced. I don't even want you. You could have had a good thing with Willie but you said that you didn't date blacks." Defendant then removed his clothing and demanded that they have intercourse. Complainant started crying and feared for the safety of herself and her son. Thereafter, defendant forced her to place his penis in her mouth and have intercourse with him twice. Complainant begged him to stop and submitted to the demands only because she was afraid. During the course of these events, defendant continued his verbal abuse of complainant. Defendant then got dressed and told her to go to the living room. There he demanded that she embrace him before he left and told her that she "better not report him" because if she did he would kill her. He added that he would be watching every move she made; that he was her master; that she would have to submit to all his demands; and that if she did not comply with these demands he would kill her.

After defendant left, complainant called a friend, told him what had happened, and took a bath. She told her son not to go to school because she was afraid defendant might try to approach and threaten him. Complainant went to work but could not stop crying. She spoke to a co-worker about the incident and called the Women's Center in Carbondale. Complainant went to the hospital where she was met by Kathy Stathos, a counselor at the Women's Center. An examination revealed the presence of nonmobile spermatazoa and a bruise on complainant's thigh.

Complainant further testified that she has not lived in the apartment since the incident. She apparently stayed at the Women's Center until she found a new home and an adult female roommate.

Kathy Stathos testified that she received the phone call from complainant. She met complainant at the hospital and described her as being visibly shaken and very upset. She stayed with complainant throughout the medical examination and accompanied her to the apartment where complainant took some of her belongings.

Matthew, the 11-year-old son, testified that on October 11, 1977, he was awakened by a knock at the door. He then heard defendant enter the apartment and talk to his mother. Matthew got out of bed and saw defendant standing in the hallway. He saw his mother attempt to call the police and defendant disconnect the receiver. According to Matthew, defendant held his fist to his mother's jaw and threatened to break it if she did not tell Matthew to return to his room. Matthew was frightened and went back to his room because he did not want his mother to be hurt.

On cross-examination, Matthew testified that he did not see defendant hit or hurt his mother. He heard defendant tell his mother that she was "not good." After Matthew went to bed, he also heard his mother scream.

Defendant testified that he first met complainant in 1973 when he was dating one of her co-workers. After discovering that they were neighbors, the two families would go on picnics, have cookouts, ride bikes around the neighborhood and get together for dinner. Defendant stated that he and complainant were becoming closer friends as time went by and that she would call him on the telephone and ask him for "help, advice or even sometimes protection." He added that at various times he saw her and "her escort" at a local night club, where defendant worked as an assistant manager and bouncer, and on occasion would dance with her.

Defendant testified that on the evening of October 10, 1977, he and some friends went drinking. He returned home at approximately 3:30 a.m. and noticed a light in complainant's apartment. After parking the car, he went to her apartment, knocked on the door, identified himself, and was let in by complainant. Defendant testified that complainant was wearing a baby doll nightgown and had a scarf wrapped around her hair. Complainant asked defendant what he was doing out so late and defendant responded that he had been "out on the town." Defendant denied telling complainant that his wife was ill.

Defendant told complainant that she "looked good" and "walked over to her and embraced her." He started kissing her around the ears and neck and told her that he wanted to make love to her. Complainant did not say anything and they went to the bedroom.

Defendant undressed while complainant got on the bed. They had oral sex and later had intercourse. Complainant did not protest or tell defendant to leave. According to defendant, he did not strike her and she never screamed. Defendant stated that it was complainant who initiated the oral sex and that the sexual acts were a "mutual thing."

After defendant dressed, they went into the living room. They had a discussion about Matthew and defendant told her that she was mistreating her son and should take better care of him. Complainant became upset and started "raising her voice." The son, apparently awakened by the loud conversation, came into the hallway. Complainant denied neglecting Matthew and told her son to go back to bed and also told defendant to leave. Defendant stated that he never threatened Matthew and did not threaten to strike complainant in the son's presence. Defendant left the apartment at approximately 5 a.m. and went home. He fell asleep on ...


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