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People v. Guthrie

OPINION FILED JUNE 9, 1980.

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

v.

AVON GUTHRIE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



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

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE GOLDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After a bench trial, Avon Guthrie (defendant) was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 6 years. She appeals.

In this court, defendant contends only that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the man she stabbed is dead.

Willie Jones testified that on May 28, 1977, at about 6:30 p.m., he was working on his car outside his home on West 54th Place. Jones saw defendant approach John Brewer, who was working on his automobile across the street. Defendant and Brewer talked and then defendant pulled a knife from her pocket and stabbed Brewer in the stomach. Brewer had nothing in his hands, which were at his sides when he was stabbed. Jones observed no indication of aggression by Brewer prior to the stabbing. After defendant stabbed Brewer she said, "I will kill him."

Willie Jones' daughter, Nora, testified that on the evening in question at about 6:30 p.m., she sat on the front porch of her father's home. She also saw defendant stab Brewer in the stomach and saw no indication of aggression by Brewer. Nora heard defendant say, "I will kill the son of a bitch" after she stabbed Brewer.

Officer John Furmanek testified that on the night in question, he went to Tabernacle Hospital with his partner. At the hospital he spoke to Stewart Brewer, the brother of the victim. After the conversation, Furmanek, his partner and Stewart Brewer went to the vicinity of the stabbing incident. Stewart Brewer identified the defendant walking on the street. The police arrested defendant. A knife was found in her rear pocket.

Officer Richard Bedran testified he received an assignment resulting from a stabbing. Pursuant thereto he went to the Tabernacle Hospital. Thereafter he spoke to defendant after her arrest and again the next day. She told him she stabbed Brewer because Brewer had given her daughter drugs. She also told Bedran her daughter was staying away from home because of Brewer and she had seen Brewer give drug injections to her daughter several times. Defendant told Bedran that on the night of the stabbing, she approached Brewer as he worked on his automobile. She asked Brewer to bring her daughter home. Brewer pushed her and came towards her with a tool in his hand. Defendant stated she then stabbed Brewer. Bedran also testified John Brewer died between the time of the first and second conversations with the defendant. Bedran informed defendant on May 29, 1977, that Brewer had died.

Viola Gail testified she and defendant were close friends and she had visited defendant's house on several occasions. Gail had seen defendant's 15-year-old daughter, Mary Ann, in the company of John Brewer many times. On the day of the stabbing, Gail and defendant were at a laundromat in the neighborhood. The defendant and Gail's daughter, Margarice (Resa), left the laundromat. About 30 minutes later, Resa returned to the laundromat and told Gail of the stabbing incident.

Resa, 13 years old, was found competent to testify by the court. She testified that after she and defendant left her mother at the laundromat, they saw John Brewer working on his car on West 54th Place. Defendant walked across the street to talk to Brewer while Resa stayed behind to talk to a friend. Resa stated she then observed Brewer pushing defendant with both hands and he had a wrench in his left hand. Resa crossed the street and told Brewer to stop pushing defendant. Resa heard defendant and Brewer exchange obscenities. Brewer dropped his car keys, which he had in his hand. Defendant bent over to pick up the keys and as she did, Brewer raised his left hand which contained the wrench and then began to bring it down on defendant. Someone screamed and defendant came up with a knife in her hand and stabbed Brewer in the stomach.

Gregory Turner, defendant's husband, testified he had frequently seen his stepdaughter, Mary Ann, in the company of John Brewer. On one occasion, he saw Brewer holding a syringe while Mary Ann had a rag tied around her arm.

The defendant testified Brewer once rented a room in her house and he and Mary Ann were often together. On the evening of the stabbing, defendant saw Brewer working under the hood of his car as she and Resa Gail returned from the laundromat. Defendant went across the street and demanded Brewer bring her daughter home. Brewer refused and they began to curse each other. Brewer then began to push defendant. He had a tool in his left hand and keys in his right. Defendant knocked the keys from Brewer's right hand and bent down to pick them up. Defendant heard someone scream and saw Brewer's left hand coming down on her with the tool in his hand. Defendant testified she blocked his arm with her left arm and with her right hand, she pulled a knife from her rear pocket and stabbed Brewer in the stomach. She then put the knife back in her pocket and went to her landlady's house to use the washroom.

Louis Townsell, the victim's uncle, testified on rebuttal that on the night of the stabbing, he had loaned John Brewer two tools, a ratchet and a wrench, so Brewer could change the thermostat in his car. After the stabbing, Townsell went to the car and found the two tools lying on the motor of the car.

A pathological report and protocol was introduced into evidence. It was stipulated the report would be introduced for the limited purpose of cause of death and the medical findings by the pathologist.

Defendant contends the State did not prove the corpus delicti beyond a reasonable doubt because there is not sufficient evidence that the person to whom the pathological report and protocol ...


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