APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. THOMAS
P. CAWLEY, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE CAMPBELL DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
This is an appeal from the circuit court of Cook County wherein the defendant, Melvin Parker, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery by the court, sitting without a jury. Defendant was sentenced to three years and four months to 10 years on involuntary manslaughter and two to six years on aggravated battery, with the sentences to be served concurrently.
The issues presented for review are: (1) whether the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant caused decedent's death; (2) whether the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant's acts were performed recklessly; (3) whether the trial court abused its discretion in restricting defendant's cross-examination of witness, Ms. Swoope; (4) whether the State failed to disclose, before trial, evidence favorable to the defense, thereby denying the defendant a fair trial; (5) whether the trial court abused its discretion in finding witness William Swoope competent to testify; and (6) whether the defendant waived all issues except for the reasonable doubt issues by failing to include those remaining issues in his motion for a new trial.
At trial, Ms. Swoope and her 12-year-old son, William Swoope, testified regarding the circumstances of the death of Jesse Swoope, who was nine years of age, Ms. Swoope's son and William's brother.
On May 4, 1976, Ms. Swoope lived at 4445 South Evans, on the 12th floor, with her five children and the defendant. At about 10 p.m. that evening Ms. Swoope, her son Alexander, and the defendant were in the living room of the apartment watching television. Ms. Swoope's sons Jesse and William and her daughter, Diana, were in the boys' bedroom. The defendant had placed the boys on punishment for a week, and they were required to stay in bed.
Jesse, William and Diana were playing. Jesse hit Diana in the nose and Diana started hollering. Ms. Swoope heard Diana scream, and the defendant and Ms. Swoope jumped up and ran into the boys' bedroom. When Ms. Swoope and the defendant got to the bedroom, the light was on, Jesse was in his bed, William was in his bed and Diana was in the bed with Jesse. The children were in their underclothes. The defendant told Jesse that he should not have been playing because he was being punished. The defendant told them that they should not have been playing and declared that someone find him his belt or get him the belt. He then left the room and returned with the belt. The defendant had made the belt at work, and the end was cut into four strips.
The defendant ordered William to stand at the foot of the bed, where the defendant whipped him with the belt. William was hit on the head, legs and back. At one point, Ms. Swoope grabbed the defendant's arm and tried to stop him from beating William, who was crying and moving around. The defendant continued hitting William while ordering him to stand up. William finally fell to the floor. The defendant told him to get up, but William would not get up. The defendant then put his foot on William's chest, and removed it only when Ms. Swoope told him to do so. The defendant then told William to get into bed. The beating of William lasted about 15 minutes, and William sustained injuries including a swollen eye and left side of the face, and a bloody nose.
After beating William the defendant ordered Jesse to stand at the foot of the bed. When Jesse complied the defendant hit Jesse with the back of his hand, knocking Jesse down. The defendant then told Jesse to get up while he hit Jesse, picked him up and threw him against the bed and wall. The defendant ordered Jesse to get up, but Jesse did not get up. The defendant ordered Jesse to get out of the bed and take his whipping. As Jesse moved to the end of the bed he was crying. As the defendant began hitting Jesse with the belt he was still crying and began moving around. Once when Jesse moved, the defendant threw a chair at him. The chair struck Jesse on the front of his body and knocked him over. Ms. Swoope then told the defendant to leave Jesse alone, whereupon the defendant and Ms. Swoope left the room. Ms. Swoope said that after the beating Jesse's face and eyes were swollen and he was bleeding at the mouth.
The defendant went to Ms. Swoope's bedroom and stood outside the door. Her bedroom was located about 10 or 12 feet from the bedroom of her two sons. As she was talking with the defendant, she heard the window open in the boys' bedroom. This was a few seconds after they had left the boys' bedroom. They both quickly ran back to the room and the defendant was in front of Ms. Swoope, as he had pushed her back to get past her. The defendant was standing at the window when Ms. Swoope arrived at the bedroom window. The defendant said, "My God, the boy has jumped out of the window. We got to go downstairs. No, we have to call the police first." Ms. Swoope went over to the window, looked out and saw Jesse lying on the ground, 12 floors below.
Ms. Swoope testified that the defendant had reprimanded the children on prior occasions by striking them with the belt.
William Swoope, age 12 at the time of trial, testified after the court first held a hearing and determined he was competent to testify. He corroborated Ms. Swoope's testimony with regard to the beatings administered by the defendant. In addition, he testified that his mother was in the bedroom during the entire incident, and that neither his mother nor the defendant were in the bedroom when Jesse jumped out of the window.
A Chicago police officer and investigator next testified for the State. He testified that he had two conversations with the defendant at the police station. During both of these conversations, the defendant stated that Jesse jumped out of the window because he was afraid of receiving another beating. Specifically, the defendant was asked, "Do you know why he jumped out of the window?" and the answer was, "The only thing I can say, he was afraid I was going to come back and spank him."
After closing arguments, the defendant was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery. Defense counsel made an oral motion for a new trial. The State's Attorney objected and requested more specificity. Defense counsel argued his oral motion exclusively on the insufficiency of the evidence; no other errors were alleged at trial.
A hearing was held in aggravation and mitigation, and the defendant was sentenced to a term of not less than three years and four months and not more than 10 years for the involuntary manslaughter conviction and to a term of not less than two years and not more than six years for the aggravated battery conviction, with said sentences to run concurrently. The defendant now appeals said convictions.
The defendant claims the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the acts of the defendant caused the decedent's death, because the decedent leaped 12 floors to his death sometime after defendant completed beating the decedent and had left the room. Put another way, defendant claims the beating itself was not sufficient to cause deceased to reasonably believe his life was in danger, and his "suicide" ...