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People v. Bacon

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 23, 1980.

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

v.

THEODORE BACON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. FRANCIS J. MAHON, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE JIGANTI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, the defendant, Theodore Bacon, was found guilty of the murder of Josie Brown. His motion for a new trial was denied. He was sentenced to a term of 40 to 80 years imprisonment. The defendant appeals from the denial of his motion to dismiss the indictment and from his conviction contending: (1) the trial judge erred in refusing a voluntary manslaughter instruction because there is evidence in the record which, if believed by the jury, would support a finding of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder; (2) the grand jury indictment against the defendant is defective because the State failed to produce exculpatory evidence; (3) the trial judge erred in permitting a State's witness to testify about a prior altercation between the defendant and the victim; (4) the trial judge erred in allowing the State to elicit testimony regarding a baseball bat where the admission of the evidence served no purpose other than to prejudice the rights of the defendant.

At trial, Minnie Tucker, the victim's sister, testified that she last saw Josie Brown alive at about midnight on Tuesday, April 13, 1976. The victim had been visiting the witness at the witness' house. The victim called the defendant on the telephone. The victim then called a cab to go home.

The following day, Tucker went to 4100 West Madison Street to meet the victim to go shopping. When the victim failed to appear, Tucker went home and called the apartment shared by the victim and the defendant. There was no answer. On April 15, 1976, Tucker visited the apartment shared by the victim and the defendant. No one was home. Tucker asked a man at the apartment building to have the defendant call her when he returned. The defendant subsequently called Tucker. He stated he did not know where the victim was, and he denied having talked to the victim on Tuesday, April 13. On April 16, Tucker filed a missing persons report with the police. She next saw her sister on the following Monday at the Cook County Morgue.

Dennis Calloway testified that he lived in the same apartment building as did the defendant and the victim in April of 1976. He had known the defendant for about a year and a half at that time. He and the defendant were friends. On April 18, 1976, the defendant told Calloway that he, the defendant, had killed the victim. The defendant stated that he had not meant to kill her.

Assistant State's Attorney Jeffrey Singer read into evidence a typewritten statement given by the defendant. In the statement, the defendant stated that the victim entered the apartment late on April 14, 1976. He and the victim got into an argument over her use of drugs. They started "passing licks." The defendant struck her with his hand six or seven times. While the defendant was hitting the victim, she was asking him to stop hitting her. The victim tried to run out of the apartment but the defendant pulled her back inside. As the defendant was pulling the victim back into the apartment, she was asking him not to hit her anymore. The victim threw some objects at the defendant, but he avoided being hit by them. The defendant stated that these objects were not deadly. The defendant then struck the victim. She fell, hitting her head on the television. The defendant picked her up and sat her on the couch. He poured water on her face, and noted that she was breathing loudly. Her face was bleeding slightly over her left eyebrow. That morning, the defendant wrapped her body in a rug and put it behind a couch in the apartment. Three days later he carried the victim's body out of the building and put it into the trunk of his car. He drove around for two or three hours. Eventually he placed the victim's body under a bridge. As a result of the fight the defendant sustained scratches on his wrist and forearm.

Chicago Police Officer Kunz testified as to a conversation he had with the defendant during the ride to Chicago from Florida, where the defendant was arrested. The defendant told Kunz that he had killed the victim during a fight, at which time he had punched her six or seven times. He stated that the victim fell, striking her head on the television set.

Yuksel Konakci, an assistant medical examiner, testified that on April 20, 1976, he conducted an autopsy on the body of the victim. He observed a laceration on the left side of the victim's face, starting from the left eyebrow and going to the forehead. There was another laceration on the right side of the head. This was a one inch cut behind the right ear. On the chest area he observed an abrasion and several smaller abrasions. There were two areas of bruising on the right side of the abdomen. On the left side of the abdomen there was an abrasion. There were abrasions on the right flank and the right leg. There was a bruise on the right thigh. On the left side of the back, in the upper middle and lower levels, there were four superficial incisions. There was another superficial incision on the right side of the back. There were four large abrasions on the upper back.

Dr. Konakci also did an internal examination of the head of the victim. This examination revealed several hemorrhages on the rear occipital region of the brain. An internal examination of the body of the victim was conducted. Dr. Konakci testified that his examination revealed hemorrhages on the internal surface of the left chest cavity.

The doctor stated that the victim died of cranial-cerebral injury. He explained this to mean that she died of injuries to the head and brain.

The defendant testified on his own behalf. He stated that he had met the victim in 1972 and had begun living with her toward the end of 1975. At about noon on April 13, 1976, the victim left the apartment to visit her sisters on the south side. At about midnight, the defendant went to the elevated station to meet the victim. He returned to the apartment after the victim failed to appear.

The victim returned to the apartment at about 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning of April 14, 1976. An argument ensued between the defendant and the victim over his plans to visit Florida. The defendant and the victim began arguing. They "passed licks." The victim stumbled and fell on the television set. The defendant told her to get up. She responded that she had hurt her head. He helped her onto the couch and suggested she see a doctor. The victim refused. The defendant got the victim a glass of water. She knocked the glass out of his hand. They talked for a short time. The victim stated she wanted to go back to the south side. The defendant then went into the bathroom to take a bath. He heard the victim throwing things around, and then heard a door slam. When the defendant came out of the bathroom, the victim was gone.

The defendant attempted to locate the victim for two days. On Friday, April 16, 1976, after failing to locate the victim, the defendant left for Florida.

On cross-examination the defendant testified that when the victim returned to the apartment they began to discuss his planned trip to Florida. She wanted to accompany him on this vacation, but he stated that he needed time to spend with his children. He offered to drive the victim to Arkansas so she could visit with her family while he was in Florida. After a while the victim got angry. She slapped the defendant in the face. The defendant slapped her back. They "passed licks." The defendant hit the victim three of four times. She threw some things at the defendant, but he avoided being hit. The victim then grabbed the front of the defendant's clothes. He pushed her away with both of his hands. The victim then slapped the defendant in the face again. She turned and fell, hitting her head on the TV set or the TV table. There was a small cut on the victim's ...


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