Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People v. Rhodes

OPINION FILED JUNE 4, 1981.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,

v.

WILBUR RHODES, APPELLANT. — THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

FAIRL VAN ZANT, APPELLEE. — IN RE P.W., A MINOR, APPELLANT (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE).



No. 53331. — Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fifth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, the Hon. Patrick J. Fleming, Judge, presiding.

No. 53560. — Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County, the Hon. Robert E. Hunt, Judge, presiding.

No. 53585. — Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fifth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, the Hon. Milton S. Wharton, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE CLARK DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Tyrone C. Fahner and William J. Scott, Attorneys General, of Springfield, and Michael M. Mihm, State's Attorney, of Peoria (Melbourne A. Noel, Jr., Thomas E. Holum, and William M. Wippold, Assistant Attorneys General, of Chicago, and John X. Breslin and Gerry R. Arnold, of the State's Attorneys Appellate Service Commission, of Ottawa, of counsel), for the People.

Robert Agostinelli, Deputy Defender, and Peter A. Carusona, Assistant Defender, of the Office of State Appellate Defender, of Ottawa, for appellee.

John H. Reid, Deputy Defender, and John F. Erbes, Assistant Defender, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, of Mt. Vernon, for appellant.

Tyrone C. Fahner, Attorney General, of Springfield (Melbourne A. Noel, Jr., Thomas E. Holum, and William M. Wippold, Assistant Attorneys General, of counsel), for the People.

These three consolidated cases concern the weight to be given fingerprint evidence found at the scene of three separate burglaries. In cause No. 53331, People v. Rhodes, the defendant, Wilbur Rhodes, was convicted of burglary after a jury trial in the circuit court of St. Clair County. The Appellate Court for the Fifth District, with one justice dissenting, affirmed the conviction (81 Ill. App.3d 339), and we allowed the defendant leave to appeal. In cause No. 53560, People v. Van Zant, the defendant, Fairl Van Zant, was indicted for burglary, and was subsequently found fit to stand trial. After a jury trial in the circuit court of Peoria County, the defendant was convicted of burglary. The Appellate Court for the Third District unanimously reversed, holding that the defendant was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (84 Ill. App.3d 355). We allowed the State leave to appeal. In cause No. 53585, In re P.W., the circuit court of St. Clair County revoked the probation of a minor after finding that the State had proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the minor had committed the offense of burglary. The Appellate Court for the Fifth District, with one justice dissenting, affirmed the circuit court (82 Ill. App.3d 1199) in a Rule 23 order (73 Ill.2d R. 23), and we allowed the defendant leave to appeal. We have consolidated the three cases for decision.

In People v. Wilbur Rhodes, the evidence shows that the house of Marshall Gurley of East St. Louis was broken into on February 23, 1977, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Gurley testified that, when he left the house in the morning, the house was in a fairly neat condition and the doors and windows were closed and locked. The back door was boarded up, because of previous burglaries. When Gurley returned in the afternoon, he noticed the back door was open, and that a back-door window and a porch-door window had been broken. The porch was enclosed, and the porch door was approximately 11 to 12 feet away from the kitchen door. A dresser in the bedroom had been ransacked and some papers, previously contained in a file folder, were lying on the floor. Gurley did not know the defendant and did not give him or anyone else permission to enter the house that day. Gurley also testified that there was broken glass on the floor of the kitchen and on the porch, as well as outside in the back yard.

Officer James Detloff, an officer with the East St. Louis police department qualified in fingerprint analysis, investigated the crime scene. He noticed glass fragments on the kitchen floor, the porch floor, and outside in the back yard. Officer Detloff was able to lift two fingerprints from one of the glass fragments which the officer said he found "six to eight inches" from the kitchen door, the point of entry. Officer Dethloff testified at trial that a comparison of the lifted prints with defendant's fingerprints on file with the FBI indicated that the prints obtained at the scene of the crime were those of defendant Wilbur Rhodes. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on the charge of burglary. The trial court sentenced the defendant to a term of three to nine years in prison.

In People v. Van Zant, the defendant, Fairl Van Zant, was indicted for burglary. The indictment charged that the defendant committed burglary by breaking into the dwelling of Ralph Graham in the city of Peoria. During a jury trial in the circuit court of Peoria County, the evidence adduced established that a bedroom window had been broken in order to enter the house. Graham testified that a television set, a small pocket calculator, and a camera were missing from his home. Also, Graham testified that a clock radio which had been on a chair in his bedroom in the morning was on the kitchen table upon his return in the afternoon.

Officer Gary Siebenthal, a fingerprint technician with the Peoria police department, testified at trial that he investigated the Graham house for evidence and was able to lift a latent fingerprint from the bottom of the clock radio found in the kitchen. Officer Siebenthal testified that he compared the print found on the clock radio with Graham's fingerprints. The print did not match any of Graham's fingerprints. Officer Walt Jatkowski, another fingerprint technician with the Peoria police department, also testified that he compared the latent fingerprint lifted from the clock radio found in the Graham house with the defendant's fingerprint card. The officer stated that the impressions of the left middle finger on the fingerprint card matched the fingerprint impressed on the clock radio.

The jury subsequently returned a verdict of guilty, which apparently rested solely on the fingerprint evidence, since the offered identification testimony is inadequate to support the conviction. The court sentenced the defendant to a term of four years in the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.