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People v. Burns





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County; the Hon. JAMES K. ROBINSON, Judge, presiding.


Defendant was convicted of rape by jury trial and sentenced to 6 years' imprisonment. On appeal he contends that (1) evidence of flight was improperly admitted against him, and (2) a picture of the complaining witness, Georgia Seward, was improperly admitted into evidence.

We affirm.

Georgia Seward, the victim, testified that she went with a friend, Evelyn Keys, to a tavern called "Jimmy Harold's" at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday, April 11, 1980. There defendant approached Seward, and she spoke with him for about 10 minutes. Seward had previously seen defendant on three or four occasions within the previous three weeks. Seward left this tavern and rode with another man to a tavern called "The Every Now and Then Club." She talked with defendant at the Every Now and Then Club for approximately one hour.

Seward and defendant left the club together and were subsequently given a ride to Seward's house by Bill Ellis. Seward testified that during the ride the defendant kept asking her if he could come inside her house. She told him no at first, but then finally said it would be okay if the defendant came in for a few minutes.

Seward stated that she lived in a house in Danville, Illinois, with her daughters, and that on that night another young girl, Yolanda Keys, was staying with her daughters.

Once inside Seward's home she and the defendant sat on the couch talking for about 15 minutes. Seward testified that the defendant began choking her after she told him she was ready to go to sleep. She stated that defendant choked her for about 10 to 15 minutes, and while choking her defendant kept asking if she was "going to give it up." Seward could not speak while the defendant choked her, and she stated that her eyes felt like they were going "to pop out of [her] head." Seward felt she was blacking out and then nodded her head, agreeing to have intercourse with the defendant.

Seward testified that she only had intercourse with the defendant once and that after that act of intercourse the defendant said that he was sorry for what he had done, and that "he had never did a lady like that before." Seward told the defendant that she would forget about it if he would leave. The defendant jumped up and told her that he was not through with her yet. At that point Seward ran toward the back of the house and yelled for her children. Defendant left, according to Seward, when the children came out of their rooms.

After the defendant left, Seward testified that she went to bed. She noticed that her face was swollen and had red spots on it, and that the pupils of her eyes were completely red. Seward stayed in her house the entire day. Evelyn Keys visited Seward at her home at about 8:30 that evening and took Seward to the police station and the hospital. Seward stated that she did not report this incident to the police for approximately 18 hours because she was afraid.

Officer Mark Forsythe testified that he spoke with Seward in connection with this offense and photographed her. He identified People's Exhibit No. 1 as a photograph of Seward taken on April 12, 1980. At that time Forsythe noted that both of Seward's eyes were red.

Dr. Seungdamrong testified that at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, 1980, he examined Georgia Seward in the emergency room of a hospital in Danville. Seungdamrong stated that he observed redness in the white part of Seward's eyes which he stated was called a subconjunctival hemorrhage. He stated that the cause of that condition could be either a direct injury to the eye itself or a result of coughing profusely. Seungdamrong then stated that the only causes of the condition were those just mentioned. On cross-examination Seungdamrong stated that the causes could be a direct blow to the eye or something that causes an increase in blood pressure such as persistent coughing.

Teresa Seward, Georgia Seward's 7-year-old daughter, after being qualified to testify, stated that her cousin, Yolanda, spent the night at her home and that during the night she heard her mother call her name, her sister's name and her cousin's name. Teresa said that the three girls went into the front room and that there was a man in the front room whom her mother told to leave and who then left. Teresa stated that her mother's face was swollen and her eyes were red the day after this incident.

Yolanda Keys, who was 11 years old, and Rockelle Seward, Georgia's other daughter, who was 7 years old, also testified and essentially corroborated the testimony of Teresa Seward. Yolanda stated that Georgia Seward's eyes were red the day after the incident while Rockelle Seward stated that her mother's eyes had black circles around them. None of the three girls identified the defendant as the man whom they saw in the house that evening.

Evelyn Keys testified that she went with Georgia Seward to "Jimmy Harold's" at approximately 11 p.m. on April 11, 1980. She and Seward did not leave the tavern together, and Keys testified that she went to Seward's home the next day at approximately 8 or 8:30 p.m. At that time Keys stated that the white part of Seward's eyes were red and there were ...

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