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People v. Kline

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 30, 1982.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT AND APPELLEE,

v.

PHILIP KLINE, APPELLEE AND APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County, the Hon. Robert R. Buchar, Judge, presiding. JUSTICE MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied November 24, 1982.

Philip Kline, Arthur Garza and Glenn Schultz, Jr., were joined in an indictment for the offense of murder in violation of section 9-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1)). Each was tried separately. This appeal involves Philip Kline (defendant), who, following a bench trial in the circuit court of Will County, was found guilty as charged. He was sentenced to a term of 50 to 100 years' imprisonment. (Garza and Schultz, who were tried and convicted after defendant, were sentenced to prison terms of 15 to 25 years and 20 to 25 years, respectively.) A majority of the appellate court affirmed defendant's conviction, but remanded the cause to the trial court for resentencing. (99 Ill. App.3d 540.) We granted both the State and defendant leave to appeal, and consolidated the causes for purposes of review.

The following issues are raised by defendant: (1) Do the statutory provisions which authorize prosecution of a felony by either indictment or a preliminary hearing violate defendant's rights to equal protection and due process? (2) Did the State knowingly conceal exculpatory information in violation of defendant's right to due process? (3) Did the trial court abuse its discretion in restricting defendant's cross-examination of the State's principal witness? (4) Was defendant proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? The State, in its appeal, raises the additional question of whether the appellate court's order remanding the cause for resentencing was proper.

The record discloses that Bridgette Regli, a student at Crete-Monee High School, was bludgeoned to death on December 6, 1973. Her body was discovered two days later in a field in Will County. A pathologist testified that death resulted from a blow to the left rear of the victim's head, which could have been administered by a tree limb. Although not fatal, there was also a penetrating wound on the forehead which was caused by a rounded or ovoid object. The witness indicated that the wound could have been inflicted with the shaft of a golf club. On re-cross-examination, he stated that other items with a similar circumference may have administered the blow. There were also a number of superficial cuts, scrapes and abrasions on the victim's body and certain marks on her neck. According to the pathologist, the marks indicated an attempted strangulation, although death was not caused by choking. The witness further stated that the death occurred between four and six hours after the decedent's last meal, which was at approximately 6:45 a.m.

Germaine Einhorn, another witness for the State, testified that she attended band class with the victim from 12 p.m. until 1 p.m. on the date in question. It was their last class, after which they generally went home for lunch. The witness also stated that the decedent was a photographer for the school yearbook and carried a camera nearly every day.

Valinda Avey, who was acquainted with Bridgette, attended a junior high school located near Crete-Monee High School. She testified that, on the day of the murder, she was working at school as an office aide. At approximately 1 p.m. she happened to gaze out the window and observed the victim walking down the street. She was carrying books and a "bulky" object which the witness could not identify. Avey further testified that she saw a car stop just ahead of the victim. The witness described the car as being a cream or other light color with a dark interior. She could not recall if it was two-toned, but noted that it was a two-door vehicle and resembled a Mustang.

She further indicated that a man got out on the passenger side of the car. She stated that he was a Mexican or "other nationality" of about high school age. He was not obese and had dark, shoulder length hair. According to other testimony, this description matches that of Arthur Garza. The victim entered the car, apparently voluntarily, and it was driven away in a southerly direction.

The State's principal witness was Anna Kline, the estranged wife of the defendant. She testified that she became acquainted with the defendant in September of 1973. They lived together sporadically from 1974 through February 1976, at which time they were married. She stated that defendant was a narcotics user and that he occasionally sold drugs in the high school parking lot.

The crux of Anna's testimony concerned certain conversations which she had with defendant prior to their marriage. She testified that in November of 1975, defendant discussed with her the murder. He stated that Garza murdered the victim by striking her with a golf club. He admitted that he was present during the killing, but said that he never touched her. He indicated that Garza killed her because she had taken a picture of a drug transaction. Defendant also said that, after attempting to destroy the film, he put the camera in his car trunk. During a subsequent conversation, defendant stated that when he took the camera he felt like choking the victim, but he did not.

Anna further testified that she saw the defendant and Garza during the early evening of December 6, 1973. They were selling albums in order to raise money for a Florida trip. At the conclusion of her testimony, she indicated that she still loved the defendant. She also stated that the police initially contacted her concerning the murder.

The focus of cross-examination was to discredit Anna's testimony. The defense established that she used narcotics and occasionally sold them. She admitted that in December of 1978, when she first informed the police of defendant's incriminating statements, she was taking 30 milligrams of valium each day. She further stated that, although she heard rumors in 1973 of defendant's involvement in the offense, she never questioned him about it until 1975. Also established was that, subsequent to her marriage, defendant went to California with another woman. Later, the witness wrote to defendant, while he was in custody, and informed him that she planned to divorce him and marry someone else.

The defense mainly consisted of attacks on Anna's credibility. Her sister testified that Anna said she no longer wanted to testify against defendant, and that she initially planned to do so out of revenge. Two other witnesses stated that they heard Anna tell defendant's sister that she would get revenge on defendant for going to California with another woman.

In 1978, while separated from defendant, Anna resided with Mark Pascarella. Pascarella testified that he moved out of her apartment following an argument. Sometime thereafter, Anna called him requesting rent money. He refused, and Anna later informed the police that he had sexually molested her daughter. He denied the accusation, and no charges were filed. Anna's sister-in-law testified that Anna said she accused Pascarella of attacking her daughter because he would not pay any rent money.

In a further effort to establish Anna's lack of credibility, defendant's mother related a conversation which she had with her in January of 1979. At that time, Anna telephoned Mrs. Kline at the family-owned corporation requesting defendant's alleged share of the company. Mrs. Kline refused to give Anna any money, at which point Anna threatened that she would see defendant "rot in jail." An employee of the Klines, who was listening to the discussion on an extension phone, confirmed that this conversation took place.

Jeff Beasley, an investigator for the public defender's office, testified that he interviewed Anna in May of 1979. At that time, she said that defendant initially denied any involvement in the killing; that he only admitted complicity when he was under the influence of narcotics; and that she informed the police about defendant's alleged involvement in the crime because she was "high on valium." Anna further informed Beasley that an officer told her she would lose her children and be charged with withholding information if she refused to cooperate. On the witness stand, Anna denied some of these statements and attempted to explain others.

Defendant also called two witnesses to the stand in an effort to establish an alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the offense. Bernice Clark and James Roberts, who were defendant's classmates in high school, testified that they were with him on December 6, 1973. Clark stated that she was with defendant until 1:30 p.m. that afternoon. Roberts testified that he was at defendant's home until about 3 p.m. He admitted to having taken LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), that day. Both Clark and Roberts occasionally purchased drugs from defendant.

Defendant took the stand in his own behalf and initially stated that he had four prior felony convictions. He denied any knowledge of or involvement in the murder. Defendant testified that he was with friends nearly all day on December 6, and that night he and Garza left for a trip to Florida. He stated that he had been planning the trip because of problems with his parents. He left that particular night because he was going to be confined to his home for a month starting that weekend. Defendant said he brought his golf clubs with him in the trunk of his car because he planned to ...


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