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People v. Lindgren





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macoupin County; the Hon. Richard J. Cadagin, Judge, presiding.


A 75-year-old man was robbed and murdered.

His body was mutilated.

After a second trial, Lindgren was sentenced to 85-135 years.

We affirm.

Lindgren was charged with murder, armed robbery, and robbery. His original conviction was reversed by this court because prior-bad-acts testimony was erroneously admitted. (People v. Lindgren (1979), 68 Ill. App.3d 141, 386 N.E.2d 87.) The supreme court affirmed and the cause was remanded for a new trial. People v. Lindgren (1980), 79 Ill.2d 129, 402 N.E.2d 238.

A change of venue was allowed and jury trial began on January 20, 1981. The jury returned verdicts of guilty and Lindgren was sentenced to concurrent terms of 25-75 years for armed robbery and 85-135 years for murder. No sentence was imposed on the robbery conviction.

On this appeal, Lindgren alleges that the State's testimony referred to the exercise of his right to remain silent and his right to counsel, and informed the jury of his prior trial. Lindgren also claims: that he was denied the right to confront witnesses against him when his cross-examination of a State witness was limited; that letters admitted into evidence improperly called attention to his failure to testify; that the prosecutor's closing argument was improper and deprived him of a fair trial; and that the cumulative effect of all the errors deprived him of a fair trial. Although Lindgren raises no question as to the sufficiency of the evidence upon which he was convicted, a somewhat extended review is necessary to the resolution of the issues he does raise.


The State's case rested largely on the testimony of Lindgren's girlfriend, Ina Lewis. She testified that she and Lindgren spent the day together on April 17, 1977, traveling to Otter Lake, west of Girard, where Lindgren obtained a fishing license. They parted at 8:30 or 9 p.m., and the next time Ina saw Lindgren was when she was awakened by her mother and told that he wanted to speak to her. Ina's mother testified that the time was 2:30 a.m.

Ina arose and went outside. Lindgren, whom Ina characterized as being drunk, stated that he had killed her paternal grandfather and asked her to return with him to the deceased's residence in Girard. Lindgren was wearing an orange, blue, and white striped shirt, jeans, a blue or black jacket, and gloves. The shirt and gloves had blood on them. According to Ina, Lindgren pushed her into his car and drove towards Girard. On the way, she noticed a tire tool on the seat of the car and placed it on the floorboard.

Upon arrival at the deceased's residence, Lindgren took Ina by the arm and led her, crying, to the house. She stood by while he searched, unsuccessfully, for a large sum of money reputed to be in the house. As they were leaving, defendant kicked the deceased in the ribs, made a crude remark about the deceased's genitalia being amputated, and stated that the deceased had "jumped" when his body was mutilated.

The two then left, wiping their feet on the grass on the way to the car. On their return trip to Virden, they became stuck in a ditch. Lindgren left his jacket and gloves in the car and he and Ina sought aid. They were initially unsuccessful but they eventually got a ride to Ina's mother's home. Defendant cautioned Ina not to say anything and forbade her to turn on any lights.

Ina's mother transported them to 995 North Grove, Virden — the residence of Ina's maternal grandmother and where Ina and Lindgren periodically resided.

At North Grove, the two went directly to a bedroom where Lindgren produced a wallet containing nearly $400. Ina identified the wallet as belonging to the deceased. When she inquired about what Lindgren had done, he related that he had gone to the deceased's house, entered with a key his stepson had stolen and given him, and demanded the deceased's money. When he was ordered out, a struggle ensued, and Lindgren — who was carrying a tire tool — struck the deceased in the head.

Lindgren then removed his clothes and instructed Ina to burn them and the wallet. Upon her return from performing this task, Lindgren was standing at the kitchen sink washing himself. He told her to wash their shoes, which she did. The two then retired. The next morning, with the assistance of Ina's mother, Lindgren found someone to extract his car from the ditch.

Ina testified that while waiting for the tow truck, Lindgren got something out of the passenger side of his car and walked a short distance down the railroad track that was nearby. Ina turned away and when she looked back, Lindgren was returning and the police were arriving. He told her to "be cool" and handed her a gun, wallet and keys. She put the wallet and gun underneath the seat of her mother's car. Ina and Lindgren were both arrested and charged with murder, armed robbery, and robbery.

Ina's testimony was substantially corroborated. The body of the deceased was as she described it. The cause of death was trauma to the head and resulting brain damage. The time of death was between 1 and 5 a.m. on April 18, 1977. The pathologist who testified for the State stated that in his opinion the amputation of the deceased's genitalia after death could have caused his body to jump or quiver. Scientific analysis established that hair strands similar to a sample of Lindgren's head hairs were found on the pants worn by the deceased. Blood on his jacket, the money found in his wallet, and the gun he gave to Ina was found to have similar characteristics to the deceased's blood, but dissimilar from Lindgren's. Lindgren's body was examined following the arrest and was cut or scraped on the biceps in a manner consistent with injury in a struggle. Also, a wallet, a Levi Strauss button, a zipper tab, and zipper teeth were found in the trash barrel at 995 North Grove, Virden.

Defendant and Ina's movements on the day of the crime were also corroborated. The operator of the concession stand at Otter Lake testified that Lindgren had purchased a fishing license from him at 5 p.m. Ina's mother testified that she saw Lindgren at her house and transported Ina and him to 995 North Grove, picked them up there the next morning, and took them to look for a tow truck. Chief Dalton of the Girard police testified that he saw Lindgren in Girard at 2 a.m. on the 18th. Two men testified that they picked up Ina and Lindgren between Virden and Girard and took them to Virden. Neither they nor Ina's mother saw Lindgren in good light that night; however, Ina's grandmother and uncle substantiated Ina's testimony as to the activities at 995 North ...

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