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People v. Williams





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Philip Carey, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied March 28, 1983.

Charles Williams and Ronald Acklin were charged by indictment with the murder of Barry Nance. After a separate jury trial, defendant Charles Williams was found guilty and sentenced to 60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Williams appeals.

On appeal, Williams contends (1) he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) evidence of bias on the part of two witnesses was improperly excluded; (3) the trial court erred in permitting the State to use prior statements of a witness for impeachment; and (4) photographs were improperly admitted into evidence.

We affirm.

At trial, the victim's mother Naria Nance testified that on January 3, 1979, at 12:15 a.m., her son Barry told her he was going to his girlfriend's house. When Barry left, he was wearing a cranberry suit, multicolored shirt, high tan boots, two pairs of socks, a corduroy jacket, green trench coat, and a beret. She next saw her son's body on January 8, 1979, at the Cook County Morgue.

Chicago police officer Lawrence Dunne testified that after receiving a radio order on January 5, 1979, he went to an alley behind 12326 South Normal Avenue. He saw a large bundle of blankets atop a garbage can. Upon opening a corner of the bundle, he discovered the victim's body. Officer Dunne identified four photos of the blanket-wrapped corpse.

Dr. Robert Stein, chief medical examiner of Cook County, performed the autopsy on Barry Nance. He testified the body was wrapped in plastic and two blankets. The victim's ankles were bound with wire. A bicycle inner tube was tied around his knees and neck causing the deceased to lie in a fetal position. The body was clothed in blue jean shorts, a sweater, two pairs of socks and undershorts. Dr. Stein's examination revealed that the victim had received head injuries inflicted by a blunt instrument. The blows to the head caused brain hemorrhages and contusions. A total of four lacerations appeared on the back, top and side of the head. There were numerous slash-like injuries on the victim's torso, arms and legs and the upper and lower jaws were broken. Dr. Stein further testified that all injuries were inflicted prior to his death. He attributed death to cranial cerebral injury and trauma in association with the broken jaw and incise wounds.

Frances Wright Acklin (hereinafter referred to as Wright) was called as a court's witness. She testified that on January 3, 1979, she resided at 12354 South Normal with her boyfriend Ronald Acklin, her nephew Denard Coats, and others. On this evening, defendant and the victim came to her home and spent the evening in the basement with Acklin. Shortly thereafter, while she and her nephew were watching television upstairs, Wright heard falling and crashing noises emanating from the basement.

During the evening, Acklin received three phone calls from a woman living in Alabama. Wright answered each call and sent Coats into the basement to tell Acklin of the calls. For 45 minutes after Acklin answered the first call, Wright heard loud noises coming from the basement. While Acklin was engaged in the second conversation, Wright heard defendant and the victim arguing. When Acklin returned to the basement, she heard him say, "That is enough, leave him alone, let him up." After the third phone conversation, Acklin remained upstairs to eat. When he returned to the basement, he yelled to Wright that someone had been taken home. Wright could not recall exactly what Acklin said.

Two minutes later, Acklin came upstairs and said he had to clean the basement. Ten minutes thereafter, Wright saw defendant in the living room. She had not seen him walk up from the basement and believed Coats had let defendant in through the front door. Wright then explained the basement had a door which led to the back yard.

Wright further testified that the ax, meat cleaver, club and mason's hammer found by the police were owned by no one in particular and belonged to the house. She could not recall telling Officer Bennett that at about 1 a.m. on January 4, 1979, Acklin told her he and defendant were going to walk the victim home and that five minutes later, defendant and Acklin entered the house through the front door.

During examination by defense counsel, Wright testified she never saw blood in the basement. Until police came to her house, she was unaware that boots worn by the victim were in the basement. She slept in the basement bedroom on the morning of January 4, but did not notice the condition of the basement because the lights were off.

Denard Coats, also called as a court's witness, testified that when the victim arrived at his home on the evening in question, he was wearing boots which he had borrowed from Coats on New Year's Eve. After defendant and the victim went into the basement, he heard an argument concerning an ashtray which had been spilled. Forty-five minutes later, Acklin received a phone call and Coats went to tell him. Acklin and the two other men were in the basement bedroom. When Coats went into the basement to tell Acklin of the second call, he noticed blood near the bottom of the bedroom door. Coats further testified that while Acklin was engaged in the second conversation, he heard the victim and defendant arguing. The victim said, "Please don't kill me, please don't kill me." Coats told Acklin about the victim's pleas, and Acklin returned to the basement. Coats heard Acklin say, "Let him up." Coats also told Acklin of the third phone call. The men were in the bedroom and no one was in the main basement area. Acklin remained upstairs to eat ...

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