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People v. Fox

OPINION FILED MAY 11, 1983.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ANTHONY L. FOX, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Dwight McKay, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE WHITE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After a jury trial, defendant, Anthony L. Fox, was found guilty of the murder and voluntary manslaughter of Charmette Parker, the attempted murder of Nathan Davis and home invasion. The trial judge entered judgment on all of these verdicts, and sentenced defendant to prison terms of 35 years for murder, 30 years for attempted murder, and 30 years for the home invasion conviction. Defendant appeals from these convictions and sentences.

On October 4, 1979, defendant shot and killed Charmette Parker; he also shot and wounded Nathan Davis. The events that gave rise to these shootings are as follows:

The evidence at trial showed that defendant first met Parker in April 1978. Defendant and Parker began dating regularly, exchanged keys to one another's residences and, by January 1979, had made plans to marry. In August 1979, defendant learned that Parker was dating Nathan Davis. Shortly thereafter Fox resolved to break off the relationship with Parker and attempted to return the key to her townhouse. However, they both "broke into tears" at the thought of ending their relationship; Fox kept the key to Parker's townhouse and they continued to see one another.

At approximately 11 p.m. on the night in question, Parker was at her home with Davis. While Davis and Parker were in the bedroom, Davis heard someone at the downstairs door. Davis got out of bed and stood in the hallway. Both Davis and Parker were undressed at that time. Defendant entered Parker's home and when inside, took an automatic pistol from his shoulder holster and proceeded to run up the stairs toward the bedroom. Davis stepped back into the bedroom and closed the door. Defendant followed and, demanding entry into the room, fired a shot in the hallway. Davis then opened the door and defendant entered, at which time he saw Davis and Parker naked. Defendant shot Davis twice, once in the stomach and once in the knee. He then shot Parker twice in the head. Parker died as a result of defendant's actions, Davis did not.

• 1 Defendant first argues that because the jury found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter, the trial court erred by entering judgment and sentencing defendant on the verdict of guilty of murder. Defendant asserts that the jury's finding of guilty of voluntary manslaughter negates the mental state required for a murder conviction and, thus, defendant's murder conviction must be vacated. We agree.

The crime of voluntary manslaughter is defined as follows:

"A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by:

(1) The individual killed * * *.

Serious provocation is conduct sufficient to excite an intense passion in a reasonable person." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 9-2.)

Thus the offense of voluntary manslaughter is an acknowledgement by the law of the mitigating effect of human weakness and intense passion in an otherwise unjustified homicide. (People v. Leonard (1981), 83 Ill.2d 411, 420, 415 N.E.2d 358.) The essential difference between murder and voluntary manslaughter is the mental state of the accused at the time of the killing. (People v. Slaughter (1980), 84 Ill. App.3d 1103, 1111, 405 N.E.2d 1295.) Voluntary manslaughter has been described as " `[a]n intentional homicide committed in a sudden rage of passion engendered by adequate provocation, and not the result of malice conceived before the provocation * * *.'" (Emphasis added.) People v. Leonard (1981), 83 Ill.2d 411, 420, quoting Perkins, The Law of Homicide, 36 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 391, 412 (1946).

• 2 The jury in this case returned a verdict of guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Therefore, it found that defendant was seriously provoked and acted under a sudden and intense passion. Such a finding is supported by the evidence that defendant found his fiance, Parker, and Nathan Davis, together, naked, in her bedroom. Moreover, this finding conclusively negated the requisite level of intent for the offense of murder and, thus, constituted an implied acquittal of the murder charge. See People v. Smith (1973), 16 Ill. App.3d 553, 306 N.E.2d 606; People v. Echoles (1976), 36 Ill. App.3d 845, 344 N.E.2d 620.

• 3 Nevertheless the jury also returned a verdict of guilty of murder. That verdict, however, does not negate the jury's finding of voluntary manslaughter. (People v. Stuller (1979), 71 Ill. App.3d 118, 389 N.E.2d 593.) In Stuller the jury returned verdicts of guilty of murder and guilty of voluntary manslaughter. The trial judge vacated the voluntary manslaughter verdict and entered judgment on the murder verdict. The appellate court reversed the murder conviction, and remanded the cause to the circuit court with instructions to enter a finding of guilty of voluntary manslaughter and to impose an appropriate sentence. The appellate court reasoned that a finding of voluntary manslaughter negated the requisite intent for the offense of murder and that the multiple verdicts were the result of a crucial element of a murder instruction being omitted.

We find Stuller dispositive of the instant case. Here, defendant's conviction of voluntary manslaughter had the effect of an acquittal of the graver charge of murder. (See People v. Keith (1978), 66 Ill. App.3d 93, 102, 383 N.E.2d 655.) The doctrine of former jeopardy bars any further prosecution on the greater offense, for if defendant were tried again for murder, a charge of which he has already been impliedly acquitted, he would be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense in violation of the provisions of our constitution. (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 10; People v. Keith (1978), 66 Ill. App.3d 93, 102.) Accordingly, we vacate ...


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