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People v. Holloway





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


Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted and sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment for the following offenses: murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1), natural life; aggravated arson (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 20-1.1), 60 years; armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 18-2), 60 years, and burglary (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 19-1), 14 years. We modify the sentence imposed and remand.

On October 2, 1980, in Chicago Heights, Illinois, defendant and a friend, Dennis Adams entered Inez Lazzari's apartment to steal money and jewelry. Both men carried golf clubs. Ms. Lazzari was 86 or 87 years old and lived alone in an apartment behind a grocery store that her husband owned until his death. Adams told Lazzari that he wanted her money, but she did not comprehend what he said because she only understood Italian. Adams began hitting her on the leg with his golf club. She stood and Adams pushed her. During this ordeal defendant rummaged through drawers to find anything of value. He discovered approximately $20 in half-dollar coins. Adams repeated his demand for money. Defendant allegedly told Adams to stop hitting Ms. Lazzari, but to no avail.

By this time Lazzari was sitting on the floor because her legs were bleeding. She had been struck on the head and there was blood in her hair. According to defendant, Adams took candles out of a drawer and attempted to set one of the bedrooms on fire. Defendant said he ran outside but when he smelled smoke he went back in and discovered that the bedroom and another room were in flames. Adams joined defendant outside a few moments later with packs of cigarettes and two new wallets taken from the apartment. The two young men then went to a nearby restaurant with female friends.

At trial, Lazzari's neighbor, Alena Troiana, was the first to testify. She stated that Lazzari did not have any relatives in the United States and that she took care of Lazzari, did her grocery shopping and stopped in every day to see if everything was alright. On the afternoon of the incident, she brought Lazzari a few groceries. Lazzari paid for the items with money that she kept in a wallet inside a black purse. At approximately 6 p.m. that evening Troiana brought Ms. Lazzari her dinner. She stated that when she left she made sure that the front and back doors were locked. Troiana then made an in-court identification of a black leather purse as that which belonged to Ms. Lazzari.

Further testifying, Troiana stated that one day when she was looking for Ms. Lazzari's front door key she opened a drawer and noticed rolls of dimes and nickels. She then identified photographs of Ms. Lazzari and the exterior of the building which housed Ms. Lazzari's apartment.

Next to testify was Officer Allen Vehrs, who stated that he and another officer, Michael Cammelli, were on routine parol in Ms. Lazzari's neighborhood when they smelled smoke. They discovered that the smoke was coming from a nearby storefront. After calling the dispatcher for a fire unit and unsuccessfully attempting to enter the front and back doors of the burning building they waited for the unit to arrive. Upon entering the apartment Vehrs observed that drawers were pulled out of the china cabinets and that dressers had been turned upside down on the floor. Ms. Lazzari's body was found in the hallway. Vehrs described Lazzari as a heavy set woman who wore a large, dark nightgown, the top of which was pulled down exposing her breasts. The bottom was pulled up to reveal her pubic area. Her head was in a small pool of blood and her body was covered with soot. Vehrs further stated that one bedroom was badly charred and that a hole had burned through the floor. In another bedroom the bed and floor were burned, drawers had been pulled out and items were scattered throughout. He was then asked to identify pictures of the front of the house and several rooms inside as well as pictures of Ms. Lazzari's body, the back of her head and a picture of her right hand. Vehrs' narration of the preceding events remained unchanged on cross-examination.

John Valaveris, owner of the Skyline Restaurant in Chicago Heights, testified that at approximately 11:30 p.m. on October 2 defendant and another young man entered his restaurant. Valaveris was immediately suspicious because defendant carried a silver golf club and a yellow or gold sock-like pouch. The other young man (Dennis Adams) had a hammer. Soon afterward two young ladies joined the men. They ordered food and defendant paid the bill ($25 to $28) in half-dollar coins. Valaveris estimated that defendant had a total of 50 or 60 coins.

Next, Detective John Schmidt, who had been dispatched to investigate the fire, testified that when he saw Ms. Lazzari's body her breasts and pubic area were exposed. She did not have undergarments on and her body was bruised. Schmidt then identified a picture of Lazzari's injuries and further testified that he had noticed swelling around her mouth and that there appeared to have been an attempt to remove a gold wedding band on her finger. Schmidt was also shown a photograph of the hand injuries. He then identified a pair of tongs, hand tools, a baseball bat and a camera that he took from the apartment and placed in the property room of the Chicago Heights police station.

When Schmidt returned to Ms. Lazzari's apartment the next morning he discovered a bent golf club near the area where her body was found. He also discovered a black leather purse which contained a wallet and religious objects. These items were identified at trial.

Schmidt further testified that on October 16, 1980, he talked to defendant, who by that time had been placed under arrest and was in custody. After he advised defendant of his Miranda rights Schmidt said that defendant confessed to having been involved in the murder and explained how the incident occurred. Defendant said that he and Adams were together on October 2 and that he decided to burglarize the Lazzari home because he knew that Ms. Lazzari was elderly and had money and jewelry. Defendant also said that he initiated these plans and that Adams agreed with them. When they arrived at Ms. Lazzari's home they noticed that lights were on. They peered through the window from the sidewalk and saw Lazzari in a chair watching television. Both men walked to the rear door and forced it open. Each carried a golf club. Ms. Lazzari approached them. Adams asked her where she kept her money. When it became evident that Ms. Lazzari did not understand English, Adams began to hit her legs with his golf club. Defendant told Officer Schmidt that he was not sure, but he thought that he struck Ms. Lazzari once or twice. He also said that Adams continued to strike Lazzari with his golf club even after she had fallen onto the hallway floor. Defendant found a camera that he decided he did not want and in a dresser drawer he found $25 or $27 in half-dollar coins. He said that because Adams had not worn gloves he set the apartment on fire to destroy fingerprints. He allegedly made an effort to extinguish one of the fires but could not and ran out the door. Defendant stated that he and Adams went to the Skyline Restaurant with two young women they knew, ordered food and paid the bill with the half-dollar coins. Thereafter, defendant was interviewed at the police station by an assistant State's Attorney.

On cross-examination Schmidt stated that he destroyed his handwritten notes of his conversation with defendant because a court reporter was present to record what was said. Schmidt also stated that defendant's statements and his conversation with the assistant State's Attorney were substantially the same. Under further questioning, however, Schmidt stated that he had two conversations with defendant. During the first conversation, defendant stated that he might have struck Ms. Lazzari once. Schmidt said that during the second conversation, which was the only one that was transcribed by the court reporter, defendant denied striking Ms. Lazzari. Schmidt also testified that during the second conversation defendant said that he told Adams to stop beating Ms. Lazzari. Schmidt never asked defendant how he tried to stop Adams from assaulting Ms. Lazzari, however. It was further revealed that Schmidt had stated at a preliminary hearing that defendant said that "someone else" struck Ms. Lazzari with a golf club, had started the fire and that defendant could not recall whether he had hit her or not.

Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Calihan testified that he interviewed defendant at the Chicago Heights police station and that a court reporter transcribed defendant's statements into 10 typed pages which defendant initialed on the bottom after he read them. Near the end of the statement, defendant added the words "he [Adams] was acting crazy." Calihan then read defendant's statement verbatim in its entirety.

Last to testify was Dr. Lee F. Beamer of the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. Beamer stated that Ms. Lazzari weighed 163 pounds, measured five feet in height and had numerous bruises and lacerations on her head, face, chest, arms and legs which had been caused by a blunt instrument. Soot was noted in her nose, mouth and windpipe. Beamer then identified 12 pictures of injuries to Lazzari's head, knee, thighs, lower legs, shoulder, back and right hand. He ...

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