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People v. Woods





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Robert L. Sklodowski, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, found guilty by a jury of one count each of rape (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 11-1), armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 18-2), unlawful restraint (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 10-3), armed violence (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 33A-2), and home invasion (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 12-11(a)(1)), was sentenced to concurrent 60-year terms on each count.

On appeal defendant assigns error to: (1) the admission of evidence concerning another charge pending against him; (2) the insufficiency of the application for an order permitting one-party electronic eavesdropping; (3) the prosecutor's remarks about reasonable doubt; (4) the impropriety of the sentence; and (5) the State's use of peremptory challenges to exclude blacks from the jury.

At trial the complaining witness testified that on September 10, 1981, while lying face down on the bed in an upstairs bedroom, she heard a sound, turned and saw a man, identified as defendant, at the top of the stairs about 10 feet away. The room was brightly lit and she stared at defendant for about five to 10 seconds. She screamed, whereupon he jumped on the bed, covered her mouth with his hand and put a knife under her neck, repeatedly telling her, "You scream I'll kill you." He stuffed her mouth with something, tied her hands behind her back, and put a pillow over her head. He announced a robbery and walked around the room. He then pulled the blanket off of her and when she struggled he hit her with his fist on the cheek. He then had intercourse with her. The telephone began ringing and he got up and asked where the jewelry and money was.

After again walking around the house, defendant tied a pillowcase around the victim's eyes, turned her over on her back, and had intercourse with her again, biting her breasts. She could see his reflection in the television set as he went in and out of the room. He tied her feet together, after which she heard him descend the steps and the front door unlock. She untied herself and immediately telephoned her mother-in-law and the police. Downstairs, she found that the screen had been removed from the living room window and was bent up and placed next to the couch, and also found $50 missing from her purse. During the attack she sustained a black eye, facial swelling and bruises. She was taken to a hospital by police. On January 5, 1982, she identified defendant in a lineup, viewing it twice to "make sure everything was right." She had previously viewed other lineups but had not identified anyone.

Other witnesses who testified included Dr. James Fitko, emergency room physician. He examined the complaining witness on September 10, 1981, at 11 a.m. and observed abrasions on her right wrist and both breasts and a contusion to her right cheek. He took a vaginal smear. James Vantilburg, a Chicago police microanalyst who received the smear, detected the presence of spermatozoa. Richard McGrath, Chicago police evidence technician, arrived at the complaining witness' home at 11:30 a.m. on September 10, 1981, and saw that a screen had been removed from a downstairs window. He found, photographed and lifted fingerprints on the interior side molding of the windowframe and on the bent portion of the screen. Philip Montalbano, Chicago police latent fingerprint examiner, compared latent finger and palm prints found at the scene with inked impressions of defendant's finger and palm prints, and concluded that the latent prints belonged to defendant.

Joseph Saladino, investigator employed by the Cook County State's Attorney, on January 25, 1982, received an assignment "in relation to a solicitation to commit murder." He was equipped with a hidden tape recorder and met with defendant in a conference room at the Cook County Jail. Defendant, who had been led to believe that Saladino was a "hit" man, told him he had a "problem" with a witness whom he wanted "wasted." Defendant told him the first name of the witness, which was the same as that of the complainant, said that she lived on Larrabee, where the instant victim lived, and also provided her physical description. Defendant said that the witness, the victim of a robbery, could identify his voice. He wore a stocking mask during the robbery. A $3,000 fee was negotiated, to be handled by defendant's "wife" or "old lady." The actual tape subsequently published to the jury essentially corroborated Saladino's testimony.

The State rested. Defendant called no witnesses on his behalf.

At the sentencing hearing the State presented the testimony of a man and woman who had been robbed and the woman raped at gunpoint by defendant on December 19, 1981. Also testifying was a woman whose apartment was broken into by defendant on August 29, 1981. Defendant robbed her and her boyfriend, and raped and committed a deviate sexual assault upon her. The State also presented evidence of defendant's prior criminal record, which extended back to 1964. After defendant waived a hearing in mitigation, the circuit court sentenced him to an extended 60-year concurrent term on all counts.


• 1 Defendant contends that the admission into evidence of other criminal charges against him, through the testimony of Investigator Saladino and his tape-recorded conversation, was reversible error. This issue was not properly preserved for review since defendant failed to include it in his post-trial motion. (See People v. Foster (1979), 76 Ill.2d 365, 380, 392 N.E.2d 6.) The plain-error doctrine, in view of the very strong evidence of defendant's guilt, is inapplicable to the case at bar. (87 Ill.2d R. 615(a); see People v. Carlson (1980), 79 Ill.2d 564, 576-77, 404 N.E.2d 233.) Assuming, arguendo, that the error had been preserved, this contention must nevertheless be rejected.

Evidence of other crimes committed or alleged to have been committed by defendant is admissible if relevant for a purpose other than to show defendant's propensity to commit crime. (People v. Baptist (1979), 76 Ill.2d 19, 27, 389 N.E.2d 1200; People v. Lane (1982), 106 Ill. App.3d 793, 801, 436 N.E.2d 704.) Such purposes include showing defendant's "guilty knowledge" or "consciousness of guilt" of the crime at issue. (People v. Baptist (1979), 76 Ill.2d 19, 27; People v. Tranowski (1960), 20 Ill.2d 11, 16, 169 N.E.2d 347, cert. denied (1962), 368 U.S. 978, 7 L.Ed.2d 440, 82 S.Ct. 484.) An attempt by a defendant to intimidate a witness, though a separate offense, is properly admissible for this purpose (e.g., People v. Gambony (1948), 402 Ill. 74, 80, 83 N.E.2d 321, cert. denied (1949), 337 U.S. 910, 93 L.Ed. 1722, 69 S.Ct. 1045; People v. Jones (1980), 82 Ill. App.3d 386, 393, 402 N.E.2d 746; People v. Goodman (1977), 55 Ill. App.3d 294, 296, 371 N.E.2d 168), as is evidence that a defendant attempted to kill an eyewitness (People v. Baptist). The trial court is afforded considerable latitude in deciding whether to admit evidence of other crimes. (People v. Burgin (1979), 74 Ill. App.3d 58, 67, 392 N.E.2d 251.) Where a proper purpose for admitting such evidence exists, as here, it is admissible unless its minor probative value is outweighed by its major prejudicial effect. People v. Bartall (1982), 105 Ill. App.3d 867, 872-73, 435 N.E.2d 152.

Defendant contends that his conversation with Saladino referred to a victim of another crime, not to the instant complaining witness. Therefore, the disputed evidence was not probative of his guilt here. Defendant, however, identified the prospective murder victim by using the instant victim's first name; described her physical appearance; and said the crime "went down" in a home on Larrabee. The foregoing suggests that defendant was, in fact, discussing the present crime; therefore, Saladino's testimony and the tape recording had considerable probative value in the instant case.

After the disputed evidence was admitted, the circuit court cautioned the jury to consider it only for the limited purpose of finding therein defendant's admissions of guilt or his consciousness of guilt of the instant offense. Later, the court repeated the warning by giving Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction, Criminal, No. 3.14 (2d ed. 1981). This procedure substantially reduced any potentially prejudicial impact of such evidence. (People ...

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