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People v. Purnell





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Maurice D. Pompey, Judge, presiding.


Following a bench trial, defendant was convicted of murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1)), and sentenced to an extended term of 60 years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends that: (1) the State produced insufficient evidence to establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) his waiver of the right to a jury trial was ineffective by virtue of a constitutionally inadequate admonition; and (3) his trial counsel failed to perform at the accepted standard of competency. For the reasons stated below, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

In its case in chief, the State's witnesses provided the following testimony. At 2 a.m. on August 27, 1981, the victim, Michael Lavin, arrived at 200 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, to run computer tapes and cards at the offices of Computer Research, Inc., located on the fifth floor of the building. He had been employed by Programmers Investment Corporation, a computer research subcontractor, for approximately two years and had used Computer Research's facilities at least three times per week. As the victim entered the building, William Banik and Bill Young, employees of Computer Research, were leaving. The defendant, George Purnell, seated at the security desk in the lobby of the building and dressed in full uniform, saw Banik and Young leave the building and the victim enter. Defendant was employed by the CPP Security Service and had been assigned to the 200 North Building as a security guard for the past few weeks.

At approximately 2:30 a.m., defendant arrived at the service window of the fifth floor computer room wishing to speak with Robert Canan, lead operator for Computer Research. Canan testified that the defendant, dressed in his full uniform, told him that his briefcase was missing and that he thought either Banik, Young or the victim had stolen it, as they had all been in its general vicinity one-half hour earlier when they had passed through the lobby. Defendant determined that it was during this time that the briefcase disappeared. Canan stated that he knew nothing about the incident, and defendant left the fifth floor.

Banik and Young returned to the building at 3:30 a.m. and had a conversation with defendant in which defendant accused Banik, Young or the victim (who was not present at this time) of taking his briefcase. Banik and Young told defendant they knew nothing about the stolen briefcase; they also observed defendant as dressed in full uniform at this time.

Defendant returned to the fifth floor at 4 or 4:30 a.m. and told Canan that he wanted to speak with the victim. The three met in the area adjacent to the fifth floor elevators, outside the offices, and defendant accused the victim of taking his briefcase. The victim denied any connection with defendant's briefcase, but produced a driver's license as identification at defendant's request. Defendant copied some information from the license into his notebook, and the victim then returned to the computer room. Defendant then told Canan that he knew "one of them took it" (referring to Banik, Young or the victim), and if he didn't get any satisfaction he would get it out on the street. Canan testified that defendant still had his uniform shirt on during this conversation.

At approximately 5 a.m., Banik and Young left their office to purchase some donuts. Defendant informed them that he would not permit them to leave the building as he ran to lock the front lobby door. However, defendant's supervisor, with him in the lobby, ordered defendant to allow the two men to leave, and he unlocked the door. Banik and Young returned to the building at 6 a.m., at which time they observed defendant dressed in full uniform.

Shortly after Banik returned, he observed the victim "hanging" tapes in the computer room. At approximately 6:30 a.m., Robert Canan viewed the victim on the TV monitor and saw him go through the fifth floor doors and enter the fifth floor elevator. He looked in fine physical condition. At 6:45 a.m., the freight elevator operator at the building for 12 years walked through the lobby on his way to report to his shift; he saw no guard at the security desk and no one in the lobby. At 6:48 a.m., John Zadelak, a student at Control Data Institute, located on the second floor of the building, came into the lobby and signed the log-in sheet. He observed defendant in the lobby dressed in a white T-shirt. He overheard defendant talking in a loud voice to another man, saying, "Someone stole my briefcase and if I lose my job because of it someone will pay."

Robert Cigler, the building superintendent at the 200 North Michigan Building for 15 years, arrived at work at 6:30 a.m. on August 27, 1981. He did not enter the building through the main lobby; using his key, he entered the building through the Garland Court entrance. (The Michigan Avenue main lobby entrance is the only entrance to the building which remains unlocked at all times. There are only two other entrances to the building, one on Lake Street and the other on Garland Court, both of which require keys and remain locked at all times.) Cigler went directly down some stairs into the building's boiler room.

At 7 a.m., Frank Victor, *fn1 the building's elevator starter, 67 years old, came to see Cigler in the boiler room. Cigler observed no blood on Victor's person or clothing. The two men walked into the west portion of the building and ascended a set of stairs leading to the lobby. On the way there, they passed the building's utility room, which is situated one floor above the boiler room and one floor below the lobby. Outside the door to the utility room, Cigler noticed blood which appeared to be smudged on the floor and on the stairs leading up to the lobby. Cigler and Victor opened the door to the utility room, turned on the lights and saw the victim lying on the floor, covered with blood, his head "bashed in," and barely breathing. Cigler also observed fresh blood splattered all over the floor and walls of the utility room.

Following their discovery of the victim, Cigler and Victor immediately proceeded up the stairs leading from the utility room to the lobby and observed a stick propped up against the wall behind the opened door leading to the lobby. Cigler had seen this stick before, as it was normally kept in a locker room used by the security guards and elevator starter located immediately opposite the utility room where the victim was found. Cigler testified that he had seen defendant in this locker room before. Upon reaching the lobby at approximately 7:05-7:10 a.m., Cigler and Victor saw defendant seated at his security guard's desk in the lobby; defendant was not wearing his uniform shirt or his badge. They asked defendant if he knew that a young man was lying in the utility room covered with blood. Defendant told them in what Cigler described as a "choppy voice," that he knew "nothing about this" as he hadn't been downstairs. Cigler then asked defendant why he was out of uniform and defendant stated that some people upstairs had stolen his briefcase and shirt when he was making security rounds. Cigler told defendant that he had no business leaving the security desk and going upstairs. Cigler then instructed defendant to call the police; defendant refused to do so until he reported the incident to the CPP Security office. Following his call to CPP Security, defendant dialed the police and handed the phone over to Cigler so that he could report the attack. At this time, Cigler observed defendant's face to be sweaty, despite the fact that the building's air conditioning system was in operation that day. Cigler then returned alone to the utility room to take another look at the victim. Upon his return to the lobby area at approximately 7:15 a.m., he testified that defendant was still present at the security desk, where to his knowledge he stayed until he was taken out by police.

On cross-examination, Cigler testified that there is a door located about 20 feet from the utility room which is equipped with an ADT alarm system. He explained that with this kind of alarm system, a security guard must insert a key into a box located at the door, give it a turn, pull out the key and allow the box to ring. The designated times for the "pulls" of the system for the morning of August 27, 1981, were 3:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. He testified that at 7:40 a.m. on August 27, 1981, he received a call from the ADT office alerting him that the 7:30 a.m. "pull" had not been made; he then asked Victor to go down to the door and make the "pull." Although he conceded that he did not see Victor do so, he testified that ADT did not call him again.

Police officers Jaglowski and Pechulis arrived at the scene and observed Cigler and Victor outside of the building; they saw defendant standing by his desk wearing a white T-shirt and dark trousers. On his way down the stairs leading from the lobby to the utility room with Cigler, Officer Jaglowski noticed dark and bloody footprints. He found the victim on the floor of the utility room in a fetal position, gasping for breath. The victim had a 2" x 2" x 1" hole in the top of his head; one side of his head was covered with blood, as were his neck and two-thirds of his torso. A pool of blood surrounded the victim as he lay on the floor. Jaglowski saw a snow shovel propped up against the north end of the utility room's wall; it was bent at the edges and covered with fresh blood. When the officer asked defendant if he knew anything about the incident, defendant responded, "I heard nothing, I know nothing and I saw nothing concerning an injured victim at the area of the premises." The officer instructed the building superintendent, elevator starter and defendant not to leave the building until the police could ascertain what had happened. He also testified that from the time he came back up to the lobby until the time the assist units arrived and he and his partner departed the scene, defendant had remained at the security desk.

The prosecution then introduced a stipulation as to what the testimony of homicide investigator John Markham would be if he was called to the stand to testify. He would testify that when he arrived on the scene, the victim had already been transported to the hospital. He interviewed several people, including Frank Victor, Robert Cigler, William Banik, Bill Young and John Zadelak. He also interviewed defendant, who told him that he knew nothing about the attack, but related that his briefcase and shirt had been stolen that night. After a thorough search of the entire area surrounding the scene of the crime did not locate defendant's shirt or briefcase, defendant was taken to Area One for questioning. Upon his arrival at the police station, blood was observed on his shoes; defendant was promptly advised of his constitutional rights. Detective Markham then took defendant's statement in which he denied any knowledge of the attack. Markham would also testify that at this time defendant told him that he had taken his shirt off after his first rounds at 12:30 a.m., had put it on top of his briefcase, and that his shirt and briefcase were taken together.

Defendant subsequently agreed to give the detective his shoes, clothing and numerous personal articles which he had wrapped in newspaper and magazine pages. These articles included defendant's leather belt, security guard shield, nameplate, handcuffs and case, scotch tape and dispenser, various leather goods, radio, black ballpoint pen, memo book and wristwatch. These items were inventoried and taken to the crime lab.

Detective Markham would also testify that at 3 p.m. on August 27, 1981, he had occasion to be in attendance at an interview between an assistant State's Attorney and defendant whereupon defendant told them that (1) at 5 a.m. he took his shirt off to go to the basement; (2) at 6 a.m. an unidentified woman came into the building and he discovered that his shirt was missing; and (3) his supervisor came at 3:30 a.m.

Through two stipulations introduced by the prosecution, it was adduced that the paramedics received a call at 7:25 a.m., arrived at the building at 7:28 a.m., and administered emergency treatment to the victim at the scene until 8:03 a.m. Dr. Thomas Brown examined the victim upon his arrival at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and described multiple, compound and depressed fractures to the left side of the victim's skull where a portion of the victim's brain protruded out of his head. A vial of blood was taken from the victim prior to his skull reconstruction and left temporal lobectomy surgery at 12 p.m. The victim received many transfusions during this operation. Following this surgery, the victim lay in a deep coma. Two EEG scans showed no brain activity whatsoever. Two days later, on August 29, 1981, the victim was disconnected from a respirator and pronounced dead. Another vial of the victim's blood was extracted by the medical examiner's office prior to his autopsy.

The prosecution introduced an additional stipulation that if called to the stand, microanalyst Cathy Mormon would testify that she conducted tests on both victim's and defendant's blood samples, as well as their personal belongings. Her tests revealed that both vials of victim's blood (pre-surgery and pre-autopsy) contained type A(N) blood; that victim's jeans, socks and shoes all had type A(N) blood present on them; that fluid recovered from the floor of the utility room proved to be type A(N) blood; that the shovel found in the utility room contained type A(N) blood; and that tests on victim's lighter, as well as on the wooden stick found behind the open door leading to the lobby, showed human blood present.

Mormon would also testify that her tests showed defendant to have type A(MN) blood. Various items taken from defendant and tested showed that his memo book, right shoe and trousers contained type A(N) blood; that his white T-shirt contained type A blood, but that further serological tests to determine the presence of M or N antigens were not possible due to the insufficient amount of sample present; that tests on his metal nametag, left shoe, white handkerchief, brown umbrella, tape dispenser, radio strap, handcuffs, wristwatch and socks all indicated the presence of human blood, but that the amount of blood available for testing was insufficient to determine the type. Finally, Mormon would testify that 10% of the population had type A(N) blood and 20% had type A(MN) blood; that type A(N) blood cannot come from a person having type A(MN) blood; and that type A(N) blood found on victim's and defendant's belongings was consistent with that coming from the victim and inconsistent coming from defendant.

For the defense, the stipulated testimony of evidence technician Wade Crosson was introduced. He stated that during his investigation of the scene of the crime, he examined the shovel and wooden stick for fingerprints, and got negative results from both items. He gave three interpretations for these negative results, as he did not recall which of the three situations existed when he completed his report on August 27, 1981. He stated the negative results could mean that (1) there were no identifiable ridge impressions suitable for comparison with others available; (2) there were no fingerprints, whether identifiable or not, at all; or (3) there were smudged fingerprints on these items which were unidentifiable.

In his own defense, defendant testified that on August 26, 1981, he arrived to work at 11:30 p.m. and proceeded to a bathroom located in the west end of the lobby, where he changed into his uniform. He stated that he had only been in the building's locker room once, and was never assigned a personal locker. At 1:10 a.m., he left his briefcase containing his civilian shirt, sandwich and other items at the security desk, locked the front lobby door and made a security check of the fourth through sixth floors. Upon his return to the lobby at 1:30 a.m., he found Banik and Young inside the lobby door waiting to exit the building. He also found the victim waiting outside the locked door. He unlocked the door, thereby allowing Banik and Young out, and the victim in. Defendant then relocked the lobby door and proceeded to the third floor to finish his security check of floors three through one. When he returned to the lobby at 2 a.m., he testified that he discovered his briefcase missing. He then went to the fifth floor to speak with Robert Canan (erroneously identified by defendant as Mr. Cavanaugh), who brought the victim outside the fifth floor computer room to speak with defendant. Defendant further testified that he did not accuse the victim of stealing his ...

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