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People v. Arnold





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. John J. Crowley, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Eldrix Arnold, was arrested on March 18, 1980, and charged with three counts of murder pursuant to sections 9-1(a)(1) through (3) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1) through (3)). The defendant was also charged with armed robbery and armed violence. The armed-violence count was nolprossed. A jury in the circuit court of Cook County found the defendant guilty of armed robbery and returned a general verdict finding the defendant guilty of murder. Defendant Arnold was sentenced to concurrent terms of 40 years' imprisonment for murder and 20 years for armed robbery. The appellate court reversed Arnold's conviction (113 Ill. App.3d 1162) in a Rule 23 order (87 Ill.2d R. 23), and we granted the State's petition for leave to appeal (87 Ill.2d R. 315(a)). We now reverse and remand to the appellate court.

Two issues are presented on appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred in giving a non-Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction (hereinafter cited as non-IPI) on voluntary intoxication in lieu of Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction (IPI) Criminal, No. 24.02 (1968), which the defense tendered; and (2) whether the trial judge erred when he refused to give a verdict form of "not guilty of involuntary manslaughter" to the jury.

Nina Williams, Renee Martin, Debra Johnson, and Lanita Foster were volunteers for a political candidate in the city of Chicago. The four women spent the evening of March 14, 1980, at the candidate's campaign headquarters. They left the headquarters at approximately 1 a.m. on the morning of March 15, 1980, and began walking towards Williams' car, which was parked on a city street. Two men were walking towards the women. One of the men was defendant Arnold; he testified that he and a friend had just left Fannie's Tavern when they heard the voices of the women. Arnold approached them and asked for a cigarette. Debra Johnson told Arnold they did not have cigarettes. The women then began to enter Williams' car. As they did, the defendant pushed Lanita Foster into the car. The defendant partially entered the car as well. Martin, Foster and Johnson testified at the trial that the defendant pointed a silver-colored handgun at the back of Nina Williams' head. Johnson testified that she saw Arnold pull the trigger and shoot Williams in the head. After Arnold shot Williams, he told the women to "give-up" the money. Johnson then threw Williams' purse to Arnold. He caught the purse and ran down the street.

The three eyewitnesses testified that the defendant did not slur his words and had no difficulty running from the scene. In addition, the eyewitnesses testified that they did not see either the defendant or the other man with bottles of alcoholic beverages in their possession, nor did they see the two men emerge from the corner tavern.

Arnold was arrested on March 18, 1980. At the time of his arrest, Arnold signed a written statement in which he admitted his intention to rob the women and to frighten them with the gun. In his statement, he also said that he had spent the money he had to buy milk and Pampers for his daughter. Arnold also showed the police where he had hidden Williams' purse and the gun. The police recovered both items.

At trial, Arnold testified he was intoxicated at the time of the shooting. He testified that he had smoked marijuana and consumed seven gallons of wine on March 14, 1980, as well as various quantities of gin, vodka and rum.

With regard to the shooting, Arnold testified that he was with a friend the morning of March 15 and that the friend asked him for a cigarette. Even though Arnold had an extra cigarette, he approached the four women to ask for a cigarette for his friend. In addition, Arnold testified that he was transferring the gun from one hand to the other when the gun accidentally went off. He also contradicted his written confession of his intent to rob the women, testifying that he decided to ask for money only after the gun went off.

The State cross-examined Arnold about his activities immediately prior to the shooting. Arnold testified that he had visited his mother's apartment at 11 p.m. on March 14, and played records on her stereo. Arnold was able to unlock the door to his mother's house and change records on the stereo without assistance. Arnold also testified that he went to Fannie's Tavern at 11:30 p.m., spoke with a woman there and shared some of the woman's drink. When asked if he recalled what kind of drink it was, he stated that it was a rum and coke. Defendant also testified that he purchased a bottle of wine at Fannie's Tavern. He was able to recall the exact denominations of change he received. In addition, Arnold was able to recall the amount of money he had in his wallet as well as the denominations of the bills.

At trial, there was testimony that the defendant, who was 21 years' old, had been drinking alcohol heavily since he was 13, that he had received treatment for his alcoholism and that he had attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for a short time. Four defense witnesses, Arnold's mother, his common-law wife, and two friends, testified that they had seen Arnold on March 14, 1980, and that, in their opinion, Arnold was drunk.

Defendant's expert witness, Dr. Donald Sellers, testified that Arnold could have been intoxicated in the early morning hours of March 15. However, when asked a hypothetical question during cross-examination Dr. Sellers conceded that Arnold could have acted knowingly and intentionally at the time of the shooting.

We now address the first issue in this case, whether the trial court erred in giving the non-IPI voluntary intoxication instruction, in lieu of IPI Criminal No. 24.02, which the defense tendered.

The court gave the following instruction on voluntary intoxication: "Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to armed robbery or murder committed during the course of an armed robbery or involuntary manslaughter." The defense tendered IPI Criminal No. 24.02, which provides: "An intoxicated person is criminally responsible for his conduct unless his intoxication renders him incapable of acting knowingly [or] intentionally."

A trial judge has the discretion to refuse to tender a defense instruction on intoxication where there is insufficient evidence for a jury to reasonably find that the defendant was so intoxicated at the time of the crime that he lacked the requisite mental state ...

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