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People v. Floyd





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fifth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of White County, the Hon. Henry Lewis, Judge, presiding.


In a two-count information filed in the circuit court of White County, defendant, Tommy G. Floyd, was charged with the murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(2)) of his wife, Avinelle Floyd. Following a jury trial defendant was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment. The appellate court reversed and remanded for a new trial (117 Ill. App.3d 168), and we allowed the People's petition for leave to appeal (87 Ill.2d R. 315). The evidence is adequately reviewed in the opinion of the appellate court and will be repeated here only to the extent necessary to discuss the issues.

The testimony showed that on March 31, 1980, the office of the sheriff of White County received a report that an abandoned automobile was parked near the Grindstone Creek Bridge. The callers thought the deceased was the owner of the automobile and they also knew that she had not reported to work that day. The sheriff and two deputies went to the area and found Mrs. Floyd's body face down in the water. Her jeans were down between her ankles and knees, and the jean jacket and sweater blouse which she wore were above her waist.

Charles E. Hatfield, the deceased's former father-in-law, testified that the deceased "told me that she had give Angela and Carla and Darrell [her children] my telephone number and said if anything happened to her, would I come and get the children at once?"

Gary W. Finch, the deceased's attorney in the divorce action filed shortly before her death, testified she "indicated the possibility of physical violence" and that he advised her to contact the sheriff to prepare him in the event that she needed to call him about such violence.

Linda Mundy testified that a few days before filing the divorce action the deceased had expressed concern for her own safety. She stated that on March 31, when she and several others were present at the Floyd residence, defendant told them that on the previous evening "they had left Ridgway — or not Ridgway — Shawneetown and that they had a fight and she asked him to get out of the car or told him to get out of the car on that gravel road between Shawneetown and that implement dealer on the highway."

Richard Smith testified that on the morning of March 30 he visited the Floyd residence and spoke with both the deceased and defendant. He stated that the deceased was upset and defendant was angry. Defendant was building a closet for his clothes in the shop which was detached from the house. Defendant told him that he and his wife had not been sleeping together.

The deceased's daughter, Angela Hatfield, age 15, testified that her mother had told her she was concerned for her own safety and that she had called Angela's grandparents and "told them that if there was trouble or something that she wanted to know if we asked them if they would take care of us kids if anything happened." Angela also testified that her mother "made sure that their phone was — or their phone number was where we could call them if anything happened."

In a statement given to an agent for the Illinois Department of Law Enforcement, defendant stated that he traveled with his wife in her automobile from Shawneetown to Carmi, that during the trip he made sexual advances which she refused, that she asked him to stop the automobile so that she could urinate, and he then drove to the Grindstone Creek Bridge. After Mrs. Floyd urinated behind the automobile, defendant attempted to embrace her. He stated, "I don't know if I hit her, but I grabbed her and we fell into the creek."

Later that day defendant told the sheriff that he had discarded his boots and thrown his clothing into the river. The sheriff testified that defendant said, "I keep thinking I held her head under, but I didn't mean to hold it under too long. I was just trying to get her to come to me."

A pathologist testified that the deceased died as a result of asphyxia from drowning. He did not think that the bruises on her face and head, or her fractured nose, were caused by blows from a fist. He was of the opinion that the injuries could have been caused by the body striking rocks in the water. In his opinion these injuries were not sufficient to have rendered her unconscious at the time she fell into the water.

In reversing the judgment the appellate court held that the circuit court erred in admitting the testimony concerning the deceased's fears for her own safety and in giving an instruction in the form of Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction (IPI), Criminal, No. 3.07 (1968).

The People contend that the circuit court correctly admitted the testimony concerning her expressed fears for her safety because her state of mind was relevant to a material issue in the case other than the ultimate question of defendant's guilt. They argue that defendant, by contending that her death was accidental, made his wife's state of mind an issue in the case and the testimony was ...

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