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People v. Lee





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Edward M. Fiala, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied December 13, 1984.

A jury in the circuit court of Cook County found the defendant, David Lee, guilty of rape. He was sentenced to a prison term of six years. On appeal, defendant claims that (1) his statement to a court-appointed psychologist during a fitness and sanity examination should have been held inadmissible to impeach his testimony; (2) the misrepresentation to defendant by an assistant State's Attorney that defendant's fingerprints had been found in complainant's apartment rendered his subsequent confession involuntary; (3) the prosecutor's prejudicial remarks during cross-examination of defendant and closing argument denied defendant a fair trial; and (4) evidence of his demotion in rank while in the army should not have been admitted.

We reverse and remand the case for a new trial.


At trial, complainant testified that on the evening of November 13, 1981, she and her young daughter had fallen asleep while watching television in the front room of their apartment. Although she was sure she had locked the front door after taking her dog for a walk, she awoke when the dog began barking at a man who had entered the apartment. She struggled with the intruder, but he held a knife to her face, told her to keep quiet, and began pushing her across the room. In the light from the kitchen window, she recognized her assailant as David Lee, a former co-worker of hers at National Van Lines with whom she had maintained contact after he left the company.

Holding the complainant in a headlock, Lee forced her into the bedroom and onto the bed, placed some blankets over her head, and removed her velour shirt and jeans. After forcible intercourse, he pushed her into the closet and told her he would kill her if she came out. When she heard the front door close, she pulled on a robe and awakened her daughter. She first called Robert Buti, her supervisor at work, and then called the police.

According to complainant, she had met Lee when she was assigned to train him as a data processor, and once they had drinks together in the data processing room. Lee had made several unsuccessful advances toward her, and once he came to her home to lend her a book on an unfamiliar computer language she was trying to learn. Complainant testified that Lee's actions on the night in question were "meaner" than they had ever been in the past.

The remaining evidence in the State's case pertinent to this appeal was presented through two witnesses, Bob Buti and the felony-review assistant State's Attorney, who had interviewed defendant after his arrest and obtained his confession. Over objection, Buti related his phone conversation with complainant after her assailant had left the apartment, stating that she had said someone had broken into her apartment. He then described his actions after he and the police arrived at the victim's apartment. Although Buti recalled noticing that the inside woodwork on the side of the door had come off, the police found no evidence of a forced entry.

The assistant State's Attorney, who had also testified during the hearing on Lee's unsuccessful motion to suppress his statement, related that he had been called to come to the Northlake police station to question Lee, who had been transferred from Maywood and was then in the custody of Detective DiIulio. According to the assistant State's Attorney, he read Lee his Miranda rights, and Lee agreed to make a statement. During the next 20 to 25 minutes, Lee denied being at complainant's apartment on the night in question. However, when the assistant State's Attorney said that he had been positively identified and then misrepresented to Lee that his fingerprints had been found on the scene, Lee admitted that he had been in the apartment and went on to make several inculpatory statements, all of which were the subject of his unsuccessful motion to suppress. However, he did not admit to having intercourse with complainant.

Lee's version of the events of November 13-14, 1981, and of his arrest and questioning was quite different from that presented by the State. Lee testified that he and the complaining witness had had an ongoing sexual relationship during the time they worked together, and they also had intercourse on the night he brought her the programming book. According to Lee, on the night in question he had been drinking with some new acquaintances when he decided to call complainant. She told him to come over in a couple of hours after her daughter had fallen asleep, and said that she would leave the door open. When he arrived, they embraced, went into the bedroom, and undressed. During their lovemaking, complainant suddenly became passive and began talking about Bob Buti, with whom she had been romantically involved.

At this point, Lee testified, he had a flashback to a humiliating experience he had had in an Okinawa brothel during his tour of duty in Vietnam, and he began to abuse the complainant verbally and to treat her roughly. She became upset and ordered him to leave, which he did. Lee subsequently went out of town to attend a funeral, and when he returned several days later to learn that a warrant had been issued for his arrest, he surrendered to the police.

Lee further testified that after he was taken from Maywood to the Northlake police station, he was first placed in a room with six officers; later, he was put in the custody of Detective DiIulio, who handed him a paper and told him to sign it "to save a lot of trouble." DiIulio then told him he was wanted for raping a white girl.

When the assistant State's Attorney arrived, he noted the signed waiver form, gave Lee his Miranda warnings, and began the questioning. After Lee persisted in denying that he had been in complainant's apartment on the night in question, the assistant State's Attorney offered to continue the questioning in the room with the six officers, and Lee began to fear bodily harm. Finally, when the assistant State's Attorney told him that he had been positively identified and then knowingly misrepresented to Lee that Lee's fingerprints had been found in the apartment, Lee broke down and confessed that he had gone to ...

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