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People v. Valentino





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Francis Mahon, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied March 29, 1985.

Defendant, Jeffrey Valentino, appeals his convictions, in a jury trial, of murder, robbery, theft, and possession of a stolen vehicle (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a), 18-1(a), 16-1(a); ch. 95 1/2, par. 4-103(a)(1)). He was sentenced to 30, five, seven, and three years on the respective charges. Defendant raises the following issues for review: (1) whether the trial court erred in admitting evidence of a semen deposit found on the victim's body; (2) whether the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury in response to its question about the use of force in robbery; (3) whether he was proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of robbery and murder; (4) whether the prosecutor's remarks during closing argument were prejudicial; and (5) whether he was improperly convicted of both theft and possession of a stolen vehicle.

We affirm in part and reverse in part.

Defendant was convicted of the murder of Melanio Reyes. At trial, Thomas Keane, a Chicago policeman, testified that on June 26, 1981, he was assigned to investigate a homicide on the lakefront. The victim was on the grass near bushes. The upper portion of the body was nude and a multicolored shirt was fastened tightly around the neck. The victim wore socks and shoes, and his pants and underpants were around his ankles.

Larry Perez, 21 years old, testified that shortly after midnight on June 26, 1981, he was on the lakefront with several friends when he saw defendant in an automobile. He and defendant had been friends for five years. When Perez asked defendant where he got the car, defendant said he had just "knocked a gump, a homosexual." Defendant displayed the victim's wallet containing credit cards. He also showed how he strangled the victim with a shirt. Derrick Smith corroborated Perez' testimony. Additionally, Smith testified that defendant admitted taking $10 from the victim.

William Schober, a Chicago policeman, was assigned to locate defendant. On June 30, 1981, at 10:15 p.m., he saw defendant standing on a street corner and signaled to him to approach the police car. After defendant entered the car, he said, "I guess you guys heard about the murder down at the lakefront. * * * I did it. I got to get it off my chest. It's been bothering me." Schober advised defendant to remain silent and told him he could talk with officers investigating the case.

Chris Grogman, a Chicago police detective, searched defendant's apartment on July 1, 1981, at 3:30 a.m., pursuant to a consent form signed by defendant. In a blue knapsack in a closet, Grogman found 18 credit cards with the name of Melanio Reyes or his wife.

Mary Ann Furlong testified that she was employed by the Chicago Police Department in the microanalysis crime laboratory. She was qualified as an expert microanalyst. In 1981, she was assigned to the Reyes homicide investigation. A rectal swab taken from Reyes revealed the presence of semen, but not sperm. It is possible to determine blood type from seminal fluid because 80 to 85% of men secrete their blood type in their semen. However, in June 1981, when the rectal swab was taken, it was not standard procedure to perform a secretor test. No such test was made of the victim's rectal swab.

Robert Stein, chief medical examiner for Cook County, testified that he performed an autopsy upon the victim. The cause of death was asphyxia due to ligature strangulation.

Jeffrey Valentino, 20 years old, testified that on the date in question he was walking toward the lakefront when he observed a man driving a car who waved at him. Defendant ignored the man. He saw the man waving at him two more times, but he continued to ignore him. Eventually, defendant walked away from the lake and through a park where he saw the same man standing in front of a row of bushes. The man's trousers were unzipped. The man said he wanted to have sex with defendant, but the latter walked away. The man grabbed defendant's belt; defendant tried to run but fell to the grass. He thought the man was trying to rape and murder him. In the ensuing struggle, defendant tied a shirt around the man's neck, and then tied a second knot. When the man ceased struggling, defendant took a set of car keys and drove off in the man's car.

Defendant drove around until he saw a friend, Steven Murphy, who was accompanied by several young men. He told Murphy that he had a "run-in" with a homosexual who was trying to rape him. Defendant said he "knocked out" the man. Defendant allowed Murphy to drive the car. When defendant exited the car, he took a blue knapsack, which belonged to the victim, to his apartment and placed it in a closet.

A few days later when a police officer indicated that he wanted to talk with defendant, the latter entered the police car and admitted that he was responsible for the murder near the lake.

On rebuttal, the prosecution recalled Officer Grogman, who recovered a shirt and pants from defendant's apartment. Defendant admitted to Grogman that he wore the clothes at the time of the murder. The clothes had no tears or grass stains, dirt, or bloodstains. Defendant also admitted to Grogman that he told ...

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