Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kankakee County; the Hon.
Herman S. Haase, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
The defendant, Ronald Lee Kamp, appeals from his conviction of felony murder. The defendant was first convicted in 1981 of murdering Morristine Calmes. This conviction was reversed on appeal and remanded for retrial. The defendant was again convicted of Calmes' murder on April 4, 1984, following a bench trial. The trial court sentenced the defendant to 20 years' imprisonment.
The victim's body was found by Kankakee police officers on August 2, 1980. The body was face down in a pool of water in a drainage ditch. The pool of water was estimated to be 10 inches deep. The drainage ditch traversed a small park.
The Kankakee police were summoned to the scene by Carleton and Margaret Koch. The Koch's home was located next to the park. At approximately 2:20 a.m. on August 2, 1980, the Kochs were awakened by the sound of a woman screaming. They also heard her moan "Oh my God." Mr. Koch immediately called the police while Mrs. Koch kept watch at the bedroom window. This window looked out onto the park. By the time Mr. Koch returned to his bedroom, a police car was already approaching the park.
Kankakee police officer Lieutenant Floyd Reynolds was conducting a security check of a grammar school located two blocks from the park. He received a call to go to the park. As he was driving through the area, Mr. Koch emerged from his home and flagged the lieutenant. As Reynolds and Mr. Koch were standing in the Koch's driveway talking, Mr. Koch noticed a man hiding behind a tree in the park. At the same time, Mrs. Koch called from the window that a man was crouching behind the tree.
Lieutenant Reynolds returned to his car and drove toward the point where the man was standing. The man then began to run. Reynolds pursued him by car but lost him among nearby homes. Reynolds then returned to the Koch home. By this time, both Mr. and Mrs. Koch had noticed a bicycle lying in the park. Reynolds walked into the park with Mr. Koch. The two men sighted the victim's body lying in the water at the bottom of the drainage ditch. Reynolds went to the body and drew the victim's face out of the water. He felt for a pulse but found none. He then radioed for assistance. Reynolds estimated that five to six minutes elapsed between the time he saw the man in the park and the time he located the body.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Koch identified the man they saw in the park as the defendant. The defendant lived near the Kochs. Mr. Koch also identified the bicycle found in the park as belonging to the defendant.
Consequently, at approximately 3 a.m., Kankakee police officers arrested the defendant in his home. At the time of his arrest, the defendant's hair and underwear were wet. The officers found clothing matching that described by Reynolds and the Kochs as the apparel of the man in the park. This clothing was also wet.
The State presented the testimony of forensic pathologist Dr. Edward Shalgos. Shalgos testified that the victim's death was caused by drowning.
• 1 The defendant raises three issues on appeal. He argues first that the State failed to prove the corpus delicti beyond a reasonable doubt and that the defendant caused the victim's death. To establish the corpus delicti the State must prove the death of the victim and that the death was caused by a criminal agency. The State must additionally prove that the defendant was that criminal agency. People v. Wilson (1948), 400 Ill. 461, 81 N.E.2d 211.
The defendant argues that the State failed to prove that Calmes' death was caused by a criminal agency.
Circumstantial evidence may be used to prove corpus delicti. People v. Hansen (1963), 28 Ill.2d 322, 192 N.E.2d 359, cert. denied sub nom. Spilotro v. Illinois (1964), 376 U.S. 908, 11 L.Ed.2d 608, 84 S.Ct. 664.
In the instant case, Calmes' brother and sister testified that they saw her on the night of her death. Calmes was healthy and active just hours before she died.
Dr. Shalgos testified regarding the condition of Calmes' body at the time of the autopsy. Shalgos stated that there was no disease or trauma found during the autopsy which would have caused Calmes to collapse into the drainage ditch. Shalgos further testified that the physical evidence showed that Calmes was attempting to breathe even as she was drowning. This was shown by the significant hemorrhaging of small blood vessels in the victim's head and by the fact that the victim swallowed and regurgitated water from the ditch. Shalgos testified that the body of a person who drowned while unconscious would not have the massive, explosive changes he found in ...