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People v. Wilson





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. Donald C. Courson, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied June 12, 1985.

The defendant, William L. Wilson, appeals his convictions for felony murder and armed robbery following a jury trial in the circuit court of Peoria County. The jury further decided that the death penalty should not be imposed, and the defendant was sentenced to natural life imprisonment for the felony murder. A 60-year consecutive sentence for armed robbery was also imposed on the defendant, but the State has since confessed error with regard to the armed robbery conviction and sentence as being a lesser included offense of felony murder. People v. Abrams (1982), 109 Ill. App.3d 901, 441 N.E.2d 352; People v. Devine (1981), 98 Ill. App.3d 914, 424 N.E.2d 823.

On appeal the defendant contends, as did his brother, David R. Wilson, who was similarly convicted and sentenced and whose appeal is the subject of a separate opinion, that his arrest lacked probable cause and that his statements made and evidence seized subsequent to his arrest should have been suppressed. In addition, the defendant argues that a second search of his residence was improper and that the evidence obtained as a result should have been suppressed. Finally, the defendant argues that his sentence of natural life imprisonment was excessive.

In reviewing the facts presented, we note that the defendant makes no challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support the guilty verdicts if defendant's motion to quash arrest and evidence obtained was properly denied. Therefore, the limited issue before us is the propriety of the trial court's pretrial ruling denying the defendant's motion to suppress.

The People first called Officer Michael Bornsheuer, who testified that as a police officer for the city of Peoria he had a conversation with Detective Dale Whitledge at approximately 3 p.m. on November 1, 1983, and as a result of which he and other officers went to two residences on Wayne Street in Peoria for the purpose of a "stake out." Before leaving the station, Bornsheuer had been furnished mug shots of the defendant and his brother, who were to be arrested in connection "with a homicide investigation." After waiting 15 to 20 minutes, the officer saw the defendant and his brother come out of one of the residences on Wayne Street, and an arrest was made of both individuals. The defendant's brother was wearing tennis shoes whose tracks appeared to match those found in the victim's blood at the scene of a murder the day before at the Bi-Sel Novelty Store in Peoria. The defendant was observed wearing brown suede-type shoes which appeared to have blood on them. One of his fingers was bandaged.

Detective Dale Whitledge testified that at approximately 4:20 p.m. on the afternoon of October 31, 1983, he was called to the Bi-Sel Novelty Store in Peoria, where he found Marion Wood, a man 55 to 60 years of age, lying dead on the floor in front of the store. The decedent had many stab wounds on his body, face and back. The victim's throat had been slashed. The decedent had also been stabbed in one of his eyes. The body was still warm, suggesting that the murder had occurred recently. There were tennis shoe prints in blood beside the victim's body. Whitledge examined the cash register in the store and found only various papers and some pennies. The crime scene was processed for fingerprints. A receipt book bearing the date of the murder indicated that a knife had been sold for $9.30.

A next-door neighbor, Mr. Swearingen, reported that the decedent had been alive as late as 3 p.m. and that he had found the victim dead on the floor at about 4 p.m. and called the police.

Herman Capshaw later told the police that he had been in the store on the afternoon Wood was killed and that there had been two men in the store talking to Wood about buying a television set. Capshaw's description of the men generally matched the description of the defendant and his brother. The men had left without making a purchase but told Wood that they would return before closing time. After the two men left, Wood told Capshaw that it was a shame someone so young had been in prison. The investigating officers therefore concluded that the victim knew at least one of the two men. Capshaw arrived at the shop between 2:30 and 3 p.m. and left about 3:30 to 3:40 p.m.

An interview with Barbara Skeen at a business immediately west of the novelty store indicated that she had been at the Pour House Tavern, approximately 40 to 50 feet from the victim's shop, and overheard a woman named Evelyn telling two customers that her son had come home the evening before with blood all over him and a severe cut on his finger.

The police contacted Evelyn Wood at the Pour House Tavern, who identified herself as the defendant's mother. She stated that her daughter-in-law, Cheryl Wilson, had come to her house on the morning of November 1, 1983, the day after the murder, and told her that her husband, the defendant, had come home the night before with blood all over his clothes and a severe cut on his index finger. Cheryl had told her mother-in-law that her husband claimed he had been in a fight with some blacks who had raped a five-year-old girl on Main Street. Evelyn told the police that both her sons had been in trouble with the police before and that they had been drinking in the Pour House Tavern on the day of the nearby murder.

The description of her sons matched that given by Capshaw as the two men in the shop with the decedent just before his death. Mrs. Wood said David was red haired, carried a chain-type wallet with a buck knife on a sheath in his belt, and that the defendant was thinner and shorter than David, with black hair and a beard.

A Miss Crim told Whitledge that she had been the bartender at the Pour House Tavern on the day of the murder and that both defendants had been in the tavern drinking beer from approximately 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Whitledge also interviewed Richard Curtis, an employee of a nearby Firestone store, who told him that on the afternoon of the murder he had seen two men matching the description of the defendant and his brother walking down an alley near the novelty store. One of the men, the bigger one, carried a chain-type wallet with a knife ...

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