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People v. Bolden





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. Raymond L. Terrell, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied June 4, 1985.

A jury in the circuit court of Sangamon County convicted the defendant of the offense of murder in violation of section 9-1(a) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)). The court sentenced her to a term of 22 years of imprisonment.

Defendant was originally charged by information with three counts of murder and one count of voluntary manslaughter. Prior to trial the State moved to dismiss the manslaughter count and to add two additional counts of murder to the charges. There was no objection by the defendant to the dismissal of the manslaughter charge; she did object to the filing of additional counts of murder. The original murder counts were the customary ones, charging intent, knowledge, and strong probability; the additional counts alleged intent to do great bodily harm and felony murder (aggravated battery). The trial court allowed the dismissal of the manslaughter charge, sustained the objections to the felony murder count, and overruled the objections to the great bodily harm count.

Since the defendant has raised an issue of reasonable doubt together with a related issue of improper jury instructions on manslaughter as an included offense, it will be necessary to enter into a recital of the facts as they were developed at trial.

In broad outline the evidence showed that the defendant Debbie Bolden, the victim Rose Hayes, and two men, Willie Hunter and August Johnson, were together at Hayes' residence during the early morning hours of January 26, 1984. Inside the house the defendant and the victim quarreled and exchanged words and blows. The defendant left the house and was followed by Hayes. The fight continued outside the house, where the defendant stabbed Hayes, who died within a few minutes of her wounds. Defendant claimed self-defense.

Willie Hunter testified that he drove his white Cadillac to Big John's Social Club in Springfield in the early morning hours of January 26, 1984. While there he danced with Rose Hayes and offered to drive her to her home. The club closed at approximately 4:30 to 5 a.m. In response to their requests, Hunter also gave the defendant, August Johnson, Alice Bailey, and two others a ride to their homes. Hunter testified that the defendant "was with Augie Johnson that night." During the ride in the car, the victim and the defendant began to argue and call each other "bitches and * * * different names." However, Hunter thought that they were only "joking." Hunter eventually dropped off Alice Bailey and the two others. At this point, Hayes invited Hunter, Johnson, and the defendant to her house. When they arrived at Hayes' house, Hunter, Johnson, and Hayes moved her three children from the living room, where they had been sleeping, into a second-story bedroom. The four adults then listened to music, danced, and consumed alcoholic beverages. Hunter was dancing with Hayes. Later he "went upstairs to use the bathroom." When he returned he saw Hayes and August Johnson sitting on a couch in the first floor spare bedroom. Hunter sat down with them, and the defendant entered the room. Defendant then slapped Hayes "pretty hard." Hayes "got mad and jumped up." Johnson grabbed the defendant and Hunter grabbed Hayes in order to prevent them from fighting.

Hunter stated that he did not know why the women were fighting, since he had been upstairs when the fight started. He recalled that the defendant said, "You slapped me," and Hayes responded, "I didn't slap you that hard." The defendant prepared to leave the house, and Hayes followed her to the front door, where she "lit into" the defendant. The defendant backed out of the door and onto the porch, where Hayes followed her, still fighting. At this point, Hunter testified that Johnson said to him, "Damn, let me get this knife from this bitch." Hunter and Johnson then started toward the door. When they reached the porch Hayes was staggering back to the porch, and she fell against the porch stairs railing. Hunter caught her as she slumped to the floor of the porch. Hunter stated that he did not see what had happened between the two women and that he had never seen a knife used. He stated that the women had been outside 30 to 40 seconds before he and Johnson followed them. It was also dark at the time.

Hunter stated that when he first went out on the porch the defendant was standing on the sidewalk that led from the porch and that she was "in hysterics." Hunter then went to his car and pulled it up next to the porch in order to take Hayes to the hospital. When they pulled her into the light, Hunter noticed that she was bleeding from the face. He checked her pulse and found it to be slight. He instructed Johnson to go "next door and have them call an ambulance."

Hunter did not notice when the defendant had left the scene. He stated that Johnson may have yelled something to her at one time.

Johnson did ask the victim's neighbors to call an ambulance. Hunter testified that the neighbor came over to the porch for a few minutes. Hayes' 11-year-old son came out on the porch at this time, too. Hunter told Johnson that the victim was dead, and Johnson said, "We're all going to catch a murder beef." At this point Hunter and Johnson left in Hunter's car. They found the defendant walking down a nearby street. Hunter saw nothing in her hands as she got into the car. He testified that defendant said, "She got what she deserved."

Frank Hayes, the 11-year-old son, testified that two men and one woman arrived at his house along with his mother at 5:23 a.m. on January 26, 1984. After he and his brother and sister were moved to an upstairs bedroom, he heard an argument. Looking out the bedroom window he observed his mother and a lady with "their fists up" standing on the sidewalk near the front porch. He heard his mother say, "I'm too old to fight" and "Do you want some more?" He later lost sight of the women as they moved toward the front porch. He then heard noises which sounded like jumping or fighting on the porch. He went downstairs to see what was going on and saw his mother lying on the porch. He saw a man standing by a car on the side of the house, and his neighbor, Amy Johnson, later came to the house.

Amy Johnson, a 14-year-old neighbor, was awakened by a barking dog at approximately 6 a.m. on January 26, 1984. She went to the window in the front of her house, where she observed a man holding a lady "against the porch." This lady was not Rose Hayes. The man then released the woman and she left the house, walking down the street. The man then yelled, "Deborah, bring your funky ass back here." However, she continued walking. The man then came over to her house and asked her to call an ambulance. She went to the Hayes home, saw the victim lying on the porch, and returned and called an ambulance. When she returned to the Hayes home, the men had left. She put a sheet over the victim.

Wilbur Saylor testified that he found a blood-stained knife on the morning of January 26, 1984, as he walked to his place of employment. The knife was on a sidewalk in the neighborhood where Saylor had heard that the murder, herein, had occurred.

Alice Bailey's testimony substantially corroborated that of Willie Hunter as to the events which occurred after Big John's Social Club had closed and before she left Hunter's car. She stated that she heard Hunter and August Johnson talking about "going to bed" with Hayes. She testified that Hayes then laughed and told Johnson that he looked "like a 16-year-old schoolboy." The defendant then responded, "Don't nobody talk to my man like that but me." Bailey, however, believed that the women were just "kidding around."

Dr. Grant Johnson, a pathologist at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, testified that he was called to the victim's residence at 6:45 a.m. on January 26, 1984. Upon his arrival he observed a body on the front porch, "obviously dead." After photographing the scene, he transported the body to Memorial Medical Center and performed an autopsy. Upon examining the body, he observed three major defects or wounds to the victim's nose, abdomen, and right arm. There was also a bruise on the lower right jaw. The cause of death was determined to have been a massive hemorrhage in the abdominal cavity due to a stab wound which had perforated the right iliac artery and the inferior vena cava.

Dr. Johnson described the nose wound as a "deep wound * * * which went through the bony structure of the nose and entered the nasal cavities." The victim also had a "small, slit-like wound" on her right upper arm. The wound to the abdomen, resulting in the severing of a major artery and vein, would have caused death in "probably not more than a minute." Dr. Johnson felt that the victim could have continued to swing her arms after she had been stabbed in the abdomen, but was unsure as to whether or how far she could have walked after receiving the wound.

Detective Charles Pennell of the Springfield police department testified that he interviewed the defendant on February 2, 1984. She gave three statements to Pennell. In the first statement she stated that an unknown man in a white car dropped her and August Johnson off near her sister's home after Big John's Social Club had closed. She stated that she learned of the murder through the newspaper.

In her second statement to Pennell, the defendant stated that she and Johnson left Big John's in a white car being driven by a man she identified as Willie Hunter. She said that they were also accompanied by Irva Burrows, her niece. She stated that they were dropped off near her sister's home. Since her sister was not home they stayed at Burrow's residence. Defendant denied that she had gone to the victim's house on that night. She stated that she did not own a knife and that she did not have an argument with the victim.

In her third statement she stated that she and Johnson, along with Hayes, Alice Bailey, Irva Burrows, and Irva's boyfriend, were all given rides home by Willie Hunter after Big John's closed. After the others were dropped off, Hayes invited Hunter, Johnson, and the defendant to her home. While there, she was slapped by Hayes. She stated that Hayes followed her to the porch and continued to slap and beat her until defendant stabbed her in the stomach. She then left the house and was picked up later by Johnson and Hunter. She stated that she threw the knife out of Hunter's car.

Detective Dwayne Jones was also present when defendant was interviewed on February 2, 1984. He corroborated Pennell's testimony and added that the defendant never claimed that she feared for her life and never ...

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