Appeal from the Circuit Court of Whiteside County; the Hon.
Edward Keefe, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE STOUDER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied June 21, 1985.
On October 28, 1982, a 14-count indictment was returned by the Whiteside County grand jury charging the defendant, William Duncan, and a co-defendant, Perry Olinger, not a party to this appeal, with the offenses of murder, armed robbery, armed violence and conspiracy. They were tried to a jury, and both were found guilty on all counts. Duncan was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and 10 years for armed robbery. All other verdicts against him were vacated.
SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE
Duncan asserts that there was no evidence which showed he committed any of the crimes with which he was charged either as a principal actor, on a theory of accountability, or as a conspirator. In order to determine whether the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction, a summary of the evidence adduced at trial is necessary.
On the morning of May 25, 1982, James Adams was murdered in his home in Rock Falls. He was stabbed in the throat, causing a five-inch deep wound which severed a jugular vein. Further, he was cut four or five other times on the throat, and his head was struck five or six times, causing multiple skull fractures. On the same morning, Gordon Stevens and Debbie Bushman were murdered in a home they shared in neighboring Sterling. Each was shot once in the head at close range by a .22-caliber pistol.
Adams' body was discovered by his girlfriend, Tina Tabor, at about 10:15 a.m. the same morning. She found him lying on his back in a pool of blood. She went into the living room to call an ambulance, where she found Adams' Great Dane dog lying on the floor and Duncan lying under a blanket on a couch. Tabor called Duncan's name, and, after getting no response, she nudged him and he sat up. She told him she thought Adams was dead. Together they summoned the police and an ambulance. Tabor took Adams' dog outside to tie him up. She stated the dog appeared "druggy" or "sluggish" looking and was limping, which was not normal for the animal to do upon waking up. The police arrived shortly and began their investigation. The bodies of Stevens and Bushman were discovered about 11:30 a.m. that same morning by a friend of Bushman's. The Rock Falls police were summoned and began their investigation. Subsequently, a task force was established to coordinate both investigations.
Adams and Duncan had returned from Kansas City on May 23 with five pounds of marijuana and over three ounces of 95% pure cocaine, which Adams had purchased from a friend of Duncan's, Ed Kline. This was the third trip to purchase drugs from Kline that Adams and Duncan had made. Adams successfully sold the drugs from the first two trips and used this money to make the last purchase. On each of these occasions it was Adams who made the purchase, not Duncan. Duncan had previously worked for Kline and was able to put Adams in touch with him.
Upon returning from Kansas City after the third trip, Adams and Duncan stopped at co-defendant Olinger's house, where the three of them and Olinger's girlfriend, Rhonda Odquist, used some of the cocaine. Adams' reason for doing this was to help get the word out that he had a good supply of cocaine. Other phone calls were made for the same reason. Adams and Duncan then left and arrived at Adams' house on the morning of May 24, a day which turned out to be very eventful.
A steady stream of people came by the Adams house on the 24th, and some purchased cocaine. Olinger stopped and offered to leave a .45-caliber pistol toward the price of some cocaine, but Adams declined. Olinger later returned with a rifle which Adams accepted in return for some cocaine. Between 9:30 and 10 p.m. that evening, Patty Doyle arrived and found only Adams and Duncan present. She and Duncan injected some of Duncan's cocaine. Apparently this was the last cocaine in Duncan's possession, because he later asked Adams for a free gram of cocaine, but Adams refused to give him any. Doyle decided to buy a gram but needed to get some money, so she left. She returned around 12:30 a.m., May 25. At this time she found Olinger in the kitchen with Adams and Duncan. He had arrived around midnight. Doyle paid Adams for the cocaine and told Duncan she would see him after a local bar closed at 1 a.m. She then left. She later returned to Adams' house. The lights were on. Olinger's truck was still parked nearby. However, she found the back door locked. She knocked, but no one let her in. She then went home.
Adams left his house around 1 a.m. to go to the house of a friend, Randy Stralow. He took with him most of the cocaine remaining in his possession (some was left in a secret hiding place in his house) and also over $1,000 in cash. Before he left he gave Duncan a gram of cocaine which was to be given to Doyle upon her return to his house. Instead, Duncan and Olinger used the cocaine themselves. Also, sometime prior to his leaving, Adams passed a sleeping pill across the kitchen table to Duncan and told him "you need this."
Adams stayed with Stralow until approximately 7:30 a.m. During the time he was with Stralow, he received four telephone calls from Duncan. The first was to see if Adams was alright. The second was to notify Adams that his dog had gotten loose. The third was to let him know the dog had returned. Finally, the fourth call inquired as to when he would be returning home.
Upon returning home, Adams parked his van in his garage. Rather than take his cocaine into the house, he hid it in the garage. Shortly after entering the house he was murdered. None of the money he had in his possession was located. Adams' throat was cut and also had four slicing wounds which could be described as threatening or terror wounds. After Adams' body was on the floor, four or five linear blows were made to the forehead area, causing very severe skull fractures. Investigators lifted palm prints from the top of the kitchen stove, just above the place Adams' body was found, which were palm prints of co-defendant Olinger.
The gun that was used to murder Stevens and Bushman was traced to Olinger. Olinger, Darrell Onken and Ed Stalder burglarized a home on the evening of May 22. Several guns were stolen, and Olinger kept an H&R .22-caliber Magnum pistol. The owner of the gun which was stolen told investigators he had killed two dogs with it. The body of one of the dogs was discovered and the bullets and fragments used were ...