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People v. Weathersby





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James J. Heyda, Judge, presiding.


William Weathersby was found guilty by a jury of murder in the beating death of Katherine Gilbert, and was sentenced to a 40-year prison term. On appeal to this court defendant contends that he was denied a fair trial by the prosecution's use of a statement obtained in violation of his Miranda rights. (Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602.) Defendant also contends that his conviction must be reversed because the State failed to produce one of the witnesses to that statement at the motion to suppress and because the State failed to identify that person as a witness to the statement in answer to discovery. Finally defendant asserts that he was denied effective assistance of counsel.

We affirm.

The pertinent evidence at trial established the following. At 5 p.m. on October 30, 1981, Chicago police officer Allan Smith was called to an apartment building at 2208 East 68th Street in Chicago. There he saw the defendant, apparently intoxicated, trying to get into his (the defendant's) apartment with a key. Defendant told Smith there was a dead lady inside. Smith followed defendant inside where he found streaks of blood on the floor. He searched the defendant but found no weapons.

Officer Smith followed a trial of blood into a bedroom where he found the body of Katherine Gilbert laying face up in bed. Subsequent medical testimony established she had been beaten to death. There was blood throughout the bedroom. When Smith saw that defendant had followed him he ordered him to sit on the sofa in the living room.

Smith noted that there was blood on the kitchen floor but the back door in the kitchen was securely locked with two locks. Neither the apartment windows nor the doors were damaged.

Detective Dennis Gray testified that he and his partner, Detective Charles Salvatore, were assigned to investigate this homicide. They arrived at the apartment building about 6 p.m. that evening. Gray noted that the outside entrance to the building was blocked by an eight-foot fence which required them to be admitted through an electronically controlled gate. The outer vestibule door was also locked. In the apartment Gray found a broken table leg and a tire iron, each bearing blood subsequently found to be consistent with that of the victim. There was a large pool of blood in front of the bathroom sink and rags and towels were piled next to the sink. The defendant was transported to Area 1 police headquarters, while Gray and Salvatore conducted an investigation in the neighborhood.

At about 7 p.m., according to Gray's testimony, he and Salvatore spoke to defendant in an interview room at Area 1. Defendant told them he had come home at 5 p.m. that day to find the victim's body in bed. He then went to the apartment of a neighbor, Ima Jean Walker, who called the police. The detectives then unsuccessfully searched for some of the people with whom defendant told them he had been that day.

At 11 p.m. the detectives again spoke to the defendant. They found bloodstains inside his shoes, on his socks, and on his underwear. The blood on the underwear was subsequently found to not be defendant's blood and was consistent in type with the victim's blood.

According to Gray he and Salvatore next spoke to the defendant the following day, October 31, at 6 p.m. The defendant was advised of his Miranda rights by Gray. Gray then left the room and Salvatore spoke to the defendant alone.

At about 10 p.m. Gray and Salvatore again questioned the defendant. This time defendant stated that on October 29 after a day spent drinking vodka with various people he returned to his apartment and had several drinks with Ima Walker and the victim. Defendant stated that the next thing he remembered was waking at 8 a.m. to find the victim in a pool of blood at the foot of the bed. She was still breathing. Defendant placed her in the bed. He found blood throughout the apartment and noticed some on his clothes. He became frightened, took off his clothes, and washed the blood from his body. He then left the house. Defendant initially stated he had to unlock his front door to leave, but then said the door was not locked.

Defendant stated that he did not seek medical attention for the victim because he was frightened. He visited his sister and then began drinking on the street with some acquaintances. Defendant became worried about the victim and returned to his apartment, finding her dead. He left the apartment, discarding in an alley the clothes he had previously removed. Later he returned to the apartment, pretended to have just discovered the body, and had his neighbor, Ima Walker telephone the police.

The detectives asked defendant about the origin of the blood found on his underwear. He stated that this came from blood on his arm from a tetanus shot received at Cermak Hospital on October 28. However, at trial it was stipulated that a medical record technician from the hospital would testify that the hospital had no record of such treatment.

Ima Walker testified that she drank with defendant and the victim in their apartment from five to six p.m. on October 29, 1981. When Walker left the apartment Katherine Gilbert had no injuries. About 5 p.m. the next day she heard defendant at his door and asked him if the victim was home. Defendant said he was going to see. He went in the apartment and ...

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