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People v. Wrice





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas R. Fitzgerald, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Stanley Wrice, was charged by indictment on various crimes including rape, deviate sexual assault, armed violence, and unlawful restraint. He was found guilty of these offenses by a jury in the circuit court of Cook County and was sentenced to a 60-year term of imprisonment for rape and 40 years for deviate sexual assault, to run consecutively; seven years for armed violence, to run concurrently; and five years for unlawful restraint, to run concurrently. On appeal, defendant argues that: (1) he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on each conviction; (2) the court abused its discretion in admitting photographs of the victim into evidence and allowing the jurors to view them in the jurors' room; (3) his 100-year aggregate sentence is excessive; (4) the trial court abused its discretion in imposing extended sentences for the rape and deviate sexual assault convictions; (5) the trial court abused its discretion in convicting him of unlawful restraint; and (6) the jury instructions given by the trial court on the armed-violence conviction were a violation of his due process rights.

On September 9, 1982, complainant, who had been drinking all that day, was walking to a liquor store when she was approached by several men in a car, one of whom was later identified as the defendant. One of the men asked whether she wanted a ride, and although the complainant did not remember how she got into the car, she apparently agreed to ride with them to the liquor store. When complainant realized she was not being driven to the store, she requested the men to let her out of the car. Instead, they drove her to the defendant's residence on South Chappel Avenue, in Chicago, and while at defendant's residence she was beaten, burned and raped.

The State's case included the testimony of two witnesses who verified that the defendant was one of the men who had raped and beaten the complainant. The first witness, Kenneth Lewis, testified that he was on the first floor of the defendant's house while the defendant and others were upstairs with the complainant. At some point he went upstairs and saw several men have intercourse with the complainant and saw the defendant hit the complainant. Lewis also stated that he tried to pull the defendant off the woman. After the defendant stopped hitting her, Lewis went downstairs. Later, the defendant came downstairs and picked up an iron that was on the stove. Lewis took the iron from him and the defendant went back upstairs. Lewis then heard slapping sounds so he went back upstairs and found the defendant continuing to beat the woman.

Lewis also stated that at some point later he left the house and when he returned he went upstairs and found the woman lying on the bed. He stated that there were burn marks in the shape of an iron on her breast and legs and that she was burned from her head to her toe. Lewis returned downstairs and shortly thereafter the defendant again came downstairs and took a hot spoon off the stove. The defendant returned upstairs, at which time Lewis could hear the woman ask, "Why are you burning me?" He then heard the woman falling down the stairs and again saw the defendant strike her.

The State's second witness, Bobbie Joe Williams, also testified that he observed the defendant have intercourse with the complainant. Williams also stated that he saw the defendant take an iron off the top of the stove and walk upstairs. In addition, he testified that the next morning the defendant told him that they had "burned that bitch."

The State also called Dr. Nolan Lewis as a witness. Dr. Lewis testified that he saw the victim at the burn unit of the Loyola Medical Center, where she was in the intensive care unit. She was agitated, somewhat disoriented and screaming. Her injuries extended from her head to her toes and were predominantly bruises and burns. There were approximately 100 bruises varying in size from that of a dime all the way up to two or three inches in diameter. Her face was swollen with two burns on the right side of her face and chin with some minor burns around the corner of her mouth. Her neck was bruised. On the left side of her chest and extending to her breast was a large area that had been burned by a clothing iron. It was a second degree burn. A second degree burn is one only partly through the skin; that is, the bottom layer of the skin is preserved so that the skin can regenerate and it can heal on its own. There was a third degree burn over her right breast over her nipple. A third degree burn means that the burn is all the way through the skin and that the full thickness of the skin is destroyed. On her abdomen and on the lower part of her trunk there were some burns and bruises of a superficial nature. Her lower extremities on the front and back were covered with a large number of small bruises. She had second degree burns on her thighs that were also inflicted by an iron.

Dr. Lewis testified, however, that the main injuries were to the back. The upper part had third degree burns. Her deepest burns were on her buttocks in the shape of an iron. On her upper thighs on the back were third degree burns that had been inflicted by something other than an iron.

Because the burns were of a third degree and of a large area, there had to be skin grafting which was performed 11 days later. The grafting was done on her right breast, upper back and buttocks. As a result of the surgery the victim lost a portion of her right nipple. Most of her buttocks required skin grafting. The burns covered at least 80% of her back. The scarring both from the burns and from the skin graft is permanent.

The defendant testified that he was in the house during the time of the offense, but that he did not participate in the rape and he did not know complainant was being raped. He further testified that he did see a woman with several men in his upstairs quarters but did not inquire as to why they were there.

Patricia Wrice, defendant's sister, lived in the downstairs rooms of the defendant's residence. She testified that several men did take a woman to the upstairs rooms and they did engage in sexual intercourse, but at no time did she see the defendant go upstairs. However, she also testified that at the time the men were upstairs with the complainant, she was in her downstairs bedroom, but that defendant was not in the bedroom with her during this time.

Defendant's first point raised on appeal is that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the offenses for which he was convicted. Specifically, he argues that the witnesses had an inadequate opportunity to observe the incident and that the complainant was unable to identify him as one of the individuals who had raped and beaten her.

• 1 The State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has occurred and that the accused is the person who committed it. Where the identification of the accused is in question, the State's burden may be met by offering a positive identification by a single witness who had an adequate opportunity to observe the offender even if the circumstances of the observation are less than perfect. (People v. Lomax (1980), 89 Ill. App.3d 651, 656, 411 N.E.2d 1212, 1215.) It is the jury's province to determine whether the State has met this burden (People v. McDonald (1975), 62 Ill.2d 448, 456, 343 N.E.2d 489, 493), and resolution of factual disputes and the assessment of the credibility of the witnesses are for the jurors. (People v. Williams (1983), 93 Ill.2d 309, 315, 444 N.E.2d 136, 138.) Moreover, this court will not substitute its judgment for that of the trial court unless the evidence itself is so improbable as to raise a reasonable doubt of the defendant's guilt. People v. Carlson (1980), 79 Ill.2d 564, 583, 404 N.E.2d 233, 241.

• 2 In the instant case, although the victim was unable to identify the defendant, she testified that she was raped at the defendant's residence. More importantly, the State presented the eyewitness testimony of both Lewis and Williams. Williams testified that he saw the defendant have intercourse with the complainant and beat her. Lewis testified that not only did he see the defendant beat the complainant but also he attempted to stop the defendant from continuing the brutality. We believe that the ...

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