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People v. Houseton





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Francis J. Mahon, Judge, presiding.


Following a jury trial, defendant Michael Houseton was convicted of armed robbery and deviate sexual assault. Upon considering factors of mitigation and aggravation, the trial court sentenced defendant to 60 years' imprisonment for each offense; the sentences to run concurrently. On appeal, defendant has asserted errors in the trial court's rulings on the reception of evidence and the length of sentence.

We affirm.

On the evening of February 11, 1982, 23-year-old Donna B. was robbed at gunpoint and sexually assaulted in an elevator located in the victim's Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) apartment complex. The incident occurred at approximately 9 p.m. as Donna rode in the building's elevator en route to her 12th floor apartment. At the onset of the attack, the assailant stopped the elevator by disconnecting its alarm system, pointed a gun at Donna and ordered her to turn her face against the wall. After the assailant searched Donna's purse and clothing, including her bra, and took her money, he ordered the victim to the floor of the elevator, where her coat lay and anally raped her. After the attack was over, the assailant ordered Donna to remain in the elevator until he had escaped. The assailant thereafter reactivated the elevator and ran off.

After reaching her apartment, Donna notified the police and told them what had happened. She was later taken to Michael Reese Hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered a laceration to the external part of the anal sphincter as a result of trauma to the rectal area.

During the investigation that followed, Donna described the assailant to police as being a black male, approximately 20 to 25 years of age, between 5 feet 2 inches and 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 155 to 165. She also indicated that this individual had a stocky build, medium complexion and wore a blue nylon parka-type jacket with fur trim hood at the time of the attack. According to Donna the gun used by her assailant in the attack was small with a silver streak on it. Donna testified that she was aware of these details both because she had the opportunity to look at her assailant under the lights in the lobby while waiting for the elevator, and because she continued to look at him over her shoulder at the onset of the attack in the well-lit elevator before the attacker covered his face with a ski cap.

In late February of 1982, shortly after the assault took place, Donna viewed a police lineup but failed to see her attacker in it. A subsequent lineup conducted in March 1982 brought the same negative results. It was not until April 10, 1982, that Donna positively identified her assailant in one of six photographs shown to her by detectives. The individual picked by Donna as the man who had robbed and sexually assaulted her was later identified as Michael Houseton, defendant in this case. Shortly thereafter, defendant was arrested, charged with armed robbery and deviate sexual assault.

On April 13, 1982, the morning after being taken into custody for the crimes charged, defendant was interviewed by Detectives John Markham and Michael O'Connor of the Chicago police department. Nobody else was present at the meeting. According to Markham, after defendant was informed of his Miranda rights, his attention was directed to the incident involving Donna. At defendant's trial, the State offered as evidence against defendant some of the statements allegedly made by defendant during this interview. Defendant moved to preclude the State from introducing the statements in a pretrial motion and a motion in limine, but both were denied.

Thereafter, Markham testified that defendant told them during the interrogation that in February 1982 he had been at Donna's apartment complex to purchase some "reefer" on the 12th floor. While using the stairwell leading down from the 12th floor, he encountered a woman who acted startled and told him that she had no money and not to hurt her. Defendant then related that he did not know whether he should rape, rob or beat the woman. The woman supposedly emptied her pockets and defendant searched her person. She then began to scream and said, "John, don't do this to me." Defendant further told detectives that he was with a friend by the name of "22 Short" at the time. He also revealed that he had anal sex with the woman and "22 Short" had oral sex with her. Defendant, however, argued that because he did not have "sexual" [vaginal] intercourse with the woman, he could not be charged with rape.

Defendant denied having attacked Donna, testifying that on the evening in question he was at his girl friend's home. His alibi was corroborated by the testimony of his girl friend, her friend, and two of his girl friend's children. Defendant also denied telling Detectives Markham and O'Connor that he had been at Donna's apartment complex on that date.

The State also introduced the testimony of L.B., a rape victim, who was allegedly attacked in a separate incident by defendant. Prior to trial, defendant had filed a motion in limine to have L.B.'s testimony excluded. Upon the court's denial, defendant renewed his motion during trial, but it was again denied.

L.B., a 51-year-old mother of five, testified that she was the victim of a robbery and rape on February 23, 1982, at approximately 5 p.m. in a CHA apartment complex elevator. As in Donna's case, her assailant hit the elevator's emergency button, causing it to stop. He then pointed a gun at her and warned her not to scream. After pulling a cap over L.B.'s head, the assailant pushed the victim's face against the wall. He next searched L.B.'s pockets and bra, taking her money, keys and bus pass. After pulling off her coat, girdle and boots, the assailant ordered L.B. to spread her coat on the floor of the elevator and lie on it. He unzipped his pants and forced himself on her, inserting his penis in her vagina. After the attack was over, the assailant told L.B. not to move until he had exited the elevator. The victim ran home after he was gone and notified the police.

L.B. described her assailant to police as being a black male, 5 feet 4 inches tall and between 140 and 150 pounds. She later testified that he had a light complexion, medium build and wore a green army jacket and blue knit cap at the time of the attack. She further described the man's gun as being small with a white handle. During her testimony at defendant's trial, L.B. positively identified defendant as the man who had attacked her on the elevator.

After hearing all the evidence and upon deliberation, the jury found defendant guilty of deviate sexual assault and armed robbery against Donna. Defendant thereafter moved ...

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