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People v. Hendricks





Appeal from the Circuit Court of McLean County, the Hon. Richard M. Baner, Judge, presiding.


A jury found defendant guilty of the murders of his wife and three children. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 9-1.) The trial court sentenced him to four consecutive terms of natural-life imprisonment and imposed a fine and costs. Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence. We affirm.

Defendant argues that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and that the trial court erred in: denying his motions for directed verdict; ruling that prior acts evidence was probative of motive; admitting motive evidence, the prejudicial effect of which outweighed its probative value; failing to sequester the jury; taking judicial notice that the IBM/PC is a standard business machine; ruling that the State's specific-motive theory was not discoverable; denying defendant's motion to suppress his prearrest statements; and restricting cross-examination of witnesses. Finally, defendant argues that the trial judge was biased against him and the sentence imposed constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

During the late evening hours of November 8, 1983, police officers discovered the bodies of Susan, Rebekah, Grace, and Benjamin Hendricks. All, but Rebekah, had sustained multiple injuries to the head, neck, and upper torso, causing near instantaneous death. Rebekah had sustained a single skull fracture. Police officers found the children's bodies in the southwest bedroom. Rebekah was in one bed; Grace and Benjamin in the other. The beds were 22 inches apart. Officers found Susan's body in the master-bedroom bed, with the bed clothing pulled down around her shoulders. None of the victims, who were dressed in pajamas or nightgowns, bore evidence of defensive wounds. On December 5, 1983, informations issued alleging David Hendricks, defendant, knowingly or intentionally caused the victims' deaths. Susan was defendant's wife. Rebekah, Grace, and Benjamin were his children. On December 27, 1983, the informations were nol-prossed and replaced with indictments.

Defendant and Susan were married in 1973, shortly after defendant received his associate's degree in orthotics and prosthetics, the study of the fabrication and fitting of artificial body supports and limbs. Susan and defendant were members of a nondenominational religion, the Plymouth Brethren. In 1982, defendant moved to 313 Carl Drive in Bloomington. Defendant's orthotics and prosthetics practice prospered. He developed and patented his own brace, the cruciform anterior spinal hyperextension (CASH) orthosis. In November 1981, defendant sold the patient care and fitting portion of the business to Edward Roman, telling employees that he was selling the patient-care portion of the business so that he could spend more time with his family. The offices of the patient-care portion of defendant's business were located a few blocks away from his Bloomington home and contained a laboratory and fitting rooms. Defendant had keys to this office and used its facilities for product development.

In November 1981, defendant started a new business, CASH Manufacturing, which he incorporated. He and his office manager, Beverly Crutcher, were its principal employees. Crutcher testified that she processed orders for the brace, which was sold mail order, and provided secretarial and bookkeeping skills. On November 3, 1983, defendant told Crutcher that he was going to make a sales trip to central Wisconsin and north-central Illinois. He and Crutcher compiled a list of prospective clients from telephone books and old client order forms. Crutcher gave the list to defendant either on Monday, November 7, 1983, or on Friday, November 4, 1983. On Monday, defendant told Crutcher that he was going to leave at midnight and drive straight through, calling on customers in the morning. This was the only time Crutcher could remember defendant informing her specifically of his proposed departure time. However, defendant had indicated before that he left at night. Defendant flew if the trip were to a metropolitan area or if the drive would take longer than eight hours.

Defendant left the office at approximately 4 p.m. He had previously agreed to baby-sit while Susan attended a baby shower in Delavan, about 35 miles west of Bloomington. Defendant called the children in from playing at approximately 5:30 p.m. Defendant stated that after he arrived home, he worked on his motorcycle, readying it for winter storage. He then rode his motorcycle to his airplane hangar and jogged home. Susan left between 5:50 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Defendant and the children arrived at Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater at 6:30 p.m. and ordered a medium vegetarian pizza and a pitcher of root beer. The pizza would have been built, baked, and ready for consumption within 10 to 15 minutes. A medium vegetarian pizza is cut into 10 slices. It consists of dough topped with cheese, sliced mushrooms, green pepper, olives, tomato, diced onions, and sauce.

The restaurant provides a play area which contains an airbounce pillow, rope slide, video games, rides, and a playhouse, a room filled with balls. Generally, children who are under 4 feet 6 inches tall may enter playland upon payment of five tokens. Ordinarily, employees stamp children's hands with cartoon characters, once they have paid the admission price.

Defendant provides the only testimony about his and the children's activities on November 7. The children all entered playland, vigorously using the equipment. Defendant observed them, then watched television until picking up the pizza at 7 p.m. He remembered thinking the pizza took a long time to bake. They ate between 7 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Defendant ate one piece; the children consumed the balance and drank root beer. The children ate very quickly; then, they returned to playland. Defendant watched television and the children until 7:30 p.m., when he told them it was time to leave. They wanted to continue playing. Therefore, he left them in the play area while he left the pizza parlor and put gasoline in his car. He returned to the pizza parlor at 7:50 p.m., stating that he rushed the children out to the car.

He and the children rushed to the bookmobile located at Carl Drive and Wellington Way. The children selected books while he helped the attendant fill out a card request for Benjamin. Defendant and the children left the bookmobile between 8:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. They played two rounds of hide and seek for 20 minutes before going to bed between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Defendant then read to the children for 15 to 30 minutes. The bookmobile attendant stated defendant and the children left between 8:10 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Defendant testified further that Susan returned at 10:30 p.m. After talking to her for approximately 20 minutes, he left. It was then 11 p.m. or shortly thereafter. Defendant admitted, however, that it was possible he told Detective Crowe that Susan had arrived home at 10:45 p.m. and that he had talked to her for an hour.

Rodney Blair, foster son of Robert and Debbie Phillips and defendant's next door neighbor, testified that soon after 9 p.m. on November 7, he walked outside to Jeffrey Monahan's truck, which was parked in the driveway. He saw defendant, in his car, backing out of his driveway and onto Carl Drive. Defendant, who was alone in the car, proceeded north, turning onto Wellington Way. Jeffrey Monahan, corroborated Blair's statement. Defendant during cross-examination denied leaving his house at or near 9 p.m.

Susan left the baby shower at approximately 9:40 p.m. Her mother testified that Susan took a snack plate with raw vegetables, cheese, and crackers on it and ate two cookies as she was leaving the party. Test drives resulted in a total trip time of 52 minutes and 51 seconds. These times would have placed Susan at 313 Carl Drive at approximately 10:33 p.m.

On November 8, defendant made a series of sales calls in Wisconsin. All of the prospective customers agreed that cold calls, sales calls without appointments, are common and that the new model of defendant's brace was a significant improvement. All current purchasers of the brace, purchased it mail order. However, they agreed that defendant could benefit from personal sales calls because of competition in the field. Defendant did not bring either model of his brace with him on the sales calls, stating he did not have the brace with him. A subsequent search of his car revealed that he had both models of the brace with him. Defendant told two prospective customers that he was on an extended vacation and wanted to see people who were using or going to use his brace.

Harvey Borgwardt, the owner of Aljan Company, in Madison, Wisconsin, testified that defendant stopped at his business between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. on November 8. Aljan Company is a major distributor of the CASH orthosis. Borgwardt identified his business card and stated that he may have left the card at defendant's booth in Phoenix. It was possible, however, that he gave defendant the card on November 8. Borgwardt thought defendant mentioned driving all night. The business card had written on it that Borgwardt had seen the new brace in Phoenix and liked the swivel. Harold Donald, a certified prosthetist, employed by Aljan Company, visited with defendant between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. on November 8. Defendant and he chatted about personal matters. Defendant mentioned that he had driven all night and usually stayed up all night once every week.

Defendant, at trial, testified that he left home at 11 p.m. or shortly afterwards on November 7. He made three stops en route, each for no more than 15 minutes. First, he stopped at a restaurant for coffee to go. He then took Route 51 north. His next stop was at a restaurant south of Rockford, Illinois. Defendant did not recall the name of the town or the restaurant. He then stopped at a rest area on I-90 or North 51, where he changed clothes. At approximately 7 a.m., he arrived at Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where he stopped at a Hardee's restaurant and ate breakfast. A timed receipt from the Stevens Point Hardee's, showed defendant placed a to go order at 7:17 a.m. Defendant testified that he ate his breakfast at the restaurant. Defendant stated he drove on the trip because he was stopping in several towns.

Defendant made several telephone calls to the Bloomington area on November 8. He testified that all calls were made on his credit card. He called Crutcher at 8:30 a.m. at the office. He usually called when he was on a trip. Crutcher stated that there was nothing unusual about the content of the conversation. Defendant often had her call Susan to save the long-distance charge. Defendant stated that he tried to call his wife at approximately 11 a.m. but received no answer. His next calls were placed from his hotel room. At 3 p.m. he called home. Approximately one hour later, he called Crutcher at work. He asked Crutcher to call Susan for him, because he had called twice and been unable to reach her. Crutcher placed three calls to the residence. The parties stipulated to the accuracy of telephone records and testimony about them. The records show defendant called his residence at 3:01 p.m., 5:31 p.m., and 5:33 p.m., but the calls were not answered.

Defendant, at 5:35 p.m., called Crutcher's residence but reached her sister. At 5:38 p.m., defendant called the Nathan and Mary Ann Palmer residence in Delavan. The Palmers, defendant's brother- and sister-in-law, had invited defendant and his family to a dinner with other family members on November 8. Defendant asked Mary Ann if Susan was there, telling her that he had been unable to reach Susan. He then gave Mary Ann his phone number, asking that she have Susan call him. Defendant assured her that nothing was wrong, but he asked that she call back in 30 minutes, if Susan had not arrived. Prior to defendant's call, the Palmers thought defendant was coming to dinner. Susan's mother testified that she forgot to tell them that defendant would be unable to come.

At 5:43 p.m., defendant called his next-door neighbor's residence. He talked to Karen Cramer, asking her to ring the front doorbell. He explained that he had been trying to reach Susan and believed the phone was out of order. Cramer rang the bell but received no answer. At 6:15 p.m., Nathan Palmer called defendant back, reporting that Susan had not arrived. Defendant told him not to worry; she was probably running errands. After calling defendant, Nathan called other relatives to see if anyone had seen Susan. At approximately 9 p.m., he and his brother-in-law, Gerald Buchanan, went to look for Susan.

Defendant telephoned the Cramers' residence again at 6:31 p.m.; Karen reported her lack of success. At his request, she tried to reach Susan again and then called him back. Defendant reassured her. However, he asked for the police department's telephone number. Defendant telephoned the police department, stating that he had been unable to reach his wife and feared she might have been involved in an automobile accident. The police department referred him to the State police. The State police told him no accidents had been reported. Defendant stated that he was worried. Therefore, he started home at 7 p.m. or 7:10 p.m., telling the hotel clerk that an emergency situation had developed. At 9 p.m., defendant called the Cramer residence again, telling John Cramer that he would arrive home at around 11 p.m.

Nathan Palmer and Gerald Buchanan arrived at 313 Carl Drive at approximately 10:30 p.m. Officer Michael Hibbens and Detective Michael O'Brien arrived a short time later. Hibbens tried the screen door to the back of the house. The door was closed, but not locked. He walked onto the porch and entered with O'Brien through the sliding glass patio door, which was shut but not locked. Palmer and Buchanan waited outside. Hibbens discovered the bodies of the three children. O'Brien discovered Susan's body. The officers touched only the stairway light switch and light switch in the children's bedroom.

Outside, O'Brien told Buchanan and Palmer that Susan and the children were dead. Buchanan asked if there had been a gas leak. O'Brien said no. All of the doors to the upstairs rooms were open, a chest of drawers was tipped forward in a bedroom adjacent to the girls' bedroom, drawers were pulled out, and areas of the house were disordered. The garage had not been disturbed.

After arriving home at 11 p.m., defendant went to the Cramers' residence. Detective Charles Crowe arrived at 11:30 p.m. and asked John Cramer if there was a private place where he and another detective could talk to defendant. Cramer suggested the master bedroom. At this time, Crowe knew that Susan and the children were dead and that defendant returned from Wisconsin after discovery of the bodies. Crowe interviewed defendant from 11:30 p.m. to 12:40 p.m. According to Crowe, defendant told Crowe that he left home on Monday at about midnight, driving to Wausau, Wisconsin, for business. It was normal for him to leave on business trips at night, since he usually worked through the night once every 7 to 10 days. Usually, he left at 2 or 3 a.m. and flew. However, he left earlier this time because he was driving. When he left, the victims were in bed. Crowe asked defendant about locking the doors. Defendant responded, "I think I remember latching the back patio door. The front door was locked. I think it was locked. I always check it." Defendant stated that he stopped at a local restaurant for coffee to go before leaving town. He stopped one other time to change clothes at a rest stop.

Crowe further testified that defendant volunteered information about the times and locations of his sales calls and recounted his attempts to reach Susan. Defendant said he made his first call home at 11:30 a.m. from a hospital in Portage, but received no answer. Defendant's statements about the rest of the calls were consistent with his trial testimony.

After obtaining defendant's consent to search his automobile, business, airplane, and airplane hangar, Crowe conferred with Sergeant Eugene Irvin, who was in charge of the investigation. Crowe then specifically asked defendant whether he had any hatchets or knives in the house. Defendant said that he had an old ax in the garage, and did not have any hunting knives. Defendant agreed to go to the police station for further questioning. The police drove defendant to the station in an unmarked car and arrived at the station at approximately 1 a.m. Defendant was not handcuffed or searched. The police offered defendant a cup of coffee and left him alone until 2:35 a.m., at which time Crowe and O'Brien initiated a second interview.

Crowe testified that defendant reiterated several of his earlier statements. Defendant additionally stated that he and Susan were happily married and had discussed adopting a boy for an hour before he left on November 7. She had returned from the shower at approximately 10:45 p.m. Around midnight, he got out of bed, embraced and kissed Susan, who was awake, and entered the children's bedroom. He kissed them as they were sleeping. Defendant did not specifically remember checking the doors, but he said it was his habit to check them and make sure the locks were in place and wooden security bar, which he had made, was down on the patio door. The garage door had an automatic opening device and could not be opened manually. He had one of the garage-door openers in his car and Susan had the other. He left through the garage door. Susan would not have opened the door to a stranger after he left.

Irvin spoke to defendant later. Defendant told Irvin he could think of no one who had reason to commit the offenses. The only items of value in the house were a microwave and perhaps a couple of hundred dollars. His ax was an old red-handled one. The police did not discover any physical evidence linking defendant to the offense.

Defendant, during his trial testimony, stated that it was possible he made the statements Crowe recounted. However, he left at 11 p.m. He did not talk to Susan for an hour before leaving or say that it was his habit to make sure doors were locked. He agreed that he may have told Crowe that Susan arrived home at 10:45 p.m. It was also possible and correct that he told Crowe that he called home at 11:30 a.m. on the next day. Possibly, he told Crowe that all the calls were on his calling card.

At about 5 p.m. on November 9, defendant spoke to the media. During the interview, a reporter asked defendant whether anything was missing from the house and whether he knew the motive for the slayings. Defendant responded that he had not been in the house but, "They said that some things looked like some things were taken." At trial defendant did not state that anything was missing from the house.

In rebuttal, O'Brien, all of the police officers, and the coroner's office personnel denied saying that the house looked as if some things had been taken. In surrebuttal, Nathan Palmer, defendant's brother-in-law, stated that O'Brien on November 8, between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. told defendant, in Palmer's presence, that he could not enter the house and that it looked as if the house had been ransacked. Palmer admitted that he did not recall this part of the conversation before his prior testimony in the State's or in defendant's case in chief. His mother reminded him of it.

The State introduced extensive testimony about its investigation and analysis of the house, defendant's belongings, items seized, and defendant's vehicles. In summary, no bloodstains were found on defendant, any of his clothing, or his vehicles. Defendant's fingerprints were not found on the red-handled ax or knife which were found with their blades aligned at the foot of the bed in which Grace and Benjamin had been killed. There were no prints or stains on their handles, which had been thoroughly cleaned. Very little blood was found in the house, absent that found in the children's bedroom. Only the southwest bedroom, the children's room, showed evidence of blood spattering around the walls. The police found both models of the CASH orthosis in defendant's car and a briefcase. The briefcase contained a number of papers, including a receipt for gasoline, business cards obtained during the sales trip, and a breakfast receipt from the Stevens Point Hardee's.

Dennis Dodwell, Rodney Wamsley, and Tommy Martin, crimescene technicians, processed the house. A butcher knife was missing from the knife block on the kitchen counter. The wooden block was upright and aligned with the edge of the cabinet. Some of the rooms of the house appeared to have been ransacked. There were no pry marks or scrapes on the frame of the sliding glass door at the rear of the house and no indication that it had been compromised. The locking mechanism was on the inside; there was no exterior keyhole. Dodwell testified that he locked the door from the inside and unsuccessfully attempted to open it. The sliding glass door had a wooden bar that would lie across the door as an extra security device. The only other entrances to the house were from the garage or the front door. The door leading from the garage to the house was open, but the garage door itself was down and could not be opened manually. The front door was locked. None of the windows, doors, or locks showed signs of forced entry. However, the sliding glass door was unlocked.

Dodwell tested the house with luminol, a chemical mixture which fluoresces upon contact with blood or trace amounts of blood. In the southwest bedroom, the south wall, around and inside the closet, the face of the dresser and the mirror located against the north wall, the beds, and the floor reacted. A few bluish droplets reacted in the hallway bathroom on the vanity. A smear also reacted on the vanity by the sink. The entire bottom of the tub reacted and a 2- to 3-inch spot at the back of the tub, approximately 5 feet from the floor, reacted.

In the master bedroom, the bed reacted. The handles of the dresser in the master bedroom also reacted. Dodwell stated that luminol reacts to copper or carbon alloys in the handles. He admitted that luminol also reacts to radishes, bleach, Cascade, Snowbol, and other similar cleaning items. It does not react to cold creams, toothpaste, shaving creams, cologne, bath soaps, or similar products. No other areas of the house, including the upstairs carpet and the bathroom in the master bedroom, reacted to the chemical. Luminol is a preliminary test for blood; it will not positively identify blood. Therefore, Dodwell could not conclude that the luminescence in the tub and shower in the hallway bathroom near the children's bedroom was caused by the presence of blood. Blood was not spread throughout the house.

Serology tests confirmed the presence of human blood on the vanity in the hallway bathroom, on a headboard spindle in the master bedroom, and in 17 locations in the southwest bedroom. Extensive amounts of blood were found on the beds and the bed clothing. Except for the head of the ax, blade of the butcher knife, victims' sleeping garments, beds, and the bed clothing, no blood was found in the rest of the house. All of the victims had type A blood. Human blood, type A, and hair fragments, consistent with samples taken from Benjamin and Rebekah, were found on the head of the ax and the blade of the butcher knife.

There was a cut or tear 22 inches from the top edge of the bedspread in the master bedroom, which was consistent with being caused by the ax. However, the State's expert could not positively determine what instrument caused a V-shape cut or tear and several small defects near the top edge of the spread and near the edge of the sheet beneath the spread. Dodwell agreed that a figure portrayed in a photograph appeared to be a matchstick and remembered examining a sliver of wood on the stairs leading to the second floor, but he did not collect it. There were no tobacco products or ashtrays in the house. However, there was a fireplace.

Dodwell stated that, based upon a blood-spatter analysis, the assailant stood between the children's beds at the time of the attack on Grace and Benjamin. Dodwell noted minimal blood on the ceiling. However, he found blood spatters on and around the room except in an area which could be blocked by a person standing between the beds. He also found a blood spatter inside a shoe wedged under one of the pulled-out drawers. No blood spatters were found on the clothing inside the drawers, but the face of the drawers were spattered with blood. The assailant was spattered with blood as a result of the attack and searched the room after the attack.

There was a significant amount of dried blood on the weapons when Dodwell examined them. He did not have an opinion about the order of the victims' deaths. However, he admitted that castoffs would have been found in the master bedroom had the ax been bloody when Susan's injuries occurred. Dodwell stated that a blanket had been pulled over Susan's face and head prior to the attack. His opinion was based upon the absence of spatters in the master bedroom, position of the victim, defects in the bed clothing, and position of the bed clothing.

Alexander Mankevich, a latent-print examiner, testified that only 12 items recovered as evidence from the house contained fingerprints suitable for comparison. Those 12 items were: a guestbook from a stand in the living room, Susan's purse and seven items that comprised the contents of the purse, a cup and saucer from the kitchen counter, and a bottle of strawberry wine from the top of the refrigerator. Three of the seven fingerprints found on the guestbook matched those of defendant, Grace, and Benjamin. The remaining four prints were not identified. Except for a checkbook, bearing Susan and defendant's names, the only prints found on Susan's purse and its contents, including the wallet and four credit cards inside the wallet, were Susan's. Defendant's left palm print was found on the cover of the checkbook. Susan's prints were inside the checkbook. Susan's prints were on the cup and saucer. Eight of the ten prints on the wine bottle were defendant's; the other two prints were not identified. No fingerprints were found on the ax or the butcher knife.

Very few latent prints were found in the house. Two did not have sufficient detail for comparison. One was Benjamin's palm print. Two latent fingerprints, lifted from the telephone receiver in the kitchen, were unidentified. Two partial shoe prints, one from near the sliding glass door and the other from the floor between the kitchen table and basement door, were unidentified. Mankevich testified that there is no method of determining when finger and footwear impressions had been made.

Martin, a field supervisor for the Department of Law Enforcement, testified that a burglary had not occurred at the scene. However, he admitted that in some ways the scene was consistent with a burglary. Martin stated the scene was inconsistent with victims interrupting a burglary. The victims did not have defensive wounds, and their positions indicated that they were asleep when killed. Martin agreed that it was possible that one or more people could have walked in and not necessarily forced entry. Those persons could have left unidentified foot and fingerprints. Assuming money was missing, Martin's opinion would not change. People staging burglaries may take or report items missing.

Antonie Romyn, coroner's physician for McLean County, testified that he performed autopsies on Susan, Grace, Benjamin, and Rebekah Hendricks, on November 9, 1983. Romyn followed the same procedure in examining the victims. After examining Susan's digestive organs in situ, Romyn removed them. He cut a window or small opening in the stomach, then ladled out the stomach contents, which he gave to an assistant coroner. The stomach contained 20 milliliters of a thick, greenish fluid. Its odor indicated the early stages of decomposition. The duodenum and bowel contained a thick, gray-black fluid.

Romyn stated Susan received a severe blow to the left side of her skull. The skull did not fracture; however, the brain was forced upward and to the right, causing a hemorrhage on the right side of the brain. The left strap muscles, muscles over and around the voice box, showed evidence of hemorrhage. After examining the hyoid bone, the bone beneath the tongue, and the strap muscles, Romyn concluded that Susan had not been strangled. The nine external injuries were consistent with a sharp, heavy ax-like weapon. Death could have been caused either by massive blood ...

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