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People v. Winters





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. David L. Smith, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Jimmie Dale Winters, was charged by information filed in the circuit court of Winnebago County on June 14, 1985, with the offense of attempted murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 8-4(a)), in that on June 2, 1985, acting with the intent to kill Bobby Mangruem, he knowingly took a substantial step toward doing so by stabbing Mangruem with a knife. He was convicted of that offense following a bench trial and sentenced to a 10-year term in the Department of Corrections. He contends here he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defendant had been married to Georgia Winters for eight years and had three children by her. However, defendant and his wife were separated, and Georgia had been living with the victim, Bobby Mangruem, for two years along with the children, Rosalin, age seven, Jimmiterice, age six, and Deshaun, age two.

The defendant was released from jail in Sycamore, Illinois, and went to Rockford to visit his children. He was feeling bad and was "against him being there," referring to Mangruem's living with his wife. He felt that the children acted differently toward him and seemed reluctant to talk to him. He attributed these changes to Mangruem. When he saw Mangruem on Saturday, the day before the stabbing, he told him "that he better leave my old lady alone." Mangruem then "shifted a rifle" and screamed that he had better get away. Defendant's responses on cross-examination suggested that it was after this confrontation that he decided to hurt Mangruem the next day with the knife which he kept in his sock. He said he wanted to hurt Mangruem because "I had to let him know that I meant what I said."

Defendant returned to his wife's residence on Sunday with his knife stuck in his pants above his right rear pocket, instead of in his sock as he had carried it the day before. Mangruem testified that on that afternoon, he was sitting in a straightback kitchen chair on a small patio near a garbage stall located behind the building where he and defendant's wife and children resided. Two-year-old Deshaun Winters also was in the vicinity. At about 2:30 the defendant arrived.

Mangruem said that the defendant approached and asked where his daughter, Jimmiterice, was. Mangruem told him that she was in the house. The defendant waited a few moments, repeated his question and received the same reply. The defendant then pulled a knife with a 6-inch blade from his right rear pocket, held it up over his right shoulder, and rushed toward Mangruem. He cut him over the right eye and on top of his head.

Mangruem then saw the knife heading toward his upper left chest. He blocked it with his right arm and was stabbed in the forearm. Mangruem fell off the chair, and when he was trying to get up off the ground, he was stabbed twice in the side. Both times the knife actually went into his body. At this point, a next door neighbor, Mathew Simpson, hollered and told the defendant to get away. The defendant raised up to see who it was, and Mangruem tried to crawl away. The defendant then stabbed Mangruem in the center of the back as he was trying to get away. Mangruem crawled into the door of the neighbor's house, and the door was slammed shut.

Mangruem had surgery at Rockford Memorial Hospital and was kept in the hospital for six days, including one day of intensive care. He suffered a punctured lung and required chest tubes for drainage. He had an operation on his back, and the surgical scar extended from the upper middle back around to the side. His injuries required 26 stitches and 40 to 50 clamps. Mangruem said he will not be able to lift his right arm because of the injury to it.

Rockford police detective Daniel Gray testified that on June 2 at about 5:30 p.m., he spoke with the defendant regarding the incident. In the written statement that Gray obtained from the defendant, the defendant did not deny having stabbed Mangruem. Gray said that when he asked the defendant if he had been trying to kill Mangruem, the defendant responded that he had tried to hurt Mangruem and knew that he had done so.

As noted above, after hearing this evidence and argument, the court found the defendant guilty of attempted murder.

The defendant argues the State's evidence proves no more than that he attacked Bobby Mangruem with intent to harm him and that he succeeded in doing so. He points to the fact that his stated lack of intention to kill Mangruem was not rebutted by proof that he verbalized a contrary intent prior to or following the incident and, further, that the time and place of the assault belie the allegation that he intended to slay Mangruem. Finally, he points to the fact that he did not kill Mangruem despite the fact that he could easily have done so considering the weapon used in the attack. He finds supportive two cases, People v. Thomas (1970), 127 Ill. App.2d 444, and People v. Mitchell (1984), 105 Ill.2d 1, in which the defendants were found not guilty of attempted murder.

The State contends its evidence was sufficient to prove the defendant guilty of attempted murder beyond a reasonable doubt where the defendant's intent to kill was readily inferable from the surrounding circumstances, including the character of the assault and the use of a deadly weapon. It finds supportive People v. Burdine (1978), 57 Ill. App.3d 677, People v. Howard (1979), 78 Ill. App.3d 858, and People v. Coolidge (1963), 26 Ill.2d 533.

• 1, 2 In order to be found guilty of attempt, one must be proved to have intended to commit a specific offense. (People v. Coleman (1985), 131 Ill. App.3d 76.) "Absent the specific intent to commit a specific offense, the crime of attempted murder and other forcible felonies, such as burglary, robbery or rape, could be commingled. It must be remembered `[t]here is no such criminal offense as an attempt to achieve an unintended result.' People v. Viser (1975), 62 Ill.2d 568, 581." (People v. Trinkle (1977), 68 Ill.2d 198, 202.) Intent to kill an individual is an essential element of the offense of attempted murder (People v. Johnson (1984), 123 Ill. App.3d 1008; People v. Bryant (1984), 123 Ill. App.3d 266); an intent to accomplish only great bodily harm is insufficient for the offense of attempted murder (People v. Childs (1981), 101 Ill. App.3d 374).

• 3-5 Intent is a state of mind which, if not admitted, can be established by proof of surrounding circumstances, including the character of the assault, the use of a deadly weapon, and other matters from which an intent to kill may be inferred. (People v. Koshiol (1970), 45 Ill.2d 573, cert. denied (1971), 401 U.S. 978, 28 L.Ed.2d 329, 91 S.Ct. 1209; People v. Maxwell (1985), 130 Ill. App.3d 212.) Such intent may be inferred when it has been demonstrated that the defendant voluntarily and willingly committed an act, the natural tendency of which is to destroy another's life. (People v. Coolidge (1963), 26 Ill.2d 533, 537; People v. Myers (1980), 83 Ill. App.3d 1073, 1076, aff'd in part, rev'd in part on other grounds (1981), 85 Ill.2d 281.) Once the elements of attempt are complete, abandonment of the criminal purpose is no defense. (85 Ill.2d 281, 290.) It is the function of the trier of fact to ...

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