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05/26/87 the People of the State of v. Kenneth Beringer

May 26, 1987





509 N.E.2d 578, 156 Ill. App. 3d 309, 108 Ill. Dec. 882 1987.IL.675

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Romie Palmer, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE BUCKLEY delivered the opinion of the court. QUINLAN, P.J., and O'CONNOR, J., concur.


Following a jury trial, defendant Kenneth Beringer was found guilty of murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 19-1(a)), and conspiracy (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 8-2(a)). The court sentenced defendant to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On appeal defendant raises a multitude of errors. Among the errors raised, defendant claims the trial court should have granted defendant's motion to quash his arrest and suppress certain statements. In addition, defendant claims that he was denied a fair trial because of gross prosecutorial misconduct.

This case is a companion case to People v. Barkauskas (1986), 147 Ill. App. 3d 360, 497 N.E.2d 1183, and People v. Beringer (1987), 151 Ill. App. 3d 558, 503 N.E.2d 778. In Barkauskas, we affirmed the conviction of the victim's husband for murder, armed violence, solicitation, and conspiracy. We also affirmed his sentence of natural life in prison without parole. In Beringer, we reversed the conviction of Kenneth Beringer's co-defendant brother because of gross prosecutorial misconduct. We remanded that case for a new trial.

The record reveals that Edward Barkauskas, the victim's husband, approached James Galason at a hot dog stand and asked if he was crazy enough to kill his wife, Joanne. Subsequently, Galason and the Beringer brothers were walking down the street together when Kenneth Beringer pulled out a picture of Joanne Barkauskas and showed it to Galason. Kenneth Beringer then remarked to Galason, "We'll see who gets her first." Defendant had been approached earlier by Barkauskas and asked to kill his wife in return for some insurance money. After Barkauskas asked defendant to kill his wife, he gave him the photograph of Joanne Barkauskas, which Beringer kept.

Subsequently, Galason and his friend, Mark Brown, stole the shotgun that was used as the murder weapon. Galason gave the shotgun to defendant to repay some money that he owed him. Defendant sawed off the barrel of the gun. He later gave the gun to Joseph Beringer to pay off a debt. However, the gun was kept under defendant's bed.

For the next two weeks leading up to the day of the murder, Barkauskas visited Galason, Joseph Beringer, and defendant many times at their apartment to discuss details of the murder. On one occasion, Barkauskas expressed impatience with the men for not killing his wife earlier. He said to Galason and defendant that he wanted his wife dead because she was going to file for a divorce. Barkauskas stated that he wanted his wife shot below the neck because he planned on having an open casket at her wake.

On July 15, 1981, the night before the murder, the Beringer brothers left a party to steal a car. They drove around looking for the kind of car they wanted when they observed a dark red Camaro. They "hot wired" the car and drove it to a location near their apartment.

The next morning, on July 16, 1981, the three men were awakened by Edward Barkauskas at approximately 7:30 or 7:45 a.m. Barkauskas drove Galason and Joseph Beringer to the stolen red Camaro; the defendant declined to accompany them. Galason and Joseph Beringer drove the Camaro to an alley where they waited for Joanne Barkauskas. As she walked in front of the alley, she was shot and killed.

Almost immediately following the shooting, Officer Martin Lee, a Chicago police officer, observed Galason and Joseph Beringer. As he pointed his gun at Joseph Beringer, Galason fled. Officer Lee pursued Galason, and Joseph Beringer fled as well. Lee arrested Galason in his apartment. Lee also arrested Kenneth Beringer and his girlfriend, Kathy Klaus, at this time.

At the police station, both James Galason and defendant gave statements implicating themselves in the murder of Joanne Barkauskas. Prior to trial, defendant moved to have his statement suppressed because he contended that he was physically and mentally coerced by the police and an assistant State's Attorney into giving the statement. The court ...

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