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05/28/87 the People of the State of v. John Chapman

May 28, 1987





508 N.E.2d 1177, 156 Ill. App. 3d 29, 108 Ill. Dec. 600

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. Barry E. Puklin, Judge, presiding. 1987.IL.699


JUSTICE HOPF delivered the opinion of the court. LINDBERG, P.J., and WOODWARD, J., concur.


Defendant, John Chapman, appeals from his conviction of robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 18-1) against Francis Bonneville. On March 12, 1986, a jury found the defendant guilty, and the trial court sentenced him to six years' imprisonment. Defendant contends on appeal that (1) the State improperly bolstered the credibility of the complaining witness by introducing evidence of his prior consistent statements, and (2) the trial court erred in refusing to allow defendant to introduce testimony of the complaining witness' tendency to groundlessly accuse others of wrongdoing.

Francis Bonneville, who was 47 years old and a diabetic, testified at trial that on August 8, 1985, on his way home from a doctor's appointment, he bought a half-pint of vodka, which he stopped to drink near a viaduct on Galena Street in Aurora. Home for Bonneville was the Aurora Rescue Mission. He then crossed the street and joined six to eight other individuals who had congregated and were talking. At about 6 p.m., defendant approached Bonneville asking for money, but Bonneville claimed that he did not have any money. According to Bonneville, after the defendant persisted in his requests and Bonneville refused, defendant placed his arm around Bonneville's shoulder and hit him in the left eye several times. When he fell to the ground, defendant reached in Bonneville's pocket and took $30 from his wallet. He threw the wallet to the ground and fled. Bonneville reported the incident to the police. He further testified that on August 9, 1985, when he encountered the defendant, he demanded the return of his money. Defendant allegedly apologized for taking the money and promised to return it. Defendant never returned the money to the complaining witness.

Earl Crosby testified that on August 8, 1985, he and approximately seven other individuals were near a viaduct on Galena Street in Aurora, Illinois. Crosby observed defendant walking at Bonneville's side with defendant's arm around Bonneville's neck. Crosby, who had his back toward the defendant and Bonneville, was talking to a person named Vickie. When Vickie told Crosby to turn around, he saw Bonneville on the ground with the defendant standing over him. Defendant took bills from a wallet, threw the wallet at Bonneville's face, and kicked Bonneville in the right side of the head. After defendant left the scene, Crosby approached Bonneville and noted that his eyebrow was bleeding. According to Crosby, Bonneville stood up on his own and left to call the police.

Officer Thomas Davis testified that at 6:15 p.m. on August 8, 1985, he was dispatched to the downtown Aurora area where he met Francis Bonneville. Bonneville complained that he had been robbed by defendant. Although Bonneville had been drinking, the officer indicated that he was understandable.

After his arrest on August 14, 1985, the defendant, who was about 20 years of age, was interviewed by Investigator Porter and Sergeant Herlihy. After the officers advised defendant of his rights, defendant claimed Bonneville gave him money to pay for a prostitute. When the sergeant expressed his disbelief, defendant stated that Bonneville gave him $31, but defendant was mad and beat him. Eventually, defendant admitted, "Well, I kind of pushed him down and then he gave me the money."

The sole defense witness, Dr. Kluczynski, a doctor of clinical psychology, testified that in his opinion, the victim suffered from chronic alcoholism. Dr. Kluczynski also testified that chronic alcoholics have a tendency to confabulate and fill in a series of events when they cannot remember. In response to defense counsel's hypothetical, Dr. Kluczynski stated that a person with Bonneville's traits would likely experience some perception and memory problems.

On cross-examination, the defense counsel objected to the prosecutor's asking Dr. Kluczynski whether an alcoholic's memory of an event would gain credence if he had repeated the same story consistently. The prosecutor agreed to reword the question. The court allowed the prosecutor to ask as part of his own hypothetical:

"Assuming all of those things to be true, does the fact that the individual made the immediate complaint and made repeated complaints where no inconsistency was shown, does then that also lend credence to the ...

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