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08/28/87 the People of the State of v. L. C. James Scott

August 28, 1987





512 N.E.2d 836, 159 Ill. App. 3d 459, 111 Ill. Dec. 447 1987.IL.1259

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. Calvin R. Stone, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE WOMBACHER delivered the opinion of the court. STOUDER and SCOTT, JJ., concur.


After a bench trial, the defendant, L. C. James Scott, was found guilty of the offenses of attempted murder, armed violence and aggravated battery. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, pars. 8-4(a), 33A-2, 12-4(b)(1).) The trial court entered a judgment of conviction on the attempted murder charge only and sentenced the defendant to serve a 20-year term of imprisonment. Defendant appeals. We affirm.

At trial, State witness Robert Schmidt testified that while at the Jewel Tap on May 20, 1986, at about 9 p.m., he was stabbed in the chest. Just before the stabbing, a black man tried to take Schmidt's money from the bar, but Schmidt told the man to leave his money alone. Schmidt testified that after this statement, he passed out. Schmidt is partially blind and did not see who was behind him. Schmidt denied attacking anyone before the stabbing.

State witnesses Donald Taber and John Thunhorst, who were in the bar at the time of the stabbing, could not identify the man who stabbed Schmidt. Taber, however, was able to recall that the man was wearing a white tank top and jeans. Both witnesses agreed that the man who did the stabbing was the shorter of the two black men who had approached Schmidt.

Officer Fred Ball testified that he stopped the defendant and another man, James Hamilton, pursuant to a radio dispatch which stated that two black males were being sought and that the taller one was wearing a dark jacket and the shorter one was wearing a tank top. Officer Ball then searched the surrounding area for a knife that was mentioned in the attack.

Detective Randy Pollard and Officer Muir interviewed the defendant about the incident at the Peoria police department. Pollard testified that the defendant was upset and belligerent during the interview. It took about 15 minutes for the defendant to calm down enough to give his name. The defendant shouted at them and acted in a threatening manner.

Pollard testified that he first told the defendant that he would not ask him any questions about the case until he determined the defendant's name. Pollard then told the defendant that there had been a stabbing at the Jewel Tap tavern and the man who had been stabbed had been taken to the hospital. Pollard stated to the defendant that both the defendant and Hamilton had been arrested and that he needed information in order to accurately depict what happened before and during the stabbing.

The defendant then told Pollard that he did not like white people and that he would have killed the white man if he had possessed a gun. The defendant stated that if Hamilton had not stopped him, he would have killed the man. After the defendant made these preliminary statements, Pollard repeated that he would not ask the defendant for any information about the stabbing until he determined the defendant's name. At that point, the defendant stated his date of birth and gave other information. Pollard then put his Miranda card on the table and read it out loud to the defendant. The defendant stated that he understood it. The defendant picked up the card, read each sentence out loud and explained what each sentence meant in his own words. After he acknowledged that he understood his rights the defendant agreed to talk to Pollard.

Pollard then asked the defendant about the stabbing. According to Pollard, the defendant stated that he and Hamilton entered the bar together. The defendant became angry when a man at the bar refused to buy a drink for him. The defendant was going to walk away but he thought he heard the man say something. As the man stood up from the bar, the defendant stabbed him. After he stabbed Schmidt, another man came at him swinging a crutch. The defendant said that he did not get hit with the crutch but he attempted to strike at that man with his knife as well.

At trial, the defendant testified that he consumed more than a bottle of wine at two other bars before he went into the Jewel Tap. When he extended his arm to get the bartender's attention, a man (Schmidt) said something to him. Schmidt reached for a crutch as the defendant turned. The defendant caught the crutch in his hand and then stabbed Schmidt with his knife in an attempt to protect ...

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