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11/16/87 the People of the State of v. Illiams

November 16, 1987





515 N.E.2d 1230, 118 Ill. 2d 407, 113 Ill. Dec. 923 1987.IL.1694

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Jerome Burke and Michael Getty, Judges, presiding.


JUSTICE MILLER delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.


Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, the defendant, Victor Williams, was convicted of rape and armed robbery. The trial Judge sentenced the defendant to concurrent terms of 15 years' imprisonment. The appellate court reversed the defendant's conviction for armed robbery, finding that his guilt for that offense had not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. (145 Ill. App. 3d 482.) We allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal. 107 Ill. 2d R. 315(a).

The offenses here occurred in Chicago on June 25, 1979. Shortly after midnight, the victim and her fiance went to the apartment of the victim's mother to pick up the victim's daughter, who had stayed there that evening. The three left the apartment between 12:15 and 12:30 and, because the building elevators were not in service, descended the stairs. As they reached the third floor, the victim realized that she had left her purse in her mother's apartment, and she then went back upstairs, alone, to retrieve it.

The victim testified that when she reached the twelfth floor, where her mother's apartment was located, she noticed a man, whom she later identified as the defendant, wrapping a length of clothesline around his hand. The victim walked by the defendant, glanced back at him, and looked forward again. The defendant then grabbed the victim from behind and held a knife to her throat with one hand while he clamped his other hand over her mouth. The defendant threatened to kill the victim, and he pulled her to the stairwell and down the stairs.

The defendant took the victim to the ninth floor of the building. There, he fumbled with some keys and then pushed the victim into a laundry room. After blindfolding and gagging the victim and tying her hands, the defendant ripped the victim's clothing from her and raped her. The defendant also struck the victim in the face several times and threatened to kill her. After the attack, the defendant commented that he had lost the sheath for his knife. The defendant then turned on the light in the room, untied the victim's hands, and left. The victim removed the blindfold and gag, put on her jeans and jacket, and ran down the stairs and out the building.

The defendant was arrested on the sixth floor of the building by a police officer who had been flagged down by the victim's fiance when she failed to appear. A patdown search of the defendant revealed a knife with the word "Buck" on it; also found on the defendant were a gold chain necklace belonging to the victim, an identification card, a set of keys, and a length of rope. One of the keys was found to work the lock on the door of the laundry room where the attack occurred. A knife sheath with the word "Buck" on it was found on the twelfth floor of the building. The defendant made several exculpatory statements to the police. The defendant also testified at trial, and he gave an exculpatory explanation for his presence in the building.

In an earlier appeal, the appellate court had reversed, in an unpublished decision, the trial court's order granting the defendant's motion to quash his arrest. (95 Ill. App. 3d 1201 (unpublished Rule 23 order).) On remand, the defendant's motion to suppress the victim's identification testimony was denied, and he was convicted of the offenses here. The appellate court affirmed the denial of the suppression motion, affirmed the defendant's rape conviction, and, with one Justice Dissenting, reversed the conviction for armed robbery, finding that the State failed to present sufficient evidence to establish how or when the defendant came into possession of the victim's necklace. In this appeal, the State asks that the armed robbery conviction be reinstated. The defendant raises the suppression motion as a ground for relief. See 107 Ill. 2d R. 318(a).

The appellate court affirmed the trial court's ruling denying the defendant's motion to suppress the victim's lineup and in-court identification of the defendant. The defendant renews here the argument he made in the appellate court, that the victim's lineup and in-court identifications of the defendant resulted from a suggestive procedure.

Shortly after the assault, the victim was taken to a police station. There, a police officer placed on a table in front of the victim the items that had been taken from the defendant, including the victim's necklace and an identification card of the defendant. The victim immediately identified the necklace as one she had been wearing earlier that night. It is uncontested that the victim also observed the identification card, which was a wallet-sized item bearing a photograph of the defendant. There was testimony both that the officer showed the card to the victim and asked her whether she recognized the person, and that the victim pointed to the card without prompting and identified the defendant as her assailant. Later in the day the victim returned to the police station and viewed a five-man lineup. She identified the defendant as her assailant, and at trial she made an in-court identification of the defendant.

The defendant contends here that the victim's viewing his identification card was a suggestive procedure that tainted the victim's later lineup and in-court identifications. When an unnecessary and suggestive pretrial identification procedure occurs, a witness' subsequent identification testimony may be introduced only if the State can show by clear and convincing evidence that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the witness' initial identification made under the suggestive procedure was reliable. (Manson v. Brathwaite (1977), 432 U.S. 98, 110 n.10, 53 L. Ed. 2d 140, 151 n.10, 97 S. Ct. 2243, 2251 n.10; People v. Manion (1977), 67 Ill. 2d 564, 571-72.) Circumstances relevant in making that determination include the opportunity of the witness to view the assailant at the time of the crime, the witness' degree of attention, the accuracy of the witness' prior description ...

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