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12/17/87 the People of the State of v. Carroll Yoho

December 17, 1987





517 N.E.2d 329, 164 Ill. App. 3d 17, 115 Ill. Dec. 127 1987.IL.1864

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. John E. Sype and the Hon. David F. Smith, Judges, presiding.


JUSTICE HOPF delivered the opinion of the court. INGLIS and DUNN, JJ., concur.


Defendant, Carroll Yoho, and his brother, Darrell, were charged in Winnebago County with the crime of murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1). The brothers were tried jointly before a jury which returned a verdict finding defendant guilty of voluntary manslaughter (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 9-2) and not guilty of murder. Darrell Yoho was exonerated of all charges.

At a sentencing hearing conducted on May 1, 1986, defendant was sentenced to a term of four years' probation, conditioned upon his serving 180 days in the county jail. Defendant was given credit for 160 days previously served. Additionally, defendant was fined $25 and costs to be paid within six months from release of custody and was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 within three years. Defendant appeals.

In this court, defendant contends (1) that he was denied his right to a fair trial when the trial court allowed an autopsy photograph depicting the decedent's exposed heart within his chest cavity to be submitted to the jury for its deliberation, and (2) that he was entitled to a $5-per-day credit against his fine in addition to a credit against his sentence of imprisonment for time served awaiting trial.

In the early hours of November 23, 1985, an altercation occurred between the Yoho brothers and the victim, Ron Gibson, at a tavern called "The Place" in Rockford, Illinois. The argument apparently commenced within the tavern and then wound up outside in the street, culminating in the stabbing death of Ron Gibson. Several witnesses for the prosecution related seeing the altercation between the two Yohos and Ron Gibson. An employee of the tavern, Scott Smith, testified that he saw something shiny in the defendant's hand. Jacqueline Jenkins, a patron at the bar, stated that she saw a man with a cane striking the decedent in the back of the head and also observed the defendant with a knife. Jenkins related that whenever Ron Gibson backed up, the other two men would advance upon him. She recalled that the man with the knife jabbed Ron Gibson in the chest area and that Gibson did not throw any punches but instead tried to block the blows from the defendants with his hands. Jenkins also saw the defendant stab the decedent in the back.

Another witness, Lauri Biladeau, testified that she saw the defendant strike the decedent at least three times with a knife and that at the same time Darrell Yoho was striking the decedent with his cane. According to Biladeau, Gibson had nothing in his hands.

Dr. Larry Blum, who performed the autopsy on the decedent, also testified for the State. Dr. Blum found knife wounds in the chest, in the bladder above the genitals, on the left side of the back, near the shoulder, in the left upper chest, over the left hip, on the scalp in the left parietal area, and on the penis. In addition to the knife wounds, Blum found multiple abrasions and contusions on Gibson's body as well as blunt trauma wounds. Blum described in detail the stab wound in Gibson's upper chest which punctured his heart. Blum also identified People's exhibit No. 11 as being a photograph of the internal organs of the chest, specifically showing the heart and the stab wound present in the right ventricle of the heart.

Three witnesses for the defendant, including Officer Charles Bishop, testified concerning prior incidents with Gibson which were illustrative of the decedent's violent nature. Other defense witnesses recounted decedent's behavior in the tavern on the evening in question, i.e., calling the defendant names, threatening the defendant with bodily harm, and insulting the defendant's wife. One witness, Phillip McCue, stated that he had seen the decedent in the parking lot at approximately 1:30 a.m. and that the decedent "said that he was having a disagreement and that he guessed he would be getting into a fight."

Carroll Yoho took the stand on his own behalf and testified that on the date in question he had received "dirty looks" from the decedent. It was defendant's testimony that he called his brother Darrell, as he feared Gibson and his friends were going to fight him. Gibson did ask defendant to step outside and did threaten to beat defendant. When defendant went outside to meet his brother, the decedent advanced on defendant and struck him twice in the chest. The defendant had a knife in his hand and hit Gibson several times.

Defendant's witness Dr. William Rouse, a general and forensic pathologist, gave an opinion as to the ability of the heart to self-seal itself upon being punctured. He also testified as to the length of time a person could continue activity depending upon the size of the hole made in the person's heart. Rouse described the hole in Gibson's heart as portrayed in People's exhibit No. 11, an autopsy photograph depicting the exposed heart within the chest cavity, to be a middle-sized wound and surmised its size three-fourths of an inch long and about one-eighth of an inch wide. Rouse estimated that a person with a wound of that size could continue functioning for a period of time as short as a minute and as long as 7 to 10 minutes. In Rouse's opinion, an individual with a wound of this size would be able to continue fighting if he had ...

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