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04/28/88 the People of the State of v. Phyllis Falconer

April 28, 1988

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

PHYLLIS FALCONER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT

522 N.E.2d 903, 168 Ill. App. 3d 618, 119 Ill. Dec. 241 1988.IL.630

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. Joseph M. McCarthy, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE NASH delivered the opinion of the court. REINHARD and UNVERZAGT, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE NASH

After trial by jury defendant, Phyllis Falconer, was convicted of murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1) and was sentenced to 24 years' imprisonment. She appeals contending that: (1) she was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because the evidence established self-defense; (2) the murder conviction should be reduced to voluntary manslaughter; (3) the prosecutor made improper closing argument; and (4) she was denied effective assistance of counsel. We affirm.

At trial defendant testified that her husband, the victim, had been physically abusive to her over the course of their marriage. She had married Roger Falconer in 1949, divorced him on the ground of physical and mental cruelty in 1954, and remarried him in 1965. Defendant stated that on May 26, 1986, she awoke about 10 a.m. and had coffee. Roger was scrubbing the kitchen floor. According to defendant, Roger began yelling at her because he couldn't find a wax stripper for the floor. Defendant stated that Roger came over to her and shoved her against the kitchen counter, and tried to reach for some razor blades that were on the windowsill above the kitchen sink. Defendant said she put her arm on Roger's hand and said, "I have razor blades on the windowsill for my artwork. You're not getting the razor blade." Defendant testified that Roger then slapped her, and she picked up a knife and stabbed him. Roger grabbed his arm and ran down the hall to the bathroom. Defendant testified that she followed Roger, cleaned some blood off the bathroom wall, and tried to help Roger, who told her to call for help.

A tape recording of a call to emergency number 911 at 11:47 a.m. on May 26, 1986, was introduced into evidence by the State. On the tape defendant states that she needed paramedics fast and that she had stabbed her husband. When asked by the 911 dispatcher if she would harm anyone if they came to the house, defendant replied, "No. He was doing it to me."

Defendant's testimony relating to her husband's physical abuse of her was corroborated by the testimony of her son, Michael McGuire; her mother, Gladys Goodrich; her friends, June Taylor and Olga Camdon; and her psychiatrist, Dr. Marvin DeHaan.

Police officer Donald Shaw, who was the first officer to arrive at the Falconer home after defendant phoned 911, testified that defendant told her that Roger had hit her and she stabbed him twice. Defendant also said that Roger had been down 45 minutes and that the knife she used was on the kitchen table.

Rick McKiness, a deputy sheriff, testified that defendant told him that her husband had slapped her on the face, but he saw no mark. Defendant also told the officer that she did not want medical assistance and had suffered no injuries. According to Deputy McKiness, defendant, while being escorted to the squad car, stated that the neighbors were probably wondering why she had not killed her husband sooner. He further testified that while en route to the jail defendant stated that she felt good about killing her husband and wished she had done it years ago.

Deputy sheriff Steven Fitzsimons testified that defendant said that Roger ran down the hallway after being stabbed, that she didn't think she could catch him, but when she did catch him, she stabbed him.

Dr. Larry Blum, a pathologist, testified that Roger's body had a stab wound on the right forearm and one on the right side of the back. It was Dr. Blum's opinion that the wound on the right forearm was a defensive wound and that the back wound was five inches deep, and straight into the body. Dr. Blum opined that, given Roger's wounds, he would have remained conscious for 10 to 15 minutes after the stabbing ...


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