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06/30/88 the People of the State of v. Luther Cain

June 30, 1988





525 N.E.2d 1194, 171 Ill. App. 3d 468, 121 Ill. Dec. 887 1988.IL.1051

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. Harold L. Jensen, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE GREEN delivered the opinion of the court. LUND and KNECHT, JJ., concur.


On May 19, 1987, following a jury trial in the circuit court of Champaign County, defendant Luther Cain was convicted of murder but was acquitted of two counts of armed robbery. He was subsequently sentenced to an extended 80-year term of imprisonment. On appeal, defendant maintains (1) he was denied his right to self-representation; (2) the trial court improperly denied his motion to dismiss based on denial of a speedy trial; (3) the results of electrophoresis testing of evidence were improperly admitted; (4) a wallet taken from his possession upon his arrest for another offense was improperly admitted into evidence; and (5) an extended-term sentence was improperly imposed. We affirm.

The record indicates that on August 22, 1985, defendant, George Davis, and Willie Green (a/k/a Willie Smith, a/k/a Abdullah Kahn), were indicted on four counts of murder and two counts of armed robbery. The indictment alleged the three defendants killed decedent by beating him. On March 31, 1986, each defendant's cause was severed from the others.

At trial, police officer John Schweighart testified that he found decedent's body on the floor of an open garage in Champaign at 10:30 a.m. on July 16, 1985. A bartender from the Old Fashioned Tavern testified that decedent had been in the tavern the previous evening and was ejected because he was involved in a fight with another customer. The bartender indicated he also saw decedent during the late night hours of July 15 and the early morning hours of July 16 in the vicinity of the tavern in the company of several black men. A police officer testified that defendant and Willie Green were two of the black men with decedent.

Police Officer Gene Stephens testified at trial that two children told him they had seen Willie Green carrying what appeared to be a bundle of clothing in the early morning hours of July 16, 1985. He said he obtained a bloodstained pair of blue jeans from a garbage barrel later that day near where Green had been seen. Officer Ron Bryant testified that on July 17, 1985, he obtained a bloodstained white shirt with a blue collar from a Mr. Briles, with whom defendant lived. Diane Schneider, a forensic serologist employed by the State of Illinois, testified that she performed electrophoresis tests on those items of clothing and concluded the bloodstains could have originated from decedent. She also concluded that defendant and Green could not have been the source of the bloodstains.

The victim's mother testified at trial that a wallet, which had been taken from defendant's possession while he was jailed on an unrelated charge, was very much like the one she had given decedent. She said the wallet was not among decedent's belongings given to her after decedent's death.

Police Detective Michael E. Smith testified at trial that he spoke with defendant on July 18, 1985, at Burnham Hospital in Champaign in connection with his investigation of decedent's killing. He said defendant told him: (1) he had heard about the killing; (2) he had spent the evening of July 15 and 16 at several taverns; (3) he was wearing a light blue, long-sleeved shirt that night; (4) he could not recall a conversation he had with Mr. Briles regarding the bloodstained white shirt with a blue collar; (5) he did recall losing his billfold; (6) he said he might know Abdullah Kahn (also known as Willie Green or Willie Smith), and George Davis, but he was not sure; and (7) he did not think he knew decedent, and he definitely had not seen him that night. Smith testified that defendant telephoned him on July 19, 1985, and indicated that after thinking about the matter, he remembered how the blood had gotten on his shirt. Smith said defendant told him he had been playing cards with Abdullah Kahn and George Davis, and when the three went to the Old Fashioned Tavern to buy some wine, he discovered decedent lying on the ground bleeding where his pant leg had been caught in his bicycle chain. Defendant told Smith the blood on his shirt was from defendant's helping decedent up. Defendant further indicated to Smith that Abdullah and decedent had been arguing, and the last he saw of Abdullah, George Davis, and decedent, they were walking on Park Street between Third and Fourth Streets. There was no evidence that the victim's leg or pant leg had been cut as if by a bicycle chain.

Smith then testified that on August 7, 1985, he returned to the garage where the body was found and obtained a sample of the dirt and debris from the floor of the garage. He stated the purpose of obtaining the sample was for comparison to the dirt found on the bloodstained shirt and jeans. Ron Rawalt, an evidence analyst with the FBI, testified that he examined the clothing and the debris and concluded that the shirt and pants had been in contact with the garage floor where Scott's body was found.

The defendant did not testify, and none of the defense evidence directly refuted the State's evidence.

We consider first defendant's contention he was denied his right to proceed without counsel. In Faretta v. California (1975), 422 U.S. 806, 45 L. Ed. 2d 562, 95 S. Ct. 2525, the Court indicated that a defendant is implicitly given the right to self-representation through the sixth amendment. That Court noted that the sixth amendment "does not provide merely that a defense shall be made for the accused; it grants to the accused ...

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