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08/18/88 the People of the State of v. Richard E. Cochran

August 18, 1988

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

RICHARD E. COCHRAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

528 N.E.2d 253, 174 Ill. App. 3d 208, 123 Ill. Dec. 708 1988.IL.1270

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Piatt County; the Hon. Donald R. Parkinson, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE SPITZ delivered the opinion of the court. GREEN, P.J., and KNECHT, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE SPITZ

In this appeal, the defendant Richard E. Cochran challenges the judgment entered by the circuit court of Piatt County after a jury found defendant guilty of the offenses of criminal damage to property and criminal damage to property having a value in excess of $300. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 21-1(a).) Defendant was sentenced to one year of probation for the criminal damage to property conviction and 18 months' probation for the criminal damage to property having a value in excess of $300. A condition of six months' periodic imprisonment over weekends from January 9, 1988, to October 9, 1988, was added to the sentence and defendant was ordered to pay $2,399.83 as restitution, a $500 fine, plus costs.

In this appeal, only one issue is raised. That issue is whether the trial court erred in refusing to allow the jury to hear tape recordings of a telephone conversation between defendant and Patricia Carpenter, a witness for the State, even though the court, after determining the tapes had impeachment value, summarized the contents of the conversation to the jury.

Four occurrence witnesses testified at trial concerning the events on the night of October 30, 1986. David Boitnott was Shelly Estrada's boyfriend. The two of them drove to Estrada's home after work at approximately 8:30 p.m. Estrada resided with her mother, Patricia Carpenter. Boitnott and Estrada watched television until approximately 9:30 p.m. when they heard a car pull into the driveway in a noisy fashion. Concerned about the noise and thinking they saw the defendant, they awakened Carpenter, who had been asleep with her boyfriend, Mark Isaac. Carpenter got up and the three went outside to investigate.

The defendant and Carpenter had known each other for a number of years and had lived together for two or three years. The defendant was boisterous and demanded to know who owned the jeep which was parked in the driveway. He also demanded to see the jeep's owner. The jeep belonged to Isaac. Carpenter went inside to awaken Isaac, which took some effort.

Although the time sequence varied somewhat from witness to witness, all four witnesses generally agreed that the defendant damaged Isaac's jeep by knocking out various windows with a club, slashing the tires, and puncturing the radiator with a tire iron.

When Boitnott tried to enter Estrada's Maverick to drive for help, because there was no working phone at Carpenter's residence, the defendant opened the hood of that vehicle and removed the spark plug wires from the engine. He also cut one of the tires. Defendant threw the spark plug wires into his own car and using what appeared to be a gun, threatened the witnesses. Boitnott left on foot to call the police from a neighbor's house. During the incident Carpenter and the defendant personally struggled. After the defendant eventually drove away, the police arrived.

State Trooper Patrick Callahan interviewed the defendant soon after the occurrence and collected evidence which he said the defendant volunteered to give him. Among these items were the defendant's pellet gun and some spark plug wires. The defendant told Callahan he had been drinking in a tavern and was accosted in the parking lot by Carpenter and her friends. She taunted the defendant with her new boyfriend and his new car, and they argued verbally and physically. Carpenter's new boyfriend threw an object through the windshield of the defendant's car and Carpenter slashed his tire. The couple drove off and the defendant gave chase in his car until he realized his tire had gone flat. After stopping to change his tire, the defendant drove home, where he was soon after greeted by the police. In a statement two weeks later, the trooper said the defendant changed his account to increase the distance from the tavern to the location where he had been when forced to change his tire.

An auto body repairman testified as to the cost of repairs to Isaac's jeep. He testified he repaired the jeep and charged $2,560, which amount had been paid at the time of the trial.

The pro se defense at the trial focused on Carpenter's bias toward defendant and defendant's attempt to raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors by demonstrating to the jury Carpenter was capable of having the cars damaged and fabricating the story about defendant's involvement in an attempt to ruin defendant financially. In presenting this defense, defendant attempted to introduce five tape cassettes which are recordings of telephone conversations involving Carpenter. Carpenter had testified she harbored no animosity toward defendant and defendant attempted to use these tapes for impeachment. The trial Judge ...


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