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11/02/88 the People of the State of v. Jeffrey Halcomb

November 2, 1988




Before trial, the court had conducted a hearing on the admissibility of a statement made by complainant while at defendant's apartment: defendant would have testified that complainant confided in him that she had recently had an abortion and was taking birth control pills. The prosecution claimed that complainant had mentioned the abortion in an attempt to dissuade defendant from assaulting her. The trial court ruled that the portion of the conversation which revealed complainant's abortion was made inadmissible by the Illinois rape shield statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 115-7(a)) and by its unduly inflammatory nature. The court ruled that defendant could testify only to that part of the conversation in which complainant revealed her use of birth control pills, and on cross-examination, complainant denied discussing the topic with defendant.


530 N.E.2d 1074, 176 Ill. App. 3d 100, 125 Ill. Dec. 665 1988.IL.1591

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. William Cousins, Jr., Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court. McNAMARA and RIZZI, JJ., concur.


Defendant Jeffrey Halcomb, charged by indictment with aggravated criminal sexual assault and found guilty of that offense by a jury, appeals his conviction and the 10-year prison sentence imposed thereon. We reverse.

The events at issue began in the early hours of March 1, 1986, with an incident that did not involve defendant. The complainant had attended a party with her sister and three friends. The sisters were dropped off in front of their home sometime after 1:30 a.m. and were accosted before they reached the front door of their house by the boyfriend of complainant's sister. The boyfriend screamed at complainant's sister, and complainant entered her house to call the police. She went back outside and found the two still arguing while the friends who had driven them home looked on. The sisters went into their house, and the boyfriend tried to force his way in behind them. Complainant testified that the boyfriend pulled her sister outside and that he forced her sister into the car and drove off.

Complainant and her friends made a report of the incident at a police station approximately five blocks from her home. Complainant argued with one of her friends, declined his offer of a ride back to her house, and began walking toward her home.

Complainant testified that she saw defendant approaching her, and that as they came close to each other, he blocked her path. She told defendant that she did not know him and tried to walk around him. She testified that defendant grabbed her from behind, that she struggled, but was unable to stop him from dragging her into an alley. She said that he pushed her against a wall, threatened to kill her if she made any noise, and began to unzip her jacket. Complainant then warned defendant that the police were following her, and he dragged her to his car and forced her into the passenger seat. After thwarting another escape attempt by complainant and driving a short distance, defendant stopped the car and forced her into sexual acts.

Complainant testified that defendant then ordered her to put on her clothes, pulled her from the car, dragged her through a gangway, across a lawn, and down a flight of stairs to a basement apartment. Complainant said that defendant forced her into other sexual acts, including intercourse, inside the apartment. Defendant then ordered her to dress, dragged her back outside and forced her back into his car. She testified that she was lying flat in the fully reclined passenger seat, that defendant said that the police were following him, that she turned around to look, and that she saw a light shining into their car. She said that she grabbed for the door, avoided defendant's attempts to hold her inside the car, fell out of the car, and screamed to the police that she had been raped.

A police officer testified that in the early hours of March 1, 1986, he was watching traffic from his parked squad car in the hope of seeing the car involved in the abduction of complainant's sister earlier that night. He saw a car which fit the description, followed it, and observed a male driver and female passenger sitting upright in the car. He saw the woman turn around and look in his direction. When the car stopped, the officer saw complainant jump out; she screamed that the driver had raped her. The officer testified that complainant's blouse was unbuttoned and that he saw red marks on her neck and a bruise on her hand. Defendant was arrested without struggle.

The prosecution presented a report of complainant's admission to Swedish Covenant hospital; that report indicated that complainant had suffered "small scrapes" on her right hand. The nurse who examined complainant and prepared the report testified that she had seen no other marks or signs of injury on complainant's body. The prosecution also introduced six photographs which purported to show complainant's injuries. Two of the photos were taken by a police technician; they show the aforementioned hand scrapes and neck bruise and were admitted without defense objection. The other four photos, however, were revealed to the defense for the first time only a day before trial, and the defense objected to their admission on the ground that the prosecution had not complied with their attempts to discover all photos which were to be used at trial. The photos show bruised body parts, but do not include the face of the person depicted. Complainant testified that the bruises had appeared days after the incident and that her sister had taken the pictures. The defense argued that the prosecution's failure to produce the photos during discovery prevented any investigation of their authenticity. The trial court concluded that the failure to produce the photos was inadvertent, that defendant had not been prejudiced by the delayed production, and that the photos would be admitted.

Defendant testified that while driving home on the night in question, he noticed complainant walking and that she signaled to him. He pulled over and offered complainant a ride; she accepted. Defendant said that he invited complainant to accompany him to his apartment and that he neither forced nor threatened her in any way. He testified that entry to his apartment required passage through a latched gate ...

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