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12/30/88 the People of the State of v. Donald Boone Et Al.

December 30, 1988





534 N.E.2d 1266, 180 Ill. App. 3d 98, 128 Ill. Dec. 661 1988.IL.1922

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas Maloney, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE SCARIANO delivered the opinion of the court. HARTMAN, P.J., and BILANDIC, J., concur.


Defendants Donald Boone, Alice Nelson, and Albert Tillman were charged by indictment with soliciting for a juvenile prostitute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 11-15(1)), indecent liberties with a child (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 11-4(a)(3)), pandering (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 11-16), and juvenile pimping (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 11-19.1(a)). Defendant Boone was tried before a jury and found guilty of all charges. Defendants Alice Nelson and Albert Tillman, tried simultaneously with Boone in a bench trial, were also found guilty of all of the charges. All three defendants appeal their convictions.

The issues on appeal are (1) whether the defendants were proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, (2) whether defendants Boone and Nelson were denied a fair trial because of the trial Judge's questioning of the witnesses during their testimony, (3) whether defendant Boone was denied a fair trial by reason of certain remarks made by the State in closing argument, (4) whether the trial court erred in considering certain information offered in aggravation at Boone's sentencing hearing, and (5) whether the trial court abused its discretion by denying defendants' motions for a mistrial.

The State's case consists mainly of the testimony of the four complaining witnesses, who told of a "sex club" run by the defendants wherein young girls, who were wards of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services , were given drugs in exchange for engaging in prostitution, pornography, and other sexual acts. Since the defendants contend that the alleged victims, who admitted to being drug users, gave confused, contradictory testimony that did not merit belief, and inasmuch as defendants charge they were not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, we shall review the testimony of the witnesses in detail.

Donna Clark, the State's first witness, testified that in October of 1982 she was 13 years old, a ward of the State, and living in Touhy House, which is a part of the Mary Bartelme House Placement Center in the City of Chicago. In November of 1982, in the neighborhood of Jarvis and Greenview in Chicago, Clark met a woman named Denise, whom she identified in court as defendant Alice Nelson. Defendant Nelson asked Clark if she wanted to get "high," and when Clark assented, they went to Nelson's apartment, where they smoked marijuana.

Clark testified that she returned to Nelson's apartment in December of 1982 where she met Donald Boone and Albert Tillman. During the month of December when Clark was at Nelson's apartment with another girl, Debbie Ferreri, she was told by Al to go to bed with Nelson. When she refused, Al threw her up against a wall. Ferreri was given drugs, but Clark was not.

In January of 1983, Clark was given pills called "T's" and "Blues" which made her "really high." As a result, she went to bed with defendant Nelson and the two engaged in oral sex. Between January and early May of 1983, Clark saw Nelson on many occasions and had sex with her approximately 15 times. After being threatened by defendant Tillman, Clark had sex with a man she did not know and for which act she received drugs.

Clark also testified that she had sexual intercourse with Tillman several times, and that during February and March of 1983, he arranged for Clark to have sex in various places with different individuals. She gave the money she was paid to Nelson or Tillman and received drugs in return.

Clark testified she met defendant Boone at Nelson's apartment in January of 1983 where she had oral sex with him and received drugs. Several times in the following months Clark again had sexual relations with Boone. In February of 1983, Clark was sent by Boone to a motel where she engaged in sexual intercourse with two men and one woman. Clark kept $75 of the $115 she received and gave the rest to Nelson.

Clark was photographed undressed and partially undressed by Tillman or Boone; she also witnessed movies being taken of other girls from DCFS homes in the apartment.

On February 8, 1984, while Clark was hospitalized in Des Plaines, where she was being treated for alcohol and drug abuse, she identified defendants Tillman and Boone from a group of photos of men and defendant Nelson from a group of photos of women.

On cross-examination, Clark testified that she began taking drugs when she was 10 or 11 and that she worked as a prostitute for a man named Bill and a man named Chafi. In June 1982, she overdosed on LSD.

The second witness for the State, Norma Jones, testified that she was 13 in May of 1982 and was living at Jarvis House, also a part of the State's Mary Bartelme system. In May or June of 1982, Jones and a housemate, Debbie Ferreri, went to a 7-11 store at Greenview and Jarvis to play video games. Here they met another girl, Angel, and the three of them went to Nelson's apartment. At the apartment, Jones saw defendants Nelson and Boone. All three girls were given marijuana, and Nelson gave Jones a can of beer. Boone then pulled out cocaine and put it on the table at which time the defendants told the girls to "snoot it up" their noses.

On her third or fourth visit to Nelson's apartment, and several times thereafter, Jones witnessed a meeting of a club called "The Ladies" at which she saw about 15 girls, including Donna Clark and Elizabeth Zemola, and at which the girls discussed how well they were doing. During the meeting she asked Nelson how she could get drugs; Jones was told she would have to have sex with a man named James. She went into the bedroom where she saw James and Boone. Jones was given drugs after Boone took pictures of her having sex with James.

In September of 1982, Jones had sex with Boone, and James took pictures, in exchange for which she was given drugs by defendant Nelson. She also testified that Boone took photographs of her and Elizabeth Zemola, who were both nude at the time. Jones went to Nelson's apartment at different times for approximately a year and had intercourse with defendant Boone or James about 25 times. She got drugs two or three times a week.

Jones stated that she never saw defendant Tillman at Nelson's apartment. In November of 1983, she was at the "L" station with Romanda Neeley and Debbie Ferreri where they met defendant Nelson, who showed them nude photos of Jones.

The State's third witness was Elizabeth Zemola, who testified that in July of 1982 she was 13 years old and lived at Mary Bartelme Chase House. She stated that she first went to Nelson's apartment in July of 1982 with Elisha Bonner, where she met defendants Nelson, Tillman, and Boone. Nelson gave her cocaine and marijuana. Zemola testified that she went to Nelson's apartment about 8 to 10 times in July and got "high." In August of 1982, Zemola was told by Nelson that she would have to have sex with men in order to get any more drugs.

She had sex with a man in Nelson's apartment in September of 1982 for which she received drugs. Nelson and Tillman were present in the apartment at the time. Several months later, Zemola witnessed Boone taking nude photos of Norma Jones. When Zemola refused to pose as Boone wanted her, he slapped her around and hit her with a bottle. She then agreed to the pictures. She further testified to having sex with Boone in the apartment.

In March of 1983, Zemola had a conversation with Boone and Tillman at which time Tillman told Zemola she would have to work as a prostitute. Zemola gave the money she earned to Tillman and Boone, and she was given money or drugs. She testified that Boone and Tillman established a quota for her of $200 to $300 a week and that these quotas were discussed at the meetings held at Nelson's apartment. She knew other girls who attended the meetings at the apartment, and she identified Donna Clark, Romanda Neeley, Norma Jones, and a girl named Angel. Also present at the meetings were Nelson, Tillman and sometimes Boone.

Romanda Neeley, the State's fourth witness, testified that she was 14 in May of 1982 and lived at Jarvis House. She met defendant Nelson in front of an apartment house at Greenview and Fargo while she was with another girl named Theresa. Nelson told Neeley to come up to her apartment if Neeley ever wanted to get "high." When Neeley went to the apartment a few weeks later, she saw defendants Nelson, Tillman, and Boone and some other girls there. She used drugs there that day.

On Neeley's fourth or fifth visit to the apartment, defendants Tillman and Boone told her that she would have to have sex with other men and get involved with pictures and movies if she wanted to get "high." Neeley told defendant Nelson that she did not want to get involved, and, after a conversation with Boone and Tillman, Nelson told Neeley that she would have to "mess around" with Nelson. A couple of days later, Neeley returned to the apartment and had oral sex with Nelson for which she was given drugs and alcohol. For the next year, Neeley continued to have sex with Nelson, and she was given drugs after sex. Neeley also testified that she attended the meetings of the Ladies Club at the apartment. She recognized Donna Clark, Elizabeth Zemola, Norma Jones, Angel Kramer, and Debbie Ferreri. Nelson was always at the meetings; Tillman was there most of the time; Boone was there off and on.

In November of 1983, Mary Ann West, who worked as a social work director and unit director for Mary Bartelme Homes from 1971 to 1984, became aware of a sex club among the wards of the State and called the Chicago police. She questioned the girls at different times and discussed the information she learned about the club from the girls with the police.

Officer Vana, a youth investigator with the Chicago police department, testified that in late November of 1983 he became involved in an investigation of sexual exploitation of juvenile residents of the Mary Bartelme system. He interviewed several residents of the homes in December of 1983, including Norma Jones, who identified a building at 7455 North Greenview as the building where Nelson's apartment was located. Vana testified that he interviewed Louise Marino, the manager of the building at that address and asked her if she knew Denise or Nessie; Marino responded that it was Alice Nelson. Vana further testified as to the identification procedures used by the police department, which consisted for the most part of photographic displays. All four girls who testified identified the defendants from these photo arrays shown to them by the police; they also identified the defendants in court.

Officer Vana also testified regarding a statement made by defendant Nelson after her arrest on February 14, 1984 in which Nelson discussed her sexual relationship with Romanda Neeley. Vana further testified that defendant Boone denied knowing defendants Tillman and Nelson. On February 15, 1984, Officer Vana interviewed defendant Tillman, who told him he knew Boone as Hollywood and that he was a pimp for several young girls who were wards of the State. The record shows that Vana's testimony as to each defendant was introduced and admitted only as to that particular defendant. The record also shows that Nelson's statement was introduced and admitted only as to her.

At the Conclusion of the evidence, the jury returned a verdict finding defendant Donald Boone guilty of soliciting for a juvenile prostitute, pandering, indecent liberties with a child, and juvenile pimping. Subsequently, the trial Judge found defendants Nelson and Tillman guilty of the same crimes. Following a sentencing hearing, defendant Boone was sentenced to 14 years; Tillman was sentenced to 12 years, and Nelson was sentenced to seven years.

All three defendants, Boone, Nelson and Tillman, contend on appeal that they were not found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, arguing that the testimony of the complaining witnesses was inconsistent and that the physical evidence contradicted important portions of their testimony.

The defendants first point out that all four of the victims testified that most of the offenses occurred in Nelson's apartment. The girls further stated that the apartment had a bedroom, although Louise Marino, manager of the building, testified that the apartment was a studio and had no bedroom. However, in the statement defendant Nelson made to the police, which was entered into evidence only as to her, she stated, "It was in the middle of 1982. Romanda came over to my apartment. We sat down and talked and smoked two joints. . . . That same day Romanda and me went into the bedroom." (Emphasis added.) We find from this evidence that a trier of fact in Nelson's case would be justified in concluding that there was some type of bedroom area used in the apartment. As to Boone and Tillman, the issue of the absence or the presence of a bedroom as such does not alter the fact that all four of the victims testified to the existence of a distinct system of juvenile prostitution, soliciting for juvenile prostitutes, taking indecent liberties with children, and pandering, embracing a number of incidents which occurred over a protracted period of time in several different locations, involving at one time or another one or more of the defendants.

The defendants next point to certain inconsistencies in the girls' testimony regarding dates and their inability to describe the apartment accurately. For example, although the manager of the building testified that Nelson moved from her apartment in January 1983, all of the girls testified that they had been in the apartment on dates after that time. When the girls were asked to draw a picture of the apartment, the defendants complain, they were unable to do so. None of the girls knew the apartment number, and only one witness was certain of what floor the apartment was on. But the State argues, and we can certainly agree, as indeed the Judge and jury found, that these minor discrepancies in the complaining witnesses' testimony can be explained by the extreme youth of the girls, the passage of time ...

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