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01/19/89 the People of the State of v. Richard Cochran

January 19, 1989





533 N.E.2d 558, 178 Ill. App. 3d 728, 127 Ill. Dec. 686 1989.IL.56

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Piatt County; the Hon. John P. Shonkwiler, Judge, presiding.


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


The events occurred at defendant's residence, where he lived with his wife Darla and their son. Cecilia Bohlen lived next door, where a wedding reception was held on the evening of August 8, 1987. Present at the reception were Pace, his wife Rebecca, Daniel Reynolds, and his fiancee, Teresa Bohlen, who is Rebecca Pace's sister. Cecilia Bohlen is Rebecca's and Teresa's aunt.

Daniel Reynolds testified while walking to his truck at about 8:30 or 9 p.m. following the reception, he heard someone say, "call the law" from near the Bohlen residence. As he approached the Bohlen residence in his truck, he slowed in order to pick up Teresa, who stopped Reynolds and spoke to him. Reynolds exited his vehicle and proceeded to the Cochran side of the fence between the two properties.

He observed Michael Pace between defendant and Darla, who stood against the fence. Defendant angrily yelled at Pace to stay out of it, that it wasn't any of his affair. Darla told defendant to leave her alone and to leave the premises. Defendant leaned in toward Pace with a pushing motion, hands waist-to-chest high, at a speed between a walk and a run. Pace then struck defendant in the jaw, and both men went to the ground.

Reynolds testified once he separated the two men, defendant and Pace faced each other, standing about 3 to 3 1/2 feet apart. Pace faced Reynolds and defendant's back was to Reynolds. When Pace "hesitated" and looked to his right, his arms and hands to his sides, defendant hit Pace in the eye. Pace fell on his back. Defendant then jumped on Pace. Reynolds testified defendant's knee-to-shoulder area landed on Pace. Reynolds again separated the men. Reynolds estimated from the time he broke up the first fight until defendant hit Pace, one to three minutes elapsed. Once Reynolds let defendant up, defendant walked to the back of the Cochran yard to speak to Rebecca Pace.

On cross-examination, Reynolds testified he and Pace had consumed beer and food at the wedding reception. He saw no physical violence between defendant and Darla during the incident.

On redirect, Reynolds testified that during the second scuffle, he stood 3 1/2 to 4 feet behind defendant, facing the same direction. Pace stood facing defendant.

Teresa Bohlen, now Teresa Reynolds, testified she had gone into her aunt's house to retrieve her purse prior to leaving. While walking through the living room, she heard someone say, "Becky, help me. Becky, help me." She did not recognize the voice, but knew it came from the Cochran's. Walking onto the front porch, she saw Darla against the fence with defendant in front of her. Darla's head leaned back over the top of the fence. Defendant's arms were extended in the vicinity of Darla's neck. Teresa could not see defendant's hands.

Teresa testified Pace ran toward the fence and Reynolds approached in his truck. She saw Pace run around the end of the fence into the Cochran yard. Teresa ran to the truck and told Reynolds defendant and Pace were "into it."

Teresa stated Pace stood between defendant and Darla, off to one side. Reynolds was also present. Pace, defendant, and Darla were yelling. Rebecca Pace and Teresa took Darla into the Bohlen home and called police. Teresa exited the house, then stood in the driveway to observe. She looked away from the scene and, when she looked back, defendant was on top of Pace.

After again entering and exiting the house, Teresa saw Reynolds on top of defendant, holding him down. When Reynolds released defendant, defendant repeatedly stated he wanted to talk to Rebecca. Rebecca and defendant walked toward the rear of defendant's house.

After examining Pace's injury, Teresa walked toward the back of defendant's house and, at a distance of five to six feet, overheard a conversation between Rebecca Pace and defendant.

"STATE'S ATTORNEY: What did you hear?

DEFENSE COUNSEL: Objection, Judge. Again, can we approach the Bench?

(Side bar held out of the hearing of the court reporter.)

THE COURT: Objection overruled. She may answer.

Q. What did you hear, Mrs. Reynolds?

A. I overheard Becky asking Rick why did he always hit Darla, why did he always beat on her, and Rick replied that --

DEFENSE COUNSEL: Objection to what Becky said. I think I can do that. That's hearsay.

STATE'S ATTORNEY: I don't think the conversation makes any sense with just one side of it.

THE COURT: Overruled. She may continue.

A. Rick replied, she just makes me so mad, Becky. She just ...

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