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04/25/89 the People of the State of v. Johnny Freeman

April 25, 1989

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

JOHNNY FREEMAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SECOND DIVISION

538 N.E.2d 681, 182 Ill. App. 3d 731, 131 Ill. Dec. 306 1989.IL.597

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Fred G. Suria, Jr., Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE BILANDIC delivered the opinion of the court. HARTMAN and SCARIANO, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE BILANDIC

Defendant, Johnny Freeman, was convicted by a jury of criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping and murder of a five-year-old girl. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for murder, a consecutive sentence of 60 years in prison for aggravated criminal sexual assault, and a consecutive sentence of 15 years in prison for aggravated kidnapping. The conviction for criminal sexual assault merged into the conviction for aggravated criminal sexual assault.

Since defendant has not raised any issue on appeal relative to the sufficiency of the evidence, a detailed recital of facts is not necessary.

The evidence supporting the conviction established that defendant took the victim, a five-year-old female, from the fifth floor to a fourteenth-floor apartment of the Henry Horner Homes in Chicago. After committing criminal sexual assault on the victim, he shoved the victim out of a window. When the victim grabbed the edge of the window and screamed for her mother, defendant shoved her a second time. The victim fell to the ground 14 floors below. She was pronounced dead at Cook County Hospital.

Testimony of an eye witness, coupled with defendant's confession, is part of the overwhelming evidence of defendant's guilt., Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence. I, Defendant contends that certain comments made by the trial Judge during voir dire examination of the jury constitute reversible error and require a new trial.

Prior to voir dire, the court told the venire of their responsibility in determining guilt or innocence and that a finding of guilt depended on the State meeting its burden. During voir dire, two prospective jurors stated that they could not put aside their prejudices based on the charges. The court told the two jurors specifically and the jurors as a whole:

"We are not here to determine the caliber of the crime that I mentioned. We are here to determine whether or not the State can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant committed the crime.

Because one crime has been committed we do not want to perpetuate it by committing a second and convicting the wrong person. That is the reason we are having a trial.

So again, we are not here to determine whether or not a crime has been committed, but whether or not the State can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant committed that crime. Again, as ...


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