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08/01/89 the People of the State of v. James V. Faulkner

August 1, 1989

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

JAMES

v.

FAULKNER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WELCH, DEFENDANT, JAMES

v.

FAULKNER, APPEALS HIS SEPTEMBER 9, 1987, CONVICTION OF MURDER FOLLOWING A JURY TRIAL IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY.



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT

542 N.E.2d 1190, 186 Ill. App. 3d 1013, 134 Ill. Dec. 683 1989.IL.1183

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Williamson County; the Hon. Donald Lowery, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE WELCH delivered the opinion of the court. HARRISON and RARICK, JJ., concur.

The following evidence was adduced at trial. The defendant's son, also named James Faulkner, and known as Jimmy Faulkner, stated that sometime around July 4, 1984, his mother, father and the victim had gone out drinking together. While they were out socializing, Jimmy and his two sisters stayed home and were in bed before their parents and the victim returned. Sometime after midnight Jimmy heard his parents and the victim talking in his parents' bedroom. After hearing conversation between his father and the victim regarding the victim having had sex with the defendant's wife, the defendant entered Jimmy's room and asked him to accompany him and observe something. At that time, the defendant was holding a knife which was identified by Jimmy during trial. As Jimmy and his father entered the parents' bedroom, Jimmy saw his mother on top of the victim engaging in sexual intercourse.

After entering his parents' bedroom and witnessing his mother on top of the victim, Jimmy saw the defendant push his mother off the victim and stab the victim once in the chest with the knife. The victim fell out of the bed and the defendant dragged the victim into the bathroom and placed him in the bathtub. Jimmy testified that the victim was still alive at that point in time. Defendant then had Jimmy retrieve a baseball bat. After obtaining the baseball bat, the defendant closed the bathroom door and beat the victim with the bat for what Jimmy approximated to be two to three minutes. The defendant and his wife then wrapped the victim's body in a painting canvas and moved the body from the bathtub to the garage, where they placed the body in the trunk of defendant's Ford LTD. When the body was placed in the trunk, Jimmy did not detect any sign of life.

With the victim's body in the trunk of the car, the defendant and his family drove the body from their home in Marion, Illinois, to defendant's mother's home in East St. Louis, Illinois. After an unsuccessful attempt at digging a grave in which to bury the victim's body at an uncertain location down a dirt road near East St. Louis, the family returned to the defendant's mother's home. The following day, with the victim's body still in the trunk, the family returned to Marion. Once back in the Marion area, the family drove to what the defendant's son Jimmy described as a "strip pit." There, Jimmy, the defendant and his wife removed the victim's body from the trunk of the car and dropped it down an embankment, where it rolled into a tree and stopped. The defendant then piled tires and other trash on top of the body in an attempt to conceal it.

Jimmy testified further that after the family returned to their home, the defendant and his wife scrubbed the bedroom floor. Coconut oil was poured on the carpet and a fan was used in an attempt to dry the oil. Defendant also removed the carpet from the trunk of the car and instructed Jimmy to take the knife with which defendant stabbed the victim and throw it in the Marion reservoir.

Still on direct examination, Jimmy stated that he did not report the incident pertinent herein until approximately three years after its occurrence because he was afraid of his father. He supported this with a claim that, during his freshman year in high school, his father had broken his nose. He also claimed that his love for his father was partly to blame for his hesitation in reporting the killing. After his father was arrested, Jimmy informed the defendant's attorney that he fabricated in its entirety the story implicating his father. He stated that his reason for telling defendant's attorney that his story was false was because his mother was always screaming at him. Although Jimmy felt bad about his father being in jail, he was still uncomfortable about the possibility of his father being released from jail.

On cross-examination, Jimmy stated that he began having problems at home and at school in the summer of 1985. He resorted to running away from home periodically between 1985 and 1987. Again, he admitted to making the confession to defendant's attorney that, as a result of the problem-plagued relationship between he and his father, he had fabricated the story about his father killing the victim. At no time did Jimmy return to defendant's attorney's office and recant the confession.

Within the week preceding trial, the prosecuting attorney and a police officer visited Jimmy at school. During cross-examination, defendant's counsel directed Jimmy's attention to that visit, and asked "[a]t that point in time were you told anything by the States Attorney's Office or by Officer McCoskey?" The State objected, basing its objection on the lack of clarity in the question and the question's failure to be within the scope of cross-examination. The court sustained the objection, and defendant's counsel did not rephrase the question or otherwise take an alternative approach to eliciting the testimony sought. At the close of cross-examination, Jimmy was asked if he wanted his father to come home, to which he responded that he did not.

The defendant's daughter, Valerie Faulkner, testified that the victim had visited their house a few times. The day of the killing, her mother and father had had an argument. After the argument, her father left the home, and the victim came to the home while her father was away. While the victim was still at their home, her father returned. Shortly thereafter, her mother and father went to a tavern with the victim. While the three were gone, she and her sister went to sleep in the living room, and Jimmy went to sleep in the girls' bedroom. Later that evening, Valerie awoke and heard her father ask the victim if he had slept with anyone besides the defendant's wife. She then heard her father go into the bathroom, then into the kitchen. She stated that she heard her father get into the silverware drawer in the kitchen. Next, she heard her father get Jimmy, and he and Jimmy went to the parents' bedroom where her mother and the victim were. After hearing her brother and father enter the parents' bedroom, she heard her father say "sayonara, Bill," after which she heard her mother begin screaming. Her father then came out of the bedroom and told her and her sister to go into their bedroom where Jimmy had been sleeping.

Once in her bedroom, Valerie heard the victim's body being moved into the bathroom, which was next to her bedroom. She heard some apologies said by the victim and her father, and the sound of running water, but heard no other sounds. Later, her father, mother and brother came into the girls' bedroom. At that time the girls' mother and brother were crying. The defendant told them that he had killed the victim because the victim had been sleeping with their mother. In Valerie's presence, the defendant looked at his wife and screamed "I did it for her!"

After corroborating Jimmy's testimony pertaining to the placement of the victim's body in the trunk of the car and transporting it to East St. Louis, Valerie stated that she was uncertain as to the ultimate destiny of the body. She testified further that she never wanted to tell anyone about the incident because she was scared of her father. She said he had beaten her, his wife, and Jimmy. Moreover, two days before her father was arrested, he told her that he was concerned that Jimmy might inform authorities about the incident. On May 5, 1987, the day before an arrest warrant was issued for defendant's arrest, Valerie was questioned by authorities. After telling police authorities her story, and after the defendant had been arrested, Valerie's mother took her to the defendant's attorney's office where, according to a plan contrived by her mother and father, she agreed to tell her father's attorney that the story she had previously told authorities was a lie.

On cross-examination, Valerie stated that on the night she told police authorities her version of the incident, the authorities had informed her that her mother could be in trouble and could possibly be charged with crimes if Valerie failed to tell the truth. On further cross-examination, she confessed to having gone to the defendant's attorney's office after the defendant's arrest, accompanied by her mother and brother, and informing the defendant's attorney that the story she told the police authorities was fabricated by her, her mother, and her brother Jimmy.

Judith Faulkner, the defendant's wife, testified that she first met the victim around 1972 in the Menard Penitentiary. She admitted to knowing the victim, but denied being a friend of his, and claimed that she never had a sexual relationship with him. She stated that the victim had only been to the family's home once, and that was in 1984 when he came to pick up a trunk that belonged to him. She testified that the victim was never injured or stabbed while in her home. Seemingly to the contrary, she admitted that on May 5, 1987, she made a statement before a State prosecutor and a police officer indicating that the defendant, her husband, had killed the victim. She claimed, however, that this statement was offered only after she had been threatened by the prosecutor and police officer. According to her testimony, the statement she gave the prosecutor and police officer was the story fabricated by her son. Her statement did match that of her son, with some minor variations.

On cross-examination, Mrs. Faulkner testified that she had not gone back to the prosecutor or police officer to tell them what actually happened because she was confident, based on previous encounters with the police, that they would not believe her. She stated that when she and her son Jimmy made up the story about the defendant killing the victim, the family was full of tension and fear, focused on or initiated primarily by the defendant. The fabrication was presumably an attempt to rid the family of defendant's presence. According to Mrs. Faulkner, the story was based on Jimmy's awareness that the victim was leaving town for good because somebody was after him.

Susan Gregory, a counselor for the Women's Center in Carbondale, Illinois, testified that she had counseled Mrs. Faulkner on several occasions after the State's Attorney's office had referred Mrs. Faulkner for counseling. During their first meeting, Mrs. Faulkner told her that the defendant had killed the victim with a knife while she and the victim were having sexual intercourse.

Officer Wiseman testified that he searched the defendant's home prior to defendant's arrest. While he was investigating the premises, Mrs. Faulkner left voluntarily in response to a request that she report for an interview. As she left, Officer Wiseman heard the defendant say to her: "Just dumb as a doorknob. Don't tell them shit. You don't know shit."

Illinois State police officer James Buckley, who, in addition to being a road patrolman, is a member of the Underwater Search and Recovery Team , testified that he was assigned to recover the knife that the defendant threw into the Marion Reservoir. On the day of the recovery, Jimmy Faulkner was present at the reservoir and supplied information to the USART captain as to where he was standing when he threw the knife, and threw a stone to indicate the vicinity where the knife entered the water. The knife was recovered and identified.

Katie Adams testified that she was a social worker and had had occasion to speak with the defendant, Mrs. Faulkner, and Jimmy Faulkner. She stated that during one conversation with the defendant, he asked her if she had ever worked with a client who had killed someone. She responded that she had worked with clients who had killed someone before, and inquired whether the defendant had killed someone. To this inquiry, he responded that there were certain things that the social worker did not need to know and should not be told. Further, she stated that defendant had told her that he intentionally instilled fear in his family and had beaten his son Jimmy in the past.

Frank Cooper, a crime scene investigator for the Illinois State Police, testified that he examined the bathroom in the defendant's home in search of any blood, tissue or damage to the drain handle control present therein. He did not report any blood or tissue in the bathroom, but did state that the drain handle control was broken off and missing. He also was involved in a search of the bedroom in which the victim was stabbed, wherein the surface of the wooden floor was covered in part with a powder-like residue. The mattress in the bedroom had some red-colored stains on it. Further, red-colored stains were found in the trunk of the defendant's automobile.

Kevin Zeebs, an employee with the Southern Illinois Forensic Science Laboratory specializing in serology, testified that he performed tests on portions of the mattress from the defendant's bedroom. Although light pink coloration patterns typical of bloodstains were visible on the mattress, the blood tests were negative. The carpeting from defendant's bedroom had no visible bloodstains on it. Tests on the wood flooring did react positive for the presence of blood, although tests specifically intended to determine if the blood was from a ...


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