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08/31/89 the People of the State of v. James Saunders

August 31, 1989





543 N.E.2d 1078, 187 Ill. App. 3d 734, 135 Ill. Dec. 510 1989.IL.1359

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. John E. Sype, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE INGLIS delivered the opinion of the court. LINDBERG and McLAREN, JJ., concur.


Defendant, James Saunders, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Winnebago County which dismissed his amended petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred in not holding an evidentiary hearing on his petition given that he alleged that (1) a recent evidentiary discovery showed that the State used unreliable scientific evidence at his trial; and (2) the absence of black persons from the jury venire deprived him of his right to be tried by a jury selected from a fair cross-section of the community. We affirm.

In January 1982, defendant was charged with home invasion (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 12-11), rape (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 11-1), and deviate sexual assault (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 11-3). Following a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of all three offenses and was sentenced to concurrent terms of 40 years' imprisonment. Defendant took a direct appeal to this court (People v. Saunders (1984), 122 Ill. App. 3d 922), which affirmed his convictions.

On April 3, 1987, defendant filed an amended pro se petition for post-conviction relief pursuant to the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 122-1 et seq.). In the petition, defendant alleged that he was denied effective assistance of counsel, both at trial and on direct appeal, that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, that the State used unreliable scientific evidence at his trial, and that he was denied his right to a jury representing a fair cross-section of the community. On June 5, 1987, the State filed a motion to dismiss defendant's petition, alleging that defendant's allegations in the petition were either vague or waived. On July 24, 1987, the trial court granted the State's motion to dismiss defendant's petition. Defendant filed a timely notice of appeal.

The evidence adduced at defendant's trial showed that on the morning of January 12, 1982, defendant knocked on the victim's door and showed the victim a postcard after she opened the door. Defendant asked the victim if the card was hers, but before she could answer, defendant struck her in the face with his fist. Defendant entered the victim's apartment and pushed her into the bedroom. Defendant proceeded to throw her onto the bed and cut off her clothing with a knife. Defendant then used an electrical cord to tie her wrists together and bind her to the bed. Defendant then repeatedly beat and raped the victim and forced her to perform fellatio on him. Defendant also forced the victim into the bathroom, had her lie down in the bathtub, and urinated on her face.

One of the victim's neighbors heard someone screaming in the apartment building and went to the victim's apartment. The neighbor knocked on the victim's door but received no response. However, she did notice that the victim's car engine was running in the parking lot and decided to call the police. The police arrived at the victim's apartment and began to knock on the front door. After approximately 10 minutes of knocking on the door, one officer received permission from his supervisor to enter the victim's apartment through a window. As the officer was doing so, defendant opened the front door of the apartment and shouted "emergency." Defendant was arrested, and the police officers entered the apartment and found the victim in the bedroom. The victim was lying on the bed in the nude, crying, and her face was covered with blood.

Defendant testified at trial that he was under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and psilocybin (a hallucinogen) while he was at the victim's apartment. Furthermore, defendant stated that the victim consented to the sexual activity. Defendant testified that he had an ongoing sexual relationship with the victim and had had sex with her on four or five previous occasions. Defendant stated that the victim would pay him money to participate in her sexual fantasies involving bondage. However, the victim did not have any money to pay defendant after he participated in the sexual activity on the date in question. According to defendant, he became angry when the victim did not pay him for engaging in the sexual activity with her. Defendant stated that he hit the victim in the face, and she fell onto the bathroom floor. Defendant further stated that the victim aggravated her injuries when she hit her head on the fixtures in the bathroom.

One aspect of defendant's defense at trial concerned the victim's alleged use of the drug dimethyltryptamine , a controlled substance. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1204(d)(6).) Emmett Harmon, a toxicologist and clinical chemist, testified that he performed a drug screen on a sample of the victim's blood. Harmon stated that he detected a "very sizable quantity" of DMT in the victim's blood sample. Harmon stated that it was not natural to find DMT in a person's blood, and that it would have to be artificially placed into a person's body for it to show up in the blood on a drug screen.

Dr. Carl Hamann, a psychiatrist, testified that DMT is a hallucinogen and is similar to LSD. Dr. Hamann stated that an individual under the influence of DMT would experience an alteration of all sensory perceptions and would be unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy.

The victim denied ingesting any hallucinogenic drug on the day in question. In addition, the State called Dr. Joerg Pirl, assistant chief toxicologist at the Department of Public Health, to testify as to the results of the tests he performed on the victim's blood samples. Dr. Pirl testified that he performed a mass ...

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