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09/01/89 the People of the State of v. Webster Miles

September 1, 1989





544 N.E.2d 986, 188 Ill. App. 3d 471, 136 Ill. Dec. 211 1989.IL.1365

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Vincent Bentivenga, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE QUINLAN delivered the opinion of the court. EGAN, P.J., and LaPORTA, J., concur.


The defendant, Webster Miles, was charged with two counts of aggravated battery and one count of attempted murder. After a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County, the court found defendant guilty on all three charges, and then ruled that the two aggravated battery counts merged into the attempted murder count. Accordingly, the court entered judgment on the attempted murder count only and sentenced defendant to 10 years of incarceration. Defendant now appeals. We affirm.

The evidence presented at defendant's trial established the following. The defendant, Webster Miles, at the time of trial, was married to Patricia Miles. Prior to her marriage to the defendant, Patricia Miles had a child, Angelo, with the victim, Dwight Grant. Webster Miles, his wife, Patricia, Angelo, and their other children lived in an apartment in Chicago, Illinois. Patricia Miles' sister, Earlene Williams, and her husband, Charles, lived in the apartment next door. The victim, Grant, knew the Williamses also.

The testimony at trial established that there had been previous problems between the defendant and Grant. Grant had been to the Mileses' prior homes in the past, and in one incident, defendant and his wife said that the police were called when Grant allegedly threatened defendant with a gun. In Grant's testimony, he admitted that the police were called on one occasion when he went to the Mileses' apartment, but he denied that he had ever threatened defendant with a gun. The Mileses did not file a formal complaint against Grant, and the testimony indicated that, other than that one incident, the fights between the defendant and Grant were strictly verbal.

At about 1:30 p.m. on June 15, 1986, which was Father's Day, Grant went unannounced to the Mileses' apartment. Grant apparently went there to pick up his son Angelo for the day, but Angelo was not ready when he arrived. Grant and Patricia Miles then got into a heated argument, and, according to Patricia Miles, during the argument Grant knocked over a table and knocked some cards out of her hand. However, Grant testified that he and Patricia only had a minor verbal disagreement. The defendant was not present during the argument.

Following this argument between Grant and Patricia Miles, Grant went next door to the Williamses' apartment for a short time, and then left. Later, the defendant and his wife, Patricia, also went next door to the Williamses' apartment. At this time, defendant was unaware that Grant had been in his apartment earlier, or that Grant, while in the apartment, had argued with his wife. Thereafter, at about 4:30 p.m., Grant returned to the Williamses' apartment and, when he entered through the back door into the kitchen, the defendant was already in the kitchen of the Williamses' apartment. As soon as Grant came in through the back door, defendant then left through the back door, and although both had seen the other, there were no words exchanged between the two. When defendant left, he testified that he went next door to his own apartment.

After the defendant left the Williamses' apartment, Earlene Williams prepared a plate of food for defendant and took it next door to the defendant's apartment. Subsequent to Earlene Williams leaving defendant's apartment, defendant said, his daughter, Crystal, told him that Grant had been to their apartment earlier and had argued with Patricia Miles.

Defendant testified that he then returned to the Williamses' apartment, entering through the back door to the kitchen. He said that he had gone back to the Williamses' apartment to speak with Grant. When defendant entered the Williamses' apartment, Earlene Williams, Charles Williams, and a friend of theirs were all in the kitchen. Defendant stated that as he entered the kitchen, Grant was also entering the kitchen from the hallway. Grant began to yell at him, defendant said, but he could not understand what Grant was yelling. Defendant claimed that while Grant was yelling at him, Grant was pointing at him with one hand and had his other hand in his pocket. Defendant testified that even though he saw no weapon in Grant's free hand, he believed that Grant had some kind of weapon in his pocket. Defendant then confronted Grant in the hallway leading to the kitchen, and, while in the hallway, defendant picked up a 2 1/2-foot pipe from a pile of junk. It is the defendant's position that he picked up the pipe because Grant had threatened him on a previous occasion with a gun, and, thus, he wanted to ensure that Grant did not hit him with whatever was in his pocket. However, on cross-examination, defendant admitted that he was not afraid that Grant would hurt him, but rather, was angry since he had just discovered that Grant had argued with his wife about Angelo. Once defendant grabbed the pipe, he said, he hit Grant in the head once, but, because he was in the close confines of the hallway, he did not hit Grant with a full swing. Grant fell, and a bicycle fell on top of Grant as he fell down. Defendant stated that while Grant was on the floor, he hit him on his legs, as this was the only part of Grant's body that was not covered by the bicycle. Immediately thereafter, defendant said his wife ran into the hallway yelling at him to stop. He then stopped hitting Grant and ran out. Defendant said he did not intend to kill Grant.

During defendant's cross-examination testimony, the State introduced a statement signed by the defendant on August 8, 1986. In this statement, defendant said that when he first left the Williamses' apartment, he went out to the back porch, picked up a pipe, and then reentered the Williamses' apartment with the pipe in his hand. Furthermore, in his statement, defendant stated that Grant did not have any weapon in his hand and that he hit Grant in the head twice with the pipe, not once. When questioned by the State about these inconsistencies between his testimony and the statement, defendant explained that these portions of the statement were incorrect. He asserted that even though he knew and understood when he signed the statement that these particular portions of the statement were incorrect, he signed the statement anyway because the assistant State's Attorney who took the statement, Ms. Martin, had threatened to throw him in jail if he did not sign it.

In contrast to the defendant's version of the story, Grant testified that he did not threaten defendant at any time that day. He said that he did not have a weapon in his hands and that he did not have either of his hands in his pockets when defendant came into the kitchen. Additionally, Grant stated that when he saw the defendant come in the Williamses' back door, defendant already had a pipe, approximately 2 1/2 feet in length, and approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter, in his hands. Grant testified that defendant then came directly towards ...

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