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11/15/89 the People of the State of v. Ramona Hood

November 15, 1989





547 N.E.2d 637, 191 Ill. App. 3d 129, 138 Ill. Dec. 470 1989.IL.1786

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. William Cousins, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE CERDA delivered the opinion of the court. FREEMAN, P.J., and WHITE, J., concur.


Defendant, Ramona Hood, was convicted of murder after a bench trial and was sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment. She argues on appeal that (1) her murder conviction should be reversed because the State failed to offer proof that she did not act under provocation which supported a conviction only for voluntary manslaughter; (2) one of the two convictions for murder should be vacated because she was convicted of only one killing and a new sentence must be imposed on the remaining conviction; (3) her sentence should be vacated because of the victim impact evidence at the sentencing hearing; and (4) her 30-year sentence was excessive.

Ronald Wyatt testified for the State that on December 3, 1985, he was at his father's house with his father and Wilbert Foster, the deceased. Foster was about 67 years old and was very intoxicated, and he could hardly stand up. Defendant arrived later, and Foster asked her several times to come to his apartment. Wyatt drove Foster and defendant to his building. Foster was unable to get out of the car because of his intoxication. After Wyatt helped Foster out of the car, he and defendant helped Foster into the building because he could hardly walk. Wyatt saw Foster and defendant enter the building, and Wyatt then left.

Detective John Dahlberg testified for the State that on December 31, 1985, he advised defendant of her rights and she stated that she understood them. She said that Foster asked her to come home with him, and she agreed to go there to have drinks. She had known Foster for about five years, and he paid to have sex with her. She assisted Foster into his apartment. They had drinks, and she then telephoned her boyfriend to say that she would be home soon. Foster asked her for sex, and she said that she did not have the time and he did not have any money anyway. She told Foster that she had to leave. He went to the bathroom and came out with his pants down, and he was fondling his penis. He came over to her and again asked for sex. She again refused.

As defendant was preparing to leave, Foster picked up a broom and hit her in the shoulder with it. She became angry and struggled over the broom. She knocked Foster down. She put on her coat, and Foster grabbed her from behind by putting his hand on her shoulder. She reached into her pocket for a knife and cut Foster on the leg. She then pushed him back towards the couch, and she stabbed him once in the abdomen. He fell to the couch. Defendant then left. She said she was not in fear for her life and that Foster was drunk and would not harm her.

Charles Head testified for the State that he was the building custodian for the Chicago Housing Authority senior citizen building where Foster lived in a neat apartment. On December 3, 1985, about 1 p.m., he observed Foster having trouble getting out of a car. Foster was intoxicated, and defendant was helping him. Foster encountered Head and Edna Townes in the lobby and he swore at Townes. When Foster was drunk, he was profane, belligerent, and argumentative. He found Foster's body the next day in his bed. The apartment was ransacked and bloody.

It was stipulated that if called, Dr. Tae An would testify that he conducted a post-mortem examination of Foster. Foster was 65 1/2 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds. He had stab wounds in his chest, back, and leg, and numerous multiple lacerations, cutting wounds, bruises, and abrasions. The cause of death was multiple stab wounds and incised wounds. Foster's blood tested positive for ethanol.

Defendant's motion for a directed finding of not guilty was denied. Defendant was found guilty of murder and armed violence, but the armed violence finding was vacated because there was "only one incident." Defendant's motion for a new trial was denied.

Leroy Grant testified for the State at the sentencing hearing that the death of his uncle had an emotional impact on him. Foster's death was a shock to Foster's brothers and sisters. Foster's eldest sister's heart condition was aggravated by the news of Foster's death, and she was obtaining counseling. The court overruled an objection to the hearsay testimony.

Defendant objected to the introduction into evidence of Grant's written victim impact statement on the basis that it was hearsay, that fairness dictated that defendant be permitted some opportunity for cross-examination, and that the statement was broad and generalized. Defendant also indicated that such a statement should not be considered unless there was some showing that the act had been intended to harm the victims. The trial court permitted the witness to testify ...

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