APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT
547 N.E.2d 735, 191 Ill. App. 3d 187, 138 Ill. Dec. 568 1989.IL.1844
Appeal from the Circuit Court of McLean County; the Hon. Luther H. Dearborn, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE GREEN delivered the opinion of the court. LUND and KNECHT, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE GREEN
Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of aggravated battery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 12-4(b)(1)) and acquitted of armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 18-2(a)). He appeals, contending (1) evidence of a statement which was purportedly related to plea bargaining was improperly admitted at his trial; (2) in closing argument, the prosecutor improperly defined the concept of reasonable doubt to the jury in such a manner as to lessen the State's burden of proof; and (3) the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a deadly weapon was used in the battery of which he was convicted.
At defendant's trial, the victim, who is a haircutter by profession, stated that on the evening of December 19, 1987, he attended a Christmas party at the residence of Carol Wright. Several persons at the party were acquaintances whom the victim had met while a student at the Bloomington Academy of Beauty Culture. Defendant was among the guests at the party. The victim stated that during the course of the party, he saw defendant with a knife and that defendant talked about trading the knife for a hair-shaping razor blade, which is used for thinning hair. Defendant stated that he knew that Carol Wright possessed such a razor blade. During the party, the victim briefly saw the defendant in possession of a hair-shaping razor blade in the back bedroom of the Wright residence.
The victim further testified that he left the party at approximately 10:30 or 11 p.m. in the company of defendant and Paul Childs. The victim agreed to give defendant and Childs a ride to another party in the victim's car. The defendant sat in the front seat, and Childs sat in the middle of the backseat as the victim drove the car. There was no one at the scene of the party which defendant and Childs wanted to attend, and the victim therefore decided to return to the party at Wright's residence. En route, the victim "stop[ped] by a girl's house" at the request of defendant and Childs. When they arrived at that location, Childs left the car and was gone for a maximum of 10 to 15 minutes. After Childs left the car, the victim discovered that a bottle of vodka which had been in his car was missing. The victim frisked Childs upon his return, found the vodka in his possession, took it from him, and placed it by the driver's door of his car. When the victim took the bottle of vodka away from Childs, Childs claimed that it was his. The victim stated that he knew the vodka was his (the victim's) because it was still in a bag bearing the name of the store at which he had purchased it, and he knew that Childs did not have the vodka when he got into the car.
The victim stated that after recovering his bottle of vodka, he began to drive his car to the Wright residence. After driving a distance of one-half block, defendant pulled out "something like a knife," put it against the victim's throat and told the victim to take him and Childs to "Sunnyside." The defendant stated that if the victim did not cooperate, he would get hurt. The victim thereupon drove for a further distance, while the defendant continuously held the sharp object against his throat. The victim pulled the car over to a curb a couple of blocks from the Law and Justice Center. At that point, defendant turned off the ignition and grabbed the keys to the victim's car. The victim stated that at the same time, he grabbed the right hand of defendant, which was holding the knife, hit it against the steering wheel, and squeezed out of the car. The victim did not immediately know what happened to the object which the defendant was holding.
After squeezing out of his car, the victim ran two blocks to the police station and reported the incident. He then returned to his car in the company of a police officer. They discovered that the glove compartment of the victim's car had been ransacked and that the bottle of vodka was missing.
The victim further testified that about a week after the incident involving the defendant, a friend of his discovered a "hair shaping blade" under the seat of the victim's car. This was the same type of hair-shaping blade which he saw in defendant's possession during the party at the Wright residence. The victim further stated that the blade was not in his car prior to the evening of the party at the Wright residence and that when the victim's friend discovered the blade in the victim's car, it had a dried red substance on it which looked like blood.
The victim also testified that when he got to the police station, he noticed that his shirt had bloodstains on it and that there was blood on his neck. He further stated that after defendant placed the sharp object against his neck, he felt pain.
On cross-examination, the victim testified that he never saw defendant with the bottle of vodka. He further stated that he did not know what the object was which the defendant held to his neck. The victim further testified that while defendant held the object against his neck, defendant also had his other hand on the victim's neck. The victim acknowledged that the pain which he experienced at the time could have been caused by defendant's other hand, and that the cuts which he sustained could have been inflicted during the struggle just before he squeezed out of his car. The victim also acknowledged that he had had quite a bit to drink on the evening in question. The victim further testified on cross-examination that the defendant was not wearing gloves on the night of the party at the Wright residence.
On redirect examination, the victim stated that the injury to his neck consisted of both straight and jagged cuts, and that the straight cuts were "razor fine." He further stated that a couple of weeks after the incident involving the defendant, he discovered that a coat which had been in his car on that evening was also missing.
When asked on re-cross-examination if the cuts on his neck could have been caused by fingernails, the victim stated:
"I don't think so, I don't think so for the fact that they were longer. When you get scratched with a fingernail, it more or less scrapes instead of cuts. It was a clean ...