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12/18/89 the People of the State of v. Michael Williams

December 18, 1989





548 N.E.2d 738, 192 Ill. App. 3d 304, 139 Ill. Dec. 353 1989.IL.1974

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James Bailey, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE CAMPBELL delivered the opinion of the court. BUCKLEY, J., concurs. PRESIDING JUSTICE MANNING, specially Concurring.


Following a bench trial, the defendant, Michael Williams, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 80 years' imprisonment. Defendant appeals from the conviction and the sentencing.

On appeal, defendant contends that (1) he was denied effective assistance of counsel; (2) his confession, fingerprints and palm prints were improperly admitted since they were the fruit of an illegal arrest without probable cause; (3) he was denied due process where the trial Judge was predisposed to sentence defendant to 80 years' imprisonment if he was convicted; (4) it was improper to impose an extended-term sentence since this crime was the product of defendant's chronic alcoholism; (5) that the sentence of 80 years' imprisonment was excessive; and (6) he was denied his due process right to be present where the motion for a new trial was heard and denied in his absence.

At trial, Carol Dirschle, the victim's sister, testified that she last spoke to her sister, Karen Easton, on Thursday, May 23, 1985, at approximately 4 p.m. At that time, the victim's boyfriend, Gary Amos, was with her at her apartment at 6240 South Kedzie in Chicago. Amos visited with the victim until approximately 3 a.m. that evening and made plans to pick the victim up at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 25, 1985. On May 26, 1985, Dirschle went to her sister's apartment along with Amos. She found her sister lying next to her bed on the floor in an unconscious state. On June 6, 1985, the victim died at Cook County Hospital.

Gary Amos testified that he accompanied Karen Easton to her apartment on Thursday evening, May 23, 1985. He stayed there until approximately 3 a.m. and before leaving made plans to pick up the victim at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 25, 1986. He testified that when he came back to the apartment on Saturday morning, no one answered the door. Amos repeatedly tried to reach the victim that Saturday, including leaving a note at her apartment, but was unsuccessful. On Sunday, May 26, 1985, he went back to her apartment at about 1 p.m. and no one answered the bell. He eventually got in contact with the victim's sister, Carol Dirschle, and went to the victim's apartment with her sister. They entered the apartment with the key which Carol Dirschle had and found the victim lying naked on the floor alongside her bed. Amos identified photographs of how the victim looked when she was found, including a photo which showed contusions, bruises and marks on the throat area. A photograph of the victim's bathroom showed wooden chips on the floor and a door jamb which was splintered and broken. The door latch for the bathroom lock was completely broken away from the original setting and a piece of the closing mechanism was found on the floor.

Police officer Thomas Cannova testified that on May 29, 1985, he received information that he should talk to the defendant regarding a battery. Cannova went to defendant's third-floor apartment at 6253 South Whipple in Chicago and knocked on the door. Defendant answered the door, and Officer Cannova displayed his badge, introduced himself and told defendant that the police were conducting an investigation regarding a battery of a young woman and that he was needed for questioning. Defendant asked if he had to come to the police station, to which Officer Cannova responded that he did not, "but if he didn't have anything to worry about, why wouldn't he come." Defendant agreed to accompany Officer Cannova, and the officer gave defendant his Miranda rights. Officer Cannova further stated that he did not handcuff the defendant or place him under arrest.

Defense counsel and the State stipulated that if William Cummings were called to testify, he would state that on May 23, 1985, he resided in a third-floor apartment at 6240 South Kedzie and that, at 3:15 a.m. on May 24, 1985, he was sleeping when his friend, the defendant, knocked on his door and asked him to come out and have a few drinks with him. The defendant was drunk, and Cummings told him that he was going back to bed. At that time the defendant became abusive and loud and Cummings shut the door and returned to bed.

On May 29, 1985, the defendant was brought into police headquarters for questioning. Detective Tuider testified that he and Detective Quillis first took defendant's finger and palm prints and then proceeded to interview him. Tuider asked the defendant as to his whereabouts on the evening of May 23, 1985, and the early morning hours of May 24, 1985, and the defendant stated that he was home sleeping. Tuider then confronted the defendant with the statement by William Cummings, and the defendant stated that his original story must have been mistaken, and that he remembered going to a tavern and doing some drinking, but didn't remember what happened after that and just remembered waking up in the morning at home. Detective Tuider left the defendant in the interview room for several hours. When Tuider returned, the defendant asked to speak to an assistant State's Attorney.

Assistant State's Attorney James Kogut testified that he spoke to defendant at about 11:15 p.m. on May 29, 1985, explained that he was an assistant State's Attorney and not defendant's lawyer, and advised defendant of his rights. Defendant initially stated that he had been drinking and went home after going to the Last Minute Lounge on 63rd Street in Chicago and that he did not remember anything else. Kogut then confronted the defendant with evidence he had linking defendant to the scene. Defendant then stated he remembered being at the building but did not remember knocking on Cummings' door. Defendant stated he did not remember his whereabouts from 3 a.m. to 3:45 a.m. Kogut told the defendant that he would be on duty until 7 a.m. and to call him if he remembered anything. Defendant asked to speak to Kogut again at about 1 a.m. Kogut reentered the interview room and readvised the defendant of his Miranda rights. The defendant told Kogut that he had been drinking at the Last Minute Lounge beginning at 4:30 p.m. on May 23, 1985, and left the lounge to find someone to continue partying with him. He went to the home of his friend, William Cummings, but Cummings told him to go away and slammed the door in his face. A door then opened across the hall, and there was a girl standing there. The defendant stated he pushed his way in and had a conversation with the girl and tried to talk the girl into partying with him. He indicated he had a beer with the girl, and thereafter, she fled into the bathroom and locked the door, but the defendant pushed the door down. The defendant grabbed her throat and dragged her into the bedroom. Defendant's statement was reduced to writing, and he was placed under arrest.

The parties stipulated that Dr. Robert Stein, the Cook County medical examiner, would testify that the cause of the victim's death was manual strangulation complicated by bronchial pneumonia and empyema. It was also stipulated that he found contusions on the victim's forehead and arm and abrasions on her nose and leg. The parties also stipulated that the testimony of Chicago police department fingerprint expert John A. Olejniczak would establish that the ...

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