APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE WILLIAM COUSINS, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING.
Released for Publication July 14, 1994. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied October 6, 1994.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Murray
PRESIDING JUSTICE MURRAY delivered the opinion of the court:
Following a jury trial, Quinton Montes was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment with the Illinois Department of Corrections. The defendant appeals his conviction.
Defendant presents two issues for review: (1) Whether the trial court erred in failing to allow the defense to present evidence that the defendant had previously been the victim of a beating requiring hospital treatment; and (2) Whether the trial court erred in refusing to allow the defendant to cross-examine the interrogating police officer regarding his background in the Spanish language and in refusing to allow the defendant to testify concerning the difficulties he had in understanding the interrogating officer.
The relevant facts are as follows:
Isabelle Rutledge testified that on October 1, 1989, she was the resident manager at the Belshire, a 140-unit apartment building located at 1062 West Bryn Mawr in Chicago. Leon Ortiz (Ortiz) was employed as a night manager from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.. Ortiz had been employed at this building for at least one year and his duties included collecting rent and making the rounds of the hallways two or three times a night. Ms. Rutledge had never seen Leon Ortiz carry a weapon while he was working.
In order to gain entry into the apartment building without a key, a person would ring a doorbell and that tenant would have to come down and meet the guest at the door. Luiz Montes lived in apartment 308. Ms. Rutledge recognized the defendant as someone who had come into the apartment building on other occasions prior to October 1, 1989. She had no idea who he was visiting.
Officer Frederick Snyder testified that on October 1, 1989, at 2:35 a.m. he and Officer Karen Munn went to 1062 Bryn Mawr. As they passed through the foyer of the building into the lobby, they found a large area of blood throughout the lobby. Behind the counter they found an individual on the floor who had been stabbed multiple times. A knife was found on the floor next to the entrance of the office. A watch was found on the other side in the corner where the largest concentration of blood was located.
Detective Ronald Yawger testified that on October 1, 1989, he and Officer Joe Kazolek had been assigned to investigate the stabbing of Leon Ortiz. When they arrived at the scene there were large amounts of blood throughout the lobby area of the hotel. A brown handled pocket knife and a watch were recovered from the scene. Blood was splattered all over and there were tennis shoe prints in the blood that were not the same as the victim's shoe prints.
The victim was deceased when the officers first saw him. He was in a sitting position leaning against a wall and a metal desk. Ortiz had 14 stab wounds on his body. There was a large amount of blood everywhere, including all over the victim's body.
There was a trail of blood droplets leading out of the vestibule, out of the office area, out of the lobby, through the vestibule and out onto the sidewalk. The officers followed the droplets of blood which then led east on the sidewalk up to the alley. The trail continued northbound down the alley ending at the rear floor of a building at 5634 North Kenmore. The door was locked and the handle was bloody. The officers went around to the front of the building where they gained entry. They went down into the hallway and could see droplets of blood. The droplets of blood ended at apartment 3 in the basement area.
Officer Yawger later learned this was Montes' apartment. Upon entering the Montes apartment, he saw blood splatters on the kitchen wall. Mrs. Montes was present, Mr. Montes was not. When the officers left the building, they once again followed the blood splatters. The trail of blood continued out the front of the building, across the street, across Kenmore to 1025 Hollywood (a five-story apartment building with over 100 apartments). For each apartment in that building there is a doorbell. The button with number 11 on it was the only button that had blood on it. That buzzer went to apartment 209, the residence of Heriberto Rebollar and Justo Diaz. The officers went to apartment 209. Once again there was blood on the door handle. Mr. Rebollar answered the door. The officers looked in the apartment for Montes. Montes was not present. However, the police did recover a short sleeved gray shirt with blood on it.
Thereafter, the police returned to the Montes' apartment. Officer Guerrero was also present at this time. Mr. Montes was sitting in the kitchen. Montes was placed under arrest at this time. Montes had two cuts on his hand, one a very severe cut on his right index finger. He also had a little bruising around his neck.
Floyd Stevenson testified that on October 1, 1989, he was employed at the 1025 Hollywood building as a uniformed security officer. He began working at midnight that evening. Around 1 a.m. he began making his rounds of the parking lot. At approximately 2:30 a.m. he was standing in the entrance on the Kenmore side of the parking lot watching the area. At that time he saw a young man running down the street holding his hands together "real tight." The man ran around to the front of the 1025 Hollywood building. Mr. Stevenson identified Montes as the man he saw that evening.
Robert Lock testified that on October 1, 1989, at approximately 2:30 a.m. he was going to his home at 5634 North Kenmore. After he walked in his front door he noticed one of the tenants, Quinton Montes, standing in the doorway of his apartment. Montes was talking to a woman, and "he kind of ushered her into his apartment and shut the door." A few moments later Montes walked past him again. He kind of scurried past him going towards the alley out the back of the building. Montes was walking kind of bent over with his right hand close to his stomach and a bag under his arm.
Heriberto Rebollar testified that he had known the defendant for three years and considered him a friend. At approximately 2:30 a.m., October 1, 1989, Montes arrived at his home at 1025 Hollywood. Montes said he had a problem and was going to change. Montes' clothes were bloodied, and he changed and put them in a plastic bag. Although Montes asked to stay, Rebollar told him he didn't want any problems. Thereafter, the defendant left.
Rebollar testified that Montes did not leave any clothing behind, nor did Montes make any phone calls from the apartment. Montes lived one half block from Rebollar's apartment. Rebollar did not know why Montes wanted to spend the night. On cross-examination, Rebollar testified that if Montes had wanted to use his telephone he would not have allowed him to do so.
Chicago police officer Richard Guerrero testified that on October 1, 1989, he was assisting Detectives Ronnie Yawger and Joe Kazolic in a homicide investigation. In the course of the investigation he was at 1062 West Bryn Mawr. He spoke with several individuals at that building and then decided to try the offender's residence again. He went to an address on Kenmore where he spoke to a woman (he believed to be the defendant's wife) in Spanish. The officers stepped inside the apartment and saw the offender preparing himself breakfast. Montes' hand was bandaged and appeared to have dry blood on it. Officer Guerrero identified himself and placed Montes under arrest. He took Montes to the police station and placed him in the first interview room where he had a conversation with Montes. Detective Kazolic was also present. Montes was advised of his rights and he made a statement. Officer Guerrero testified that to the best of his recollection Montes gave the following statement. Montes stated he had gone to an apartment at 1062 West Hollywood where he tried to get in but the vestibule was locked. An unidentified male had a key and opened the door and the defendant followed him inside. As he entered, Montes was approached by a manger he knew and was told he was not allowed inside due to past problems. (On cross-examination Officer Guerrero testified that "past problems" might not have been his specific words.) Montes told the manager he wanted to visit a man on the sixth floor who lived with his aunt. The manager told Montes to ring for her and have her come down to see him. Montes then explained that his aunt recently had foot surgery and was unable to come downstairs. The manager told Montes to leave and the two men began to argue.
Montes stated that while they were arguing, the manager shoved Montes. This infuriated Montes because he is Mexican and has a violent temper. Montes pulled out a brown folding knife and stabbed the manager three or four times. When asked about the cuts on his hands, Montes stated that the cuts occurred when the knife folded across his hands, when the victim, trying to defend himself, tried to take the knife away from Montes. The unarmed manager was eventually able to ...