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05/19/97 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. CHRISTOPHER

May 19, 1997

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CHRISTOPHER HARRIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Paul J. Nealis, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication June 25, 1997.

The Honorable Justice Buckley delivered the opinion of the court. Wolfson and Braden* , JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Buckley

The Honorable Justice BUCKLEY delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, and kidnapping. Defendant raises the following three issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred in allowing evidence of other crimes allegedly committed by defendant; (2) whether defendant was deprived of effective assistance of counsel; and (3) whether the State made improper comments during closing arguments.

Defendant was indicted for the kidnapping and aggravated criminal sexual assault of D.W. At trial, D.W. testified that on June 11, 1993, at approximately 9:30 p.m., she was walking south on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, on her way to a local sandwich shop. As she approached the northwest corner of 113th and Michigan, she noticed a distinctive black Chevrolet Blazer, with a pink stripe on the side, pull up in front of her. The driver slid into the passenger seat, opened the door, grabbed D.W. by the shirt, and pulled her into the vehicle. As he was pulling her into the Blazer, the driver said, "you must be doing something wrong. You are under arrest for soliciting." D.W. identified defendant as the driver.

D.W. testified that defendant showed her a five-point badge and identified himself as a police officer. He handcuffed D.W. behind her back and told her to sit on the floor in front of the passenger seat. D.W. complied. Defendant then threw a coat over D.W.'s head, but D.W. could still see defendant's face. Defendant drove for between 20 and 45 minutes, during which time he told D.W. in graphic terms that he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her.

When the vehicle stopped, defendant said he was going to look for his partner and exited the truck. The coat was no longer over D.W.'s head, and she was able to see that defendant was wearing police uniform pants, black patent leather shoes and belt, and a black jacket. She also noticed that the radio was missing from the truck and wires were hanging out of the dashboard.

When defendant returned, he said he was unable to locate his partner. He drove for approximately another hour and finally pulled into a wooded area. Defendant exited the vehicle and walked around to the passenger side. He opened the passenger side door and told D.W. to sit sideways on the passenger seat with her legs dangling out the door. Defendant unzipped his pants and told D.W. to take off her clothes. Defendant took the handcuffs off one hand and removed D.W.'s clothes. He then left D.W. naked in the truck while he folded her clothes and left them nearby in the woods. When he returned, defendant had forcible intercourse with D.W. for about 15 minutes. Defendant then attempted to have anal intercourse with D.W., but he was unsuccessful.

Defendant dressed himself and handcuffed D.W. He then carried her into the woods and put her down next to her clothes. Defendant told D.W. to stay there until she could no longer see the lights on the Blazer. D.W. followed defendant's instructions. When the truck was out of sight, D.W. picked up her clothes and walked to the nearest house. She was still naked and unable to dress because she was handcuffed behind her back. She pounded on the door of the house, but no one answered. She went to the next house, and a woman answered the door. The woman wrapped a sheet around D.W. and called the police. The police arrived shortly and took D.W. to St. Francis Hospital in Blue Island. D.W. decided, however, that she just wanted to go home, so she left the hospital and went to her own doctor the next day.

On July 16, 1993, two Chicago police officers asked D.W. to review a book of mug shots. D.W. looked at the book and identified defendant as the man who raped her. Later that evening, D.W. viewed a lineup at the police station and again identified defendant. She also went to the garage and identified defendant's truck as the one in which she was raped.

On cross-examination, D.W. stated that only defendant was dressed in clothes similar to those of a police officer.

The State's next witness was D.H. She testified that defendant raped her on June 3, 1993. D.H. testified that she was walking south on King Drive when a man she identified in court as defendant pulled in front of her in a black Chevrolet Blazer with a pink stripe on the side. Defendant left the truck running, exited the vehicle, and approached D.H. Defendant showed D.H. a badge, told her she was under arrest, and attempted to handcuff her. D.H. resisted, but defendant forced her arms behind her back and put the handcuffs on. Defendant then threw D.H. into the front passenger side of the Blazer.

D.H. testified that defendant forced her onto the floor in front of the passenger seat and put a coat over her head. She said she could still see that he was wearing a black jacket, black shoes, blue pants, and a black baseball cap. Defendant drove for an hour or two, during which time D.H. observed that the radio was missing and wires were hanging out of the dashboard.

Defendant drove to a wooded area. He exited the vehicle, walked around to the passenger side, opened the door, and told D.H. to sit sideways on the passenger seat with her legs dangling out the door. Defendant undressed D.H. from the waist down and had forcible sexual and anal intercourse with her.

Defendant threw D.H.'s clothes into the woods and walked D.H. over to them. Defendant told D.H., naked from the waist down and handcuffed behind her back, not to move until she could no longer see the truck. D.H. waited, picked up her clothes, and went to the same house for help that D.W. went to eight days later. The same woman answered the door and called the police. The ...


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