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People v. Steward

March 31, 1998


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Dennis J. Porter, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Tully delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Steven Steward, was charged with one count of attempted first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/8-4, 9-1 (West 1992)), five counts of attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/8-4, 12-14(a)(4) (West 1992)), six counts of aggravated kidnapping (720 ILCS 5/10-2(a)(3) (West 1992)), one count of attempted criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/8-4, 12-13(a)(1) (West 1992)), two counts of kidnapping (720 ILCS 5/10-1(a)(1) (West 1992)), three counts of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-4(a) (West 1992)), and one count of unlawful restraint (720 ILCS 5/10-3(a) (West 1992)). Following a jury trial, he was convicted of one count of attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/8-4, 12-14(a)(4) (West 1992)) and one count of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-4(a) (West 1992)). Defendant filed a pro se motion for a new trial and his post-trial appointed counsel filed a supplemental motion for a new trial, which the trial court denied. He was sentenced to an extended 25-year prison term for attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault and a 5-year prison term for aggravated battery, to run concurrently. Defendant now appeals the judgment of conviction. This court has jurisdiction pursuant to section 6 of article VI of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 6) and Supreme Court Rule 603 (134 Ill. 2d R. 603).

For the reasons which follow, we affirm.


The trial court heard two pre-trial motions. First, defendant sought to impeach the victim, Patrice B. (hereinafter "Patrice"), at trial with several aliases that she used previously in connection with prostitution arrests. The trial court granted defendant's motion, finding that the use of the aliases was relevant to Patrice's credibility. However, it stated that defendant could not elicit information that Patrice had been arrested for prostitution, and could not ask questions that would violate the rape shield statute. Second, the trial court granted the State's motion to impeach defendant at trial with his prior felony conviction for aggravated criminal sexual assault, as well as with the length and date of the sentence. The trial court acknowledged that such evidence would be "somewhat prejudicial" because of the "similarity of offenses." However, it noted that "the prejudicial value is outweighed in this particular case because the jury should know, if he has a motive to lie, just what that motive to lie is and the extent of the motive to lie."

During opening statements, defense counsel stated the following. "As you will hear from the doctors, it is very unlikely that was able to do this [cause defendant's injury] with just her hands. Something had to be used to make this laceration from the front to the back of the anatomy of Mr. Steward."

At trial, Patrice testified that on December 2, 1993, at approximately 4:15 p.m., she was walking in her neighborhood near Van Buren and Kilpatrick in Chicago and saw a friend named Fancy. As she talked with Fancy, defendant walked by and said "Hey baby." When he later asked, "You have a minute?", Patrice said "No." Defendant followed Patrice, grabbed her neck from behind, and dragged her into an apartment building at Van Buren and Kilpatrick. Defendant brought Patrice into a bedroom and said, "Bitch, let me see what you are working with." Patrice ran to the back door, where defendant caught her and punched her in the eye. Defendant then pulled Patrice back into the bedroom, undressed himself and jumped on the bed. He told Patrice, "I just want to f--- you to death. Now let me see what you're working with." Patrice pretended to take off her shirt, and again ran to the back door. Defendant pulled her back into the apartment and hit her on the head and leg several times with a hammer, causing her head to bleed. Defendant also bit her on the hand and the arm.

Patrice then told defendant that she would do what he wanted. Defendant again brought her to the bedroom and made her remove the three shirts she was wearing. Patrice noticed blood coming from her head, and saw blood on her shirts. At trial, Patrice identified those bloody shirts, as well as her headband that fell off when she was in the kitchen. She also testified that after defendant made her take off the shirts, he stood naked in front of her and told her to perform oral sex on him. Patrice then kneeled, grabbed his "groins" and "pulled them for life." Defendant dropped the hammer and fell to his knees, and Patrice ran from the apartment.

Fancy saw Patrice outside and called an ambulance. At Loretto Hospital, Patrice received stitches in her head. She was also treated for the following injuries: a blackened eye, cuts on her back, puncture wounds on her legs, and bite marks on her hand and arm. Patrice testified that while she was at the hospital, she told police officers who questioned her that her name was "Lisa." At the hospital, Patrice identified defendant's picture among a layout of five photographs. She also admitted that she had used different names and birthdates in the past. In addition, Patrice testified that she had used heroin on the day she was attacked.

Chicago police officer Michael Kapior questioned Patrice at the hospital. According to Officer Kapior, Patrice described her attacker's tattoo and clothing. However, he denied that Patrice told him that her name was Lisa. In addition, he testified that he had received a hammer from one of the physicians who told him that the hammer had been taken from Patrice. Officer Kapior identified the hammer, which was introduced as an exhibit at trial, as the one that he had received at the hospital, but testified that the hammer was not in the same condition as when he first saw it. At the hospital, there was dried blood, hair and tissue on the claw of the hammer that was missing at trial.

Thomas Ginnelly, a Chicago police forensic investigator, testified that the hair and the blood found on the hammer had been processed for evidence. However, Officer Ginnelly had not removed or tested any of the blood or hair himself. When Officer Ginnelly first saw Patrice at the hospital, he noticed that she had been beaten. She had swollen eyes, a large puncture wound on the top of her head, several puncture wounds on her back, and injuries on her hand and arm. Officer Ginnelly went to defendant's apartment as assigned, and found blood on the kitchen floor, bloodied shirts in the bedroom and living room, and a headband in the kitchen.

After Patrice was treated for her injuries at the hospital, Dr. John Kenney, a forensic odontologist, photographed the bite marks on Patrice's arm, and made a cast imprint of them. He also photographed defendant's mouth and made casts of defendant's teeth. Dr. Kenney testified that one of the bite marks on Patrice's arm was consistent with the cast of defendant's teeth.

Chicago police officer Stanley Kroll investigated Patrice's case. He was also assigned to interview defendant, who was being treated at Cabrini Hospital. Officer Kroll testified that he observed defendant's injury, and that he photographed defendant's tattoo on his right arm and his upper body. Patrice identified defendant from that photograph.

Dr. Balakrisha Sundar, a board-certified urologist specializing in genital urinary surgery, testified that he was called to the emergency room of Cabrini Hospital to consult on a laceration to defendant's scrotum. Dr. Sundar described defendant's injury as follows:

"The laceration or the cut extended all the way from the right to the left side of the scrotum, dividing the scrotum skin into a front half and a back half. This exposed both the testicles, which were then hanging freely down to the cut skin edges. There was some crushing of the skin edges and some parts of the wound. That's my description of the laceration."

According to Dr. Sundar, it was possible for the injury to have been caused by someone pulling on the scrotum with his or her hand with a lot of force. On cross-examination, Dr. Sundar testified that the "wound did not appear clean cut," and that it was not "a sharp cut laceration" because there was a "crushing of the skin edges." Furthermore, he testified that he was not able to determine exactly how the wound was caused.

Defense counsel asked Dr. Sundar whether he was familiar with defendant's emergency department record from Cabrini Hospital, and Dr. Sundar responded that he was. Dr. Sundar believed that the record was written by the emergency room physician who had asked him to consult on defendant's injury. Defense counsel pointed out to Dr. Sundar that the emergency department record stated that defendant sustained a 6 to 7 centimeter "lacerated scrotum with a razor," and asked Dr. Sundar whether his independent findings were consistent with the emergency room physician's finding. Dr. Sundar testified that he believed the laceration to be 10 centimeters. Regarding whether the laceration was caused by a razor, he testified, "It's difficult to know what object caused the injury, except it was not made with a very sharp object." Regina Golliday testified that she met defendant in 1993, when he was incarcerated. Defense counsel objected to the incarceration testimony. The trial court sustained the objection and instructed the jury to disregard the ...

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