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People v. Adams

December 10, 1999

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
V.
BRADLEY L. ADAMS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 95CF482 Honorable Thomas R. Appleton, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Knecht

JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court:

After a jury trial in April 1996, defendant, Bradley Adams, was found guilty of four counts of first degree murder, one count of aggravated battery, and one count of concealment of a homicide. 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a), 12-4(a), 9-3.1 (West 1994). In June 1996, the court vacated the aggravated battery conviction and imposed an extended term of 65 years' imprisonment for first degree murder and a consecutive 5-year term for concealment of a homicide. Defendant appeals, arguing (1) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of his prior misconduct; (2) the trial court erred in failing to compel the testimony of a defense witness; (3) the State improperly commented on his post-arrest silence; (4) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for first degree murder; and (5) the trial court improperly considered an aggravating factor in imposing his sentence. We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand with directions.

I. BACKGROUND

In August 1995, defendant was charged with first degree murder, aggravated battery, and concealment of a homicide in connection with the February 1995 death of his girlfriend, Molly Sullivan. In March 1996, the trial court held a pretrial hearing on a motion by the State to admit evidence of defendant's prior misconduct. At the hearing, the State called Eva Golterman to testify about an incident between her and defendant in the fall of 1993.

In October 1993, Golterman and defendant were engaged to be married and lived in separate units at the Park West Apartment complex (Park West) in Springfield, Illinois. Golterman described an incident when she and defendant were leaving Park West. Golterman stopped to check her mail and found a letter addressed to her from Francis Krupka. Golterman opened the letter in defendant's presence and read the first few sentences, which indicated defendant and Krupka were involved in a homosexual relationship. Defendant grabbed the letter and ran to his apartment. Golterman followed and asked defendant to return the letter. When defendant refused, Golterman confronted him about his alleged relationship with Krupka. Golterman then attempted to grab the letter, but defendant pinned Golterman's arm behind her back. Golterman managed to break free and again asked about the alleged relationship. Defendant violently grabbed Golterman's throat for more than a minute, kicked her in the abdomen and pushed her to the apartment floor. Golterman then left defendant's apartment. The trial court granted the State's motion, finding such evidence admissible.

The evidence presented at trial established the following. On February 25, 1995, David Stoner, Francis Krupka and the victim, Molly, attended a party at defendant's Park West apartment. At about 8 p.m., Molly and Krupka had a conversation in the bedroom. Defendant and Stoner remained in the living room. While Molly and Krupka conversed, Mary White, Molly's best friend and neighbor of defendant, arrived. After briefly talking with defendant and Stoner, Mary went to the bedroom and noticed Molly was upset. Mary and Molly left the party and walked to Mary's apartment. Molly told Mary about her conversation with Krupka and specifically recounted Krupka stated he was in love with defendant. Molly ultimately returned to defendant's apartment.

Sometime after Molly's return, defendant, Krupka and Molly were in the kitchen. Suddenly, defendant pushed Krupka against the wall. Molly intervened and questioned defendant about his conduct. Defendant released Krupka and returned to the couch in the living room. Krupka followed defendant and sat on the floor in front of defendant. When Molly saw how defendant and Krupka were sitting, she stated "This is sick. I'm going home." Molly gathered her belongings, and she and Stoner left the apartment at about 11 p.m. Stoner walked Molly to her vehicle and then drove home.

Louis Poppenhouse testified he was using the laundry facilities at Park West on February 26, 1995. At about 1:30 a.m. Poppenhouse heard two men, whom he described as intoxicated, arguing and shouting near the VFW building, which is located directly east of the Park West complex. Poppenhouse called the police after hearing several noises he described as "banging against a metal building." As he waited for the police, Poppenhouse heard one of the individuals yell "Motherfucker. Why did you do it? I'm going to kill you." Because of his location, Poppenhouse could not identify the individuals.

Robert Heaton, a police officer, responded to Poppenhouse's 911 call. When Heaton arrived, he noticed a white male near the VFW building. Upon seeing Heaton's vehicle, this individual immediately turned and entered the building in which defendant's apartment was located. Heaton described the man as approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing between 180 and 200 pounds. Defendant was then 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed approximately 200 pounds. Heaton, along with fellow police officer Brad Sack, later discovered the body of a deceased white female lying in the VFW parking lot about 10 feet from the VFW building. The body was identified as Molly at about 1 p.m. that day.

Several individuals talked to defendant on the morning of February 26 concerning Molly's whereabouts. According to Molly's mother, Helen, defendant stated Molly left his apartment the night before and had not returned. She and defendant exchanged a series of telephone calls and, each time, defendant insisted Molly had to be with her friend Mary. In their last conversation, defendant said the body of a woman had been found in the parking lot but, given the description, the woman could not have been Molly. Defendant also told Mary White and her husband, David, he had no knowledge of Molly's whereabouts.

Mary Cullen and Julie Sullivan, sisters of the victim, went to defendant's apartment sometime before 11 a.m. Defendant and Krupka were in the apartment. When Cullen and Julie asked defendant about Molly's whereabouts, defendant repeatedly replied the "fucking niggers" killed her. Cullen and Julie saw some of Molly's personal belongings lying around defendant's apartment, including her necklace, rings, shoes, and purse.

Springfield detectives Charles Cox and Doug Williamson also talked to defendant. They stated defendant appeared intoxicated and became irate and verbally abusive when questioned about Molly's whereabouts. According to the detectives, defendant repeatedly yelled at them to look for the "fucking niggers" who killed Molly and denied knowing her location.

Pursuant to a search warrant executed later that day, police seized various items of evidence from defendant's apartment, including Molly's belongings and clothing worn by defendant the previous evening. Defendant was sleeping when the warrant was executed, but awoke before the police left. After he awoke, defendant was informed the woman found in the parking lot was Molly. Defendant immediately turned to the officers and asked "Am I under arrest?" Cox asked defendant why he would be under arrest. Defendant again became belligerent and verbally abusive. The detectives suggested defendant come to the police station after he relaxed and then left the apartment.

The detectives interviewed defendant that evening at the police station, but were unable to obtain any information because defendant was still belligerent. They conducted a final interview on February 28, 1995, at the home of defendant's father. Defendant was then fully cooperative and maintained he did not know what happened to Molly.

After Golterman recounted the October 1993 incident, Drs. Joan Barrenfanger and Edmund Donoghue testified on the cause of Molly's death. Dr. Barrenfanger, a pathologist, explained the upper portion of Molly's right arm had been fractured. She concluded the fracture occurred before Molly's death and, after reviewing X rays with an orthopedic surgeon, determined the injury was characteristic of a fall. She also noted Molly had aspirated. While unable to determine the exact ...


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