616 N.E.2d 294 (Ill. 1993), 70354, People v. Peeples

Docket Nº:70354.
Citation:616 N.E.2d 294, 155 Ill.2d 422, 186 Ill.Dec. 341
Party Name:The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. William PEEPLES, Appellant.
Case Date:March 18, 1993
Court:Supreme Court of Illinois

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616 N.E.2d 294 (Ill. 1993)

155 Ill.2d 422, 186 Ill.Dec. 341

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,


William PEEPLES, Appellant.

No. 70354.

Supreme Court of Illinois.

March 18, 1993.

As Modified on Denial of Rehearing June 28, 1993.

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[155 Ill.2d 439] [186 Ill.Dec. 349] Rita A. Fry, Public Defender, Chicago (Alison Edwards, Asst. Public Defender, of counsel), for appellant.

Roland W. Burris, Atty. Gen., Springfield, and Jack O'Malley, State's Atty., Chicago (Terence M. Madsen, Asst. Atty. Gen., Chicago, and Renee Goldfarb and Donald T. Lyman, Asst. State's Attys., of counsel), for the People.

Justice FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, William Peeples, was convicted of first degree murder, home invasion, and aggravated arson. (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), 12-11(a)(2), 20-1.1.) The trial judge sentenced defendant to [155 Ill.2d 440] death on the murder conviction and concurrent 30-year prison terms on the home invasion and aggravated arson convictions. The death sentence has been stayed (134 Ill.2d R. 609(a)), and the case is now before us for direct review (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 4(b); Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 38, par. 9-1(i); 134 Ill.2d R. 603).

We affirm defendant's convictions and sentence.


The record contains the following pertinent facts. The State's evidence at trial was essentially as follows. On May 18, 1988, the victim, Dawn Dudovic, and Pamela Killeen were roommates at an apartment complex in Schaumburg, Illinois. Defendant and his fiancee, Vanessa Allen, lived in an apartment adjacent to the victim's apartment.

On the morning of May 18, Killeen heard the victim leave the apartment and lock the door. Killeen left the apartment later that morning to go to work.

At approximately 5:40 p.m., Killeen returned home. She saw the victim's automobile in the parking lot. At the apartment door, Killeen began to retrieve her keys because she and the victim automatically locked their apartment door whenever each arrived home. However, Killeen noticed that a piece of paper towel stained with blood was wedged in the door, which prevented the door from locking.

Killeen removed the piece of paper towel. Entering the apartment, she dropped the paper towel by the door. Killeen saw their vacuum cleaner in the middle of the hallway and a mound of what was subsequently identified as sugar on the carpet. She saw blood also on the vacuum and the carpet.

When Killeen looked into the kitchen, she saw the victim lying on her back on the kitchen floor. The back of the victim's dress was pulled up to the buttocks, while [155 Ill.2d 441] the front of the dress was pulled up to the waist, exposing her pantyhose and underwear.

Killeen immediately sought help. She pounded on the door of defendant's apartment and screamed for help. Killeen did this for about one minute because she heard the sound of a radio or television inside the apartment. However, no one answered.

Killeen then sought and received the aid of another neighbor, Kenneth Evensen. Evensen looked into the kitchen, but did not enter. He saw the victim lying on her back, "stretched out in a pool of blood." He observed also that the victim's dress was "kind of hiked up over [sic ] up to her waist." Evensen and Killeen returned to his apartment and telephoned paramedics.

Schaumburg fire department paramedic Anthony Licata and his partner, Keith Kopecky, were dispatched to the apartment complex.

Licata proceeded to the kitchen, where he saw the victim lying in a large pool of blood. The victim's dress was bloodstained and parts of it were soaked in blood. Licata remembered that the victim's dress was "kind of raised up a little bit, probably, possibly up above the knees." However, according to Licata, the upper half of the victim's dress "was definitely buttoned up all the way to the top. There was nothing that seemed obviously ripped or torn."

Licata determined that the victim was dead. During his examination, he unbuttoned the victim's dress only as far as

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[186 Ill.Dec. 350] necessary to apply two "paddles" of a heart monitor. He did not force open or rip the dress; he did not touch the lower half of the victim's dress. Licata was the only paramedic that touched the victim.

At approximately 6 p.m., Schaumburg police department supervisor Thomas Fries and Lieutenant Winkelhake arrived at the apartment complex in response to a police call. After searching the victim's [155 Ill.2d 442] apartment and telephoning the department, Officer Fries and other officers canvassed the neighborhood for any potential witnesses.

Officer Fries went to defendant's apartment and knocked on the door. He observed the door's peephole become dark, and then light again. Fries knocked again and announced his office. He continued to knock and announce his office intermittently for the next 15 minutes, until detectives arrived.

When Sergeant Barr arrived, Officer Fries briefed him on the events leading up to his (Fries') observations at defendant's door. Sergeant Barr then knocked on defendant's door. Barr and Fries saw the peephole again become dark and then light. Officer Fries sent additional patrolmen to the other side of defendant's apartment.

At around 6:30 p.m., Schaumburg Police Detective Martin Friel arrived at the apartment complex. Police officers briefed Detective Friel on the shadows seen from the peephole of defendant's apartment door. Friel located the building management, who told him that Vanessa Allen was the record tenant of the apartment.

Detective Friel telephoned Allen at work. She told Friel that she lived in the apartment alone. She also told Friel that the only other person with a key to her apartment was her brother. Based on this information, Friel told police that no one was supposed to be in the apartment.

By approximately 7:40 p.m., the police had not yet gained entry into defendant's apartment. At that time, police saw smoke coming out from underneath the front door of defendant's apartment.

Detective Friel went to the rear of defendant's apartment and tried to look into defendant's bedroom, through the separation in the bedroom window curtains. While he stood there, the curtains quickly went up in flames. Friel thereafter had an unobstructed view of [155 Ill.2d 443] defendant's bedroom. Friel saw two fires burning in the bedroom. Friel then looked through a sliding glass door and saw at least three fires burning in the living room.

Schaumburg fire fighters arrived at the apartment complex. Two or three fire fighters made their way to defendant's bedroom window. They broke out the window, extended a firehose into the apartment, and began to extinguish the fires.

Defendant attempted to exit through the bedroom window and was arrested by police. At the time of his arrest, defendant's left hand was bleeding profusely.

Defendant, accompanied by Officer Stachnik, was taken to a local hospital. There, a nurse removed a wristwatch from defendant and gave it to Stachnik. Defendant's hand had a deep laceration that cut through the tendons of three fingers. The hand had a second cut at the web part of the hand. The physician described the deep cut as sharp and clean, and opined that it was made by an instrument such as a knife.

At the apartment complex, police had searched the victim's apartment. Evidence technician James Herman determined from the pattern of spattered blood in the kitchen that there was a large amount of blood from someone other than the victim. He collected blood samples from various areas in the apartment. He saw the two piles of the white substance that appeared to him to be sugar. He took a sample from the pile near the vacuum, but did not test the pile near the door.

Acting on a search warrant, police searched defendant's apartment. Evidence technician Herman saw evidence of six fires in the living room and six more in the bedroom. Each fire was fueled by a little pile of items. In the living room, there were several piles of bedding and pillows, clothing, and several household items. Herman was directed to a satchel bag, inside of which was a coffee cup. Inside the

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[186 Ill.Dec. 351] cup was a substance that [155 Ill.2d 444] appeared to be sugar and, on the bottom of the cup, there appeared to be blood. In the bedroom, there were several separate plastic bags of clothing that burned independently of each other. They had not completely burned by the time the fires were extinguished. In one of the piles was a wallet that contained defendant's driver's license, and a knife with a stained wooden handle.

Tests of the white substance recovered from the victim's apartment near the vacuum cleaner revealed that it was sugar. The white substance inside the coffee cup found in defendant's apartment was also sugar.

The victim's blood was determined to be type AB, while defendant's blood was type A. Blood samples taken from several locations in the victim's apartment all were of defendant's blood type. Additionally, blood was found on defendant's wristwatch and on his knife. The blood on the wristwatch and knife was the blood type of the victim.

Lastly, an autopsy revealed that the victim died of multiple stab wounds. The autopsy also revealed that the victim suffered defense wounds to the hands and arms. Although the wounds...

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