People v. Alejos, 56461

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtSIMON
Citation97 Ill.2d 502,455 N.E.2d 48,74 Ill.Dec. 18
Parties, 74 Ill.Dec. 18 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellant, v. Edward ALEJOS, Jr., Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 56461,56461
Decision Date04 October 1983

Page 48

455 N.E.2d 48
97 Ill.2d 502, 74 Ill.Dec. 18
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellant,
Edward ALEJOS, Jr., Appellee.
No. 56461.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
Oct. 4, 1983.

[97 Ill.2d 503]

Page 49

[74 Ill.Dec. 19] Tyrone C. Fahner, Neil F. Hartigan, Attys. Gen., Chicago, for appellant; Richard M. Daley, State's Atty., County of Cook, Chicago, Michael E. Shabat, Joan S. Cherry, Raymond Brogan, Asst. State's Attys., Chicago, of counsel.

Steven Clark, Deputy Defender, Richard F. Faust, Asst. Appellate Defender, Chicago, for appellee.

SIMON, Justice:

Defendant, Edward Alejos, Jr., was charged by information with murder, armed violence based on murder, and armed violence based on voluntary manslaughter, and was convicted in a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County of voluntary manslaughter and armed violence based on voluntary manslaughter. In this appeal we are called upon to decide whether the armed-violence conviction was proper.

The defendant and the victim, Christian Arntzen, did not know each other. On the evening of October 27, 1978, defendant was sitting in his car in his own neighborhood conversing with an acquaintance, Jeanne Moffat. Bobby Malcolm, a friend of Moffat, had parked his car across the street from defendant's car, narrowing the traffic lane somewhat. Malcolm was standing beside his car and not participating in the conversation. Arntzen drove past the two parked cars but made a U turn at the next intersection, waited for a few minutes, and then left his car and approached Malcolm, accusing him of blocking the street. Malcolm promised to leave, but Arntzen swung his fist at him and then began chasing him around defendant's car, the engine of which was [97 Ill.2d 504] running. Arntzen then pounded five or six times on the hood of defendant's car and shouted that defendant had tried to run over him. He approached the open window on the driver's side and repeated the accusation, and according to defendant's testimony stated that he wished to fight with defendant and reached into the car to grab him. Defendant thereupon drew a handgun and shot him six times. Arntzen died four days later.

At trial defendant claimed that he had not tried to run over Arntzen and took the position that the shooting was justified because he had reason to fear for his safety. In announcing his decision the trial judge stated that this was a "[c]lassic case of voluntary manslaughter" and found him guilty of that crime and of armed violence based on voluntary manslaughter.

Defendant appealed on three grounds. His first contention was that the information

Page 50

[74 Ill.Dec. 20] was insufficient to charge the crime of armed violence based on voluntary manslaughter in that it failed to set forth the elements of voluntary manslaughter, which can be committed in either of two ways. Second, he argued that armed violence could not be predicated on voluntary manslaughter, which is by its nature not a premeditated felony and is typically committed with a "dangerous weapon" which the armed-violence statute requires (see Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, pars. 33A-1, 33A-2). His third ground was that his simultaneous conviction of manslaughter and armed violence in this case was improper because the same physical act provided the basis for both charges (e.g., People v. Mormon (1982), 92 Ill.2d 268, 65 Ill.Dec. 939, 442 N.E.2d 250; People v. Donaldson (1982), 91 Ill.2d 164, 61 Ill.Dec. 780, 435 N.E.2d 477). The appellate court reversed the armed-violence conviction on the basis of defendant's first argument and remanded for resentencing on the manslaughter charge, as the two original sentences were concurrent and for the same length of time. (104 Ill.App.3d 414, 60 Ill.Dec. 147, 423 N.E.2d 1046.)

[97 Ill.2d 505] We do not reach the issue concerning the sufficiency of the armed-violence count because we agree with defendant that the legislature did not intend that crime to apply to voluntary manslaughter.

Because it requires that the defendant's act be motivated by either a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation or an unreasonable but actual belief that the circumstances required the use of deadly force (Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, pars. 9-2(a), (b)), voluntary manslaughter, by its common law as well as its statutory definition, is an unpremeditated crime, induced by sudden fear or duress and committed without time for proper reflection. (See People v. Sudduth (1958), 14 Ill.2d 605, 607, 153 N.E.2d 557; People v. Brown (1946), 392 Ill. 519, 521, 64 N.E.2d 739; Moore v. People (1893), 146 Ill. 600, 602, 35 N.E. 166; see generally Clark & Marshall, Law of Crimes sec. 10.11 (6th ed. 1958); Ill.Ann.Stat., ch. 38, par. 9-2, Committee Comments, at 392 (Smith-Hurd 1979).) The penalty for murder has traditionally been, and at the time of this homicide was, more severe than that for voluntary manslaughter. However, voluntary manslaughter is not distinguished from murder merely by the punishment or price tag which the law places on the guilty act. The punishment is simply a reflection of the common-sense judgment, which our criminal code has always recognized, that an unlawful homicide which is committed with no planning and no prior intent to commit a crime is neither as serious as a homicide born of criminal deliberation or design, nor as likely to be deterred by threat of punishment as a killing which results from planned criminal acts.

The armed-violence section makes it a Class X felony to commit, while armed with a dangerous weapon such as a handgun, knife or bludgeon, any crime which is a felony under Illinois law (Ill.Rev.Stat.1979, ch. 38, par. 33A-1 et seq.); it was enacted in 1967 "to respond emphatically[97 Ill.2d 506] to the growing incidence of violent crime" (People v. Graham (1975), 25 Ill.App.3d 853, 858, 323 N.E.2d 441) and amended in 1977 to apply to felonies in general rather than, as in its original version, to certain enumerated crimes only, none of which were homicide offenses. The two essential elements of armed violence are being armed with a dangerous weapon and committing a felony, and while they must coincide, the mere presence of a weapon of the proscribed character is sufficient; the defendant need not actually use the weapon in the commission of the felony (People v. Haron (1981), 85 Ill.2d 261, 266-68, 52 Ill.Dec. 625, 422 N.E.2d 627). The presence of a weapon enhances the danger that any felony that is committed will have deadly consequences should the victim offer resistance. Thus, it is viewed as an aggravating factor which enhances the severity of the underlying felony and upgrades the punishment available [74 Ill.Dec. 21] for it to Class X. See People v. Donaldson (1982), 91 Ill.2d 164, 168, 61 Ill.Dec. 780, 435 N.E.2d 477.

Page 51

Just as the presence of a weapon colors the way the law views the felony which defendant commits, so the felony changes the way the law regards the possession of the weapon. Even though the carrying of dangerous weapons in public is always fraught with some danger regardless...

To continue reading

Request your trial
135 cases
  • People v. Martin, s. 82-105
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • January 12, 1984
    ...1069, 59 Ill.Dec. 745, 432 N.E.2d 329; People v. Alegos (1982), 104 Ill.App.3d 414, 416, 60 Ill.Dec. 147, 432 N.E.2d 1046, aff'd (1983), 97 Ill.2d 502, 74 Ill.Dec. 18, 455 N.E.2d 48), the genesis of that case line reveals an inapposite origin. (See People v. Einstein (1982), 106 Ill.App.3d ......
  • People v. Guyton, 1–11–0450.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 15, 2014
    ...related to the aim of deterring firearm use and thus violates due process. In support of his argument defendant cites People v. Alejos, 97 Ill.2d 502, 74 Ill.Dec. 18, 455 N.E.2d 48 (1983). ¶ 72 We begin by noting that defendant did not raise this specific challenge to the constitutionality ......
  • People v. Cosby, 1-97-4569
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • May 18, 1999
    ...should the victim offer resistance.' " Lombardi, 184 Ill.2d at 470, 235 Ill.Dec. 478, 705 N.E.2d at 96, quoting People v. Alejos, 97 Ill.2d 502, 74 Ill.Dec. 18, 455 N.E.2d 48 (1983). As Lombardi observed, the legislature could reasonably have determined, based on this fact, "that the string......
  • People v. Melgoza
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • June 19, 1992
    ...The defendant need not have used the weapon in the commission of the felony to be convicted of armed violence. People v. Alejos (1983), 97 Ill.2d 502, 508, 74 Ill.Dec. 18, 455 N.E.2d Defendant contends that his armed violence conviction must be reversed because the weapon was not found on h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT