People v. Davis, 54276

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Citation447 N.E.2d 353,69 Ill.Dec. 136,95 Ill.2d 1
Docket NumberNo. 54276,54276
Parties, 69 Ill.Dec. 136 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Girvies L. DAVIS, Appellant.
Decision Date18 February 1983

Page 353

447 N.E.2d 353
95 Ill.2d 1, 69 Ill.Dec. 136
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
Girvies L. DAVIS, Appellant.
No. 54276.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
Feb. 18, 1983.
Rehearing Denied April 8, 1983.

[95 Ill.2d 10]

Page 357

[69 Ill.Dec. 140] Daniel D. Yuhas, Deputy State Appellate Defender, and Charles M. Schiedel, Lawrence Bapst and David Bergschneider, Asst. State Appellate Defenders, Springfield, Girvies Davis, pro se, for appellant.

Tyrone C. Fahner, Atty. Gen., Chicago (Herbert L. Caplan, Melbourne A. Noel, Jr., Darrell Panethiere, and Terence M. Madsen, Asst. Attys. Gen., Chicago, of counsel), for the People.


Defendant, Girvies Davis, was indicted with a codefendant, Richard Holman, age 17, in the circuit court of St. Clair County for one count of murder in violation of section 9-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill.Rev.Stat.1977, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1)). The causes were severed, and the charges against Holman were later dismissed pursuant to a motion by the State. Defendant was tried by a jury and found guilty of murder. At a separate bifurcated sentencing hearing, the same jury unanimously determined that the necessary aggravating factors existed, and that there were no mitigating [95 Ill.2d 11] circumstances sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty. The jury returned a verdict directing that defendant be sentenced to death, and the court entered judgment on the verdict. Defendant's post-trial motions were denied, and he brings a direct appeal to this court (Ill. Const.1970, art. VI, sec. 4(b); 73 Ill.2d R. 603), alleging numerous errors in all stages of the proceedings.

The evidence adduced at trial indicates that on Friday, December 22, 1978, the victim, 89-year-old Charles Biebel, was shot to death in his mobile home located off Route 161. Jean Biebel Moore, the daughter of the deceased, testified that she discovered her father's body at 4 p.m. She stated that two watches, a billfold, "a number of guns," and a television set had been taken from his home. On cross-examination, she indicated that she had offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of her father's murderer.

Gregory Mitchell, who testified that he was a "fence," stated that in late January of 1979, the defendant phoned him and said "we might have something for [you] later on." That evening, Holman brought Mitchell a gun. Mitchell further stated that he saw defendant later that same night, and defendant inquired as to how much money Holman was paid for the gun. He also testified that he again saw defendant on September 10, 1979, in the company of police officers. At that time, defendant told him to turn over to the police "any of the guns or T.V.'s" because Holman accused him of "doing some crimes."

Mitchell stated that a police officer gave him money to buy back the gun which he had sold to another individual. He did so,

Page 358

[69 Ill.Dec. 141] and the weapon was introduced into evidence at trial. Mitchell identified the gun as the one he purchased from Holman. One of the victim's neighbors, William Imboden, testified that this weapon belonged to the victim.

[95 Ill.2d 12] The State was permitted at trial to introduce evidence of two other murders for the limited purpose of showing defendant's modus operandi. One of the victims, Frieda Mueller, was 78 years old at the time of her death. She lived off Route 163. Mueller was found shot to death on the afternoon of Friday, December 8, 1978. A television set, billfold and checkbook were stolen. Evidence of this crime, which occurred two weeks prior to the Biebel murder, was also admitted to show defendant's knowledge that a murder was contemplated because previously, under similar circumstances, a murder did take place.

Similarly, Esther Sepmeyer was an elderly woman who lived in a rural area off Route 162. Her grandson, Rodney Sepmeyer, testified that Mrs. Sepmeyer was shot to death on Friday, July 13, 1979. A television set, replica antique radio, stereo, lawnmower and a .22 Remington rifle were taken from the home. The lawnmower and radio were introduced into evidence and identified by the witness. These items had been recovered from defendant's home pursuant to a search warrant. The witness also drew a picture detailing the inside of the victim's home. Further evidence disclosed that a latent fingerprint recovered from the home belonged to Holman. No fingerprints matching defendant's were found.

James Lay, chief investigator for the St. Clair County sheriff's department, testified that pursuant to defendant's request, he spoke with him at approximately 10 p.m. on September 9, 1979. Defendant was read his Miranda rights and signed a form indicating that he understood them. Defendant then stated that he had information regarding certain murders in which he was involved. The defendant gave Lay a list of crimes involving robberies, burglaries and shootings. He disclosed various locations at which evidence of the crimes could be found, [95 Ill.2d 13] but none of the items described were recovered. Pursuant to defendant's description, Officer Lay drew a sketch of the inside of the Sepmeyer home. This picture was later circulated to the jury along with the sketch drawn by Rodney Sepmeyer. Lay further testified that on September 10, 1979, defendant dictated three statements to police officers admitting complicity in the Sepmeyer, Mueller and Biebel murders. On cross-examination he stated that six months earlier defendant had denied involvement in the Biebel murder and had stated that he could not locate the victim's home.

The defendant's statements regarding the Biebel, Mueller and Sepmeyer murders were read to the jury. Defendant gave the following statement concerning the December 8, 1978, Mueller murder:

"Me, Girvies L. Davis, and Richard Holman drove my blue '70 Buick to a farm house off of Route 163 on the Centreville side of Millstadt. We turned to the right on a back road and pulled up in the driveway to the left. We got out of the car and went to a side or back door and pushed it open. This door opens into the kitchen. Once we got in, an old lady was coming towards us from the bedroom. I started to search the house when Ricky told the old lady to sit in a chair in the kitchen. We took some items, I think a T.V. from the kitchen. While I was taking the T.V. out to the car, Ricky said he shot her in the back. I heard the shot from outside. The lady was sitting at a small desk in the kitchen. He took some items, I think a T.V. from the kitchen. * * * Ricky took a black man's wallet from the desk drawer * * *."

With reference to the December 22, 1978, Biebel murder, defendant dictated the following statement:

"Sometime in 1978, I don't remember exactly, me and Richard Holman drove up to a mobile home by a church. I was driving my blue Buick, 1970 model. We stopped in the driveway of the trailer. We got out of my car and we walked to the trailer. The front door was open, so

Page 359

[69 Ill.Dec. 142] we walked in. There was an old man sitting in a wheelchair facing the front door. I asked him where the money was. [95 Ill.2d 14] He said he didn't have any. We took a double barrel shotgun and a T.V. I was in the bedroom in the front room, and inside of the trailer was the kitchen on the right of the front door. Then the living room, then a bedroom down the hall to the left. The T.V. was in the front room, and the shotgun was in the bedroom. I carried the T.V. and gun out to the car. Then I heard a shot and Ricky came out and said he shot the old man. He sold the T.V. and gun somewhere but I can't remember where."

Regarding the circumstances of the July 13, 1979, Sepmeyer murder, defendant stated:

"[A]bout two months ago a friend of mine by the name of Ricky Holman who also goes by the name of Ricky Shaw, and I were driving in my 1970 Buick 225. We were driving on the interstate and I remember seeing a sign that said, St. Jacob on it. We drove past this and then we exited the highway by some service stations. We drove down this road until we came to an old house. It was sitting on the right side of the road. This house had a barn sitting in the back. I drove into the driveway and drove to the back of the house with the front of the car facing the back door. Both Ricky and I got out of the car and went up to the back door. I can't remember if we had to force the door open or not, but we went into the house. The back door leads into a kitchen and from the kitchen I could see that there was an old lady laying in a bed in a bedroom next to the kitchen. Ricky and I both walked into the bedroom right away. I went into the bedroom for a short time and then I started looking around the rest of the house and Ricky stayed in the bedroom. After I left the bedroom, I walked into the dining room and then in the spare room, and then into a hallway. The hallway had stairs leading to the upstairs but I never went upstairs. In the spare room there was a lawn mower, it was yellow with a three and a half h.p. motor. I took the handle off this lawn mower and then I carried it outside and put it in the trunk. While in the back room, I saw a motor thing with a black hose on it. I believe it was used to suck water and things up, but I didn't take it. In the hallway there was a turn table sitting on a heater. I can't recall what name it was, but it had a plastic top and it had a [95 Ill.2d 15] top on it and I loaded it into the car. After I loaded the record player in the car, I came back in and got a T.V. that was sitting in the kitchen. The T.V. was sitting on a table just to the right of the door when I walked into the kitchen the T.V. was a little white T.V. with black trim around it and it's a color T.V. When I first went into the bedroom with Ricky, I found a .22 new rifle in a box. This gun was in a cabinet in the bedroom and there were also some shells with it. I loaded the gun and...

To continue reading

Request your trial
145 cases
  • People v. Yates, No. 53482
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • October 25, 1983
    ...that our recent decisions in People v. Williams (1983), 97 Ill.2d 252, 73 Ill.Dec. 360, 454 N.E.2d 220, and People v. Davis (1983), 95 Ill.2d 1, 69 Ill.Dec. 136, 447 N.E.2d 353, are dispositive. (See also People v. Payne (Dec. 1, 1983), 99 Ill.2d 135, 75 Ill.Dec. 643, 457 N.E.2d 1202.) In l......
  • People v. Valladares, Docket No. 1–11–2010.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 24, 2013
    ...question in the present case is not meaningfully distinct from the wording of the questions presented in Klimawicze and People v. Davis, 95 Ill.2d 1, 69 Ill.Dec. 136, 447 N.E.2d 353 (1983), which were upheld as properly within the trial court's discretion. ¶ 102 In Klimawicze, the court ask......
  • People v. Hope, No. 75503
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • September 21, 1995
    ...committing each of the murders, acted with the requisite intent or knowledge. (720 ILCS 5/9-1(b)(3) (West 1992); People v. Davis (1983), 95 Ill.2d 1, 32-36, 69 Ill.Dec. 136, 447 N.E.2d 353.) Each of these three elements was undeniably proved at the defendant's eligibility hearing in this Th......
  • People v. Albanese, 57660
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • October 19, 1984
    ...rejected this argument (see, e.g., People v. Albanese (1984), 102 Ill.2d 54, 80, 79 Ill.Dec. 608, 464 N.E.2d 206; People v. Davis (1983), 95 Ill.2d 1, 18, 69 Ill.Dec. 136, 447 N.E.2d 353, cert. denied (1983), 464 U.S. 1001, 104 S.Ct. 507, 78 L.Ed.2d 697; People v. Tiller (1982), 94 Ill.2d 3......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Jury Selection
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Illinois Objections
    • May 1, 2013 reason need be provided. A peremptory challenge is by definition arbitrary and usually not subject to explanation. People v. Davis , 95 Ill 2d 1, 447 NE2d 353 (1983). In both civil and criminal proceedings, however, if a party uses peremptory challenges in ways that give rise to a patter......
  • Table of Cases
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Illinois Objections
    • May 1, 2013
    ..., 377 Ill App 3d 735, 879 NE2d 996 (2007), §18:60 People v. Davis , 393 Ill App 3d 114, 913 NE2d 536 (2009), §22:20 People v. Davis , 95 Ill 2d 1, 447 NE2d 353 (1983), §2:200 People v. Decaluwe , 405 Ill App 3d 256, 938 NE2d 181 (2010), §13:10 People v. Decaluwe , 405 Ill App 3d 256, 938 NE......

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