People v. Harter

Decision Date20 September 1967
Docket NumberGen. No. 66--92
Citation86 Ill.App.2d 461,230 N.E.2d 15
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Elton HARTER, Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Samuel Dean, Rockford, for appellant.

William R. Nash, State's Atty., Wm. H. Snively, Asst. State's Atty., Rockford, for appellee.

DAVIS, Presiding Justice.

This is an appeal by the defendant, an indigent person, from the judgment order of May 26, 1966, entered on a jury verdict, determining him to be a sexually dangerous person.

The defendant was charged by information with the criminal offense of an attempt to contribute to the sexual delinquency of Dewey Renton, age 17, on January 6, 1966, in that he attempted to commit an act of sexual deviate conduct with Renton, in violation of section 8--4 of the Criminal Code. (Ill.Rev.Stat.1965, ch. 38, par. 8--4.) On February 24, 1966, the defendant, through counsel, made a motion to quash the information, which was not argued, and entered a plea of not guilty to this charge.

Also, on that date, a petition was filed in accordance with the provisions of section 3 of the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act (Ill.Rev.Stat.1965, ch. 38, par. 105--3), which alleged certain facts tending to show that the defendant was sexually dangerous; and that by virtue of such facts, he was, in fact, sexually dangerous. The petition requested the court to appoint two psychiatrists to examine him and report their determination to the court. The examinations were made and the psychiatrists filed their written reports with the court and delivered copies thereof to the defendant.

The court appointed counsel to represent the defendant at the hearing on February 24, 1966, and said counsel, on his own motion, was given leave to withdraw as attorney for the defendant on March 21, 1966. On March 23, 1966, the court appointed new counsel for the defendant and this attorney ably represented the defendant under most difficult circumstances in the trial court and in this appeal.

Originally, the defendant refused to permit the court appointed psychiatrists to examine him, and it was only after a court order had been entered continuing the case for compliance with the examination order, that the psychiatrists were able to complete their examination. Throughout the proceeding in the trial court and upon appeal, the defendant's conduct was erratic and was characterized by suspicion and emotional hostility and resentment. Independent of counsel, he filed motions, written instruments which were beyond classification, and wrote letters to a Federal Judge seeking intervention in the proceeding.

One psychiatrist reported that on the basis of the prior charges, coupled with the present examination, the defendant could be classified as a sexually dangerous person. The other reported that on the basis of the present examination and the present allegations and past history of sexual aberrations, the defendant was a sexually dangerous person. At the trial, each psychiatrists testified that, in his opinion, the defendant was a sexually dangerous person.

The evidence indicated that upon arrest, the defendant made a voluntary statement wherein he admitted the offense charged in the information, namely: that of an attempt to contribute to the sexual delinquency of Dewey Renton. One deputy sheriff testified concerning the taking of the statement and its contents, and another corroborated this testimony. Dewey Renton, the complaining witness, testified for the People and his testimony likewise fully substantiated the charge.

Deputy clerks testified concerning the defendant's prior convictions with reference to sexual offenses. This testimony established that in cause number 2302, an information was filed which charged that the defendant on the 1st day of November, 1964, contributed to the sexual delinquency of a child. The first count of the information charged that Harter committed the offense of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor child in that he, with intent to arouse or satisfy his sexual desires, lewdly performed an act in the presence of Billy Peppers, Bobby Peppers and Mike Phillips, children of the age of 18 years, in violation of paragraph 11--5, ch. 38, Ill.Rev.Stat.1963; that the defendant was represented by counsel; that the case was tried before a jury which found him guilty as charged in Count I of the Information; and that the defendant was sentenced to the Vandalia State Farm for one year and a mittimus issued thereon.

In cause number 29208, the testimony proved that an information issued which charged that the defendant, on December 8, 1956, committed acts of assault upon Frank Stokes, with intent to commit a lewd and lascivious act upon the person of Stokes; that the defendant was represented by counsel in said case; and that thereafter, the defendant entered a plea of guilty, signed a jury waiver and was sentenced to four months confinement in the county jail.

The defendant testified on his own behalf. He admitted that he was with Renton on the date in question but denied the acts attributed to him. He endeavored to explain the prior conviction of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor in cause number 2302, by stating that the kids ran into his house while they were burning leaves; that beer and whiskey was in his house and that it was for this reason that he was convicted. However, the record belied this explanation. Sufficient evidence identified the defendant as the Elton Harter who was the defendant in causes numbered 2302 and 29208.

The defendant denied being arrested in connection with the Stokes charge and introduced his F.B.I. sheet which failed to note such arrest, but showed fourteen arrests, six prison sentences and one additional charge of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor. The court asked both the defendant and his counsel if they wished this exhibit admitted in evidence and each answered affirmatively.

On cross examination, the defendant admitted his arrest in connection with the Stokes incident. A statement made by the defendant relative thereto, which constituted a confession of the deviate sexual acts with Stokes, a minor, was admitted in evidence. On cross examination, the defendant denied making such statement. On rebuttal, the People introduced the testimony of a deputy sheriff that the statement was in fact made.

Various witnesses testified on the defendant's behalf that they had never known him to be involved in any sexual misconduct.

The defendant here contends that the People failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he was a sexually dangerous person. He argues, obliquely, that the only sexual charges used to support the petition are misdemeanors. However, section 105--5 of the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act provides:

'At the hearing on the petition it shall be competent to introduce evidence of the commission by the respondent of any number of Crimes together with whatever punishments, if any, were inflicted.' (Italics ours.)

Section 11--5 of the Criminal Code (Ill.Rev.Stat.1965, ch. 38, par. 11--5) entitled 'Contributing to the Sexual Delinquency of a Child,' provides:

'(a) Any person of the age of 14 years and upwards who performs or submits to any of the following acts with any person under the age of 18 contributes to the sexual delinquency of a child:

(1) Any act of sexual intercourse; or

(2) Any act of deviate sexual conduct; or

(3) Any lewd fondling or touching of either the child or the person done or submitted to with the intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person or both; or

(4) Any lewd act done in the presence of the child with the intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desires of either the person or the child or both.

(b) It shall not be a defense to contributing to the sexual delinquency of a child that the accused reasonably believed the child to be of the age of 18 or upwards.

(c) Penalty.

A person convicted of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a child shall be fined not to exceed $1,000 or imprisoned in a penal institution other than the penitentiary not to exceed one year, or both.'

The offense above defined is a misdemeanor. (Ill.Rev.Stat.1965, ch. 38, pars. 2--7 and 2--11.) The word 'crime' embraces misdemeanors. Every misdemeanor is a crime, though not one of the gravest character. Van Meter et al. v. People, 60 Ill. 168, 170 (1871). The word 'crime' generally includes all offenses, both felonies and misdemeanors. Consequently, the defendant's contention that the sexual crimes to support such petition must be felonies is without merit.

The facts of this case were presented to the jury for determination. While the defendant's testimony was subject to many infirmities, if believed by the jury, it could create a conflict on certain of the issues. However, such conflict, of itself, would not destroy the preponderance of the evidence required to sustain the verdict of the jury. Such verdict, based on credible and substantial evidence, was not rendered reversible by the fact that there was other...

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11 cases
  • People v. Scarpelli
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 28 de março de 1980
    ...or improbabilities. (People v. Davis (1977), 54 Ill.App.3d 517, 524, 12 Ill.Dec. 362, 369 N.E.2d 1376; People v. Harter (1967), 86 Ill.App.2d 461, 471, 230 N.E.2d 15; People v. Booher (1966), 73 Ill.App.2d 226, 229, 218 N.E.2d 779.) In order to give credence to defendant's testimony, the ju......
  • People v. McDougle
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 3 de março de 1999
    ...that of the trial court, as the trial court is in the best position to assess the testimony of the witnesses. See People v. Harter, 86 Ill.App.2d 461, 468, 230 N.E.2d 15 (1967). The reviewing court will only reverse the trial court's findings if they are against the manifest weight of the e......
  • People v. McVeay
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 5 de fevereiro de 1999
    ...1996); see also Allen v. Illinois, 478 U.S. 364, 106 S.Ct. 2988, 92 L.Ed.2d 296 (1986) (interpreting Illinois law); People v. Harter, 86 Ill.App.2d 461, 230 N.E.2d 15 (1967). However, because of the possible loss of individual liberty, certain procedural safeguards normal to criminal prosec......
  • People v. Oliver
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 16 de outubro de 1975
    ...the pending charges will be dismissed does not eliminate the constitutional issue. 6 We have considered the opinion in People v. Harter, 86 Ill.App.2d 461, 230 N.E.2d 15. There the issue presented was whether the judgment was supported by a preponderance of the evidence. The court was not a......
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