People v. Mack

Decision Date28 September 1962
Docket NumberNo. 36262,36262
Citation185 N.E.2d 154,25 Ill.2d 416
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Defendant in Error, v. William MACK, Plaintiff in Error.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court

John I. Lundmark, Argonne, for plaintiff in error.

William G. Clark, Atty. Gen., Springfield, and Daniel P. Ward, State's Atty., Chicago (Fred G. Leach and E. Michael O'Brien, Asst. Attys. Gen., and John T. Gallagher and Edwin J. Belz, Asst. State's Attys., of counsel), for defendant in error.

HERSHEY, Justice.

Defendant was tried by the court without a jury on charges of rape and armed robbery. He was found guilty of both crimes and was sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of twelve years for rape and for from one year to twelve years for armed robbery. On this writ of error, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the findings of guilt, and that the trial court erred in refusing to exclude from the court room one of the People's witnesses during the testimony of the complaining witness.

Two witnesses testified for the People, the complaining witness and one of the arresting officers. The complaining witness testified that she was returning from work in the early morning hours of April 5, 1960. She got off a bus at 63rd and Langley in the city of Chicago and started to walk to her home at 6349 Champlain. At 63rd and Champlain a man walking in the same direction passed her. When she tried to pass him, he grabbed her arm, and he then grabbed her around the mouth, put a knife to her throat, and told her if she screamed again he would kill her. He forced her into a vacant lot. He took her purse and asked for money. She told him she had no money in her purse. He kept insisting she had some money. She then took a coin purse from her person, and he took eight dollars from the purse. He then forced her to stoop over, remove her pants, and submit to sexual intercouse, and threatened to kill her if she screamed or told anybody.

The complaining witness testified that she then ran home, and that on her way home the man who lived next door came out, stopped her, and asked her what was wrong. She testified that she told him that a man had just raped and robbed her. The neighbor asked her if she wanted him to call the police, and she said, 'Yes.' At that time she was in front of her house, and she ran on upstairs into the house. The police subsequently arrived at her apartment.

The complaining witness further testified that she went with the police to the scene of the crime, where they found her coin purse, and that they then took her to the hospital. She testified that at the time she went to the hospital her nose was bleeding badly where the man's fingernail had dug into the side of her nose when he grabbed her around the mouth.

The complaining witness went to work the next evening and after work met officers Johnson, Howard and Hall, who drove her to 63rd Street and South Park, where they stopped the car and waited at the curb. She saw a man standing across the street. She got out of the car, walked past the man slowly, walked back to the officers and told them that he was the man. Thereupon the officers arrested the defendant. The complaining witness also identified the defendant in the courtroom as her assailant and she testified that she had been able to see him by the light on a back porch which lit up two yards.

The only other witness for the People was William R. Johnson, one of the arresting officers. He testified that he arrested the defendant on the street at about 410 East 63rd Street around 1:05 A.M. April 6, 1960, and that officers Howard and Hall and the complaining witness were with him at that time. He also testified that he first saw the complaining witness on the street at about 6333 South Champlain on the morning of April 5, 1960, at about 1:40 A.M. Although the record is not clear on this point, it appears that, when arrested, the defendant denied the charges.

The defendant testified in his own defense. He denied that he had raped or robbed the complaining witness and testified that the first time he ever saw her was when he was arrested. He also relied on an alibi, stating that he had slept with one Daisy Donley at her home on the night in question. His testimony in this regard was substantially corroborated by Mrs. Donley and her daughter, Iris Wilson, who testified for the defendant, although they were asleep during the crucial time when the crime was committed.

Defendant makes two contentions concerning the sufficiency of the evidence. He contends first that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the conviction of rape because of the lack of corroboration of the testimony of the complaining witness. He also contends that neither the rape nor robbery conviction can be sustained because his identity as the person who committed the crimes was not satisfactorily established.

It is true, as defendant forcefully points out, that the State failed to produce corroborative evidence which should have been available. For example, neither the neighbor to whom the prosecutrix testified she made a complaint nor the doctor who examined her at the hospital was produced. Although the complaining witness testified to the finding of her purse at the scene of the crime by the police, officer Johnson, the only policeman to testify, was not interrogated on this aspect of the case. Defendant argues that this failure to corroborate the testimony of the complaining witness requires that his conviction on the rape charge be reversed, and cites, in support of this contention, a number of decisions in which, in reversing rape convictions we have emphasized the absence of corroborating evidence. (People v. Kazmierczyk, 357 Ill. 592, 598, 195 N.E. 657; People v. Silva, 405 Ill. 158, 162, 89 N.E.2d 800.) We do not, however, regard these cases as establishing an inflexible rule of law requiring in all cases that the testimony of the complaining witness in a rape case must be corroborated. Indeed, we have frequently stated that corroboration is not necessary where the testimony of the complaining witness is clear and convincing. (People v. Walden, 19 Ill.2d 602, 608, 169 N.E.2d 241; People v. Trobiani, 412 Ill. 235, 2408 106 N.E.2d 367; 412 Ill. 235, 240, 106 N.E.2d 367; 513.) The unvarying rule of law is that in a rape case, as in any criminal case, the evidence must be sufficient to establish the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. Where we have reversed cases because of failure to corroborate the testimony of the complaining witness, we have done so not because of any fixed rule requiring corroboration but because, upon the state of the record in the particular case, the evidence left a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant. Most of these cases involved situations where the evidence was conflicting on the question of whether or not the complaining witness had actually been raped, and we have held that, in such cases, there should ordinarily be additional evidence to corroborate the testimony of the complaining witness. In this case, however, the disputed testimony is not on the issue of whether the crime was committed, but, rather, on the identity of the defendant as the person who...

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  • People v. Brown
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