People v. Olinger, 79217

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtBILANDIC
Citation223 Ill.Dec. 588,680 N.E.2d 321,176 Ill.2d 326
Parties, 223 Ill.Dec. 588 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Perry OLINGER, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 79217,79217
Decision Date17 April 1997

Page 321

680 N.E.2d 321
176 Ill.2d 326, 223 Ill.Dec. 588
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
Perry OLINGER, Appellant.
No. 79217.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
April 17, 1997.
Rehearing Denied June 2, 1997.

Page 325

[176 Ill.2d 332] [223 Ill.Dec. 592] Ronald D. Haze, Chicago, for Perry Olinger.

Jim Ryan, Attorney General, Criminal Appeals Division, Chicago, State's Attorney Whiteside County, Morrison, Steven J. Zick, Assistant Attorney General, Chicago, for the People.

[176 Ill.2d 333] Justice BILANDIC delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Whiteside County, the defendant, Perry Olinger, was found guilty of the murders of three individuals and sentenced to death. This court affirmed defendant's convictions and death sentence on direct appeal. People v. Olinger, 112 Ill.2d 324, 97 Ill.Dec. 772, 493 N.E.2d 579 (1986). Defendant subsequently filed a second-amended petition for post-conviction relief, which the circuit court dismissed without conducting an evidentiary hearing. He appeals to this court from the

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[223 Ill.Dec. 593] dismissal of his post-conviction petition. 134 Ill.2d R. 651(a).

During the morning of May 25, 1982, James Adams was found dead in his home in Rock Falls, Illinois. Later that same morning, Gordon Stevens and Debra Bushman were found dead in their home in nearby Sterling, Illinois. After a five-month investigation by various law enforcement agencies, defendant and a codefendant, William Duncan, were charged by indictment with the three homicides, and with armed robbery, armed violence and conspiracy. Defendant and Duncan were tried simultaneously before the same jury. The jury found them both guilty as charged. Defendant and Duncan each waived his right to a jury for sentencing. In separate sentencing hearings, the circuit court sentenced defendant to death and Duncan to life imprisonment.

This court ultimately reversed Duncan's convictions and remanded his case for a new trial, holding that Duncan's trial should have been severed from defendant's [176 Ill.2d 334] trial. People v. Duncan, 124 Ill.2d 400, 125 Ill.Dec. 265, 530 N.E.2d 423 (1988), on remand from Illinois v. Duncan, 484 U.S. 806, 108 S.Ct. 53, 98 L.Ed.2d 18 (1987), vacating People v. Duncan, 115 Ill.2d 429, 106 Ill.Dec. 1, 505 N.E.2d 307 (1987). As noted, this court affirmed defendant's convictions and sentence on direct appeal. This case is now before us following the circuit court's dismissal of defendant's post-conviction petition.

Trial Evidence

The evidence presented at defendant's trial is detailed in this court's opinion on direct appeal. People v. Olinger, 112 Ill.2d 324, 97 Ill.Dec. 772, 493 N.E.2d 579 (1986). The evidence showed that Tina Taber discovered the body of her boyfriend, James Adams, lying on his kitchen floor surrounded by a large pool of blood and blood spatters at approximately 10:15 a.m. on May 25, 1982. Taber also found Duncan asleep on a couch in the adjoining living room. Duncan did not respond when Taber called him, so Taber shook Duncan awake. Duncan did not appear to understand when Taber told him that Adams was hurt. Duncan was wearing the same clothes he had on the night before, and there was no blood on him. Taber and Duncan waited for the police to arrive. An autopsy revealed that Adams was the victim of a deep knife wound to his neck and five blows to the head. The weapon used to kill Adams was never recovered.

Duncan testified in his own defense that he had slept through the attack on Adams. He stated that he had drunk at least 10 beers between 5 p.m. on May 24 and 3:30 a.m. on May 25, had taken a substantial amount of cocaine and marijuana between midnight and 5:30 a.m. on May 25, had not slept for three days and had taken a sinequan capsule around 6 a.m. on May 25. He then fell asleep on the couch. The next thing he remembered was being awakened by Taber.

At approximately 11:30 a.m. on May 25, 1982, a friend of Debra Bushman discovered the body of Gordon [176 Ill.2d 335] Stevens in the house that he shared with Bushman. The friend found the front door ajar, although it customarily was kept locked. She entered, saw Stevens' body and called police. Upon arriving at the scene, the police discovered Debra Bushman's body lying in a hallway. There were no signs of forced entry into the house. Autopsies revealed that Stevens and Bushman each died from a single gunshot wound to the head, inflicted at close range with the same .22 Magnum pistol.

The State's evidence against defendant was as follows. It was undisputed that defendant knew victims Adams and Stevens. Defendant told police that his association with Adams and Stevens had been "like a triangle"; they each helped the others to sell drugs when they had some available.

With regard to the Adams homicide, the State presented evidence that Adams both used and sold drugs extensively. Early in the morning of May 24, 1982, Adams returned from a trip where he and the codefendant Duncan purchased a large quantity of drugs. Adams immediately placed several telephone calls informing potential buyers that he had cocaine for sale. Testimony of Adams' customers established that Adams sold cocaine beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing throughout the day on May 24. They

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[223 Ill.Dec. 594] reported seeing defendant at Adams' house, as well as several other people.

Defendant told police that he went to Adams' house three different times on May 24-specifically, from 10 to 11 a.m.; between 1 to 2 p.m.; and from 11:30 p.m. on May 24 until about 4:30 a.m. on May 25. Defendant stated that, during his second visit, he obtained some cocaine and used it. During his third visit, defendant obtained more cocaine from Adams on credit, giving Adams a high-powered rifle as collateral.

Other testimony established that, at about 1 a.m. in [176 Ill.2d 336] the morning of May 25, Adams left his house and went to Randolph Stralow's house, taking his cocaine and money with him. Duncan, who was staying with Adams, remained at Adams' house, as did defendant and his girlfriend, Rhonda Odquist. Defendant and Duncan consumed cocaine there for several hours. During this time, Duncan called Adams at Stralow's house four times, asking him when he would return. According to Duncan and Odquist, defendant and Odquist left Adams' house at around 5 a.m. Stralow testified that Adams left Stralow's home with his cocaine and money at about 7 a.m. on May 25. An acquaintance of Adams testified that she saw Adams' van turning into his driveway at 7:15 a.m. on May 25. As stated, Adams' body was discovered at 10:15 a.m. on May 25. Defendant's palmprint was lifted from the stove in the kitchen where Adams' body was found.

The State also presented evidence that defendant, who was unemployed, had a large amount of cash after the murders. Patty Doyle testified that she saw defendant with a rolled-up "wad" of bills on the afternoon of May 25. She did not know how much money was there. A gas station attendant testified that defendant paid his bill with a single $100 bill one or two days after the murders. On June 3, four $100 bills were recovered from beneath the floor mat in defendant's pick-up truck.

Randolph Stralow testified that Adams left Stralow's home with his cocaine and $1,800 at about 7 a.m. Stralow stated that he knew the amount of money Adams had because he had watched him count it out in stacks of hundreds; Adams mostly had $20 bills, but he "could have" had some $10 and $100 bills. An investigation of the Adams crime scene on the morning of May 25 revealed no money or wallet on Adams or in his house. Tina Taber testified that, three or four days after finding Adams' body, she found Adams' cocaine hidden [176 Ill.2d 337] in his garage. Patty Doyle testified that when she saw defendant one week after the murders, defendant told her that "Jim [Adams] said all the coke was left at [Stralow's]."

Defendant's mother testified for the defense that she cosigned a bank loan for defendant in the amount of $3,431, which proceeds he received in early May 1982.

With regard to the murders of Stevens and Bushman, the State presented evidence that defendant was seen talking to Stevens in a bar during the early evening hours of May 24, 1982. Dale Ulve testified that defendant and Stevens invited Ulve to stop by Stevens' house later that night, telling him that they would have cocaine available for him to use.

The .22 Magnum pistol used to kill Stevens and Bushman was never recovered; however, the State linked this weapon to the burglary of Dennis Burris' farmhouse on May 22, 1982. Burris testified that several firearms, including a .22 Magnum pistol, had been stolen from his farmhouse. Burris further related that, prior to the burglary, he had shot and killed a dog with the .22 Magnum pistol. The dog's body was exhumed and, according to the State's firearms expert, the bullets found in the dog were fired from the same gun as the bullets found in Stevens and Bushman.

Three men admitted their participation in the Burris burglary-defendant, Darrell Onken and Edward Stalder. Defendant's admission to his participation in the burglary was presented to the jury through the testimony of the law enforcement officials to whom he gave his statement.

Darrell Onken testified for the State regarding the Burris burglary. Onken stated that, during the afternoon of May 22, he was drinking at a local tavern. Defendant introduced him to "Mike," whose real name, Onken later learned, was Edward Stalder. Defendant mentioned [176 Ill.2d 338] that he had no money.

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[223 Ill.Dec. 595] The three men decided to commit a burglary. Ultimately, they drove to the Burris residence, where Onken acted as a lookout while Stalder and defendant went into the house. Stalder and defendant returned with a burlap sack. Onken did not see what was in the sack, did not receive any proceeds from the burglary and did not know...

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