People v. Sims, 84686.

Citation192 Ill.2d 592,249 Ill.Dec. 610,736 N.E.2d 1048
Decision Date15 June 2000
Docket NumberNo. 84686.,84686.
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Paris D. SIMS, Appellant.
CourtSupreme Court of Illinois

Charles M. Schiedel, Deputy Defender, and John J. Hanlon and John M. McCarthy, Assistant Defenders, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, of Springfield, for appellant.

James E. Ryan, Attorney General, of Springfield (Joel D. Bertocchi, Solicitor General, and William L. Browers, Steven J. Zick and David H. Iskowich, Assistant Attorneys General, of Chicago, of counsel), for the People.

Justice McMORROW delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of St. Clair County, the defendant, Paris D. Sims, was convicted of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder and armed robbery. At a separate sentencing hearing, the same jury found defendant eligible for the death penalty. The jury also found that there were no mitigating circumstances sufficient to preclude imposition of that sentence. Defendant was sentenced to death for the murder and to consecutive 30-year terms of imprisonment for the remaining offenses. Defendant's death sentence has been stayed pending direct review by this court. Ill. Const.1970, art. VI, § 4(b); 134 Ill.2d Rs. 603, 609(a). For the reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's convictions and sentences.


Testimony at trial established the following facts. On the morning of October 24, 1994, at approximately 4 a.m., police officers in Belleville, Illinois, received a call stating that a man had been seen, covered in blood, running down the street in a Belleville trailer park. When the officers responding to the call reached the trailer park, they discovered this man, lying in a fetal position on the ground near the trailers. The man was bleeding from the head and face and was incoherent. Officers also discovered, in the bedroom of one of the trailers, the dead body of 17-year-old JoAna Bollinger.1 The man found injured on the ground, police later learned, was JoAna Bollinger's 17-year-old husband, Jacob Bollinger.

At trial, Jacob testified about the events which took place during the evening hours of October 23 and early morning hours of October 24. Jacob told the jury that on the evening of October 23, at about 9:30 or 10 p.m., he and some friends left Belleville and drove to the nearby town of Waterloo to pick up a pet snake. Jacob explained that he had an interest in reptiles and that the snake was a present from his wife, JoAna, for his upcoming birthday. Jacob acknowledged that, while he was in Waterloo, he smoked marijuana. He stated, however, that despite smoking the marijuana, he remained aware of what was going on around him. Jacob returned home from Waterloo, alone, at about 11:30 p.m.

Jacob testified that when he arrived home, he began cleaning the aquarium in which the pet snake was kept. JoAna was awake and sitting on the couch in the front portion of the Bollingers' trailer, which consisted of a combination living room and kitchen area. The Bollingers' infant daughter was asleep in her bedroom, just to the rear of the living room. After Jacob finished cleaning the aquarium, he and JoAna went to their bedroom at the back end of the trailer and began to engage in sexual intercourse. Shortly thereafter, they heard someone knocking on their front door. The Bollingers tried to ignore the knocking, but after it had continued for about 10 minutes, Jacob decided to answer the door. He put on some sweatpants and returned to the living room.

Jacob testified that when he opened the front door, he saw an African-American male, approximately 5 feet 11 inches or 6 feet tall. The man had a much wider build than Jacob's own build of 120 pounds. At the time, Jacob believed that the man at the door was "Ice," an individual whom he had met on two or three prior occasions. In court, however, Jacob identified defendant as the man who had knocked on the door. Jacob stated that defendant asked if he could come in out of the rain and wait for a ride that he had coming. Jacob let defendant in. Defendant did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Jacob estimated that defendant entered the trailer at about 12:30 a.m.

After defendant entered the trailer, Jacob went back to JoAna and told her that someone else was in the trailer and that she should not leave the bedroom without her clothes on. When Jacob came out of the bedroom, defendant confronted him, put a knife to his throat and forced him back into the bedroom. According to Jacob, defendant threatened to kill the Bollingers if they screamed or tried to get away. Jacob stated that defendant pressed the knife against his throat and forced him to open some jewelry boxes and pick through the belongings on top of the bedroom dresser. Defendant then asked the Bollingers where their money was. When JoAna told defendant that their money was in her purse in the living room, defendant switched the knife to her throat and forced both JoAna and Jacob into the living room. After Jacob gave defendant about $80 from JoAna's purse, they all returned to the bedroom.

Once in the bedroom, defendant pushed Jacob to the floor and JoAna onto the bed. Defendant continued to search for money and again threatened to kill the Bollingers. He then returned to the bed, lowered his pants and forced JoAna to perform oral sex upon him, as Jacob sat next to the bed watching. According to Jacob, defendant then raped JoAna vaginally and anally. Jacob stated that, during these acts, defendant slashed JoAna's back with the knife and that, in reaction, Jacob moved. Defendant then grabbed JoAna's hair, cut off a large piece, threw it at Jacob, and told Jacob not to move, or he would cut JoAna's throat.

After defendant threw the hair at Jacob, he told Jacob to lie down on the floor next to the bed. Jacob did so. Defendant continued to rape JoAna. Defendant then got up, pulled Jacob up from the floor, pushed him against the bed with a knee in his back and tied a pair of long-johns around his throat. Jacob looked up and saw that JoAna was lying on the bed, "white and real pale" and that "she was alive, but she didn't look alive." Jacob then began to fight back. Jacob grabbed the long-johns and started pulling on them, trying to get air. Defendant then hit Jacob in the back of the head.

Jacob stated that the next thing he could remember was coming out of the hallway and running for the front door. When he got to the door, he discovered that it was locked. Defendant caught up with Jacob and, as the two fought in the living room and kitchen area, defendant hit Jacob several times in the head with a heavy object. Jacob testified that he kept slipping on blood as defendant continued to strike him, but that, eventually, he was able to get to the front door, open it, and escape. Jacob then ran to the trailer of his neighbor, Ricky Harvey, and banged on the door. Jacob did not wait for anyone to answer, however, but instead, continued to run, jumped over a fence, and collapsed in some weeds. He awoke to find a police officer standing over him. Jacob was taken to the hospital where he was treated for cuts and large gashes to his head and eye.

In court, Jacob identified rings which were found in defendant's pocket at the time of his arrest as ones which belonged to JoAna and which were taken by defendant during the attack. Jacob also identified an adjustable wrench which was recovered from a wooded area outside the trailer as one which he had kept in a tool box in his bedroom. Jacob stated that the wrench was consistent with the object defendant used to strike him in the head. Jacob also identified a knife which was recovered outside the trailer as the one which was used by defendant. Jacob stated that this knife did not belong to the Bollingers.

On cross-examination, Jacob explained how in the weeks following the attack he gave several statements to the police, and how, in each statement, he provided additional information to the police as it returned to his memory. Jacob acknowledged that he may have left both major and minor details out of his statements.

Jacob also acknowledged that he had smoked marijuana with his neighbor Kathy Kunkle on two or three occasions prior to the attack. He denied using drugs with his neighbor Ricky Harvey or with another neighbor with whom he was familiar, Anthony Graham. Jacob stated that he had continued to smoke marijuana since the time of the attack.

Jacob was also cross-examined regarding his identification of defendant as the assailant, in light of his initial belief that it was "Ice," known to Jacob at the time of trial as Willie Sims, who appeared at his door on the night of the attack. Jacob testified that, about six weeks before the attack, he gave a ride to a man he met on the street, in the trailer park. Jacob spent about an hour with the man, taking him to two stores. The man told Jacob that he was called "Ice." Jacob stated that he might have seen "Ice" previously at Rickey Harvey's trailer but that he was not certain that this was the person he had seen. Jacob also stated that he did not know if the person he took to the stores was "Ice," i.e., Willie Sims, or defendant.

On redirect, Jacob stated that he had heard that "Ice" might have been defendant's cousin. Jacob also said that he was certain that defendant was the man who attacked him and murdered JoAna. Referring to defendant, Jacob told the jury, "I know he did it. I can look at him and know that's the face I saw. That's a face I will never forget."

Vickie Jamison, a resident of the trailer park, also testified for the State. Jamison stated that, at about 3:30 a.m. on October 24, 1994, a man knocked on her door and told her to "hurry up and let him in." In court, Jamison identified defendant, whom she had known for about one month, as this man. According to Jamison, once defendant was in...

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