People v. Yates, 53482

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Citation456 N.E.2d 1369,75 Ill.Dec. 188,98 Ill.2d 502
Docket NumberNo. 53482,53482
Parties, 75 Ill.Dec. 188 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Lonnie YATES, Appellant.
Decision Date25 October 1983

Page 1369

456 N.E.2d 1369
98 Ill.2d 502, 75 Ill.Dec. 188
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
Lonnie YATES, Appellant.
No. 53482.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
Oct. 25, 1983.
Rehearing Denied Dec. 2, 1983.

[98 Ill.2d 510]

Page 1374

[75 Ill.Dec. 193] Neil F. Hartigan, Atty. Gen., Michael B. Weinstein, Asst. Atty. Gen., Chicago, for appellee; Richard M. Daley, State's Atty., County of Cook, Michael E. Shabat, Joan S. Cherry, Thomas J. Murphy, Asst. State's Attys., Chicago, of counsel.

James J. Doherty, Public Defender of Cook County, Chicago, for appellant; Marc Fogelberg, Robert P. Isaacson, Asst. Public Defenders, Chicago, of counsel.


Defendant, Lonnie Yates, was charged by information in the circuit court of Cook County with a July 11, 1977, murder and burglary, in violation of sections 9-1 and 19-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill.Rev.Stat.1977, ch. 38, pars. 9-1, 19-1). Following a February 1979 jury trial he was found guilty of both offenses. The State then requested a separate sentencing hearing to determine whether the death penalty should be imposed. After hearing evidence and argument, and then deliberating some 12 to 15 hours, the same jury found the [98 Ill.2d 511] existence of statutory aggravating factors and that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death penalty. The trial court entered judgment on the verdict, sentencing defendant to death, and also imposed an extended sentence of 14 years' imprisonment for the burglary. The death sentence was stayed by the trial court (73 Ill.2d R. 609(a)) pending this automatic direct appeal (Ill. Const.1970, art. VI, sec. 4(b); Ill.Rev.Stat.1977, ch. 38, par. 9-1(i); 73 Ill.2d R. 603). Defendant attacks his convictions and sentences on numerous grounds, alleging errors at each stage of the proceedings.

On the morning of July 11, 1977, the 17-year-old victim, Veronica Lee, was bludgeoned and stabbed to death in her second-floor apartment in the city of Chicago, where she lived with her mother, Samestine Yancy. The evidence indicated that the assailant had gained entry to the apartment by removing the screen on the rear door and by removing a square of glass from the inner door. Mrs. Yancy had gone to work at 6:30 a.m. that morning, and at approximately 9:30 a.m., Veronica's unclothed body with large scissors embedded in her chest was found in her bedroom closet by her cousin, Timothy Lee, and his friend, Larry Hope. Moments before discovering the body, as the young men approached the second-floor landing on the rear stairwell of the building, they observed a man, whom they later identified in a lineup and in court as defendant, descending the stairwell at a medium pace, while wiping his hands on a white handkerchief or towel.

An autopsy revealed numerous head lesions and numerous stab wounds to the victim's chest and arm; the scissors had penetrated her heart. Human blood was found underneath her fingernails. Mrs. Yancy's iron was found bloodstained with a broken handle near her daughter's body, Veronica's television set was found on [98 Ill.2d 512] her bed, and her mother's radio, which, it was later established, had been located in another bedroom and dusted two days before, was found on the kitchen table with its cord wrapped around it. Veronica's wallet was found with the contents strewn about a cocktail table. Mrs. Yancy testified that approximately $17 was missing.

Defendant was arrested four days later, on July 15, at the home of a relative with whom he had been staying since July 12. Following a hearing, the trial court denied defendant's pretrial motion to quash his allegedly illegal arrest and to suppress the identification testimony of Timothy Lee and Larry Hope as the fruits thereof, a ruling which defendant challenges here under Payton v. New York (1980), 445 U.S. 573, 100 S.Ct. 1371, 63 L.Ed.2d 639.

The State contends that the Payton issue as well as other arguments presented by defendant are waived because of defense counsel's failure to file any post-trial motions incorporating these alleged errors. The record indicates, however, that an oral post-trial motion was denied, and the State does not assert otherwise. Although our statute provides that a motion for a new trial is to be in writing specifying the grounds therefor (Ill.Rev.Stat.1977, ch. 38,

Page 1375

[75 Ill.Dec. 194] par. 116-1), we have previously held that "a general oral motion to which the State does not object will preserve for review all errors which appear properly preserved in the record even though not specified in the oral post-trial motion." People v. Pearson (1981), 88 Ill.2d 210, 217, 58 Ill.Dec. 739, 430 N.E.2d 990, citing People v. Whitehead (1966), 35 Ill.2d 501, 503-04, 221 N.E.2d 256; see also People v. Flynn (1956), 8 Ill.2d 116, 119-20, 133 N.E.2d 257.

In Payton v. New York (1980), 445 U.S. 573, 100 S.Ct. 1371, 63 L.Ed.2d 639, the Supreme Court held that absent exigent circumstances, the fourth amendment, applicable to the States by the fourteenth amendment[98 Ill.2d 513] (Mapp v. Ohio (1961), 367 U.S. 643, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081), prohibits the police from making a warrantless and nonconsensual entry into a suspect's home in order to make an arrest. See also United States v. Johnson (1982), 457 U.S. 537, 102 S.Ct. 2579, 73 L.Ed.2d 202 (holding Payton retroactive).

Several witnesses were presented by both the State and defendant at the lengthy pretrial hearing, including: four police officers; an assistant State's Attorney; Timothy Lee, age 17 at the time of the hearing; Larry Hope, age 21 at the time of the hearing; and defendant, who testified concerning the circumstances surrounding his arrest and the subsequent station-house events. The officers' testimony concerning the investigation established the following: Timothy Lee and Larry Hope, who were interviewed shortly after the victim's body was discovered, described the man whom they had seen on the rear stairwell of the building as a dark completed 25 to 35 year old black man, with a mustache and a scar over his left eyebrow, approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall, 175 pounds, wearing a rust-colored suit. The witnesses also met with a police artist who prepared a composite sketch of the suspect which subsequently appeared in the Chicago police department's daily bulletin. A crime scene technician photographed the scene of the crime, secured physical evidence, and dusted a number of areas and items, including the radio from which latent fingerprints were lifted.

On the morning of July 15, the police department received an anonymous telephone call from a woman who stated that Lonnie Yates was responsible for the murder of the young girl on Franklin Boulevard. The caller, who refused to identify herself, also stated that defendant's wife's name was Hatti Smith. After this information was related to Officer Daniel Darcy, one of the investigating officers, he reviewed the burglary unit files and discovered[98 Ill.2d 514] that defendant was on probation for a 1976 burglary. The information contained in the file revealed that the burglary for which defendant had been convicted occurred within a mile of Veronica Lee's apartment, at approximately 11 a.m., and that entry had been gained by breaking the window of a rear door.

Later that afternoon, after arranging for a fingerprint analysis, Officer Darcy was told by a police department fingerprint technician that a latent print from the radio was that of defendant's fingerprint on file with the police department. Officer Darcy then proceeded to the probation department and obtained the address of Hatti Smith from defendant's file. The record reflects that Officer Darcy and his partner located Hatti Smith between 5:30 and 6 p.m., after which she voluntarily accompanied the officers to the police station.

During the subsequent interview, Hatti Smith told the officers that she was defendant's girlfriend and that she had been trying to raise money for defendant, who wanted to leave the State. She indicated that she could probably determine defendant's whereabouts by placing a few phone calls. The officers later heard Hatti Smith refer to the person whom she had phoned as Lonnie and also heard her say that she had some money, but that she was scared because "it was getting hot around here." She subsequently told the officers that she did not know the exact address but that she would point out the house wherein defendant was located.

Between 7:30 and 8 p.m., after Hatti Smith directed the officers to a house on

Page 1376

[75 Ill.Dec. 195] LeClaire Street, the officers drove a short distance to a phone booth and directed her to again phone defendant. Meanwhile several officers drove back to the house. After a few minutes, Officer William Frost radioed from the phone booth that defendant was on the telephone inside the house. The officers stationed in front of the house then approached the front [98 Ill.2d 515] door, and Officer Michael Cronin, who had arrested defendant on two previous occasions, saw defendant through the opened door. Because the burglar gates were secured on this door, Officer Cronin immediately went to a side door, entered the house and placed defendant under arrest.

Contrary to defendant's position, it is clear from the record that once probable cause developed for his arrest and the police ascertained his whereabouts, there was no deliberate or unjustified delay during which a warrant could have been obtained. (People v. Winters (1983), 97 Ill.2d 151, 73 Ill.Dec. 439, 454 N.E.2d 299; People v. Abney (1980), 81 Ill.2d 159, 170, 41 Ill.Dec. 45, 407 N.E.2d 543.) While several factors have been identified as relevant in determining whether exigent circumstances exist, the guiding principle is reasonableness, and each case must be decided on the basis of the facts known to the officers at the time they acted. (People v. Eichelberger (1982), 91 Ill.2d 359,...

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