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The People v. Crump

OPINION FILED MARCH 24, 1955.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT IN ERROR,

v.

PAUL CRUMP, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR.



WRIT OF ERROR to the Criminal Court of Cook County; the Hon. FRANK R. LEONARD, Judge, presiding.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BRISTOW DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The plaintiff in error, Paul Crump, hereinafter referred to as defendant, has brought a writ of error to review and reverse his conviction of murder and his sentence to death in the criminal court of Cook County.

The defendant, together with David Taylor, Eugene Taylor, Harold Riggins and Hudson Tillman, was jointly indicted for the crime of murder of one Zukowski, chief of plant guards at Libby, McNeill & Libby in the Chicago Stockyards, during a robbery which occurred on March 20, 1953.

Tillman, whose name appeared on the list of witnesses filed by the State, was granted a severance by the court and the rest of the defendants submitted their cause to a jury. The jury returned verdicts finding Crump, the two Taylors and Riggins guilty and setting the punishment of Crump at death and that of each of the other three at 199 years in the penitentiary.

On the same day as the payroll robbery and alleged murder, the defendant Crump, together with certain other defendants, was picked up by the Chicago police, taken to the Stockyards Police Station, and questioned concerning the robbery and murder. After extensive questioning, Crump and the defendants picked up with him were released on March 23. On the night of March 25 Hudson Tillman surrendered himself to police authorities through his attorney, and, as a result of his complete confession, the defendant Crump, with the other defendants, was rearrested on March 26. On March 27 statements were allegedly made and signed by the two Taylors, Riggins and the defendant, Paul Crump, in the office of the State's Attorney.

On March 31, 1953, the defendant was jointly indicted with the other four for the murder, and the defendant, with the others, was arraigned and pleaded "not guilty." On April 13 the defendant, through his counsel, presented a motion to be examined by a competent physician and surgeon and to be permitted to have a photographer and the court reporter present at the time of the examination, which motion was denied by the court after a hearing.

On May 5, the defendant Crump presented a motion for change of venue, for a list of the names of jurors and witnesses, for a bill of particulars, and also for a continuance from May 11, the date for which trial had been set, to a later date in order to permit adequate preparation for trial. The motion for change of venue and for a list of the names of jurors and witnesses was allowed. The bill of particulars was denied, and the trial date was set for May 18.

The selection of the jury was begun on May 18, 1953, and, after numerous panels were exhausted, a jury was finally selected and sworn on June 4 and the cause proceeded to hearing through June 19, on which date a verdict of "guilty" was returned. Thereafter motions for new trial and in arrest of judgment were denied and sentence pronounced.

Without attempting to recite the testimony received in evidence in detail, suffice it to say that numerous witnesses testified as to facts surrounding the alleged robbery and murder, including Hudson Tillman, one of the co-defendants in the indictment, and the alleged statements by each of the defendants were admitted in evidence after a limited preliminary hearing on their admissibility. Crump and each of the other defendants testified in his own behalf along with other defense witnesses attempting to establish alibis.

The defendant Crump is the only party to have brought writ of error to review the verdict and sentence, and assigns fourteen errors as a basis for reversal. Those fourteen errors were argued in detail in the written brief. Argument of Crump and the errors complained of may be summarized as follows: The admission of improper evidence on behalf of the State; the refusal to admit proper evidence on behalf of defendants; the admission of certain exhibits on behalf of the State; the failure to prove the defendant guilty beyond all reasonable doubt; the refusal to give certain instructions asked by the defendants; the limitation of examination of State's witnesses by the defense; the refusal to grant defendant additional time in which to prepare his case adequately; failure to have a complete preliminary hearing as to admissibility of alleged statements; questioning by the court of jurors as to their qualifications respecting the death penalty; conversations by the court with four sworn jurors when counsel was not present; denial of the motion for physical examination of defendant with photographer and shorthand reporter present; calling a court's witness on preliminary hearing without request from either side, and permitting the State, on the trial, to refer to his testimony as a court's witness without such witness testifying before the jury; improper and prejudicial arguments and conduct of an assistant State's Attorney; and the verdict being the result of passion and prejudice and contrary to the law and evidence.

The record before us is voluminous, the defendant was aggressively represented, and the trial was a bitter one. No trial judge can be expected to sit as an arbiter in such a contest without the intervention of error. Too many rulings must be promptly made in the hurried process of trial for there to be a perfect record. Were the mistakes made of such a character that they constituted reversible error?

Defendant's involvement in the occurrence at Libby, McNeill & Libby plant on March 20, 1953, was clearly established by the testimony of Hudson Tillman, an accomplice. His testimony was therefore of great importance. It is claimed on this review that defendant's counsel in the cross-examination of Tillman was unduly restricted. It is universally recognized that the testimony of an accomplice is fraught with weaknesses, due to the effect of motives, hope of leniency or benefits, or the effect of fear, threats, hostility, etc. Defendant's counsel in his oral argument before the court emphasized this as a basis for reversal. The trial court sustained objections to questions propounded on cross-examination of Tillman as to whether he was a narcotic addict or user of narcotics.

The specific questions asked were "Are you a narcotic addict? Do you take the stuff?" "Did you ever take heroin?" and "Didn't you, on March 20th, buy some narcotics and pay $17.00 for it?"

The defendant Riggins testified that after he met Tillman on March 20, 1953, he drove with Tillman to Kankakee; that Tillman wanted to stop at Robbins; that Tillman entered a house and stayed five to fifteen minutes at the most; that Tillman came out, entered the car and Riggins noticed he was pale and was talking foolishly, and he could not understand him even though he tried to make sense of Tillman's conversation; that he looked at him later and Tillman's eyes were rolling around in his head; that Riggins got some ice and Tillman was "slobbering and whatnot over himself;" that he drove to Elsie Cameran's house on 130th near Michigan; that Riggins was afraid Tillman was ...


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