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The People v. Perkins





WRIT OF ERROR to the Criminal Court of Cook County; the Hon. THOMAS C. DONOVAN, Judge, presiding.


Joe Perkins, herein called defendant, and Farleigh Gray were indicted in the criminal court of Cook County for armed robbery. Defendant was found guilty after a separate trial before the court and was sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of not less than 8 nor more than 15 years. He prosecutes this writ of error to review the judgment of conviction, contends that the evidence did not establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the trial court erred in the admission of certain evidence.

The evidence offered by the People established that on the evening of March 29, 1958, at about 8:55 P.M. two men entered the store of Prince Ice Cream Castles, Inc., located at 12640 South Western Avenue in Blue Island. At that time, Loretta Gadde, the store manager, and Jean Corson, an employee, were placing ice cream in a cabinet at the front of the store, while Virginia Karchner, another employee, was in the rear of the premises. The men entered the store and were behind Mrs. Gadde and Miss Corson when one of them announced that "this is a stick up."

One of the men held a shiny nickle-plated revolver in his right hand which he pointed at Mrs. Gadde. This man, later identified as the defendant, ordered both women to go behind the counter and requested Mrs. Gadde to open the cash register. While she was so doing, Miss Corson stood beside her and watched the gunman.

After the robber removed the money from the cash register, he ordered Mrs. Gadde to produce the key to the safe and open it. When the safe was opened, he removed its contents and forced both women to lie upon the floor at the rear of the store. The men then departed with about $235 which was the property of Prince Ice Cream Castles, Inc.

The police were notified and Mrs. Gadde and Miss Corson described the robbers as colored men about 20 to 23 years of age and of medium height and build. Miss Corson also told the officers that the gunman had a bandage on his right hand and that the man who acted as a lookout wore a brown hat and blue jacket. At the trial she testified that she did not recall furnishing the police with a description of the clothing worn by the man with the gun but stated it was her recollection that he wore a black cap and a jacket.

The defendant and Gray were arrested by Donald Share, a police officer of Chicago Heights, on April 7, 1958. Share, who had been given a description of the men who committed the robbery, arrested them when the automobile in which they were riding exceeded the speed limit. They were taken to the police station and questioned separately concerning this robbery and other matters.

Share testified that upon arrest defendant denied any knowledge of the robbery; that on April 8, Miss Corson identified the defendant and Gray as the robbers from a line of five colored men who were viewed by her; and that Mrs. Gadde, who was also present, failed to identify either of the men. He also related that on April 9, after the line-up and identification, the defendant made an oral confession in which he stated that on the day of the robbery he and Gray had gone to Chicago to redeem his car which had been repossessed; that on their return to Chicago Heights they passed through Blue Island where they observed the Prince Castle store, and there was some conversation about it being an easy place to "stick up;" and that on the same evening, while Gray was driving defendant's car, they returned to Blue Island and parked around the corner about half a block from the store.

Share further testified that defendant told him that Gray had a .32 caliber revolver but "turned chicken" as they approached the store and told him that he couldn't pull a gun on anybody, whereupon defendant took the gun as they entered the store; that defendant brandished the weapon and announced a "stick up" after which they cleaned out the cash register and safe, forced the women present to lie on the floor and departed; and that they drove back through Harvey to Chicago Heights where they divided equally the proceeds of the robbery. He also stated that defendant told him that the gun was hidden in his grandmother's basement, but that it was actually found in the home of Gray's sister; and that he showed the gun to defendant who stated that it was "Farleigh's gun." This was the gun which was introduced in evidence.

Share's testimony concerning defendant's verbal confession was corroborated by Ezell Irons, another police officer. Both testified that Share prepared the written confession in question-and-answer form based upon what defendant had previously told them but that defendant refused to sign it. Irons testified that defendant was not allowed to see his girl friend who brought food to him at the police station and that this motivated the refusal. Share testified that the writing did not include all of the questions and answers of the oral confession.

Both officers were extensively cross-examined concerning the taking and preparation of the confession, which was allegedly reduced to writing at 4:00 P.M. In this connection, defense counsel had Share identify a signed statement purportedly taken from Gray on the same day at 4:15 P.M. which was marked for purposes of identification as defendant's exhibit 1. People's exhibit 1, the revolver, and People's exhibit 2, purporting to be defendant's unsigned written confession, were admitted in evidence, over objection, and defendant's exhibit 1, as well as a certain receipt, hereafter mentioned and designated defendant's exhibit 2, were also admitted.

Defendant was the only witness in his own behalf. He denied any knowledge of or participation in the crime and denied making any statement to Share or anyone concerning this robbery. He related that he told those who questioned him that he knew nothing about it, but remembered being in a room with Share who was asking him questions and typing them, together with the answers he gave. However, he contended that those related to another charge. He said that he had been questioned about this and other crimes, but that he had never admitted "this crime;" that he had neither seen nor been asked to sign the purported written confession; that he knew that his girl friend had brought food to him; that he had not been allowed to see her; and that he denied refusing to sign for that reason.

Defendant also stated that he was riding in his 1949 Ford at the time of his arrest, admitted that his car had been repossessed, but claimed that he got it back March 30 or 31, and not on the 29th. He testified that he had a receipt for it which was produced and received in evidence. It was dated April 7, 1958, and recited the payment of $30 on a 1950 Ford automobile. In explaining the receipt, defendant testified that the seller, who repossessed the car, had it about two weeks; that he got it back only after paying the $30 and securing the receipt.

Gray's signed statement was offered for the purpose of showing the "time element" only, but the entire statement was offered and received without objection. In it Gray confessed that he and defendant committed the robbery. The details related are almost exactly the same as those given by witnesses Share ...

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