Writ of error to the Criminal Court of Cook County; the Hon.
ERWIN J. HASTEN, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.
MR. JUSTICE MURPHY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
Defendant, Fairleigh Gray, was tried jointly with Gerald Williams and Walter Shegog upon a charge of armed robbery of a gasoline station attendant. A jury found them guilty, and Gray was sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of from 5 to 15 years. Defendant's writ of error was transferred to this court for disposition, by the Illinois Supreme Court.
Defendant contends trial errors caused by the incompetency of his court appointed counsel, the Public Defender, resulted in "a denial of a fair trial." He asserts that the trial court erred (1) "in allowing testimony of prosecution witness to go to the jury, where such testimony consisted of oral admissions of co-defendant implicating plaintiff in error," and (2) "in allowing testimony of prosecution witness to go to the jury, where such testimony was to the effect that plaintiff-in-error refused to make a statement upon his arrest." He also complains of "prejudicial comments of the prosecution during its closing argument referring to plaintiff-in-error's omission or failure to call certain witnesses," and that "the Public Defender did not commit the trial of this case with the local expertise to which the plaintiff-in-error was entitled."
Prior to the trial, George E. Uretz, attorney for the three defendants, was granted leave to withdraw his appearance on behalf of Fairleigh Gray because of a possible conflict, and the Public Defender was appointed to represent Gray. The trial proceeded with Gray being represented by the Public Defender and the other two defendants being represented by Uretz.
At the trial, the station attendant testified that he knew the three defendants "definitely. I went to school with them. . . . Gerald Williams was in the same class as I." As to the other two, he stated, "I had many occasions to see them and to go out to lunch with them across the street. We used to go to a grocer store where we bought candy, pop and things, school supplies, combined, all kind of things. Thus I had seen all three of them."
During the cross-examination of a witness for the State, Officer Ernest Grissett, by the Assistant Public Defender, who represented Fairleigh Gray, the following took place:
"Q. Did Mr. Gray at any time admit that he took part in any robbery?
Q. Did Gerald Williams admit he took part in any robbery?
Q. Did he in any way involve Fairleigh Gray in that robbery?