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People v. Craig

SEPTEMBER 16, 1966.

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT IN ERROR,

v.

HAZEN CRAIG, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR.



Writ of error to the Criminal Court of Cook County; the Hon. ALFONSE F. WELLS, Judge, presiding. Judgment of conviction affirmed.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE DRUCKER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Defendant, Hazen Craig, was convicted of robbery after a jury trial and was sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of not less than three nor more than ten years. Defendant sued out a writ of error in the Supreme Court which transferred the case to the Appellate Court.

Contentions on Appeal

Defendant contends that he did not receive a fair trial because:

(1) the prosecutor's closing argument to the jury was improper, in that he:

A. read the indictment to the jury, and

B. stated that the defendant had confessed to an assault and battery;

(2) the court erroneously allowed a prosecution witness to orally describe the subject matter of the robbery (a camera case) although the prosecution did not produce the camera case in court;

(3) cross-examination of a prosecution witness, Officer Lorenz, was improperly restricted; and

(4) statements of the trial judge to the jury were improper.

Evidence

According to the evidence adduced by the prosecution, on March 23, 1963, at approximately five minutes after midnight Officer Joseph J. Lorenz was working with a police undercover unit on South Loomis Street in Chicago. While he was walking down the street feigning drunkenness, dressed as a private citizen and carrying a camera case over his left shoulder, the defendant approached him and asked for a cigaret. After being given the cigaret defendant took Lorenz by the arm and led him across the street over the latter's protests. Lorenz told the defendant to leave him alone, that he was all right and could take care of himself, after which the defendant departed. Lorenz continued to walk south on Loomis and did not see the defendant; he stepped into an alley (in which Officers William Nolan and Roosevelt Robinson were sitting in their automobile), hesitated for a few minutes, coughed a few times and then returned to the mouth of the alley at which time the defendant approached him. After again telling the defendant that he neither needed nor wanted assistance the defendant replied "I'm not going to help you" and reached across with his left hand and grabbed the camera case off Lorenz' shoulder. As Officer Lorenz reached out to grab the defendant the latter swung a fist at him but missed, then hit Lorenz in the jaw with his elbow. Officer Lorenz regained his composure, drew his service revolver and yelled "Police Officer," after which Officers Nolan and Robinson arrived on the scene and took the defendant into custody.

Officers Nolan and Robinson corroborated the testimony of Officer Lorenz with regard to the activity in the alley during which defendant grabbed the camera case. In response to questioning by Officer Nolan, the defendant admitted taking the camera case because he needed the money.

At the trial defendant denied that he grabbed the camera case and also denied that he had admitted to the police that he had done so. He stated that he approached Officer Lorenz and asked him for a cigaret but was told that he (Lorenz) had none; that defendant assisted Lorenz across the street; that Lorenz started down the street and, without turning around, said something about his race; that he walked up behind Lorenz, turned ...


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