Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal
Division; the Hon. HERBERT R. FRIEDLUND, Judge, presiding.
Judgment of conviction affirmed.
MR. JUSTICE ENGLISH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
OFFENSE CHARGED IN THE INDICTMENT
Theft of property exceeding $150 in value (the automobile of one Jack Glasson). *fn1
A jury trial resulted in a verdict of guilty. In aggravation it appeared that defendant was on parole from a sentence of one to five years for armed robbery. The court entered judgment on the verdict and sentenced defendant to a term of one to ten years.
(1) It was error to permit reference by State witnesses to other crimes committed by defendant.
(2) The court's ruling on point (1) was made in a manner which was prejudicial to defendant.
Billy Smallwood and Ronald Stubblefield, 15 and 16 years of age, respectively, were the principal witnesses for the State. They testified to twenty hours of joy riding with defendant (age 22), commencing at 11:15 a.m. on September 24, 1963, and ending when defendant crashed the Glasson car against a curb at 7:00 a.m. the next morning, with the police in hot pursuit. Smallwood and Stubblefield were apprehended immediately, and defendant a few hours later. If believed, the testimony of these witnesses, together with that of the owner of the automobile and one of the arresting police officers, indisputably proved the offense charged in the indictment. Defendant, his mother, and his girl friend testified to an alibi covering the entire period involved in the testimony of the State's witnesses, but the jury obviously did not believe them.
The sufficiency of the proof is not questioned, but prejudice is claimed on account of the references by Smallwood and Stubblefield to their activities with defendant on the day in question prior to the theft of the Glasson automobile. Their stories were consistent in this regard. At 11:15 a.m. they met defendant at a playground where they played basketball till about noon. Then defendant said that "he had a car over there" in the alley, so they went riding. An hour or two later, upon seeing a "paddy wagon" they abandoned the car in the middle of the street, and ran down an alley to a store where they remained until about 3:00 o'clock. That car was not identified other than as a 1958 blue Chevrolet. (Smallwood said it was blue; Stubblefield said it was green and white.)
Continuing with Smallwood's testimony, as confirmed by Stubblefield, they were then sitting on a doorstep watching defendant while he was "trying to get in" a 1963 Chevrolet station wagon. "He got it started," told them to get in, and they rode around in that car until it ran out of gasoline. They made two stops in the interim at the home of defendant's girl friend and ...