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People v. Chavis

JANUARY 4, 1967.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal Division; the Hon. CHARLES R. BARRETT, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.


Defendants, Anthony Strong, Wesley Bynum, Dennis Bynum, William Monroe and William Chavis, were jointly indicted and tried (in a bench trial) for attempted murder, attempted robbery and aggravated battery. They were found guilty "in manner and form as charged in the indictment." Chavis, Monroe and Dennis Bynum were sentenced to the penitentiary. *fn1 Strong and Wesley Bynum were sentenced to the Youth Commission. Each defendant filed a separate appeal, all of which were consolidated upon motion of the defendants.

Contentions on Appeal

I. Anthony Strong

A. Evidence which was obtained by an illegal search and seizure was erroneously introduced at the trial;

B. The evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty of attempted murder because the requisite intent to commit murder was not shown.

II. The Remaining Four Co-defendants

A. Their alleged confessions were inadmissible and no other competent evidence was adduced connecting them with an attempt to commit murder.

B. The requisite intent to commit murder was not proven.

C. Alternatively, their sentences should be reduced because the evidence does not show that they intended to murder the complaining witness.

Evidence at Trial

According to the evidence adduced by the prosecution, on May 6, 1964, at approximately 9:00 p.m., defendants Strong and Chavis entered Harry's Liquor Store, ordered a short beer and walked out. Shortly thereafter Strong and Chavis reentered the store, Chavis went to the rear and ordered a beer from the bartender (Elijah Brown) and Strong went to the cash register in front, where he was approached by the operator of the liquor store, Harry Berkowsky. Strong pointed a gun at him and announced that "This is a stickup," after which he (Berkowsky) grabbed for a gun which was beneath the counter and was shot by Strong. (Berkowsky could not remember whether he fired any shots at Strong, but Strong stated that he fired at Berkowsky after the latter grabbed a gun and started shooting.) Elijah Brown rushed to the front of the store but Strong had fled; he grabbed Berkowsky's gun and held it on Chavis until the police arrived.

Chavis was arrested, after which he described the other four defendants and said that they lived at 1668 Christiana. Wesley Bynum and William Monroe were arrested by Officers Roney and Phelan who were enroute to that address, and were taken to the liquor store where they were identified by Chavis. Wesley Bynum was left in the company of other officers and Officers Roney and Phelan rode around the neighborhood of the Christiana address in the company of Monroe. Monroe told them that Strong had shot Berkowsky and also admitted his own complicity in the attempted robbery, stating that:

(1) along with Wesley Bynum and another boy, he obtained a clothes line and was waiting outside the store until an "all clear signal was given; (2) that they were then going to enter the store and tie up the patrons; and (3) they heard shots and ran. Monroe further told the officers that Strong was shot and, as far as he knew, Strong was at home. Officers Roney and Phelan then returned to the liquor store, informed the other officers of their conversation with Monroe and, along with two other officers (and Monroe), proceeded to the Christiana address where Anthony Strong lived with his family in a third-floor apartment. The officers entered and searched Strong's apartment after being told by his sister that Strong had been taken to the hospital with a bullet wound. In a search of Strong's bedroom the officers found a black waist-length jacket, a white shirt with stripes, and a black felt hat (all of which were lying in open view on the bed). There were bloodstains and a hole in the right shoulder of the jacket and shirt. *fn2 The officers also found a holster in a dresser drawer. Defendants filed a motion to suppress all of the aforesaid items and, after a hearing thereon, only the holster was ordered suppressed. The officers took Monroe to Cook County Hospital where Strong was found and identified by the bartender, Elijah Brown. (Strong was also identified at the trial by Berkowsky, who was unconscious for approximately one week following the robbery.) Monroe and Strong conferred, after which Monroe told the police that the gun was in "Cookie's apartment." (Cookie was Dennis Bynum.) The gun was found and Dennis Bynum was subsequently arrested. At the police station Dennis Bynum admitted his complicity in the attempted robbery, identified himself as the third ...

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