Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal
Division; the Hon. GEORGE N. LEIGHTON, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE DRUCKER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
Defendant was found guilty by a jury of the murder of Albert Romano. He was sentenced to a term of not less than forty nor more than ninety years in the Illinois State Penitentiary.
1. Defendant was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. Prejudicial evidence of other wrongdoing prevented a fair trial.
3. Evidence that the victim, Albert Romano, lived with and supported his invalid mother was prejudicial.
4. Hearsay testimony was wrongfully admitted.
5. The prosecutor's closing argument was prejudicial.
Early on the morning of March 5, 1964, the body of Albert Romano was found in the rear of 4137 West Grenshaw. He had been killed by a bullet which entered the left side of his chest and was fired from close range. He had abrasions on his neck and both wrists. There was medical testimony that the bullet wound was a "contact wound"; that such a wound almost never bleeds and that the bullet was recovered in the body.
Testimony of Victoria McCormick
In September of 1962 she went into the business of selling narcotics with defendant. Early in 1963 defendant bought a laundromat at 63rd and South Park. In June of 1963 he bought a record shop at 206 South Pulaski called "Harold's Record Mart." She and defendant were still in the business of selling narcotics but the business had become bad because of the poor quality of the merchandise and defendant was having difficulty meeting some of his financial obligations. Early in 1964 defendant began talking to the decedent about the possibility of his purchasing narcotics from the decedent. Decedent said he had very good quality narcotics and defendant took a sample to the witness' apartment to be tested. He found that the narcotics were not as good as decedent had said but were satisfactory and the decedent began to be his supplier. The witness worked in the record shop and decedent began coming there to demand money for his goods. He began calling and coming around quite often but defendant refused to pay, saying that the merchandise was inferior and could not be sold. Defendant was generally not in when decedent arrived and she gave messages to him and also relayed his responses. One week before his death, decedent came into the record shop and was quite angry. He told her to tell Johnson he was not going to let Johnson "mess him around"; that his people are "more or less pressing him" and that Johnson is "standing him up." When she related this conversation, defendant told her:
What does he mean like he is giving me some sort of ultimatum or something. I don't like the way that so and so talks anyway.
The following day defendant and decedent met in the record shop and after an argument they made arrangements for defendant or the witness to meet decedent and give him some money. The debt was no greater than $600.
On March 4 the witness arrived at her apartment at 226 North Karlov at 6:30 p.m. and found decedent being held on the couch at gunpoint by defendant. Decedent pleaded with her to talk defendant out of killing him. Defendant had the witness ...