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People v. Mcneil

SEPTEMBER 18, 1968.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal Division; the Hon. EDWARD F. HEALY, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.


Defendant appeals his conviction by a jury of the crime of armed robbery for which he was sentenced to serve fifteen to twenty-five years. On appeal he contends (1) that his confession was not voluntarily made and therefore was not admissible, (2) that the confession was barred because it was an unsigned hearsay document, (3) that some of the evidence was the product of an illegal search and seizure, and (4) that he was prejudiced by the failure of the State to connect him with certain evidence introduced against him.

At the trial John D. Somers testified that on September 11, 1965, at twelve o'clock noon three armed men entered his fur salon, two wearing stockings over their heads and a third with a handkerchief over his mouth; that the men forced everyone to lie on the floor and then tied their hands together and that the men took $285 in currency and forty-one mink garments worth $75,000. He identified People's Exhibit 1 as a garment bearing both his label and his garment number. He said he called the police five minutes after the occurrence, that thirty of the items were returned to him on September 13 and that he could not identify any of the three men.

William J. Trigg testified that he was a detective of the Criminal Intelligence Unit of the City of Chicago, that at two-thirty in the afternoon of September 11 he was on the second floor of a building located directly across from 2156 and 2158 South Millard Avenue with a walkie-talkie and binoculars, that he saw defendant in the company of David Moore, Phil Thomas and another man and that he observed defendant making three trips between 2156 and 2158 South Millard. He said on one of the trips defendant went from the second floor of 2156, where he lived with his parents, to the second floor of 2158 carrying a bed sheet tied together at the four corners with what appeared to be piece of fur sticking out.

Detective Robert Lopez testified that he executed a search warrant and searched defendant's apartment on the second floor of 2156 South Millard, that he found there seven fur pieces with the label "John D. Somers" in them and that one of these fur pieces was People's Exhibit 1.

There was testimony that twenty-eight fur pieces with the label "John D. Somers" were recovered at 2158 South Millard. Two nylon stockings with the bottoms removed and a knot tied in each end, taken from a black Mustang parked in a garage behind 2156 South Millard, were also placed in evidence. Detective Milton Deas testified that the registration for the 1965 Mustang was in the name of David Moore.

Defendant's statement to the police was admitted into evidence as People's Exhibit 6 and was read to the jury. In part it stated:

We drove downtown this morning about 10:00 o'clock looking for a place in which we could rob. We went to several places and they were too hard, so we found this place on Wabash, which looked relatively easy. However, when we got in there we found that there were seven people in there. Instead of the three that we saw in the front, those that I mentioned before were there. So we made them lay on the floor at gun point. Then I went into the vault and started to put coats in a waste basket, the kind that is on wheels. I loaded it up, then I said Let's go. They then marched the people in the vault and we left. We pushed the waste basket to the alley where the car was parked and loaded it into the car and left. We went to my house at 2156 Millard. I sneaked the car into my garage so my parents would not see it. The car was a '65 Mustang, black two door. Then I tried to find someone to buy them, all of them, which I was unable to do. I was in the process of looking when I was arrested.

First when we arrived at my house, I put the car into my garage and we all walked out to the front steps of my house. Fred, Phil and Dave remained on the front steps until I walked around to Emil Dennmark to get rid of the guns. When I came back, I went into the house, alone, and got some bedspreads and pillow cases. I went into the garage and got the furs. I put them in the bedspread and the pillow cases. The ones I put in the spread, I put back into the car. The ones in the pillowcase, I hid in my friend's room and then I came back to the house.

He lives next door to me, and he wasn't at home.

The statement described the other participants as Phillip Thomas and Fred McNeil who entered the store, and David Moore who drove the car. Defendant said he wore a handkerchief as a mask and Phillip and Fred wore stocking masks.

Defendant first contends that his confession was coerced and therefore should not have been admitted into evidence. At the hearing on his motion to suppress the confession defendant testified that he was beaten and harassed by police officers and was made to confess by police threats to keep defendant's father, who was ill, in custody and to arrest defendant's mother. The evidence shows that defendant's father and mother occupied the apartment in which stolen furs were found; the father was in custody of the police and was released after defendant made his statement. Three police officers testified that no one struck defendant and that no threats were made.

The trial judge in denying the motion to suppress the confession stated:

I've listened attentively to all the evidence here and there isn't any question in the court's mind that this was a ...

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