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People v. Adams

JULY 29, 1969.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. HARRY S. STARK, Judge, presiding. Affirmed. MR. JUSTICE MCCORMICK DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

The defendant was indicted on four counts. Count I charged the offense of involuntary manslaughter on April 12, 1966, in that defendant, acting in a reckless manner, killed Samuel Carter with an automobile; Count II alleged that on the same date defendant committed the offense of leaving the scene of an accident; Count III charged that the defendant on the same date committed the offense of driving a motor vehicle without a license; and Count IV charged defendant with having committed the offense of reckless driving on the same date.

The case was tried before a jury which returned a verdict finding defendant guilty as charged in the indictment. At the conclusion of the trial defendant's motion to dismiss Count IV of the indictment was allowed. He had made a pretrial motion to dismiss Counts I and IV of the indictment, which motion was denied.

The defendant was sentenced to the House of Correction for one year on Counts II and III, and to five years' probation on Count I, upon condition that he serve the first year of the sentence in the House of Correction. The sentences were to run concurrently.

The first of three eyewitnesses for the State was Templie Murphy, who testified that she was on the southwest corner of 111th Street and Racine Avenue on the evening in question and saw the deceased step off the curb. At the same time she heard tires squeaking and saw a car speeding north on Racine. As the victim tried to step back from the car he was struck and knocked into the air. The driver did not stop, but continued driving to 110th Street where he made a right turn. The witness stated that there are stop signs posted for Racine Avenue. She further testified that in her opinion the car which struck the deceased was traveling at about 70 miles an hour.

Lucious Harris testified that he was standing by his car at a gas station at 111th and Racine at the time of the accident; that when he heard the sound of screeching wheels he looked up and saw a red 1965 Plymouth traveling north on Racine. He stated that while he did not particularly notice the deceased he did see the car "strike an object" at the intersection, and that the object went up in the air and fell on the side of the car near the windshield, then rolled into the street. The witness followed the Plymouth to 110th Street where the defendant made a right turn, parked and cut off his lights, then lay down in the car. He stated that the defendant was wearing a cap and a leather jacket. The witness made a note of the license number, then returned to the scene of the accident with the police and went with Officer Wheeler to look for defendant's car. The defendant had been apprehended by other police officers and Harris identified him as the driver of the red Plymouth. Harris further testified that at the time of the impact the defendant was driving his car at about 65 or 70 miles an hour; that he applied his brakes and was then driving at 55 or 60 miles an hour when he struck the deceased.

Inell Dimwiddie's testimony was substantially the same as that of the other two State witnesses. She said she saw a speeding car strike an object which went up in the air; that she believed the car was traveling between 75 to 80 miles an hour.

Officer Wheeler testified that he had gone with Harris to look for defendant's car and had then gone to 109th and Racine where defendant had been apprehended. The defendant's car was identified by Harris as the one which struck the victim. There were scratches and dents near the headlights of the car and the windshield was broken.

Officer Branche, who arrested the defendant, said that when he saw him at 109th and Throop the defendant was running south.

The defendant testified on his own behalf and admitted driving without a valid license. He stated that he was driving at about 25 to 30 miles per hour as he approached 111th Street on Racine; that he did not see the stop sign, and that he saw the victim too late to avoid striking him. He stated that he had applied his brakes midway between 111th Street and 112th, and that his wheels did not squeak or screech. He stated that after the impact he turned west on 109th and Racine, parked his car, walked across the street and saw a police car approaching. He explained his failure to stop after the accident by saying that he panicked.

The defendant appealed from the judgment of the trial court and argues that Count I should be dismissed because it is too vague and does not state a crime. Defendant also argues that Count II did not allege a crime, and that the charged offenses arose out of the same transaction or series of transactions, and therefore, separate sentences should not have been imposed on the different counts. The defendant finally argues that the evidence is not sufficient to sustain a verdict of guilty.


1. Was Count I sufficient to inform the defendant of the nature of the accusation against him? That count alleged that:

Cornelius Adams on April 12, 1966, committed the offense of involuntary manslaughter, in that he, acting in a reckless manner, killed Samuel Carter, with an automobile, without lawful justification, in violation of chapter ...

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