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People v. Reyes

DECEMBER 17, 1970.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. MEL R. JIGANTI, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Ismael Correa Reyes, was charged with the crime of murder. After a jury trial, he was found guilty of that crime and sentenced for a term of 20 to 40 years. Defendant appeals, contending that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; that portions of the prosecutor's closing argument were so improper and prejudicial as to require reversal; and that the admission of certain hearsay evidence was a denial of defendant's constitutional right to confront witnesses.

Three other men, Richard Chumbley, Gerald Hargrove and Jack Hitchcock, were also indicted for the same crime. Chumbley was tried with defendant, and was found not guilty of the charge by the jury. The record does not reveal the disposition of the charges against Hargrove and Hitchcok.

Gerald Hargrove, 17 years of age, testified for the State that he, Chumbley, Hitchcock and defendant were riding in an automobile operated by Hitchcock on the evening of January 20, 1967. Earlier they had been riding in defendant's auto, but it had become inoperative. All four of them were drinking whiskey and beer. Eearlier in the evening two girls had been riding with them. During the evening, defendant had fired shots at an empty bottle and also at street lights. Later defendant commented on his need for money to pay for the necessary repairs to his auto. They then observed a man walking down the street carrying a bottle. Hargrove testified that defendant instructed Hitchcock to stop the auto, and said, "I'm going to get that guy." Defendant and Chumbley left the car, and Hargrove, seated in the back seat, observed them following the man down the street. Hargrove then heard three gun shots. Defendant returned to the car, having been gone about five minutes, and stated that he had asked the man for his wallet. When the victim refused and moved quickly, defendant shot him. The victim ran, and defendant fired two more shots at him.

On cross-examination, Hargrove testified that he had drunk four or five cans of beer and then some whiskey. He was "high" from drinking, but was not intoxicated. While he generally fell asleep after drinking, he did not fall asleep or pass out on this night. He did not know whether defendant was drunk at the time. Two investigators attempted to talk to him about the case, but he refused to talk to them.

Russell Potts testified for the State that on the evening of January 21, 1967, he had a conversation with defendant in which the latter asked to borrow money because he had to leave town. A short time later, defendant told Potts that he had to leave town because he had shot a man. On the following morning, Hitchcock and defendant had a conversation with Potts. Hitchcock told Potts that defendant and Chumbley had got out of the car and approached a man on the street. The man picked up a bottle. Defendant told the man if he didn't drop the bottle by the time he counted five, he was going to shoot him. Defendant counted to five and shot the man. Defendant told Potts that Hitchcock's statement was correct. He also told Potts that after he shot the victim, the latter started to run, and defendant fired two more shots. A short time later, Potts had a private conversation with Chumbley. Chumbley informed Potts that defendant attempted to rob the victim and then shot him. On the day before trial, Chumbley had another conversation with Potts. In this conversation, Chumbley stated that as he and defendant walked down the street, a man bumped into Chumbley and nearly knocked him off his feet. Chumbley's head was turned, and he heard a shot.

On cross-examination, Potts testified that he had been convicted of felonious theft and was on probation. At the time he first told the police about his conversations with defendant and Chumbley, he was under arrest for bad checks. He had not signed any checks, and no charges were placed against him.

Sergeant James Oglesby of the Calumet City Police Department testified that he found deceased's body about 4:30 A.M., January 21, 1967. The body was about one block from the victim's home. The police found a beer bottle across the street from the victim's body.

Doctor John Belmonte testified that he examined the body of the victim and determined that he had died as a result of a gunshot wound in the chest. The doctor found that the deceased had a moderate amount of alcohol in his system.

Riccardo P. Sampson testified for the defendant that he had been hired as an investigator by the defense. He had interviewed Hargrove prior to trial, and Hargrove told him there was no robbery attempt in connection with the shooting.

On cross-examination, Sampson testified that Hargrove initially stated that he had been instructed by his lawyer not to comment about the incident, and refused to answer any questions. Hargrove gave negative answers to all questions.

Jerry L. Martin testified for the defense that he was a court reporter and was with Sampson when Hargrove answered no to Sampson's question as to whether there had been a robbery attempt.

Two witnesses, one a police officer, testified for the defense that Potts' reputation for truth and veracity was bad.

Defendant testified in his own behalf that on the night in question he had just been paid, and that his salary was $125.00 per week. As they drove around, all four men were intoxicated, and Hargrove had passed out in the car. The group had parked in an auto in order for defendant to purchase liquor at a nearby store. As defendant returned from the store, a man shoved him from behind knocking him to the sidewalk. When defendant looked up he saw the man standing over him menacingly with a raised beer bottle. The defendant then shot the person without aiming or thinking. He fired only one shot and returned to the car parked in the alley. On the following day defendant, accompanied by Hitchcock, visited the scene of the shooting. Defendant then went to Tampa, Florida because he feared the police. He returned to Chicago a few weeks later, but when he learned that the police were looking for him, he returned to Florida and then to Puerto Rico. While in Puerto ...

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