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People v. Brown

FEBRUARY 5, 1971.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. FRANCIS T. DELANEY, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied March 9, 1971.

In a jury trial defendant, James Brown, was convicted of armed robbery in violation of Section 18-2 of the Criminal Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1965, ch. 38, par. 18-2) and sentenced to a term of 20 to 25 years.

In a previous bench trial defendant was tried with two co-defendants, Roosevelt Willis and Willie Phillips, both of whom pleaded guilty. Roosevelt Willis was admitted to five years probation with nine months to be served in the House of Correction and Willie Phillips received a sentence of one to two years. James Brown was found guilty but was granted a new trial.

On appeal defendant contends that:

1. he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt;

2. prejudicial error was committed when a certificate of record inaccurately indicating a previous conviction of armed robbery rather than robbery was read to the jury; and

3. the sentence received by defendant is unfair.

The State presented two witnesses in its case in chief. Mrs. Irine Cole testified that she lived in a first floor apartment at 1555 South Trumbull. At approximately 2:00 A.M. on December 16, 1966, she was asleep in her apartment when she was aroused by a knock at her window. She went to the window and saw a man, at that time unknown to her, whose name she later learned to be Willie Roosevelt. He told her that he had a telegram for her from her cousin, Leverther Mitties. When she opened the door, Roosevelt entered accompanied by two other men, one of whom was defendant. Defendant took hold of her sleeve and held her. He took a butcher knife from the top of her television which he kept in his hand. While he held the witness in the washroom the other two men searched through her apartment. The men were in the apartment between one half hour and one hour. Her living room was illuminated by a television light setting on the back of her television. She was able to observe the defendant's face in this light and to notice a large scar on his face, though she could not say on which side it appeared. She said that the scar made it appear that defendant had been cut and a piece of flesh had been left hanging down where it had healed. She was able to describe defendant's coat as a light thin three-quarter coat with black stripes and white dots. The men found and took from the apartment $1500 in cash, a gun and a radio.

On cross-examination the witness stated that she did not know exactly how long or with which hand defendant held her arm. She also was uncertain about various details of defendant's appearance, including his height, the side of his face which bore the scar, and the color of his shirt and trousers. She testified that she was very frightened during the robbery and that the single source of light in her apartment was a small television light.

The second witness for the State was James Adams, the son of Mrs. Cole. He stated that he was absent from his mother's home until approximately 9:30 A.M. on the morning of December 16th. He found the apartment disordered and $1500 in cash, a .32 caliber revolver and a radio missing at that time.

Roosevelt Willis who was indicted with Willie Phillips and defendant for the robbery of Mrs. Cole was the first of four defense witnesses. He was under detention in the House of Correction at the time of his testimony. He testified that he did take part in the robbery with Phillips but that the third man involved was named Bey. On direct examination he stated that he knew defendant, but that he had never known him by the name "Bey" and that defendant had not participated in the robbery of Mrs. Cole. On cross-examination, the witness was asked if defendant had any other nickname and he answered: "Yes. We called him Bey." Later he said that he had taken that name from a piece of paper which he had seen in Court.

Defendant testified in his own behalf. He stated that on the night in question he was at his home at 1414 South Homan in the presence of his brother and his brother's wife and children from 10:30 P.M. on. He stated that he watched television until about 12:30 A.M. when he went to bed. He did not leave his bedroom until 8:00 or 9:00 A.M. He also testified that at his first trial Mrs. Cole had stated ...

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