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People v. Striker

AUGUST 13, 1971.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. FELIX BUOSCIO, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied October 26, 1971.

At the conclusion of a jury trial defendant Striker was convicted of: involuntary manslaughter *fn1 for which he was sentenced to a five to ten year term; leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident *fn2 for which he was sentenced to a one year term; and falsely reporting the theft of a motor vehicle *fn3 for which he was sentenced to a one year term. All terms were to run concurrently. At the same trial defendant Clark was convicted of falsely reporting the theft of a motor vehicle (see footnote 3 below), for which he was sentenced to a term of one year. Both defendants appealed directly to the Supreme Court of Illinois pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 603 which provides for direct review of final judgments of the circuit courts in cases involving a constitutional question. The Supreme Court determined that it lacked jurisdiction of the case on direct appeal and transferred it to this court.

Richard Woods testified that he left his place of employment on the morning of December 3, 1967, took public transportation to Fullerton Avenue and Pulaski Road where he entered a restaurant. He left the restaurant at approximately 2:00 A.M. walking in an easterly direction on Fullerton Avenue. As he crossed Hamlin Avenue he heard the screeching of tires but could not determine from which direction the sound came. As he approached Ridgeway (one block east of Hamlin) two men came around the corner toward him. As he stopped to see where they were going, they passed within three feet of him. One man, whose face was seen by the witness and who was identified by the witness in court as Striker, was about six feet two inches tall and was wearing a brown leather jacket and dark pants. The second man was shorter, but the witness did not see his face or clothing. The witness then proceeded south on Ridgeway where he saw an automobile parked on the sidewalk farther down the street. He did not, however, go to the car, but instead he walked down an alley and continued home. He did not mention the occurrence until the police questioned his grandmother the next morning. He was then taken to the Shakespeare Police Station where he viewed Striker who was in a cell. At a subsequent coroner's inquest the witness testified that he could not positively identify Striker as the man who came past him on Fullerton Avenue.

Police Officer Alvin Shimkus testified that on the morning of December 3, 1967, he was assigned to make an investigation of an automobile accident. He proceeded to 2329 North Ridgeway where he found a 1962 Pontiac convertible on the sidewalk near the east side of the street.

Police Officer Eugene Nick testified that shortly after 3:00 A.M. on December 3, 1967, he went to the Studio 31 lounge to investigate a theft of an automobile. Upon arrival he found the two defendants in the vestibule of the lounge. Striker said his car was stolen between 1:15 A.M. and 2:00 A.M. Striker also said he had been in Studio 31 since 1:15 A.M. After telling defendants that the car was involved in a hit and run accident, Nick took them to Belmont Hospital.

Jake Ketchejian testified that he was the owner of Studio 31 lounge at 3739 West Fullerton Avenue. From the time of his arrival at Studio 31, approximately midnight December 2, 1967, until 3:00 A.M. on the morning of December 3, 1967, he checked the identifications of patrons. He did not know defendants personally but knew who they were. The only time he saw defendants that morning was at 3:00 A.M. when they came into the vestibule from across the street to make a telephone call. About five minutes later a police car arrived and the defendants entered the car.

Sergeant Robert Doherty responded to the scene where, upon his arrival, he saw a deceased being placed in a fire department ambulance. Later, while at Belmont Hospital, defendants were brought to him. Striker was wearing a dark leather jacket and black pants. Doherty asked Striker if he owned a 1962 Pontiac convertible. Striker said he did, but that he had last seen the car an hour and a half or two hours earlier. Clark said he had been with Striker all evening. When Striker exhibited a set of car keys he was arrested. Doherty returned to the crime scene and determined that the keys exhibited by Striker fit the ignition of the 1962 Pontiac. He also noticed that there was no evidence of any tampering with the engine or the ignition. During the course of the trial, Doherty examined a photograph and testified that it depicted the victim as he appeared on the morning of December 3, 1967. (Subsequently a stipulation was made to the effect that the photograph was that of Robert McGlynn, the person Striker allegedly killed.)

Charles Hartman testified for the State that there was a party at his house on the night of December 2, 1967. Striker came to that party about 8:00 P.M. or 8:30 P.M. The witness left at 1:10 A.M. December 3, 1967, but returned at 1:30 A.M. Upon returning he found Striker still there. Striker and Clark left the party together at approximately 1:30 A.M. or 2:00 A.M.

Victor Capadona testified that he owned a tavern at 3621 West Fullerton. Robert McGlynn left that tavern at 1:45 A.M. December 3, 1967.

Police Officer James Norton testified that the fingerprints lifted from the vehicle matched those of Striker.

An autopsy report, stipulated to and admitted into evidence revealed that McGlynn's death was caused by multiple internal injuries and a skull fracture.

Karen Stutz testified for the defense that she was in the Studio 31 lounge during the early morning hours of December 3, 1967. There, at approximately 2:00 A.M. or 2:15 A.M., she saw Striker, whom she had known since high school. They had a brief conversation.

Grant Striker testified on his own behalf that on the evening of December 2, 1967, he was at a party in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hartman. At approximately 1:20 A.M. or 1:25 A.M. December 3, 1967, while wearing a green trenchcoat, he left the party with Clark and drove directly to the Studio 31 lounge to keep a previously arranged meeting with Sharon Skowronski. Defendants parked the car near the corner of Fullerton and Ridgeway Avenues and entered the lounge at 1:30 A.M. or 1:35 A.M. There Striker met Sharon Skowronski with whom he talked and danced. At 2:45 A.M. Striker, along with Clark and Skowronski, left Studio 31 and walked toward the place where the car had been parked. When defendants saw the car was missing they put Showronski in a cab and went into the vestibule of Studio 31 to call the police. Officer Nick arrived and told Striker that his car was involved in a hit and run accident. Nick then told defendants to come with him. Striker asked Nick to go into the lounge to talk to people who had seen him. Nick, however, only talked to the owner. Defendants were taken to Belmont Hospital and then to Shakespeare police station. Later that morning, at 9:00 A.M. or 10:00 A.M. Striker was taken to the crime scene where a ...

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