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The People v. Staples

SEPTEMBER 15, 1971.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES D. CROSSON, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Roosevelt Staples, was charged with the crime of armed robbery. After a bench trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to serve from two to six years in the penitentiary. Defendant Staples appeals his conviction and presents the following issues for our review: (1) Whether he was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) Whether defendant's initial confrontation with the police constituted a valid "stop and frisk" or an invalid arrest remote in time and place from the crime; and (3) Whether the absence of counsel at defendant's pre-indictment lineup denied defendant his constitutional rights under the sixth amendment to the constitution of the United States. We shall set out a brief statement of the facts which disposes of defendant's reasonable doubt contention and then shall consider defendant's latter two contentions.

The complaining witness, Mrs. Shirley Finley, was employed as a hotel clerk at the Crest Hotel, 1519 W. Adams, Chicago, Illinois, in the early morning hours of January 29, 1968. Mrs. Finley was alone at the time. Between 2:30 and 3:00 A.M., two young men entered the hotel through the front door. One of the men approached the window of the clerk's cage where Mrs. Finley was working and asked her to make change for a quarter. At this time, the second young man, whom Mrs. Finley identified in court as the defendant, Roosevelt Staples, appeared from behind a wooden partition which enclosed the cage. The defendant confronted Mrs. Finley with a gun in his hand and demanded the money located in the cash drawer. Mrs. Finley removed $18.00 to $20.00 from the money drawer and placed it on the counter. The two men picked up the money from the counter and fled the premises. Mrs. Finley testified that "the lighting in the lobby was clear at that time in the morning. We have a big light right up in the center and I have two lights on each side of my cage. There is also one along the wall by the vendor box, the candy machine and the cigarette machine and the pop machine. These lights were burning then."

We find that the testimony related by Mrs. Finley was positive and credible. Mrs. Finley informed the court as to the adequate lighting fixtures facilitating her clear observation of the defendant. She observed the defendant when he requested the cash at a time when he was no more than a few feet directly in front of her. Mrs. Finley subsequently identified the defendant from a police lineup approximately one week after the robbery.

• 1, 2 The defense seeks to make much of (1) the fact that Mrs. Finley originally told the police that the gun was silver while at trial she identified the gun as black with a pearl handle and (2) the fact that Mrs. Finley could only remember the defendant's coat was dark, but could not remember its specific color. We believe that the alleged inconsistencies related by Mrs. Finley were at most minor discrepancies and in no way affected her credible testimony. The positive identification by Mrs. Finley, who had ample opportunity for observation, is sufficient to support conviction. People v. Mach (1962), 25 Ill.2d 416, 185 N.E.2d 154.

• 3 Defendant next contends that the arrest of the defendant was unlawful and as a result the gun obtained incidental to the arrest should have been suppressed. At trial, Officer George Kush, one of the arresting officers, testified that on February 5, 1968, his commanding officer informed him of several hotel robberies perpetrated in the vicinity of the Chicago Stadium. Officer Kush was given a general description of the suspect. At approximately 3:05 A.M., on February 5, 1968, Kush was driving eastbound in the vicinity of the Chicago Stadium when he observed a man walking on the street who fit the description of one of the perpetrators of the hotel robberies. Officer Kush described the confrontation as follows:

"A. We stopped the vehicle and got out and I announced my office and showed my star.

Q. What occurred then?

A. The defendant was rather fidgety and reached around his —

MRS. WILIAMS: Objection to this.

THE COURT: Oh, he may testify to that, objection overruled.

Q. Continue.

A. Was moving his hands around, so we instituted a search of his person. And as Officer LaPierre touched his back the defendant bolted and ran in a ...

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