APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. SAUL A.
EPTON, Judge, presiding.
MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE BURKE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied December 22, 1971.
An indictment was returned against James Williams (hereinafter "defendant,") Herman Ray Lockett, Andrew V. Prim and Grover C. Thomas, charging them with the commission of three armed robberies, an attempt robbery and a murder. Defendant was found guilty by a jury of the commission of all five crimes and was sentenced to terms of fifty years to one hundred years in the penitentiary on the murder charge and on each of the armed robbery charges, and to a term of five years to ten years in the penitentiary on the attempt robbery charge, all five sentences to run concurrently. Defendant appeals.
Mitchell Bateast testified for the People that at about 6:30 P.M. on November 22, 1968, he was operating a Chicago Transit Authority bus in a northerly direction along Damen Avenue approaching Fulton Street in Chicago. He stated that at the time there were eight to ten passengers aboard the bus. As the witness drove past Fulton Street, an elderly passenger walked to the front of the bus and berated the witness for failing to stop the bus upon the passenger's signal. The witness thereupon stopped the bus to allow the passenger to alight, when "a man got up and blocked the front exit door." The man blocking the doorway then drew a sawed-off rifle from beneath his clothing and stated to the witness, "Let's have it."
Mr. Bateast testified that several seconds after the man holding the rifle announced the holdup, Bateast heard a gunshot emanate from the rear of the bus. The man holding the rifle stated, "Hurry up, hurry up," and a few seconds later a man whom the witness identified at trial as Andrew Prim arrived at the front of the bus, took the money changer from the witness, and exited the bus at the front door together with the man holding the rifle. The witness declined to make an identification of the man holding the rifle, but he testified that the man was clad in a long coat and khaki pants, and that he wore his hair in a "natural." The witness testified that after the men left the bus he notified the police.
Gurnsey Romaine testified for the People that he was a passenger on the bus at the time of the hold-up and that he knew one of the men who participated in the hold-up, Andrew Prim. He stated that Prim sat next to him on the bus, that he heard someone in the front of the bus call out: "Now," that several boys rose from their seats simultaneously, and that one of the boys shot a female passenger, a Mrs. Zielinski, with a pearl handled pistol.
Willie Reed testified for the People that he was the passenger who was arguing with the bus driver concerning the driver's failure to stop the bus upon the witness' signal. He testified that while he was arguing, a man holding a rifle crossed in front of him and announced a hold-up. The witness was told to be seated and he sat down. The witness testified that he heard arguing coming from the rear of the bus, after which he heard a gunshot.
Audrey Harris Pierce testified for the People that she was seated in the middle of the bus with her sister, Dorothy Harris, when she observed a man walk to the front of the bus with a rifle and announce a hold-up. The witness identified that man as defendant Williams. She testified that she then heard a gunshot after which she observed three men, including defendant, flee the bus. The witness stated that she later attended a line-up at the police station and that she picked defendant Williams out of the line-up as one of the men involved in the hold-up. The testimony of Mrs. Pierce's sister, Dorothy Harris, was essentially the same.
William Giersz, a passenger on the bus, testified for the People that while Willie Reed was arguing with the bus driver, the witness observed defendant Williams holding a rifle and observed a second man approach the front of the bus and announce a hold-up. The man who was with the defendant took the bus driver's money changer and proceeded to the rear of the bus. Thereafter, someone slipped into the seat with the witness and took the witness' wallet, pocket lighter, and a set of keys. The defendant stood in the front of the bus hollering, "Let's go, ain't got all day." The hold-up men thereupon exited the bus.
Ermelindo Maldonado testified for the People that he was a passenger on the bus and that he observed four men rise from their seats, two moving to the front of the bus and two remaining toward the rear. One of the men in front, whom the witness identified as defendant Williams and as having been clad in a dark coat and khaki pants, pointed a rifle at the bus driver and ordered him to stop the bus. One of the other men, brandishing a pistol, took money and other personal items from the witness. Maldonado further testified that the men then tried to take a wallet or a purse from a female passenger, that the woman refused to turn over the purse, and that the man with the pistol cursed her and shot her. The four men then exited the bus, two from the front exit and two from the rear exit.
Grover Thomas, defendant's co-indictee, testified for the People that he was acquainted with defendant Williams, Andrew Prim, and Herman Ray Lockett. He stated that he and the other three men boarded the bus at approximately 6:20 P.M. on November 22, 1968, and that the witness occupied a seat with Lockett near the rear exit door while defendant Williams took the "horizonal seat" behind the bus driver. The witness testified that after receiving a signal from Lockett, Williams drew a rifle, got out of his seat and held the rifle on the bus driver. Prim took the driver's money changer while Lockett drew a pistol and took the wallet of Maldonado which he turned over to the witness. Thomas testified that Lockett then "went to the woman and snatched her purse and she snatched back and he shot her." The witness testified that he then exited the bus, discarded the wallet given to him by Lockett and went to the home of a friend where he was later arrested. Thomas further testified that defendant Williams was clad in a long overcoat and khaki pants.
The final witnesses for the People were Chicago Police Officers James Griffin and Richard Sandberg, who stated that they arrested defendant during the early morning of November 23, 1968, at a cocktail lounge. The defendant had the rifle on his person when arrested, and was wearing a long coat and khaki pants. The officers testified that the defendant attempted to explain his possession of the rifle, stating that he was a night watchman and that he carried it in connection with his duties as such.
Defendant Williams testified in his own behalf. He admitted his presence on the bus at the time of the hold-up, but denied any participation therein. He testified that he was riding the bus on his way to visit his girl friend when he observed four male passengers suddenly rise from their seats and commence robbing passengers. He recognized one of the men as Andrew Prim, a casual acquaintance. Williams testified that Prim was standing in the front of the bus holding a rifle. After a woman passenger was shot, Williams and the men involved in the hold-up all attempted to get out of the bus. Outside the bus, Prim "put the rifle on" the defendant and the defendant wrested it from him. The defendant testified that he then went home, that he went to a lounge with the rifle because he did not know what to do with the weapon, and that he was arrested at the lounge shortly thereafter.
• 1 Defendant contends that the evidence adduced by the People was insufficient to sustain their theory of his guilt ...