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People v. Thompson

JANUARY 3, 1972.




APPEAR from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. GEORGE E. DOLEZAL, Judge, presiding.


The defendants, Henry Thompson, John Yancy and Franklin Thomas, were charged with murder and armed robbery in violation of Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, pars. 9-1, 18-2. Following a trial by jury, defendants were found guilty as charged and were sentenced to the Illinois State Penitentiary for not less than 150 nor more than 299 years.

On appeal defendants raised the following issues:

1) Whether the police lawfully entered Defendant Thompson's apartment and whether the subsequent arrests and search were lawful;

2) Whether the trial judge erred by disallowing disclosure of a police informer's identity;

3) Whether the trial judge erred by overruling a defense objection to a question asked of Defendant Yancey by the prosecutor;

4) Whether the trial judge erred by denying a defense motion to suppress identification testimony;

5) Whether the sentences imposed upon defendants were excessive.

The facts may be briefly summarized. On July 18, 1968, the three defendants and another man, Jesse Martin, decided to rob the Waldshine Liquor Store, 1100 East 47th Street, Chicago. At approximately 3:00 P.M. the four men drove to an alleyway near the store and parked their auto. The robbery plan to which they had agreed for Yancey and Thompson to enter the store while Thomas acted as a lookout outside the door and Martin remained in the auto. Three employees, Harold Brenner, Mildred Nunn and Simon Garber, were working in the store when Yancey and Thompson entered. Thompson walked up to Mr. Brenner, who was working with Mildred Nunn in the drug section of the store, announced the hold-up and brandished a revolver. Thompson then took the money from a nearby cash register. While these events were occurring, Mr. Graber was serving customers on the other side of the store, in the liquor section, and he was unaware that a robbery was in progress. Yancey, in the meantime, had walked to a safe in the rear of the store but had been unable to open it. Yancey then walked to a cash register in the liquor section and began removing money from it. Mr. Garber saw what Yancey was doing and pushed him away from the cash register, saying, "What are you doing here, get out of here." Mildred Nunn then shouted across to Mr. Garber and informed him that a hold-up was in progress. Thompson ran over to the other side of the store and pointed his gun at Mr. Garber. Garber raised his hands and Thompson then fatally shot him in the face. The defendants fled the scene and proceeded to Thompson's apartment at 4041 South Ellis Avenue. A short time later they were arrested at that location and the murder weapon was found hidden in the bathroom.

For their first contention on appeal, defendants challenge the legal validity of the entry by police into Defendant Thompson's apartment. Theorizing that the entry was unlawful, defendants also contend that everything which stemmed from the entry, i.e., the arrest, the search and all related evidence and testimony, was tainted, unlawful or inadmissible. Hence it is necessary to examine the circumstances surrounding the entry by police into Defendant Thompson's apartment.

The evidence adduced during the hearing on defendants' pre-trial motion to suppress physical evidence established that Officer Raymond Galto, assigned to the 21st District Tactical Unit, arrived at work about 5:15 P.M. on the day in question and was briefed about the robbery and shooting in the Waldshine Liquor Store. About fifteen minutes later, he was approached by Officer Downey, a patrolman in the district, and was informed that a man who knew something about the murder had been brought into the station. Officer Downey indicated that he had been approached by this man on the street and, after learning that the man had information about the Waldshine matter, asked the man to accompany him to the station. Officer Galto, upon hearing this, immediately proceeded to speak with the person and, according to Officer Galto:

"[H]e told me he was at 47th and Greenwood at approximately 3:10 that afternoon, and across the street from the Waldshine liquor store on the southeast corner, and that he heard a gunshot or what he thought to be a gunshot and he observed two males running from the store. He stated as he got closser after the two men were running he looked and they ran on Greenwood and west into an alley, and at that point they jumped into a car, and he was able to [recognize] three of the occupants of that car. * * * He didn't know them by their real names, but he knew them by nicknames. He said, `Hank, Bubbles and Jesse.' He knew where Hank lived. He stated to me that after he had seen what took place in front of the liquor store that he went down to 43rd Street, and he knew that Hank was one of the people. So he went toward the apartment and he seen Hank and the other three gentlemen go up into the apartment, go up into the building."

Officer Galto quickly assembled four other police officers and proceeded to 4041 South Ellis Avenue, a four-story building containing numerous kitchenette apartments. Two officers were assigned to cover the building exits and the others went in and spoke with the building manager. Officer Galto asked the manager whether there was anyone in the building known as "Hank." The manager indicated that he did have one tenant known as Hank in apartment 104. The manager also informed the officers that Hank's full name was Henry Thompson.

The officers moved to the door of Thompson's apartment and one, Officer Higgins, knocked on the door. The door opened, Officer Higgins stated, "I'm a police officer," and the three officers entered the apartment. There were six men, two women and a child in the apartment which apparently consisted of one room and a bath. There was hair strewn about the bed and floor and it appeared that two of the men [Thompson and Thomas] had just had their heads shaven. Officer Higgins directed the six men against one wall and quickly patted them for weapons. A brief search of the immediate area was made and Officer Higgins then asked for "Hank." Henry Thompson stepped forward and identified himself as Hank. Officer Higgins ...

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