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People v. Norwood

APRIL 24, 1972.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. MINOR K. WILSON, Judge, presiding.


Following a bench trial, Ronald L. Norwood was found guilty of the offense of murder. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 38, par. 9-1.) Judgment was entered on the finding and he was sentenced to a term of not less than 14 nor more than 20 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary. On appeal he contends:

"1) That the judgment of conviction must be reversed as a matter of policy due to the prosecution's having knowingly withheld evidence material to the question of his guilt;

2) That he was improperly limited in his cross-examination of the State's primary witness due to the trial court's erroneous refusal to require the State to produce the witness' prior police record; and

3) That he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

The bulwark of the State's case rests in the testimony of William Washington, a minor, which may be summarized as follows. The defendant appeared at this witness' home between 11:30 A.M. and noon on January 11, 1970. They wandered through the neighborhood together, returning to the witness' apartment at one point and entering a meat market at another. Washington carried a .38 calibre revolver containing five cartridges, three of which were expended. He admitted that he had previously stolen the weapon and fired the expended cartridges.

Between 1:15 and 1:30 P.M., as they were walking on 38th Street between Langley and Cottage Grove Avenues, defendant requested that he be allowed to carry the weapon. Washington complied with the request and surrendered it to him. Shortly thereafter and in the vicinity of a school yard they encountered the deceased, Mr. Jackson Jones. Defendant suggested that they rob Mr. Jones, but Washington refused, stating that Mr. Jones was known to him. When defendant then stated that he would perform the act himself, Washington began to walk away.

Washington heard the deceased refuse to surrender his money and then heard a single gunshot. He turned and saw Mr. Jones lying on the ground. Defendant threw him the gun and proceeded to enter the deceased's pockets. Washington noticed two other individuals near the scene: a woman was standing approximately 25 feet away and a man on Ellis Avenue.

The witness fled the scene and defendant followed. He first ran down the alley located between Ellis and Lake Park Avenues and there discarded the gun in a garbage can. He and defendant then continued their flight on foot to Oakwood and Lake Park Avenues where they boarded a C.T.A. bus. While on the bus, defendant gave him $6 as a share of the proceeds of the robbery. They then proceeded to defendant's home on the west side of the city via C.T.A. train, arriving there at approximately 3:00 P.M.

They remained at defendant's home until approximately 5:30 P.M., occupying themselves by listening to records, except for a short period of time when they went out to get something to eat. Thereafter they returned to the south side of the city and visited with friends until 10:30 P.M. when they returned to Washington's home. Defendant spent that night at Washington's home.

In addition to his denial of any knowledge of the offense with which he was charged, defendant offered the defense of alibi. Testifying on his own behalf, he offered the following chronology of events on January 11, 1970.

He did not rise until after 11:00 A.M. on the morning of the date in question. At 11:30 A.M., following breakfast, he telephoned his girl friend and spoke to her for about an hour. At approximately 1:30 P.M. his mother telephoned with instructions for him to remove some meat from the freezer. Shortly thereafter William Washington telephoned. They spoke for approximately 25 minutes and Washington invited him to come to the south side. Defendant dressed and eventually left for the south side after 2:00 P.M., arriving in Washington's neighborhood sometime after 3:00 P.M.

When he located Washington at the home of a friend it was almost 4:00 P.M. They talked for a while and then it was suggested that they journey to defendant's home and "get high." They arrived at his home at approximately 5:30 P.M., bringing food and drink with them. No one was home at that time. Defendant called his girl friend again. Later they returned to the south side where they visited a friend named Sam and ultimately returned to Washington's home where he spent the night.

Levinia Norwood, defendant's mother, also testified for the defense, corroborating defendant's testimony concerning the telephone conversation between them at approximately 1:30 P.M. She also testified that she arrived home at ...

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