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People v. Gaiter

NOVEMBER 22, 1972.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

HERSHEL GAITER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. MEL R. JIGANTI, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE ENGLISH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

OFFENSES CHARGED

Armed robbery. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, par. 18-2.) Aggravated battery (2 counts). Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, pars. 12-4 (b-7) and (b-1).

JUDGMENT

After a bench trial, defendant was found guilty of armed robbery and both counts of aggravated battery, and admitted to five years' probation, with the first year to be spent at Vandalia State Prison Farm.

CONTENTIONS RAISED ON APPEAL

1. Defendant was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because the identification of defendant by the prosecution's only eyewitness was vague, doubtful and unworthy of belief.

2. It was error for the trial court to find defendant guilty when he had a consistent and corroborated alibi.

3. The trial court committed reversible error when it allowed the introduction of hearsay testimony by the arresting officer relating to what the complaining witness had said concerning defendant's identification.

EVIDENCE

Arthur Matthews, for the State:

He has been a Chicago Transit Authority bus driver for ten years. On July 3, 1969, between 5:00 and 5:30 P.M., he was driving his bus south on Pulaski Road when he approached a large rush-hour crowd at Madison Street. A group of people entered the bus and three men stayed up front, standing behind him and to the side as he approached Van Buren Street. Someone said, "Off here," and as he opened the door, defendant said, "Grab it." The other two men pushed him back in the seat and defendant grabbed the money changer which was on a tray to the front of him and slightly to his right. Defendant said, "Get the bag," referring to a small leather bag in which bus drivers carry additional money and other articles. One of the men grabbed the bag, but Matthews held on to one of the handles. Defendant then produced a knife, said "Let's go," and cut Matthews across the hand with the knife. The witness released the bag and the three men fled through the open door of the bus and ran west down Van Buren Street. It was a bright day and he described defendant to the police as wearing a light grey jacket, light complected, tall, slender build, 150 to 160 pounds, 5'10" to 6' tall, 19 to 20 years of age, with no beard, moustache, or other identifying marks.

On July 11, 1969, a police officer came to his home with a large number of pictures, most of which were Negroes but may have included some Mexicans or Puerto Ricans. He identified defendant's picture from the group of photographs. At the time defendant was brought in for a preliminary hearing, Matthews recognized him in the ...


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