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People v. Young

APRIL 16, 1973.

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

v.

LEON YOUNG, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



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

MR. JUSTICE EGAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, Leon Young, was indicted for the murder of Julius Robinson; he waived a jury and was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to a term of 6 to 14 years. The defendant contends on appeal that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Phillip Robinson, no relation to the deceased, called by the State as a court's witness, testified that he was having a birthday party in his home at 4728 South Prairie in Chicago on October 12, 1969. The defendant, whom he had known for over a year, came in from the back about midnight accompanied by a man and a woman. He noticed that the defendant was wearing a holster with a gun in it. He told the defendant to leave because of the way he was acting; he knew the defendant had had too much to drink. The defendant left with his friends. Later, about daybreak, he heard a loud bursting noise come from the kitchen. Someone told him Julius Robinson had been shot and he went into the kitchen. He saw Leon Young going out the door, "not really fast, but not really slow." Julius was between the sink and the stove, coughing; he was turned around and he had a knife in his hand. Phillip Robinson took the knife and laid it on the table. The police were called. He looked out and saw the defendant and his companions "speeding away" in a car. He later observed that the window over the back door lock had been broken. The defendant was the only guest that came in from the back. He had invited the defendant to the party. He had testified before the coroner's jury and grand jury that he had not invited the defendant. At trial he explained that when he had previously testified he meant that he had not given the defendant a written invitation. When he made a written statement to the police he did not mention a knife in the hands of the deceased. He did not notice any blood on the knife. He had been drinking heavily that morning and night.

Clifford Wright testified on behalf of the State that he saw the defendant and his friends enter through the back door after pushing it in. He helped the defendant off with his coat because the defendant had cut his hand. He noticed that the defendant was wearing a shoulder holster with a gun. Later he saw the defendant arguing with a woman; the defendant pushed her and came at her with a gun. Someone told the defendant to leave, and he did. Some time later he heard some noise in the kitchen. From where he was sitting, he could see into the kitchen. He saw the defendant pull out the gun and fire, but he could not see at whom the defendant was firing. He ran into the kitchen and saw the deceased near the table "gagging" for air; the defendant was putting the gun into his holster. The deceased fell to the floor. There was no knife, or anything else, in the hands of the deceased. He saw the defendant leave. Phillip Robinson was not in the kitchen when he first went in after the shot was fired.

Aureia Zackary testified that she arrived at the party a little after 5:00 A.M., with the deceased, and her employer, Mr. Lang. They were having a drink in the dining room when the deceased went into the kitchen. She heard a shot and immediately ran into the kitchen where she saw the deceased lying on the floor. Phillip Robinson was not in the kitchen. She did not see a knife in the deceased's hand or near his body. She did not see the actual shooting.

Arthur Lang testified that when he arrived at the party with the deceased he noticed that the window in the back door was again broken; he had fixed it only two days earlier. He entered the kitchen after he heard Mrs. Zackary scream. The deceased was lying on the floor. There was no knife in the deceased's hand or lying by his body. He did not see the person who did the shooting. He did not look around for a knife. The deceased had gone into the kitchen to get a glass.

Harold Leonard Roebuck testified for the defense that he and his wife, Beverly, came to the party with the defendant. They came in the back way. The defendant cut his hand when he knocked on the door, and he gave the defendant a scarf to wrap around the cut. When the defendant took off his jacket, he did not notice a shoulder holster or a gun. He did not have anything to drink; but on cross-examination he said he might have had one beer. He told the defendant that he was ready to leave. The defendant was not unruly at the party; he was sober. After they left the party, they drove around for 20 minutes. When they realized that the scarf had been left at the party, they went back for it. After returning to the party they looked for the scarf but could not find it. They were getting ready to leave for the second time. He cut a piece of cake and laid the knife down on the kitchen table. The defendant started to light a cigarette on the kitchen stove. As he was moving a pot on the stove, the deceased asked him what he was going into the pot for. The defendant answered he was moving it; they had a few words. The deceased then picked up the knife and swung it at the defendant. Roebuck jumped back and heard a shot. He did not see the shooting, but he did see the defendant standing there with the gun in his hand. After the shot, a lady and Phillip Robinson came into the room. The deceased was standing there with the knife in his hand. He, his wife and the defendant left together. He let the defendant out of his car at 62nd and Harper. He had been convicted of burglary and had been placed on probation. He believed the defendant was cut on the left wrist. He had testified at a bond hearing that the defendant was cut on the right wrist. He first saw the gun after the shot was fired. At a bond hearing he had testified he saw the defendant fire the shot.

The defendant testified that he arrived at the party with Roebuck and his wife. He had been verbally invited by Phillip Robinson. He cut his finger when he knocked on the back door. Roebuck lent him a scarf to put around the cut. During the party he drank a beer. The cut on his hand started to bother him so he decided to leave. After they had left and driven about seven or eight blocks, he realized that he had left Roebuck's scarf at the party, and they returned to get it. They could not find the scarf and decided to leave again. He stopped in the kitchen on his way out to light a cigarette on the stove. He moved a pot over and was lighting the cigarette when the deceased, whom he did not know, asked him what he was doing messing with the pot. An argument ensued, and the deceased picked up a knife and started to slash at the defendant; the defendant was cut on the left wrist and chest. He backed up, but the deceased, who was larger than the defendant, continued to slash with the knife. He remembered that he had in his pocket a gun which had been given to him that day by a young lady named Peaches for safe-keeping. He was not wearing, nor did he own, a holster for the gun. He pulled the gun from his coat and shot upwards in an attempt to frighten the deceased, who was about an arm's length away when he shot him. He did not know the gun was loaded. He left with Mr. and Mrs. Roebuck immediately after the shooting. He dropped the gun in the back of the building where the shooting occurred. The deceased was still standing when they left. He did not know whether he had shot the deceased. It was about two weeks later that he heard about the deceased's condition. Between the date of the shooting and his arrest a month later, the defendant continued to live at the same address, 6236 South Harper; but during this time he was continually in and out of town. He gave the police his mother's address, 6915 Parnell.

Lola Jordan testified in rebuttal that the defendant was wearing a shoulder holster. When she saw the defendant he appeared to be drunk. She was asleep when the shooting took place.

Michael Griegel also testified in rebuttal that he searched for physical evidence after the shooting both inside and outside the house and he did not find a gun. He did not see a cake on the kitchen table. He talked to Phillip Robinson; no one ever told him that the deceased had a knife. He visited 6915 Parnell and 6236 Harper on a number of occasions in the early morning hours and did not find the defendant.

It was stipulated that Joseph S. Price would testify that he was a micro-analyst employed by the Chicago Police Department. He conducted a spectroscopic and microscopic examination of the undershirt and outer-shirt of the deceased; he found a single perforation in each of the garments; there was no powdery dust nor scorched fabric in the area surrounding the perforations.

By stipulation, Officer Thomas Dwyer, who had testified in chief that he arrested the defendant, testified that the defendant gave his address as 7925 South Greenwood.

The trial court found the defendant guilty of voluntary manslaughter under section 9-2(b) of the Criminal Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 38, ...


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