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In Re Forrest

MAY 31, 1973.


APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. WILLIE WHITING, Judge, presiding.


After a hearing conducted without a jury in the juvenile division of the circuit court of Cook County, the defendant, Bruce Forrest, sixteen years of age, was adjudged to be delinquent. He had been charged by petition with robbery and aggravated battery. Defendant was committed to the Department of Corrections Juvenile Division until he attained the age of twenty-one or until sooner discharged by order of court. (We were advised at oral argument that defendant has been released on parole.)

On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred in not requiring the prosecution to produce certain alleged statements of one of its witnesses, and that the evidence was insufficient to support the finding of delinquency.

On July 16, 1971, between 11:30 and 11:45 P.M., Albert Brown and his wife were robbed in an apartment building in which they resided at 3549 South Federal Street in the City of Chicago. Mr. Brown was shot twice in the thigh during the robbery.

Albert Brown testified that as he and his wife entered the building they observed defendant along with a group of other boys. The Browns waited for an elevator, but the boys informed them that the elevator was out of order. After waiting several minutes, the Browns began the long walk up the building's enclosed stairs to their eleventh floor apartment. As the Browns went up the stairs, defendant and another boy, also ascending the stairs, passed them. A short time later a third boy ascending the stairwell passed the Browns.

Mr. Brown further testified that when he and his wife reached the eighth floor landing, defendant, carrying a gun, entered the stairwell. While defendant pointed a gun at Brown, another boy ordered him to face the wall. When Brown failed to do so, defendant shot him twice. Brown testified that at this time his wallet, money and keys were taken. He also testified that his wife attempted to continue up the steps, but she was forced back down to the eighth floor landing, and her purse was taken. The entire incident took between five and ten minutes. On July 20, 1971, Brown saw defendant in the first floor of the building, and Mrs. Brown called the police.

During cross-examination, Brown testified that he had described his assailant to the police as being 5'3" tall, and shorter than himself. Defendant actually was 5'7" in height, and in court proved to be taller than Brown. Prior to the incident, Brown did not know defendant, nor did he recall ever seeing defendant before.

Mrs. Brown testified substantially to the same facts as her husband. She was unable to judge their assailant's height because during the incident he was standing on a different level of the stairs than they. After the incident, both boys called down from above to Mrs. Brown to come and get her purse.

Both Browns testified that the stairwell was narrow and that the light on the eighth floor landing was not working. Mrs. Brown testified that when they first saw defendant on the first floor, eight boys were with him. Brown initially testified that he did not know how many boys were there. Subsequently he testified that four boys were with defendant.

Defendant offered alibi testimony. John E. Thompson, the employer of defendant's brother, testified that on the night in question he was present in his auto with defendant, Donald Stevens and defendant's brother, Mitchell Forrest, from 11:30 or 11:40 P.M. until 12:20 or 12:25 A.M. After obtaining some beer and wine, they parked the auto in the parking lot of the building in question and talked until 12:25 A.M. Thompson's testimony was supported by that of Donald Stevens, Mitchell Forrest and defendant.

Mitchell Forrest further testified that the stairwell in the apartment building was narrow and dark, and that on the evening in question the light in the eighth floor stairwell was not working.

Defendant's first contention is that the trial court committed reversible error in not ordering the State to produce a previous written statement of Albert Brown. Defendant argues that the defendant was prejudiced by denial of the opportunity to impeach Brown by means of such a statement.

During cross-examination, Albert Brown stated that he had given a description of his assailant to the police and they had written it down. At this juncture defense counsel requested that the State produce this particular statement. The prosecutor initially made a general objection to this request. Subsequently, the prosecutor stated that defense counsel must be referring to a police case report in which "Brown gives a ...

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