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People v. Bracy

SEPTEMBER 14, 1973.

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

v.

WILLIAM BRACY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ROBERT J. DOWNING, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE DRUCKER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After a trial before a jury, defendant was found guilty of three counts of armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 38, par. 18-2) and sentenced to serve concurrent terms of 12 to 36 years on each count. Defendant appealed directly to the Supreme Court which ordered the case transferred to this court.

On appeal defendant raises five issues: (1) his motion to suppress identification testimony and his motion for a mistrial were improperly denied, (2) misrepresentations by the prosecution prevented the court from examining the State's file for evidence favorable to the accused, (3) the prosecution's closing argument was improper, (4) the prosecution improperly attempted to enhance the credibility of its witnesses before the jury, and (5) the court erred in refusing to order the prosecution not to use the defendant's prior convictions against him if he testified.

The facts are as follows: During the night of February 7-8, 1970, a number of people were playing poker and shooting dice in the second floor apartment of Willie Blackwell, located at 1850 East 79th Street in Chicago. Between 6:00 A.M. and 7:00 A.M. on February 8, while several persons were still gambling, a group of uninvited people arrived at the door of Blackwell's apartment. Blackwell, testifying for the prosecution, stated that when he opened the door, he saw the defendant, William Bracy, accompanied by three or four men. Bracy had a gun in his hand. As the door opened, Bracy fired a shot into the air. Blackwell testified that he immediately ran into the living room of his apartment and hid behind a bar until the intruders had left.

Robert Cooksy and Glenzie Green testified for the State that they were shooting dice in the back room of Blackwell's residence during the early morning hours of February 8 when they saw the defendant, carrying two guns, enter the premises. They stated that Bracy shot into the floor and ordered them to line up with their backs to the wall. Cooksy stated that between 12 and 15 men were shooting dice at that time. Both witnesses testified that Bracy ordered those present to give him their money, beating one man who failed to comply. Cooksy placed the money which he had in his hand and that which he had in his pocket in a shopping bag when ordered to do so by defendant. Green testified that he gave defendant his money after Bracy stated, "[I]f I find one dollar in your pocket, I'll kill you."

James Jones testified that he arrived at the apartment during the course of the robbery. He stated that he was met at the door by a large man who placed a gun at his head and ordered him to give up his money. Jones was then taken to the back room of the apartment where he saw defendant, holding two pistols, make those present place their money in a shopping bag.

Cooksy testified that although he did not immediately see him, he became aware of another gunman working with defendant during the robbery. He described the second robber as being a large heavy-set man. Cooksy stated that he heard the larger man urging defendant to leave. Green, who stood facing the wall after he had surrendered his money, testified that he did not see an accomplice of defendant but remembered a conversation similar to that recalled by Cooksy between Bracy and another person. Jones stated that he heard the larger man tell Bracy, "Let's split."

It was Cooksy's testimony that the larger man grabbed the shopping bag into which the money had been placed and left the apartment by diving through the window of the bathroom. Green and Jones testified that the bag man left through the window, though neither could state whether or not he had taken the shopping bag.

Officer James Covington of the Chicago Police Department testified that during the morning of February 8, 1970, between the hours of six and seven, he had been on patrol in a marked squad car in the vicinity of 1850 East 79th Street. He stated that he was stopped by private citizens on the street who told him that there was a robbery in progress at the above address. After radioing for assistance, he proceeded to the scene. Shortly after his arrival at the 79th Street address, he was joined by Sergeant John Gallagher and Officer William Byrne. After unsuccessfully attempting to gain entrance into the building through a locked hallway door, the police officers noticed defendant nonchalantly walking down the stairs from the second floor. When Bracy reached the door to the hallway at the foot of the stairs, Covington noticed the butt handle of a gun in his pocket. At this moment defendant told the officers that "the action was upstairs." Having noticed the gun, Covington reached into defendant's coat pocket to grab it. At the same time Gallagher, who testified that he also saw a gun in Bracy's pocket, reached into the left pocket of defendant's coat and retrieved a second pistol. Sergeant Gallagher then ordered Officer Covington to take defendant into custody.

Gallagher testified that he and Officer Byrne next proceeded up the stairway to the second floor where they heard quite a bit of activity from behind a closed door. The officers announced their presence. Almost immediately thereafter Gallagher observed a Negro male, described as "a big man * * * well over two hundred pounds," carrying a gun and a shopping bag in his hands, jump through a window and land on a rooftop. The officers ordered the man to stop, but he refused to do so, responding instead with a single gunshot. Gallagher returned his fire, then chased the man through an apartment in an adjoining building. He found the man's body at the front door of this building.

Gallagher and Byrne then returned to the apartment and arrested those found there for gambling. Defendant, handcuffed and in police custody, was still present when Blackwell, Cooksy, Green and Jones were led downstairs. All four men identified defendant as the man who had robbed them.

Blackwell testified that while he was under arrest he identified defendant a second time. He stated that while seated in a large room with four or five others, he was asked by a police officer if he saw one of the robbers. Blackwell pointed out defendant. Cooksy testified that when the police were taking him to his jail cell, he saw defendant sitting in another cell and told the police that he was one of the robbers.

Defendant called as his witnesses Detective James Doyle and Detective John Toles of the Chicago Police Department. The officers testified that they had other suspects for the crime and that a line-up was held at which these men were identified. It was the testimony of the officers that they had asked the witnesses whether the men presented in the ...


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