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People v. Norfleet

OCTOBER 19, 1973.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD J. FITZGERALD, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, along with a co-defendant, Joseph Blakely, was found guilty by a jury for the crime of armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, par. 18-2) and sentenced by the court to a term of eight to 12 years, the sentence to run consecutively to an earlier five to ten year sentence for a robbery that occurred that same evening. Blakely's conviction was affirmed by this court in People v. Blakely, 7 Ill. App.3d 1012, 289 N.E.2d 269.

On appeal the defendant contends: (1) that he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) that he was denied a fair trial because prejudicial hearsay evidence was admitted; (3) that evidence of another crime was erroneously admitted; (4) that the prosecutor in his closing argument erroneously referred to the jurors as "future victims" and commented on the defendant's failure to call certain witnesses thereby denying defendant a fair trial; and (5) that the consecutive sentence is excessive in light of the circumstances of this case and defendant's background.

Considerable background to this case can be found in People v. Blakely and in People v. Norfleet, 4 Ill. App.3d 758, 281 N.E.2d 761, where we affirmed defendant's first sentence of five to ten years.

From the evidence presented it was established that on the evening of October 7, 1968, at approximately 11:00 P.M., Mary Harris and her son Ulysses were returning home from the store. As they were parking their white 1960 Cadillac automobile, Blakely, with a gun in his hand, walked in front of the car and approached Mrs. Harris' door. He then ordered Mrs. Harris out of the car. Although stating that three other persons were present, she could identify only Blakely.

Ulysses Harris testified that he saw Blakely cross in front of his mother's car with a gun and order her out of the car. He also noticed three other persons approaching the car from across the street. He got out of the car as these three persons had reached his door. He testified that as he was face to face with the defendant, the defendant told him not to try anything. Ulysses then went around behind the car, told his mother to let them have the car and began running behind her, as she ran down the sidewalk. While running, he turned and saw the defendant who was yelling "shoot them."

The area was well lighted, both by the car's lights and by street lights. Ulysses stated that he could clearly see across the street.

About a half hour later, John Makar, a Chicago police officer, gave chase to a speeding white Cadillac which matched the description of the Harris car. After chasing it for a short distance the Cadillac stopped and its four occupants fled down an alley. The officer arrested one of them, Blakely, and found he had a gun and a C.T.A. money changer; both items were later identified as having been taken in a bus robbery earlier that evening. Officer Robert Krause, responding to a radio message that officer Makar was chasing a white Cadillac, proceeded to the scene and arrested the defendant as he was running in an alley.

Neither the defendant nor Blakely offered any evidence.


Defendant first contends that the testimony of the single identification witness, Ulysses Harris, was not sufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He argues that the witness' attention was primarily focused on Blakely, and there was little opportunity to observe the other assailants. He also notes that the witness admitted that he never had seen the defendant or Blakely prior to this occurrence.

• 1 In People v. Betts, 101 Ill. App.2d 322, 326, 243 N.E.2d 282, the court held "* * * that positive identification by one witness who has sufficient opportunity for observation may be enough to support a conviction." See People v. Burts, 13 Ill.2d 36, 147 N.E.2d 281.

• 2, 3 Ulysses had an adequate opportunity to identify the defendant. The area was well lighted and he was face to face with the defendant for a period of time. His attention was directed at the defendant when the defendant spoke to him. The witness later identified and described a scar on defendant's face. His identification was positive, credible, uncontradicted, and unshaken during cross-examination. "* * * [I]t is the function of the trier of the facts to determine the credibility of the witnesses and its findings will be disturbed only where the evidence is so unsatisfactory as to leave a reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt." (People v. Hampton, 44 Ill.2d 41, 45, 253 N.E.2d 385.) In light of the clear and convincing evidence presented, we cannot find that a reasonable doubt existed as to defendant's guilt.

Defendant urges that the admission of the hearsay evidence of Officer Krause concerning a message that "Officer Makar and Pikowski were chasing a white Cadillac eastbound on 45th street from Honore" was extremely prejudicial in view of the "weak, single identification of defendant as a participant." As we have already noted, the witness' identification was clear and convincing. Apart from this, there were no objections made to this testimony so we need not consider the point. (People ...

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