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People v. Ligon

NOVEMBER 2, 1973.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES H. BAILEY, Judge, presiding.


Defendants were indicted on two counts of murder for the killing of Gilbert Burns, and on two counts of aggravated battery for the shooting of Robert Burns, his brother, on August 13, 1971, in violation of Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, pars. 9-1, 12-4(a), and 12-4(b) (1). After a jury trial, Ligon was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to a term of 20 to 40 years, and guilty of aggravated battery with a concurrent sentence of seven to ten years. Hooks was found guilty of aggravated battery and was sentenced to a term of seven to ten years.

In their briefs, defendants Ligon and Hooks contend: (1) the trial court should have granted defendants' motion to bar the use of Ligon's prior robbery conviction; (2) the court erred in admitting evidence of Ligon's escape from custody; (3) hearsay testimony concerning an armed robbery committed by Willie Hawkins was irrelevant, incompetent and highly prejudicial; (4) the prosecutor made prejudicial comments in closing argument.


Robert Burns, for the State:

The deceased, Gilbert Burns, was his 24-year-old brother. On August 13, 1971, he and his brother were at the home of Jacqueline Howell, Robert's girl friend, along with her parents and some of her sisters, when Gilbert left the apartment to get some cigarettes. Ten or 15 minutes later, one of his girl friend's sisters came in saying some boys on the corner were giving Gilbert a rough time. Robert left the building and saw his brother surrounded by six or seven boys, among them John Miller (a co-defendant), Willie Caldwell, and the defendants Hooks and Ligon. Robert asked Miller what was the problem and was told, "This guy is giving me a hassle." Robert and Gilbert started to walk away when Miller hit Gilbert with his fist; "some other guy" was also hitting Gilbert, and Robert grabbed Miller. Hooks then hit Robert in the jaw and he fell against the wall. Hooks, Ligon and a man named Hawkins pulled guns. Hooks shot Robert in the knee and the arm. Miller snatched the gun from Hooks, gave instructions to kill Gilbert, and shot Gilbert in the chest. Gilbert fell to his knees and Miller shot again. Robert grabbed Gilbert under one arm and Jacqueline Howell had Gilbert under his other arm and they were running with him into the house when Robert was shot in the back. Hooks pulled another gun which he had in a paper bag. Robert turned and saw Hooks, Ligon and Hawkins shooting and Miller just standing there with a gun, not shooting. Hawkins was also known as Little Gun or Big Gun. Hooks, Ligon and Hawkins were shooting at him, his brother and Jacqueline as they were running.

Jacqueline Howell, for the State:

On August 13, 1971, when she left her mother's house about 10:00 P.M. with Robert Burns, she saw Gilbert surrounded by some boys, among whom were Johnnie Miller and Edward Hooks. Hooks pulled out a gun. She ran, but turned to see Hooks, Miller, Ligon and others. She saw Miller grab the gun from Hooks and start shooting Gilbert, who was falling to the ground. She saw Hooks firing in the same direction when Miller was shooting. She ran down the steps to help Robert bring Gilbert into the house. She did not actually see Robert get shot or see anyone fire a shot at him.

Charlotte Howell, for the State:

She is Jacqueline's sister. She was coming home from the store with her sister, Janie, when she saw Hooks, who pulled out a paper bag and gave it to Janie, who handed it back to him. She saw there was a gun in the bag. She met Gilbert Burns coming down the stairs and told him not to go out there because of "some boys coming down the street with guns." They ran in the house and spoke with Robert Burns and told him to get Gilbert because of the boys coming down the street with guns. Robert and Jacqueline left the house and she came behind them and saw Miller, Caldwell, Hooks and Ligon. Five boys jumped Gilbert and Robert; Hooks pulled the paper bag out and pulled a gun out of the bag and started shooting. Ligon and Miller were also shooting. Miller shot Gilbert in the back of the head, which made him fall down. Robert and Jacqueline picked Gilbert up off the ground and kept trying to take him to the house, and the boys kept shooting. When Robert came in, he was bleeding from the arm. She was going to the police station, but saw an unmarked police car, rode in it, and saw Caldwell and Miller, whom she pointed out to the police, who arrested them.

Janie Howell, for the State:

She was with her sister, Charlotte, about 9:30 P.M. when she met Hooks, who handed her a paper bag, but when she found out what was in the bag, she handed it back to him. She knew it was a gun because Hooks handed it to her by the handle and she took it by the handle. She met Gilbert Burns on his way out the door and told him, "Don't go out the door because some boys was coming down the street with guns." She heard gunshots but did not see the actual shooting.

Denis Gray, a Chicago police officer, for the State:

He arrested Miller and Caldwell on August 13, 1971, about 10:00 P.M. when Charlotte ...

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