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People v. Taylor

MARCH 13, 1974.

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

v.

JEROME TAYLOR, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. MARVIN E. ASPEN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE JOHNSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Jerome Taylor, was found guilty of armed robbery and sentenced to a term of 4 to 8 years in the penitentiary. On appeal, the appellant presents the following issues for review:

1. Whether the identification of the defendant by the occurrence witnesses established his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt;

2. Whether testimony concerning the defendant's silence when arrested was erroneously admitted into evidence on cross-examination;

3. Whether the prosecutor's closing argument was improper, inflammatory and prejudicial, thereby denying defendant a fair trial.

The complaining witness, Mrs. Carol Kapior, testified that at 12:30 P.M. on June 24, 1972, she was robbed by a lone gunman in the parking lot of Zayre Deparement Store, Ashland and 42nd Street in Chicago. According to the witness, a man came up behind her and "mumbled something" while she was unloading her car. She turned and observed a silver-colored gun in his hand. The gunman ordered Mrs. Kapior into her car, and she got into the front seat while the man slid into the back seat. He then demanded her wallet, and she turned around and observed his face for 4 or 5 seconds while surrendering it. The gunman then directed Mrs. Kapior to lie down on the front seat. She complied and, after waiting for a couple of minutes, lifted her head and saw the man running away from the scene. He was wearing striped pants, a short denim jacket and a knit hat with a plume or pom-pom in top.

When Mrs. Kapior got out of her car, she saw a man standing in a bread truck in the next parking space. The truck driver, Mr. Conrad Bradich, testified that he observed a man, whom he later identified as the defendant, approach the parking lot and confront Mrs. Kapior. Bradich heard no conversation but knew something was wrong by the look on her face and the tears in her eyes. When she emerged from the car, Bradich asked if she had been robbed; Mrs. Kapior replied that she had. Bradich immediately began chasing the robber in his truck while, simultaneously, Mrs. Kapior ran into the Zayre store and reported the robbery to two off-duty Chicago police officers who were employed by Zayre's as part-time security guards. When the two guards came outside, the breadman had returned; Bradich said he lost sight of the robber when the latter vaulted a fence but that he knew where the man would emerge. Mr. Bradich and the two guards drove off in the bread truck to a semi-trailer truck and found the defendant there. As the officers jumped from the bread truck, the defendant ran from them but was apprehended in front of the store. He was wearing blue striped pants.

A short denim jacket, a knit hat with a pom-pom on top, a silver-colored gun and Mrs. Kapior's wallet were recovered from beneath the same trailer truck where the defendant was seen emerging. In a lineup, Mrs. Carol Kapior and Mr. Conrad Bradich positively identified the defendant as the man who committed the robbery.

The final witness for the State was Daniel Atherton, a Chicago police officer employed as a security guard at Zayre's, who arrested the defendant. Officer Atherton testified that, subsequent to being alerted to the robbery by Mrs. Kapior, he and his partner got into Conrad Bradich's bread truck and drove toward the semi-trailer truck. After travelling about 75 feet in the truck, Officer Atherton observed the defendant and it looked to him as if the defendant was "hiding" behind the semi-trailer truck. Upon seeing the bread truck, the defendant began running but was pursued, overtaken and apprehended. Officer Atherton testified that the blue denim jacket recovered from beneath the semi-trailer truck fit the defendant.

Mr. Arthur Cotton and the defendant testified for the defense. Both claimed that they had gone to the Zayre Department Store to look for auto parts to work on Mr. Cotton's auto. As they drove into the parking lot at Zayre's, the defendant testified that he noticed a man disappear behind a trailer truck. When the man did not reappear, Taylor went to investigate and satisfy his curiosity while Arthur Cotton went on to park the car. Upon rounding the trailer, the defendant stated that he saw the police and ran because of his fear of white policemen. Jerome Taylor claimed that he had never before seen the gun, blue denim jacket, knit hat with the pom-pom on top or the wallet which were found under the trailer truck. Mr. Cotton testified that, after waiting 2 or 3 minutes inside the car, he got out to look for Taylor. However, Mr. Cotton testified that he left and said nothing when he saw the policemen jump from the bread truck, chase and grab the defendant.

The first issue raised by the defendant in this appeal is that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He contends that his identification by the two occurrence witnesses was uncertain and their ability to identify him at the lineup did not prove that he was the same man who had robbed Mrs. Kapior.

Defendant argues that the conditions under which the witnesses observed the incident did not afford them an opportunity to make a positive identification, that their initial descriptions of the robber to the security guards were vague, that the clothes allegedly worn by the robber were not in any way unusual, and that the jacket and hat found near the semi-trailer truck where he was observed could easily have fit anyone of medium build.

• 1 After carefully considering these objections, we find them insufficient to require a reversal of defendant's conviction. It is well settled in Illinois that the testimony of one witness, if it is positive and the witness is credible, is sufficient to convict even though the testimony is contradicted by the accused. (People v. Stringer (1972), 52 Ill.2d 564, 569, 289 N.E.2d 631, 634; People v. Robinson (1972), 3 Ill. App.3d 858, 862, 279 N.E.2d 515, 518; People v. Marshall (1966), 74 Ill. App.2d 472, 476, 221 N.E.2d 128, 130; People v. Washington (1962), 26 Ill.2d 207, 210, 186 N.E.2d 259, 261; People v. Lamphear (1955), 6 Ill.2d 346, 128 N.E.2d 892.) A positive identification by two witnesses, as here, lends further credence to the identification. Mrs. Kapior had three separate and unobstructed views of the defendant, and Mr. Bradich observed the entire incident from a distance of one parking space away from the Kapior car. Both eyewitnesses positively identified the defendant.

• 2 After hearing all the evidence, the jury chose to believe the identification testimony of the two occurrence witnesses rather than the account given by the defendant and his friend. It is the province of the jury to weigh the evidence and determine the credibility of the witnesses, and a reviewing court will not overturn its verdict unless the evidence is so palpably contrary to the verdict or so unreasonable, improbable or unsatisfactory as to cause a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused. (People v. Sumner (1969), 43 Ill.2d 228, 232, 252 N.E.2d 534, 536; People v. Kelley (1963), 29 Ill.2d 53, 59, 193 N.E.2d 21, 24.) After an examination of the record, we cannot say that the jury's determination was erroneous.

Defendant argues, further, that the witnesses' ability to identify him at a lineup was not convincing. Since both Mrs. Kapior and Mr. Bradich observed the defendant's arrest, he contends that their lineup identifications only demonstrated that they could identify the person arrested and not that the man arrested was the same person who robbed Mrs. Kapior.

This argument is not supported by the record of the proceedings at trial. Referring to the lineup, Mrs. ...


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