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People v. Thompkins

APRIL 19, 1974.




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


After a bench trial, defendants Willie Thompkins, Glenn Lee, Fred Miller and Lawrence Moore were convicted of aggravated battery and attempt murder, and were sentenced, Thompkins to 15 to 20 years and Lee, Miller and Moore to 10 to 20 years. On appeal defendants contend that the evidence is insufficient to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The following evidence was adduced.

Michael Weaver testified for the State that:

He is 23 years old, married and lives in Markham, Illinois, with his parents, brothers and sisters, wife and child; that he has known defendants a long time. He joined the Blackstone Rangers in 1964; Thompkins, Lee and Miller were also Rangers. He served in the armed forces from 1967 to 1969 including 11 months in Vietnam and was honorably discharged. He worked as a mechanic for the South Suburban Bus Company. He attended some meetings of the Rangers, but no longer paid his dues. He saw Lee, Miller and Moore on occasion, but they did not speak to him and appeared hostile. He did not see Thompkins between the time of his discharge in August 1969 to the date of the shooting on September 1, 1970.

On August 31, 1970, at about 9:30 P.M. he was at home when he received a phone call from Berwyn Thompkins, Willie's younger brother, asking him to come to their house and escort Willie's girl friend Joyce Mack to her home in Phoenix, Illinois. He arrived there at 10 P.M. Berwyn, Joyce and he talked and played records for about 30 minutes when Willie walked into the living room and said he wanted to talk with him. They went outside and met Lee, Miller, Moore and a friend named Stringfellow and all of them got into Moore's car. Willie and Stringfellow sat in the front seat next to Moore and he sat in the back seat between Lee and Miller.

In response to Willie's questions, he denied that he was a police informer, or that he had seen the Markham police chief in the last two weeks or that he had done anything wrong except not rejoining the Rangers.

Willie gave directions to Moore and when they arrived at 160th Street and Gauger Avenue everyone except Moore stepped out of the car and walked toward a field. Willie kissed him on both cheeks, stepped back, placed his right hand over his chest and said, "All power to the People" or, "all power to Black-P-Stone." He saw muzzled sparks and felt pain in his chest. He turned to run and heard more shots. His legs gave out and he fell to the ground attempting to cover his head. Two more shots went by his head and a third shot struck his right hand. He pretended that he was dead and they left.

It took him between 30 minutes to an hour to drag himself 75 feet to a nearby house. He scratched the porch of the house with a beer can to attract attention. He estimated that he was shot sometime after 11 P.M. Markham police officer Michael Vest arrived sometime thereafter and an ambulance took him to the hospital. The shots left him paralyzed from the waist down. He feared that his family would be endangered and so he did not tell Vest the truth regarding the shooting. He knew that shots had been fired into homes of two others who were testifying against Willie in another matter. He continued to deny knowing his assailants despite his father's plea that he give the police a truthful statement concerning the shooting incident. On September 5, Markham police Sergeant James Lawrence visited him at the hospital and later that same day Lawrence returned with Detective James Hunt. During the second visit he signed a statement and a complaint against defendants.

On cross-examination, Weaver admitted having seen Willie during the period between his discharge from the army and the night of the shooting.

On the day following his testimony, Weaver was recalled to the stand by the State and corrected his testimony by testifying that he was only 20 years old and that he had never been stationed in Vietnam during the period of his military service. He explained that he falsified his age to the Selective Service so that he could get a job and he lied about his service record to the personnel at the Veterans Hospital in order to obtain a better priority for his medical needs.

Michael Vest, for the State:

He is a Markham police officer. On the morning of September 1, 1970, at approximately 1:40 A.M., he was dispatched to 161st Street and Gauger Avenue to investigate a report of a prowler. He found Michael Weaver lying on his stomach scratching a cement porch with a tin can. Weaver had been shot, but denied knowing his assailant. He saw marks on the ...

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