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People v. Catlett

JUNE 7, 1974.

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

v.

HERBERT CATLETT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



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

MR. JUSTICE BARRETT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This appeal arises from a bench trial judgment in which defendant-appellant was convicted for armed robbery and sentenced to the Illinois State Penitentiary for a period of not less than 7 and not more than 7 years and 1 day. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The appeal raises four issues: (1) Whether pre-trial identification procedures were unduly suggestive; (2) Whether the failure to specifically name the dangerous weapon used to perpetrate the alleged crime rendered the indictment fatally defective; (3) Whether the sentence imposed was improper and contrary to the principles of indeterminate sentencing; (4) Whether defendant was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

On the evening of October 27, 1971, Giulio Piunti and Jeffrey Denis Means were working at Romano's Liquors in Chicago. Piunti was the manager of the store and Means was his assistant.

At approximately 9 P.M. two black males entered the store. One of these men was the defendant. The two men were soon joined by another black male. Piunti testified that his attention was drawn to the three men because they were "congregating from one section of the store to another." It was also brought out in testimony that the entire store was lighted by various 8-foot fluorescent lights which were in operation that night.

After defendant and his two companions had been in the store for approximately 10 minutes, defendant approached the check-out counter with a bottle of wine. As Piunti stated the amount of the purchase, he looked up and saw defendant pointing a revolver at him. Means, who was standing at the back of the store, observed defendant pointing a revolver at Piunti. Following defendant's orders, Piunti placed the money from the cash register into a bag.

Means related substantially the same story as Piunti, adding that once he observed defendant pointing a revolver at Piunti, he was confronted by one of defendant's companions. This individual told Means to lie down on the floor and raise his hands. Once Means was on the floor, one of the men took his wallet. While defendant was still at the cash register with Piunti, Means was ordered to get up and walk toward the front of the store.

At this time, defendant brought Piunti toward the rear of the store. Both Piunti and Means were ordered to lie down on the floor. Defendant and his companions then left the liquor store.

After the robbery, the police were called. Later that same evening, Piunti and Means were taken to the police station. After looking through 150 to 200 photographs, both men made tentative identifications of defendant as one of the robbers. Piunti then turned over the picture he had identified and observed the name "HERBERT CATLETT" on the back of the picture.

On October 28, 1971, Piunti and Means went to the police station to view a suspect held in police custody. Neither man could identify the suspect as one of the robbers.

On October 29 or 30, 1971, more pictures were shown to Means and Piunti. Defendant's photograph was not in this group. At this time no identifications were made.

One week after the robbery, on November 3, 1971, Piunti and Means were called down to the police station to view another suspect. As the two men descended the stairs to the police station they saw defendant inside. Means and Piunti nodded to each other as they recognized defendant as one of the robbers. The two men then entered the room where defendant was sitting. When defendant left the room a few moments later to make a telephone call, Piunti asked one of the police officers, "Who is that man and where is he going?" The officer said, "That's Herbert Catlett." Piunti then responded, "Well, he's the one who held me up."

At the time of the identification, defendant was at the Chicago Heights Police Station in the custody of the Illinois State Police.

During the course of his trial, defendant took the stand in his own defense. He stated that he was in Romano's Liquor Store between 7:30 P.M. and 8 P.M. on October 27, 1971. At that time he allegedly made some purchases and left the store. He then went to ...


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