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People v. Robinson

JUNE 12, 1974.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. SAUL A. EPTON, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Lonell Robinson, was tried in a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County for the offenses of rape and two counts of armed robbery. He was found guilty of all charges and was sentenced to concurrent terms of not less than 5 nor more than 10 years for each count of armed robbery and a consecutive sentence of not less than 20 years nor more than 40 years for rape. Defendant appeals claiming that:

(1) He was denied his right to a fair trial by the State's use of certain hearsay evidence;

(2) The identification of defendant was the result of illegal detention and/or suggestive identification procedure;

(3) He was denied equal protection of the law due to his sex, since Illinois law provides that no male under 17 years of age may be prosecuted under the criminal laws, but fixes the age for females at 18;

(4) He was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; and

(5) The sentences imposed were excessive.

The facts are as follows:

At about 5:15 P.M. on the afternoon of November 26, 1970, Mr. and Mrs. Earl H. Regnier were in their room at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago. The couple was in Chicago with their daughter for a 4-H Club congress. Mrs. Regnier was sitting in a chair next to the door, her husband was in the bathroom, and her daughter was in the room next to theirs. Mrs. Regnier testified that at this time a young man walked into the room with a knife in one hand and a gun in the other. The man told her that it was a "stickup" and not to cause him any trouble. She described his voice as low and soft. The man walked to the bathroom and kicked in the door. After Mr. Regnier dressed, he and his wife were told to lie face down on the bed. The man then closed the curtains, bound the wrists and feet of the Regniers, gagged them, and removed Mr. Regnier's watch. The man ransacked the entire room.

When he had finished, the man rolled Mr. Regnier off the bed, turned Mrs. Regnier over on her back, got up on the bed and untied her legs. Mrs. Regnier kicked at him, so he put the knife to her throat, cutting her slightly, and told her to "co-operate". He then raped Mrs. Regnier, washed himself, went through Mr. Regnier's brief case, re-tied Mrs. Regnier's feet and left the room. Mrs. Regnier stated that the man had been in the room for between half and three-quarters of an hour. The lights were on in the room.

Shortly after the incident, the police arrived to take Mrs. Regnier's statement. The description given of her attacker was that of a black man, about 20 years old, 6 feet tall, 150 to 160 pounds, with "mod" dress and haircut. Mr. and Mrs. Regnier described the man to a police artist so that a sketch of the man could be prepared. They were given a number of photos to look through, from which Mrs. Regnier was able to make an identification. A lineup was held later and Mrs. Regnier identified Lonell Robinson as her attacker. (Robinson's picture had been in the group shown to Mrs. Regnier.) In making the identification, Mrs. Regnier said that she also recognized defendant's voice and the particular manner in which he moved his mouth when he spoke.

Mr. Regnier testified next, giving essentially the same testimony as his wife. He identified the defendant as the man who attacked his wife and ransacked their room at the hotel. He had viewed the photographs and had made an identification at a lineup, though not the same lineup viewed by his wife.

Officer Daniel O'Connor, Chicago Police Department, arrested defendant for a curfew violation at about 4 A.M. on the morning of November 29, 1970. Officer O'Connor, with his partner Officer Wojnar, had responded to a call that somebody was breaking into vending machines at the Wilson Avenue platform of the C.T.A. When they arrived, the ticket agent told them to go up the stairs to the train level. The officers went up and found two men on the platform, one of whom was the defendant. Though both men denied breaking the glass on the vending machine the officers took them to the police station for investigation. Defendant, who was 17 years old at the time, was charged with a curfew violation. Officer O'Connor contacted detectives at Area 1, Homicide, regarding defendant since he noticed that he fit the physical and clothing description of a person sought in connection with a crime committed at the Conrad Hilton Hotel. He informed defendant that he had done so and advised him further that the detectives would hold him for a lineup. He did not recall if he had or had not informed defendant that he could post a $25 bond for the curfew charge, but stated that this was normally the duty of the desk sergeant or the lockup keeper. He asked defendant if his family would be concerned if he didn't contact them. Defendant said that they would not be worried.

The next witness for the State was Matthew Landers, a police officer working part-time as a security officer at the hotel. He described the condition in which he found the Regniers and their room at the hotel when he and the assistant manager entered. Mrs. Regnier gave him a description of her attacker, following which Officer Landers summoned ...

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