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People v. Was

SEPTEMBER 24, 1974.

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

v.

MICHAEL WAS ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



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

MR. JUSTICE STAMOS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendants, Michael Was and Richard Talkowski, were charged by indictment with robbery. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 18-1.) A jury found defendants guilty as charged. Defendant Was was sentenced to a term of 1 to 5 years in the penitentiary, and defendant Talkowski was sentenced to a term of 5 to 15 years. On appeal defendants contend that their convictions were based solely upon the erroneous admission of hearsay evidence. Alternatively, defendant Talkowski contends that his sentence is excessive.

The victim of the robbery, Walter Rozanecki, died of unrelated causes prior to trial. The sole eyewitnesses who testified at trial were two police officers.

Chicago Police Officers Ralph Scavone and Salvatore Sorci testified that at approximately 3 A.M. on May 10, 1971, while on patrol in their squad car, they observed defendants sitting on a park bench near Ashland, Milwaukee, and Division Avenues. Defendants were known by the officers to be "troublemakers." At approximately 3:30 A.M. the officers again observed defendants who were now standing near the corner of Ashland and Division. The officers parked their squad car on Division, approximately one-half a block west of Ashland, and proceeded to observe defendants who continued standing near the southwest corner of Ashland and Division. At approximately 4 A.M. the officers observed Walter Rozanecki exit a tavern at 1549 Division (near the southeast corner of Ashland and Division). Rozanecki proceeded to walk west on Division toward Ashland; then he turned the corner and walked south on Ashland.

At this point the officers observed defendants cross Ashland and walk hurriedly toward Rozanecki. The officers drove their squad car to the southwest corner of Ashland and Division to enable them to observe defendants following Rozanecki. When Rozanecki reached an alley located near the middle of the block, defendants grabbed him and forcibly pulled him into the alley. At this point the officers turned the corner onto Ashland and proceeded toward the alley. Both officers observed Talkowski holding Rozanecki in a "bear hug" while Was was going through the pockets of Rozanecki's sports coat. As the officers pulled into the alley, defendants pushed Rozanecki down onto the ground and ran in opposite directions. Officer Scavone pursued Was and apprehended him twenty feet from the scene of the attack; Officer Sorci pursued Talkowski but was unable to apprehend him, and returned to the scene to aid Officer Scavone in the apprehension of Was.

Officer Scavone then testified, over objection, that, when he brought Was to the squad car, the victim Rozanecki observed him and stated that he had just been robbed by Was. Officer Sorci also testified that Rozanecki stated "He robbed me." The officers sent out a radio message for the arrest of Talkowski and then drove the victim and Was to the 13th District Police Station. Soon afterward Talkowski was brought into the station. The officers were permitted to testify, again over objections, that, when Talkowski was brought into the interrogation room, Rozanecki stated "Richie, he's the other one." Officer Scavone also testified that Was was searched and $4 and a pack of Winston cigarettes were found on his person. The cigarettes were returned to Rozanecki and the $4 was inventoried.

The officers admitted on cross-examination that they did not observe defendants remove currency or any other property from the victim's pockets. They had no personal knowledge of the amount of money Rozanecki had been carrying prior to being accosted by defendants, and they had no personal knowledge of whether Rozanecki had any money after the attack. Objections were sustained to the officers' testimony that "they determined" that $4 and a pack of cigarettes were taken from Rozanecki during the incident. Again, on redirect examination of Officer Sorci, the following colloquy ensued:

"Prosecutor: How much did you find out he had?

Defense Counsel: I am going to object, your Honor, to the form, unless there is a foundation laid.

Court: Lay the foundation first.

Prosecutor: When did you have a conversation with the complainant about money or what possessions he had on him at the robbery?

Answer: When we brought him into the 13th District.

Prosecutor: Who was present for that ...


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