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People v. Pendleton

NOVEMBER 27, 1974.




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


A jury convicted the defendant, Maurice Pendleton, of the murder of Deborah Goodlow and acquitted him of the murder of Dewey Crockett; he was sentenced to 100 to 199 years in the penitentiary.

On March 31, 1970, Priscilla Gilchrist was employed at the Madison Park Hotel at 1380 East Hyde Park Boulevard in Chicago as a switchboard operator and desk clerk. Her job included "buzzing the door" for people who wished to enter the hotel. At about 3 A.M., Dewey Crockett and another man came to the door to get into the hotel. Since she did not recognize them, she rang the phone at the door and asked whom they wished to see. They wanted to see Deborah Goodlow in room 601. They called up to room 601 and Miss Gilchrist "buzzed" them in. Bonnie Sibbert, another desk clerk, then came in and talked with her. Shortly thereafter, Deborah Goodlow came downstairs screaming and said someone had been shot in her apartment. She appeared hysterical and ran outside after asking the two women for help. The man who had accompanied Crockett into the hotel walked out of the elevator and started toward the front door. He stopped because he heard knocking from across the lobby. He started toward the knocking and then went out the side exit on Madison Park Street that Miss Goodlow had used. The man was described to the police as between 6'1" and 6'2" tall, around 180 pounds, brown skin and wearing a black three-quarter length coat.

That morning Valley Morrison was in his apartment at 1330 East 51st Street which was about a half-block from the Madison Park Hotel. At about 3:50 A.M. he heard a woman screaming for help. He went to the window and saw a woman, later identified as Deborah Goodlow, running west on Madison Park Street with a man chasing her. She was running in a very frantic manner, but the man was overtaking her with ease. As the man closed the distance, she turned around and was shot in the upper body. The woman fell, and the man stooped over her and fired a second shot. Morrison yelled out the window, and the man looked up and then ran away. Morrison described the man as 6'1" or 6'2", 180 pounds, wearing a black, knee-length cashmere overcoat and a grey pair of slacks. Morrison was about 20 feet away and four short stories up from the actual place of the killing.

When the police arrived they found the body of Deborah Goodlow lying at 1329 East Madison Park. She was dead from a gunshot wound in the neck. They then went to room 601 at the Madison Park Hotel and found the body of Dewey Crockett, dead of a gunshot wound of the head. He was a chronic narcotics user, and there was evidence of a recent injection. A pistol containing six unspent cartridges was found midway between Miss Goodlow's body and the hotel. The mobile unit of the Chicago Crime Detection Laboratory searched for fingerprints in room 601. Crockett's fingerprints were found on a glass; but the defendant's were not found anywhere. The evidence technician testified that "there were smudges and overlays that could not be identified."

Bonnie Sibbert identified the defendant as the man who followed Miss Goodlow from the hotel. She testified that she had seen him on several previous occasions when he came to visit apartment 601. Priscilla Gilchrist testified that the defendant resembled the man she saw follow Miss Goodlow through the lobby. When Valley Morrison was asked on direct examination if he could see anyone in the courtroom who resembled the man that fired the shots, he said that he could not. He was later recalled as a witness and testified that he had not understood the question previously asked of him and that the defendant resembled the man who fired the shots.

• 1 The defendant contends that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The identification by Miss Sibbert was not that of a passing stranger, but of someone who had seen him on previous occasions and who walked "right by him on [her] way back to the desk." Her positive identification is corroborated to some extent by Miss Gilchrist and Morrison, both of whom testified that the defendant resembled the man they saw. All three gave descriptions which fit the defendant. All three remembered that the man they saw wore a dark, three-quarter length coat. Miss Gilchrist identified it as a fur coat. Further corroboration was supplied by the deceased Crockett's father in two ways: First, he established that the defendant and his son were friends; and second, he remembered a dark, three-quarter length fur coat the defendant owned. Under this evidence the jury was justified in concluding that the defendant was the man who was in the room with Crockett and Goodlow when Crockett was killed and that he followed Miss Goodlow from the hotel. Although no one could testify directly that he was the man who fired the shot, we judge the circumstantial evidence was sufficient to establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

• 2 The defendant in his original brief alleged that the gun found midway between the body of Miss Goodlow and the hotel had been admitted into evidence, and this ruling was assigned as error. The State, however, had withdrawn its request for the admission of the gun and the six unspent cartridges, and the gun was never admitted. In his reply brief the defendant concedes that his original argument was mistaken in asserting that the gun had been admitted. His contention now is that reference to the gun prejudiced the jury. No case has been cited to support the defendant's position. Moreover, we fail to see how the evidence prejudiced the defendant, since it was conceded that the gun had not been fired and that the defendant's fingerprints were not found on it. Since it raised many unanswered questions, it was the type of evidence that could redound only in the defendant's favor. And we note that only the defense attorney referred to the gun in his final argument.

The court gave People's Instruction Number 13 (Illinois Pattern Instruction (Criminal) No. 3.04 (1968)) which provides as follows:

"Motive is that which prompts a person to act. The State is not required to prove a motive for the commission of the crime charged."

The defendant refers to the comments of the instructions drafting committee and People v. Manzella, 56 Ill.2d 187, 306 N.E.2d 16, in support of his argument that it was error to give this instruction since, he alleges, the State did attempt to prove and did argue motive. The State's only argument in response is that the defendant did not preserve the question for review because of the nature of his objection at the conference on instructions.

During the trial Officer Janatto testified that he obtained a hypodermic needle, syringe, and a measuring cup or spoon from the apartment of Deborah Goodlow. During cross-examination of Janatto, the defense attorney inquired into the fact that the officer had kept the needle in his personal locker and had not filed an inventory of it. On redirect, the following occurred:

"Q. In fact, Officer, were you not looking for a motive to this crime?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. In fact, Officer, besides the needle do you recall if there was some currency on the floor of that apartment, if you recall?

A. There was currency. I do not recall whether it was on the floor or where it was.

Q. Was that currency loose, if you recall?

A. Yes, sir."

On recross the following occurred:

"Q. When you said you were looking for motive, did you believe that perhaps narcotics were ...

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