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People v. Curry

JANUARY 22, 1975.

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

v.

BERNALL CURRY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. KENNETH R. WENDT, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE BURMAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, Bernall Curry, was charged in a two-count indictment with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and with aggravated battery using a deadly weapon. He was found guilty by a jury of aggravated battery and received a sentence of 2 to 5 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary. From the judgment of conviction, the defendant appeals.

The defendant contends before this court that numerous errors occurred during trial which require that his conviction be reversed. We have concluded from an examination of the record that the defendant was indeed deprived of a fair trial because of prejudicial error, and we therefore remand the case for a new trial.

In view of our ultimate determination it is unnecessary either to note all of the defendant's contentions on appeal or to detail the evidence. We need only indicate briefly that testimony revealed that the circumstances of the crime arose as a result of an argument between members of two street gangs known as the "War Lords" and the "Black P. Stone Nation," sometimes referred to as the "Blackstone Rangers." On November 16, 1970, Derrick Thornton, a member of the War Lords, was shot in the back. He never saw who shot him. According to the prosecution he was shot by the defendant, who had been a member of the Black P. Stone Nation. The defendant took the stand at trial and denied that he shot Thornton and testified that he was two blocks away at the time of the incident.

One of the witnesses called by the State was Officer Daniel Davis of the Chicago Police Department. He had been on the force for 5 years and was assigned to the Tactical Unit. On direct examination he testified that he and his partner received a radio communication that a boy had been shot, and they proceeded to the area. They arrested the defendant, Bernall Curry, who fitted a description received from the radio communication, near the scene of the crime. While detained in the squad car, and as a crowd gathered around, Curry was striking his breast with his fist and saying "Stone Thing," which the officer knew as a sign of the "Blackstone Rangers."

While under cross-examination the following colloquy took place:

"MR. GRAY [defense counsel]:

Q: Officer, you mentioned that you recognized the defendant as being a member of a group known as the Rangers?

A: I said that I'd known the defendant.

Q: Did you know him as being a member of the Rangers?

A: I did because we had two rape warrants out for him with a gang-related incident at the time of the shooting.

Q: You still haven't answered my question. Did you know him as being —

MR. CORSENTINO [assistant State's attorney]: Objection.

MR. GRAY: I object to the answer and ask that it be stricken.

My question was — and the reporter can correct me if I'm wrong — did you know the defendant as being a member of the Rangers and his answer about some rape warrants came out. My question was, ...


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