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People v. Bates

JANUARY 24, 1975.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD J. FITZGERALD, Judge, presiding.


Frank Bates (hereinafter defendant) and a co-defendant, Ricky Smith, were jointly tried before a jury and found guilty of murder. Defendant was sentenced to a term of from 25 to 75 years. Smith does not join in this appeal.

On appeal it is contended that (1) the admission of the coerced testimony of the State's key witness violated defendant's right to due process of law and (2) the evidence produced by the State was insufficient to support defendant's conviction.

On March 5, 1972, at approximately 7:45 P.M., the body of Charles Donnell Mitchell was found in an alley behind a residence at 4719 South Langley, Chicago. An autopsy revealed that the cause of Mitchell's death was a bullet wound in the chest. Defendant and Ricky Smith were charged with murder.

At trial Penny Lewis testified for the State that she had known Mitchell for approximately 4 years prior to his death. She admitted that she is a drug addict and a prostitute. About a week before Mitchell's death she saw him at the Lady Woods Lounge at Madison and Oakley. Mitchell asked her to hold some heroin for him, and she placed it in her bra. He told her that he wanted to find customers for the narcotic. Later that evening she accompanied Mitchell to a "shooting gallery" located at 1965 West Warren. "A shooting gallery is a place where junkies go to take off, shoot dope." There were several people at the Warren Boulevard address. One of them was a man she knew as "Frenchy." When she arrived, an individual who claimed that he was a policeman was attempting to rob the people in the "shooting gallery." Mitchell and the others were able to subdue him and tie him up. Some time later defendant and Smith arrived. Mitchell told them that the man who was tied up had attempted to rob them of their heroin. Defendant and Smith took the man outside. When they returned, defendant accused Mitchell of being a liar. Defendant and Smith lined up everyone in the "shooting gallery" and began to conduct a search. She pulled out the drugs and some money which Mitchell had given her. As she was doing this, Mitchell ran out the door and escaped.

Mary Bryant testified for the State that at approximately 7 P.M. on March 5, 1972, she received a phone call from a man whose voice she did not recognize. The man told her that her son owed him $40. She responded, "Where is Donnell, can I speak to him?" Mitchell was put on the phone. He said, "Mama, you have $70 of my money, we are coming to get it." She replied, "Donnell, please * * * I don't have the money. Please don't bring no mens to my house * * *. You have to stand the consequences yourself." The conversation was then ended. Her son sounded nervous when he spoke to her.

George Mosely testified for the State that he was awaiting trial for violation of probation. His nickname is "Frenchy." On February 18 or 19 he had been at the "shooting gallery" and heard Mitchell ask defendant if he could sell heroin for him. Three days later Mosely saw defendant give some drugs to Mitchell and warn him "[i]f you fuck up my drugs or fuck up my money I am going to do something to you." Mosely was in the "shooting gallery" about a week before Mitchell's death. His testimony substantially corroborated that given by Penny Lewis concerning the events of that day. He testified in addition that when Mitchell ran out of the "shooting gallery," co-defendant Smith said, "Don't worry about that punk. We will get him."

On March 5, 1972, Mosely was at the shooting gallery. Defendant and Smith arrived and forced him to accompany them as they searched for Fred Brown who, they had been told, robbed two people at the shooting gallery. While they were searching for Brown, Mosely saw Mitchell walking on Damen Avenue near Madison Street. Defendant and Smith forced Mitchell into their car and asked him for $200. Mitchell said that his "woman" had $40 and that his mother had $70. Mitchell then directed them to Fred Brown's home. Brown's wife told them that she and her husband had been robbed and that Mitchell was a liar. Defendant hit Mitchell, accused him of lying and forced him back into the car. They drove to a gas station and parked within 3 feet of a public telephone. A call was placed to Mitchell's mother. Mosely's account of the conversation was substantially similar to that given by Mary Bryant. The call was made at approximately 6:30 or 6:45 P.M. After the phone call, defendant told Mosely:

"Punk, you get out of this car and you better not tell nobody that we got Donnell and we're going to take him out south and do him a job."

Mosely testified that "do a job" is a slang expression meaning "kill."

On cross-examination Mosely testified that the State's attorney had not made any promises concerning the disposition of the charge pending against him. On March 8, 1972, he was picked up by two policemen and taken to a station where he was placed in isolation. He was ordered to remove his clothes and then an officer named Tidmarsh struck and kicked him. He was tied to a chair, beaten and threatened with revocation of his probation, whereupon he gave a statement implicating defendant in Mitchell's murder.

On redirect examination Mosely testified that he had not been beaten since the night he was taken into custody, and that his testimony was not the result of coercion or threats.

Chicago Police Officer Andre Zehm testified that he arrested defendant on March 20, 1972, at 4554 South Drexel where he was hiding. This address is approximately two blocks ...

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