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People v. Evans







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


Following a jury trial, defendants were convicted of two counts of murder resulting from the deaths of William McFall and

Louis Barnette in violation of section 9-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 9-1.) Both defendants were sentenced to terms of 30 to 90 years for each offense, the sentences to run concurrently.

We note at the outset that in the interest of judicial economy and since no useful purpose would be served by twice repeating the testimony adduced at the trial of these co-defendants, we have issued our opinions in both cases together in this form. Each appeal has received separate consideration by this court, however, and as our title indicates the appeals have not been consolidated for review. Whenever similar contentions in these opinions have been raised we have discussed their disposition as they apply to each defendant individually.

On appeal defendants both contend that the trial court erred when it: (1) denied them a fair trial by allowing the State to employ several prejudicial trial tactics, (2) adjudged them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and (3) conducted an improper poll of the jury.

Defendant Evans additionally contends that he was prejudiced when the trial court failed to inquire throughout the course of the proceedings whether the jury had read an allegedly prejudicial newspaper article about the trial. Defendant Griffin, also known as Cain (Griffin), contends that the evidence failed to establish a sufficient chain of custody for the admission of certain bullets and cartridge casings into evidence.

The following pertinent evidence was adduced at trial.

For the State:

Robert Lee Johnson

On November 29, 1969, between 11 p.m. and midnight, he was visiting a friend at 1031 East 46th Street. While he was standing inside a doorway several young men whom he did not recognize at the time emerged from an alley across the street and proceeded to a hotel building at 1028 East 46th Street. When he heard shots he walked out of the doorway and around the corner of the building to a point approximately 12 to 15 feet from where defendants were standing. The only illumination was a light over the door at the 1028 building. He identified both Griffin and Evans as being two of the people firing shots into the building. They were the two tallest members of the group. He had known Evans prior to that evening, probably for months. He observed the shooting for about 60 seconds. After the shooting he spoke with Jacqueline Walker, Ellis "Tee" Walker, her husband, and Steve "Maniac" Foley on 46th Street. Louis Barnette's body was lying in the doorway at 1028. He recognized a picture of Griffin which he had identified in May, 1970 while he was living in Texas.

On cross-examination he initially stated that the hotel at 1028 was on the south side of 46th Street, but after considering the location in relation to 47th Street he stated that it was probably on the north side of the street. Evans wore something red on his head which covered his hair. He could not otherwise describe what Griffin or Evans were wearing. He admitted lying to the police at first when he told them "I didn't see nothing." He also told a lie detector examiner that he could not identify any of the murderers. He signed a statement implicating Evans on December 9, 1969, after speaking with Officers Boyle and Manion. Although he had seen Evans many times he had only met him once or twice "at meetings." He admitted telling the grand jury that he had known Evans for about two years. Griffin was wearing a hat in the photograph he was shown in Texas.

On redirect he stated he did not know the results of the lie detector test when he decided to implicate Evans to Officers Boyle and Manion. He lied to the police at first because "[t]he dudes was in my club * * *. We were good friends." He did not know Griffin's name until December 9, 1969.

Alvin Cargill

On January 19, 1970, he purchased a blue steel, automatic pistol from a Lawrence Cain in a tavern in Chicago. When asked to identify Griffin at trial, he said "the boy with the beard on, I think it's the third one, Cain, with a gap in his teeth." Thereupon, Evans stood up and identified himself. The witness then said, "No, it's Cain, with the beard." Thereupon, Cain arose and identified himself. People's Exhibit 6 was the pistol he purchased. He later gave the pistol to Albert Vernon in about February 1970.

Albert Vernon

In February 1970, Alvin Cargill gave him a .32 automatic pistol. The police recovered that pistol on March 3, 1970, when they arrested him.

Thereafter, by the testimony of Andrew McFall and by stipulation to the testimony of Rosetta Pritchett, the deceaseds' lives and deaths were evidenced.

On the morning of the second day of trial defendants requested the court to inquire of the jurors as a whole whether any juror had read anything about the case. Defendants were concerned about an article which had appeared in that morning's edition of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. After the court so inquired and ascertained that no juror had read the article, it stated "There was an article in this morning's TRIBUNE. I don't want you to read it. I am instructing you not to read it * * * there is erroneous information contained therein." Defense counsel thereupon objected because the jury had been ...

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