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People v. Gates





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. PHILLIP ROMITI, Judge, presiding.


Ashward Gates, defendant, was charged by indictment with three counts of armed robbery. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 18-2.) Following a bench trial but before judgment, two counts of the indictment were dismissed on motion of the State. Defendant was found guilty of one count, the armed robbery of Willie Brooks, and was sentenced to serve four to twelve years in the penitentiary. Defendant's co-indictee, Jimmy Harris, was tried separately. On appeal, defendant contends that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the armed robbery of Willie Brooks.

We affirm the decision of the trial court.


Willie Brooks testified that at 8 p.m., on January 2, 1973, he went into the Shamrock Tavern at 5252 S. Halsted Street, in Chicago. Several hours later he was to begin his night shift as a security guard at a building two doors away. At about 11 p.m. he went into the washroom at the tavern. When he came out, he saw the tavern customers lying on the floor and he observed a man, later identified as Jimmy Harris, standing near the bar holding a gun. Harris ordered him to lie down on the floor. He related that as he obeyed the order, he attempted to rearrange two packs of cigarettes that were in his shirt pocket.

Brooks stated that at that moment, another man, whom he later identified as defendant, asked him what he was doing and then began to search him. Defendant removed a .22-caliber revolver and a blackjack from Brooks' pockets. After the defendant seized the two items he said, "I should blow your damn brains out."

Brooks further testified that he then saw Harris leading the tavern owner out of the back room. Harris then ordered the bartender to give him the money in the cash register. After the bartender complied, defendant and Harris backed out of the tavern, with defendant pointing a gun at the bartender.

Brooks asserted that the tavern was equipped with an alarm system which had been triggered during the robbery, and that when defendant and Harris backed out of the door, the police were waiting. On seeing the police apprehend the two men, Brooks went outside and informed the police that defendant had his gun.

On cross-examination, Brooks testified that the first time he saw defendant was when defendant searched him. Brooks also stated that he did not look up between the time defendant threatened to blow his brains out and when defendant and Harris left the tavern.

Brooks further stated that there were approximately 15 people in the tavern at the time of the robbery. He did not recall that at the preliminary hearing he testified that there were no other customers present during the robbery. Brooks did acknowledge stating at the preliminary hearing that only a gun was taken from him, while at trial he indicated that a blackjack also had been taken.

Chicago Police Officer Joseph Kwiatowski testified that at approximately 11 p.m. on January 2, 1973, he was alerted of a "robbery in progress" and immediately proceeded to 5252 S. Halsted. Upon arrival, he observed two men leaving the Shamrock Tavern. The men separated and proceeded down different sides of the street. Kwiatowski then placed defendant under arrest, who then told him that "I didn't know that this guy was going to stick the place up at that time." Kwiatowski's partner apprehended Harris and took him into custody. At this point, Brooks and a tavern customer came out of the tavern. Kwiatowski searched the defendant and recovered a .22-caliber revolver and a blackjack. These items were identified by Brooks as belonging to him.

Kwiatowski subsequently took defendant to the police station and advised defendant of his rights. Defendant told him that Harris had said to him earlier that evening, "Let's go out and get some `bread' tonight." Defendant also stated that he had not wanted to go along but then changed his mind. At the time they entered the tavern, defendant thought they were merely going to purchase some liquor.

Chicago Police Officer Carl Malik testified that on the night of the incident he took an oral statement from defendant who told him that the gun that was recovered ...

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