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People v. Sullivan





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


Defendant, Clarence Sullivan, was charged by indictment with the offenses of murder, attempt murder, and two counts of attempt armed robbery in connection with the holdup of a grocery store and assaults upon two of its employees. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, pars. 8-4, 9-1, 18-2.) Upon a bench trial defendant was found to be guilty of all charges. Judgment was entered on the findings and defendant was sentenced to serve concurrent terms of confinement in the Illinois State Penitentiary of 30 to 100 years for the offense of murder; 5 to 20 years for the offense of attempt murder; and 5 to 20 years for each count of attempt armed robbery.

From entry of the judgment of conviction defendant appeals contending: (1) that the evidence properly adduced at trial was insufficient to establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) that the State failed to establish by competent evidence the corpus delicti of the offense of murder; (3) that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence certain hearsay testimony characterized as a spontaneous declaration; and (4) that defendant was prejudiced by the State's failure to comply with certain pretrial discovery orders.

A review of the evidence adduced at trial reveals that at approximately 7:15 a.m. on March 24, 1973, Carl Conway arrived at his place of employment, the A&P Supermarket located at 360 East 55th Street in Chicago, Illinois. Conway parked his automobile and walked across the street to a restaurant where he purchased a cup of coffee and a sandwich. He returned to the store between 7:20 and 7:25 a.m. and, finding the entrance to be locked from within, knocked on the door in order to summon assistance. Four or five minutes later, another employee, Meredith Owens, emerged from the interior of the store to admit Conway.

According to Conway, as he and Owens walked into the store, Owens disclosed that the establishment was in the process of being robbed by two men, one of whom had stationed himself at the store's rear door while his accomplice waited inside for the store's bookkeeper to arrive with the necessary keys.

Conway testified that he observed the latter individual standing at a nearby check-out counter and pointing a sawed-off shotgun toward the door. A small pistol of unknown calibre was carried in the waistband of the gunman's trousers. Standing 5 to 6 feet from the assailant and aided by illumination provided by the store's electrical lighting, Conway observed that the gunman was a black male, wearing a brown pullover cap, an orange and brown "body shirt," dark trousers and a soiled brown trenchcoat. Conway indicated that the man had no facial hair or mustache. Defendant, Clarence Sullivan, was subsequently identified by Conway as the man he observed on this occasion.

Approximately two minutes after they had entered the store, defendant ordered Owens and Conway to lie on the floor near the check-out counter. Conway requested and was granted defendant's permission to drink his coffee. Conway testified that during this interlude he observed defendant "every chance I could get." Approximately two minutes later, defendant ordered the men to arise and demanded to be taken to the store's freezer. Conway led defendant to a withholding cooler at the rear of the store, approximately 70 feet from the check-out counter, and illuminated by electrical lighting. Defendant left Owens and Conway alone in the cooler for a period of approximately two minutes. Upon his return, defendant ordered the pair to again lie on the floor with their hands positioned behind their backs. Conway protested that the floor was covered with water but acquiesced when defendant commanded, "Lay down, I am not bullshitting with you m____ f____, lay down."

Having thus subdued the two employees, defendant absented himself from the cooler for an additional period of approximately two minutes and, upon returning, positioned himself directly behind Owens' feet as the latter lay prostrate and face down on the floor. Defendant then twice discharged his shotgun into the body of Meredith Owens.

Thereafter, having heard defendant "click" his gun, Conway attempted to rise from the floor but was also struck by two blasts from defendant's shotgun. Defendant fled and Conway crawled to a meat counter where he collapsed. Conway estimated that the entire incident required 15 to 25 minutes. Melvin Guilford, another employee, arrived at approximately 7:45 a.m., discovered Owens and Conway, and summoned medical assistance.

Two days after the shooting and while undergoing intensive medical care, Conway was briefly questioned by investigating Chicago Police Department Officers Kennedy and Savage. Savage testified that on this occasion Conway described his assailant as a black male, approximately 28 years of age, wearing a dark knit skullcap, a pullover sweater and a grey cloth overcoat with epaulets on the sleeves. According to Savage, Conway also informed him that the gunman displayed several day's growth of hair above his upper lip. Savage further indicated that Conway reported that the gunman was armed with a .25-caliber pistol which he attempted to use against Conway but the sidearm had misfired. Conway also told Savage that he had unsuccessfully attempted to pursue the escaping felon arming himself with a meat-cutting knife.

On two subsequent occasions, while confined to the hospital, Conway was shown a number of police photographs. Defendant's photograph was not among any of the groupings and Conway did not identify any of these photographs as portraying his assailant. Upon his release from the hospital, Conway visited police facilities on three separate occasions and on each successive date viewed 3 to 5 "mug books" containing 70 to 100 photographs. On his third such visit Conway discovered defendant's photograph and identified him as the assailant. Conway subsequently viewed a lineup at police detention facilities and also identified defendant by this means. In court, Conway stated, with respect to defendant, "I'll know him anywhere."

Police investigation of the scene of the crime led to the recovery of three shotgun shell casings. Officer Savage identified several photographs, taken at the scene and subsequently adduced into evidence, as portraying Meredith Owens as the officer observed him on the date of the murder. These photographs depict a large shotgun wound in the left lower back and several shotgun pellet wounds in Owens' upper left shoulder and neck. Dr. Edward Shalgos, an expert forensic pathologist, testified that he performed a post-mortem examination on the body of a man identified as Meredith Owens. Dr. Shalgos indicated that he observed two abnormal presentations on the body, both of shotgun discharge lesion character. One was found in the low back of the left side positioned broadly between the lowest aspect of the lowest rib and the highest aspect of the pelvic bone. The second involved the upper aspect of the left shoulder and neck. The cause of death was related to these wounds by reason of a laceration of the brain and a portion of the spinal cord produced thereby. Geraldine Owens, the deceased's sister, testified that she had occasion to observe her brother's body at the morgue on March 24, 1973 and that the aforementioned photographs accurately depicted her brother's condition as she observed it on that date.

On June 20, 1973, defendant was questioned by Chicago Police Investigator Thomas Minton and several members of the Office of the Cook County State's Attorney. Minton testified that on this date defendant indicated that he did not remember his whereabouts on March 24, 1973; that he had no knowledge of an armed robbery attempted on that date; that he had not frequented the store in question during 1973; and that prior to 1973 defendant had lived at an address located one-half block from the store. These statements were memorialized by the Assistant State's Attorneys in the form of an intraoffice memorandum.

On July 10, 1973, defendant testified at a coroner's inquest. On that occasion, according to Officer Savage, defendant stated that he had no knowledge of the occurrence of March 24, 1973, and further ...

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