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People v. Walton





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of McLean County; the Hon. WAYNE C. TOWNLEY, JR., Judge, presiding.


Defendant appeals his conviction of armed robbery entered upon a jury verdict. Sentence of 5 to 12 years to be served consecutively to a sentence in the State of Colorado was imposed.

Upon appeal it is argued that the testimony of an accomplice was insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that the court erred in permitting the State to introduce evidence of the admission of a "co-defendant" which implicated defendant. Upon this record defendant was neither jointly indicted nor tried with any other defendant.

As a market was closing at about 9 p.m. on May 6, 1974, three men forced the manager to unlock the door, displaying a gun. The manager, Frawley, and an employee, Dailey, were held while the men secured about $3000. The three intruders wore stocking masks and neither victim could identify other than that two men were black and one was white. The details of the robbery are not essential to the consideration of the issues.

The essential witness for the prosecution was one Donald Curtis. At the time of trial Curtis was serving a prison term for forgery under a work release program. At the time of his plea to forgery he was held under indictment for other counts of forgery, three counts of armed robbery, including the robbery at issue here, and he had pleaded guilty to a charge of theft over $150. During the time that Curtis was in jail, a detective had sought his assistance in convicting one Anthony, also known in this record as Manns. While Curtis agreed to do so he participated in a robbery with Anthony without disclosing the target. The jury was advised concerning the many questions of Curtis' credibility.

Curtis testified that on the evening preceding the robbery, he was with Anthony and the defendant and at Anthony's suggestion undertook and carried out the robbery. His testimony as to the details in the effecting of the robbery was corroborated without any significant contradictions by Frawley and Dailey.

Upon the issue of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, defendant argues that the testimony of Curtis is unbelievable and that the testimony of an accomplice must be viewed with suspicion and caution in the light of the other evidence as the jury was here instructed.

A conviction may be sustained upon the testimony of an accomplice which is uncorroborated if it satisfies a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Hansen (1963), 28 Ill.2d 322, 192 N.E.2d 359, cert. denied (1964), 376 U.S. 910, 11 L.Ed.2d 608, 84 S.Ct. 665; People v. Bolton (1976), 35 Ill. App.3d 965, 343 N.E.2d 190, appeal denied (1976), 63 Ill.2d 558.

• 1 Here, the testimony of Curtis upon the events of the robbery was not contradicted or impeached by other evidence and such evidence as there is in the record corroborates the testimony. The evidence of defendant's guilt is not so improbable and unsatisfactory as to leave a reasonable doubt. People v. Curry (1973), 56 Ill.2d 162, 306 N.E.2d 292.

Curtis also testified that following the robbery he (the defendant) and Anthony, divided the stolen money and drove to Peoria where they had drinks at a specified bar and spent the night at a described motel and that the next morning they purchased clothing before returning to Bloomington.

The three met again during the evening and arranged to meet three women whom they invited to go to Peoria. Curtis testified that at the apartment of Betty Hamilton, Anthony told Joyce Gibson that "we" had pulled an armed robbery, had gotten a lot of money and wanted to go to Peoria for a good time. The court sustained defendant's objection, ordering the testimony stricken and stated, "The jury may not consider it." He further testified that as the men and women were leaving Bloomington they were stopped on the street by the police, that the men had some of the money which had been taken and two handguns which were given to Gladys Stovall to place in her purse.

Gladys Stovall testified to going to Peoria on the evening of May 7 with defendants, Walton and Curtis, together with Betty Hamilton and Joyce Gibson. She testified to the fact that the car was stopped by the police but that the members of the party were not searched. The witness was asked concerning a conversation about the market which had been robbed while all were in the car. Her general answers were objected to and ordered stricken successively. After refreshing her recollection from a statement, the witness stated "Tyrone Manns [Anthony] said he had robbed the market."

Betty Hamilton also testified for the prosecution concerning the group going to Peoria and corroborated the testimony of Curtis that the car was stopped by the police. She stated that as the police car was approaching Curtis and Anthony directed Stovall to put the guns into her purse. After stating that she could not recall the conversation in the car, the witness refreshed her recollection from a statement and then testified that Curtis had stated that "they" had robbed the market. Defendant's objection was sustained.

In oral argument the State's Attorney referred to the conversation in the automobile concerning the statement, "We pulled an armed ...

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