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People v. Vinson





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EARL E. STRAYHORN, Judge, presiding.


Defendants, Gregory Vinson and James Chapman, were jointly charged by indictment with the murder of Virgil White in violation of section 9-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 38, par. 9-1). After a bench trial, defendants were convicted of murder and sentenced to 60 to 80 years in the penitentiary. Both defendants appeal. Both contend that the trial court improperly admitted hearsay evidence. Chapman also argues that the State did not prove that he was accountable for the murder of White and Vinson contends that the trial court improperly denied his motion for a severance.

Annie Crump, Virgil White's aunt, testified that the decedent was in good health on October 9, 1971. She identified his body in the morgue on October 21, 1971.

Mildred Flenory, decedent's mother, testified that she gave two of the decedent's notebooks in which she had seen him write to Investigator Hollins. Virgil White carried a small address book in his pocket.

Chicago Police Officer Thomas Nolan testified that on October 16, 1971, at about 5:15 a.m., while on patrol with Officer James Tyrcha, they received a radio dispatch that a man was shot around the Ryerson School at Ohio Street and Springfield Avenue. They proceeded to the school and began a search. They heard a groaning from near one of the mobile units, where they found Virgil White lying in a pool of blood. Tyrcha asked the man how he felt. White said he was feeling no pain. White told Tyrcha that Greg Vinson and Chap Dog had shot him. He said that Vinson and Chap Dog were members of the Souls. Tyrcha asked White who the Souls were and White responded that they were a street gang. Nolan found a shotgun shell about 20 feet from White's body. At the end of White's right arm an address book was lying open in the pool of blood. On the open page "Greg Vinson and Chap Dog kill me" was written.

On cross-examination, Nolan said he did not ask White whether he had written that statement in the book. White had not said he had written it. "Gree Vincent," not Greg Vinson, was written on the open page. There was no other blood except the pool around White. White told Tyrcha about Vinson and Chap Dog without being asked what happened. Nolan had found a blood-covered pen about 10 feet from the victim, but did not know where it now was.

Chicago Police Officer James Tyrcha, Nolan's partner, testified that on October 16, 1971, at the Ryerson School they found a man, later identified as Virgil White, lying in a pool of blood a few feet from one of the mobile units. Tyrcha asked the man how he felt. He replied, "I don't feel nothing. I don't feel nothing at all." Immediately after that, White said, "I was shot by Chap Dog and Greg Vinson." He then said something about gangs and the Souls. There was a small address book near White's hand. Nolan found a pen near White.

When cross-examined, Tyrcha said he had only asked the victim how he felt before the victim told him what had happened.

Percy Hollins testified that on October 16, 1971, he was an investigator for the Chicago Police Department, assigned to Area 4 Homicide. At Garfield Park Hospital on that morning, a man he recognized as Virgil White was brought into the hospital. After White had been with the medical personnel, Hollins asked White what happened and who did it. White responded that Greg Vinson and Chap Dog had shot him. Investigator Hollins knew James Chapman as Chap Dog. Later that morning, Hollins and Officer Robert Wasmund went to James Chapman's house. He talked to Chapman's parents and then to defendant Chapman. He advised Chapman of his Miranda rights and defendant said he would talk. Hollins testified to Chapman's statement:

"A. He stated that he and Virgil White and another fellow were walking through the school yard discussing an incident that had happened earlier; that Virgil White had got ahead of him and the other fellow; that the other fellow asked him for a shotgun which he carried under his coat and told him to look out for the police, and that the other fellow fired the shot, striking Virgil White, and that the [sic] ran from the playground to a house in the 500 block on Monticello where they took the shotgun."

Chapman made no further statement then. Mrs. Flenory had given him two of the decedent's notebooks, which he took to the Chicago Police Department Crime Laboratory to be analyzed along with the address book found by White's body.

On cross-examination, Hollins said that White had told him that King Greg had shot him. Hollins knew of no other Greg in that neighborhood than Vinson.

Chicago Police Officer Robert Wasmund, Hollin's partner, testified that Chapman was taken to Area 4 headquarters, where he was questioned by Wasmund and Hollins after again being informed of his Miranda rights. Chapman said that after shooting White he and the other fellow fled to the home of Tony Beck. They gave Tony Beck the shotgun.

Investigator Thomas Sherry testified that on the morning of October 16, 1971, he and Investigator Griffin accompanied a Tony Beck to a building in the 500 block of North Monticello in Chicago. On the roof of that building Sherry found a sawed-off ...

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