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People v. Harper

OPINION FILED MAY 24, 1977.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JOSEPH HARPER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



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

MR. JUSTICE PERLIN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Joseph Harper, was indicted for armed robbery. He waived a jury trial, was tried by the trial court and found guilty. Subsequent to a hearing on aggravation and mitigation, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than ten years. In this appeal defendant's sole contention is that he did not receive a fair trial, asserting that the prosecution erroneously, over objection, introduced evidence of defendant's alleged participation in a crime which occurred prior to the offense for which he was on trial.

We affirm.

The following pertinent evidence was adduced at trial: On October 24, 1974, between 5 and 5:30 p.m., without permission, defendant forcibly entered the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Vollmar. Defendant, upon entering the Vollmar home, grabbed Mr. Vollmar, put an eight- to ten-inch butcher knife at his neck, and then robbed him. While holding Mr. Vollmar hostage, defendant also demanded that Mrs. Vollmar give him more money. She complied and forthwith gave defendant additional cash money. The Vollmars were, at the time of the incident, both over the age of 70 years.

During the course of the robbery, a neighbor entered the Vollmar residence. The neighbor recognized defendant as her son-in-law and according to the investigating officer so identified defendant to him. Upon the appearance of his mother-in-law at the scene, defendant fled the Vollmar residence.

Prior to the incident here involved, at approximately 4:30 p.m., defendant apparently had an encounter with another neighbor of the Vollmars, Frank Cortese.

At trial defendant proffered to the court the defense of alibi. He claimed that on the afternoon of the incident he was in the company of one Charles Kraft (also known as Ray Charles) either at a tavern or playing basketball from 1 or 1:30 p.m. until it was dark, that is, until 6:30 p.m. Defendant's witness, Charles Kraft, corroborated his alibi.

To rebut defendant's alibi, the prosecution was allowed by the court to introduce testimony by Mr. Cortese over defendant's objection. After Cortese testified that he saw defendant at 4:30 p.m. on the afternoon in question, the following colloquy took place:

"Q. And what did he say or do next, Mr. Cortese?

A. He went through the back, he jumped the fence in the back and went in the alley, and then he come back, he jumped the fence again.

Q. After you saw him the first time and he jumped the fence, about how much time passed before you saw him the second time?

A. The second time?

Q. Yes, how long was there in between when he left the first time and came ...


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