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People v. Flowers





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JOSE R. VASQUEZ, Judge, presiding.


Defendants, Wayne Flowers and Jerry Devine, were indicted for the murder of Willis Brown. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, pars. 9-1 and 9-1(a-2).) They were found guilty by a jury and both were sentenced by the court to 60 to 150 years imprisonment. Defendant Flowers alone appeals his conviction and contends: (1) he was denied a trial before a fair and impartial jury; and (2) the sentence imposed was both arbitrary and excessive.

We affirm. The following testimony was adduced at trial.

Victor Robinson testified that on the evening of March 19, 1975, he attended a wake at the Biggs & Biggs Funeral Home located at Roosevelt and Laflin Streets, arriving at about 8:10 p.m. He remained outside talking with the victim, his wife, Willie Marvel Brown, and Patricia Hall for 20 to 25 minutes. These four then entered the funeral home, where Robinson noticed defendants, whom he identified in court. Robinson stated that he had attended grade school with Flowers and regularly saw Devine in the neighborhood.

Robinson, the Browns, and defendants exited the funeral home at the same time. Defendants were accompanied by a "real close" friend known to Robinson as "Booney." After remaining in front of the funeral home for 15 to 20 minutes, the victim told his wife to return home, whereupon he and Robinson walked to 14th and Ashland Streets where they remained for about 35 to 40 minutes. They then walked a block and a half to the Spotsville Tavern located at Roosevelt and Loomis.

The victim demonstrated karate moves to some friends outside the tavern and accidentally hit Flowers. An argument ensued which required Robinson and Booney to restrain the victim. Flowers then approached Mrs. Brown, the victim's wife, who had just arrived at the tavern on a bicycle, accompanied by a young girl, and grabbed her, ripping her coat sleeve in the process. The victim then threw both defendants to the ground, after which he was again restrained by Robinson.

After the altercation defendants drove off in a car parked in front of the tavern, and Robinson retrieved Mrs. Brown's bicycle. Robinson next saw the Browns as they were walking home. At this time a car which Robinson had earlier observed parked in front of the tavern drove past him and turned around. Robinson testified that the car was driven by Flowers, with Devine occupying the front passenger's seat.

Robinson further testified that he continued walking, then looked around, and saw two flashes emanate from the driver's side of Flowers' automobile, after which the victim stumbled and fell. Robinson then started to run home, at which time he heard three or four more shots and the car speed away.

On cross-examination Robinson testified that the shooting took place sometime after 11 p.m. on Washburne Street. He stated that this area was well lit at the time of shooting by street lights, and that it was "as bright as this courtroom."

Willie Marvel Brown, the victim's wife, testified that she and her husband attended a wake on the night of March 19 along with Patricia Hall and Victor Robinson. She saw defendants at the wake. Upon leaving the funeral home, Mrs. Brown went home with Patricia Hall, while her husband proceeded to 14th Street with Robinson.

Mrs. Brown remained at home for approximately 15 minutes, until she was informed that her husband "wanted" her. She proceeded to 14th Street but found no one there, and decided to go to the Spotsville Tavern. En route to the tavern she passed her apartment building and met an 11-year-old girl she knew named Angel, and they proceeded together to the tavern on bicycles.

Upon arrival at the tavern, Mrs. Brown observed her husband being held by a man named Booney, and a crowd of people gathered around them. Flowers then approached Mrs. Brown and grabbed her coat, tearing its sleeve. Mrs. Brown identified People's exhibit no. 6 as the coat torn by Flowers. The victim then grabbed both defendants and threw them to the ground, after which he was again restrained. Mrs. Brown testified that as the fracas subsided she and her husband began walking home, while Robinson retrieved the bicycle she had been riding.

As they proceeded down Washburne Avenue a car which Mrs. Brown had seen in front of the tavern drove past and turned around. Mrs. Brown testified that Flowers was driving the car and Devine was seated in the front passenger's seat. Defendants drove their car between the Browns, so that Mrs. Brown was on the passenger's side while her husband was on the driver's side. Mrs. Brown further testified that Flowers then leaned out the window and fired two shots at her husband, after which he fell to the ground. Both defendants then exited their car and, while standing over the victim, took turns shooting him. Mrs. Brown ran to her father's house and called the police.

On cross-examination Mrs. Brown stated that defendants fired a total of six shots into her husband.

Juanetta Crittenden, nicknamed Angel, testified that she had accompanied Mrs. Brown to the tavern on the night of March 19, and substantially reiterated Mrs. Brown's account of the altercation that occurred at the tavern between defendants a the victim. She started to ride her bicycle back home from the tavern after the incident and a car drove past her. Juanetta turned and saw the car drive between the Browns, with the victim on the driver's side of the car.

Juanetta next testified that she observed two shots fired from the car, and then both occupants exited the car and, while standing over the fallen victim, shot him again. She ...

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