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People v. Chaka

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 2, 1977.

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

v.

RA CHAKA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES M. BAILEY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Following a jury trial defendant was convicted on two counts of armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 18-2) and was sentenced to a term of 20 to 60 years on each count. The sentences are to run concurrently. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred when it: (1) denied his motion in limine to exclude evidence of a prior conviction; (2) convicted him on two counts of armed robbery for a single robbery; and (3) abused its discretion in sentencing him.

During the pretrial proceedings, defendant repeatedly called the judge a racist and insane, and interrupted the court demanding to represent himself. Consequently, defendant was excluded from most of both the jury selection and the trial. Prior to trial defendant filed a motion in limine requesting that the court prohibit the State from introducing evidence of defendant's 1966 *fn1 conviction for armed robbery. The court denied defendant's motion. Thereafter, the following pertinent evidence was adduced at trial.

For the State

Frances Trojan

She is a saleslady at Fannie May Candies, 26 East Randolph Street, Chicago. At about 2 p.m. on September 11, 1974, she waited on a man she later identified as defendant. He asked for some "Dixie" candy. After weighing it, she placed it in a Fannie May bag and asked defendant for $.99. He gave her $1. She rang up the sale and gave him a penny in change and his candy. Defendant then said, "ring it again." She told him she had already rung up the sale, but defendant repeated his demand and pointed to a gun lying in front of his attache case on the counter. Defendant then said, "Give me the money from the register."

She removed the bills and change from the register and put them in separate Fannie May bags. She then handed the bags to defendant. While she was doing this, the store manager, Helen Mileski, walked up and asked her what was the matter. She told her that defendant had a gun. Helen got down behind the counter, but defendant told her to stand up, which she did. After gathering up the bags defendant fled through the front door on Randolph Street, heading west toward State Street. He turned north into an alleyway, a few doors down. Thereafter, both she and Helen described defendant to a police officer, who had arrived at the store. Later that afternoon she picked defendant out of a lineup at police headquarters.

Altogether defendant took about $60. She identified People's Exihibits Nos. 2 and 3 as similar to the gun and attache case defendant carried.

Helen Mileski

She manages the Fannie May store at 26 East Randolph Street, Chicago. In addition to substantially corroborating Frances Trojan's testimony, she stated that defendant was in the store about five minutes. She called the police within seconds after defendant's departure, and a policeman arrived "very shortly." She also identified defendant from a lineup at police headquarters.

Michael E. Clancy, Chicago Police Officer

He patrols the Chicago Loop and business district on foot. He was at the intersection of Lake and State Street when sometime after 2 p.m. on September 11, 1974, he responded to a radio call concerning this robbery. As he walked south of State toward Randolph he observed defendant coming out of an alley midway between Randolph and Lake and walk south. He approached defendant at the cashier's booth of the Loop Theatre and placed him under arrest. Defendant attempted to flee, but he only got about five feet before being apprehended. Defendant had a brown attache case from which he attempted to remove an object. After handcuffing defendant, he opened the attache case and found a .32-caliber pistol and three Fannie May candy bags. Two of the bags contained money amounting to $57.66. The third bag contained candy.

The jury found defendant guilty of the armed robbery of both Frances Trojan and Helen Mileski. Prior to sentencing defendant, the court noted that defendant had waived a presentence investigation by not cooperating with the Probation Department. After hearing arguments in aggravation and mitigation, the court stated:

"[I]n light of the conduct the defendant has displayed through the trial and in light of the fact I don't see any possibility of any rehabilitation on behalf of the defendant, [he is] sentenced to the Illinois State ...


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