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People v. Rodgers

OPINION FILED MARCH 1, 1978.

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

v.

STANLEY RODGERS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. LOUIS A. WEXLER, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SIMON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After a bench trial, defendant was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 4 to 12 years. Defendant admits he was present when the robbery was committed. He contends, however, that the evidence adduced at trial proves him to be neither a principal nor accountable for the acts of the actual perpetrator of the robbery.

The State relied on the testimony of the two victims, Peter Loughran and James Fryzyna. Both testified that one night at 12:15 a.m., they were walking in Chicago to a friend's house. Loughran testified that as they approached a corner, he noticed two men underneath the trunk of an automobile. Fryzyna stated that he observed the two men behind the car.

Loughran and Fryzyna both testified that when they reached the corner, the two men, one of whom was carrying a rifle, approached them and demanded several times that they "get down" behind the bushes. When the victims hesitated, both were struck in the head with the rifle.

Loughran testified that defendant then made repeated demands for Loughran's money. When Loughran gave defendant a dollar bill and some change, defendant began searching Loughran's pockets to see if he had more money. At the same time, the assailant with the rifle was going through Fryzyna's pockets, looking for money. The victims testified that during the search both assailants threatened to shoot the victims.

Following the search, defendant instructed Loughran to remove the leather jacket Loughran was wearing. As Loughran began to unbutton the jacket, defendant ripped it from his back and pushed Loughran down. Defendant then kicked Loughran in the eye, and the defendant drove away with the other assailant.

Loughran was asked by the defense counsel whether Loughran gave the following answer to a question asked before the grand jury:

"Question: Were they inside the car?

Answer: They were inside the car laying on the back so we couldn't see their faces. One had a shotgun, or a regular rifle, I can't tell the difference really and he told us to get down."

Although Loughran could not recall whether this statement was made before the grand jury, the defense counsel and the State's Attorney stipulated that the above exchange took place.

Defendant's explanation was that on the night in question he was riding in the front passenger seat of a car with Greg Owens, the driver, and Larry Cross. Three or four cars approached the one in which defendant was riding, and their occupants began cursing and shouting at the three men in Owens' car. Owens turned onto a side street and stopped the car. Cross got out and opened the trunk. When defendant heard Cross shouting and saw Cross holding a gun on two men standing on the corner, defendant stepped out of the car and asked Cross, "Hey man, what is on your mind?" After telling defendant to "shut up," Cross proceeded to rob the victims of their money. Cross then ordered Loughran to remove the jacket Loughran was wearing. When Loughran hesitated, Cross struck him on the head. Loughran removed the jacket and threw it at defendant, whereupon Cross grabbed the jacket and put it across his arm.

Defendant further testified that he did not take money or a jacket from either victim. He stated that he did not know Cross well, was not aware of Cross's intentions to commit robbery, and did not know the weapon was in the car. Defendant also testified on cross-examination that after the incident Owens drove him to his own neighborhood and parked the car there. Defendant then walked home, but did not tell his parents or the police about the incident.

Defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether he was proved guilty of armed robbery; (2) whether the trial court properly denied his motion for a directed verdict on the armed robbery charge; (3) whether the discrepancy between the victim's name in the indictment and in the report of proceedings denied him a fair trial; (4) whether defendant was deprived of a fair trial by his retained trial counsel's incompetence; and ...


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