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People v. Brimmer





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. FRED G. SURIA, JR., Judge, presiding.


Defendants James Brimmer and Ricardo Norals were convicted of murder, attempt murder, and rape. During their bench trial, evidence indicated that defendants and an accomplice murdered Mrs. Joyce Britt. They also raped and attempted to murder her daughter, Miss Pamela Britt.

After hearing all of the evidence, the defendants were convicted of all three offenses and sentenced to serve concurrent 100 to 200 year prison terms for each offense. On appeal, defendants argue that they were denied a fair trial because of (1) prosecutorial misconduct during the cross-examination of one of the defendants, and (2) defense counsel's incompetence. They also argue that the sentences imposed were excessive.

We affirm.

Miss Pamela Britt, daughter of the deceased, Mrs. Joyce Britt, testified that on November 25, 1974, she went to Oak Park, Illinois, in order to obtain her mother's paycheck. When she returned home, she knocked on the front door of her family's apartment. After a few minutes, defendant Ricardo Norals, whom she had known for a year and a half, opened the door.

When she entered, she observed that the apartment appeared "all messed up." Miss Britt testified that at this point her mother came running out of the bedroom. She was naked and was being pursued by defendant James Brimmer and a third assailant. Defendant Brimmer was brandishing a pistol.

The third assailant made Miss Britt remove her coat and forced her into the bedroom. There, she struggled with the assailant while he began beating and choking her. She finally relented after her mother admonished her to "Do as they say."

Miss Britt testified that defendant Brimmer was in the bedroom as the third assailant pushed her down on the bed and forcibly had intercourse with her. She did not remember how long he had intercourse with her, but stated that when the unidentified man finished, Brimmer had intercourse with her for about 10 minutes. She testified that when Brimmer came into the bedroom he had a gun which he gave to the third assailant as he was going out. When Brimmer left the bedroom, defendant Norals entered and handed the gun to Brimmer. Norals then had intercourse with her. At the time Miss Britt was 16 years of age.

Miss Britt was permitted to go to the bathroom, where she noticed that her face was severely injured. She splashed water on her face and returned to the living room where she saw the three assailants and her mother. Her mother was dressed in her white work uniform and Pamela observed that she was crying and also that her head was bleeding. She testified that when she sat down beside her mother, defendant Norals asked if they had any money. Informing him that she had a check in her purse, she gave it to defendant Brimmer, telling him that was all the money she had.

Thereafter, defendant Norals went into the middle bedroom and ordered Mrs. Britt, the deceased, to accompany him. Mrs. Britt did as she was instructed, while Pamela remained in the living room with defendant Brimmer and the other assailant.

Miss Britt testified that she sat in a chair while defendant Brimmer put a gun to her head and said "Pow." She responded by saying, "Go ahead and shoot me; shoot me. Please don't hurt my mother." She stated that at this point she heard several gunshots come from the middle bedroom. Defendant Norals then summoned Brimmer into the bedroom, while the third assailant remained with Pamela, pointing a gun at her. Miss Britt testified that she then heard another gunshot.

In a few moments, both defendants entered the living room. Miss Britt slid off the chair and onto the floor as she heard Norals order the third assailant to "Get her, man, get her." The assailant picked up a pillow and attempted to place it alongside her head. As Miss Britt struggled with the assailant, she was shot twice in the legs. She heard defendant Norals say "Get her again, man; get her again." She was then shot in the neck. At this point, all three assailants fled.

Miss Britt remained on the floor for approximately five minutes and then looked into the bedroom where her mother lay dead. She began screaming and then ran to a neighbor who called the police. An autopsy later revealed that Mrs. Britt had been shot five times: twice in the head, twice in the chest, and once in the abdomen.

During the trial, defendant Brimmer testified on his own behalf. He stated that on November 25, 1974, he went shopping in the downtown area of Chicago at approximately 9:45 a.m. He was alone and testified that at 12:30 p.m., the approximate time the alleged offenses occurred, he went to the McVickers movie theater. He claimed that he was later thrown out of the theater for smoking marijuana by a man whose name he believed was "Sykes." Thereafter, defendant Brimmer stated that he traveled to Detroit, Michigan on a Greyhound bus, using ...

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