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People v. Spates

OPINION FILED AUGUST 8, 1978.

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

v.

LESTER SPATES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. JOHN C. LAYNG, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE WOODWARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Following a jury trial, defendant, Lester Spates, was found guilty of the armed robbery of Floyd Ross and was sentenced to five to 12 years imprisonment. Defendant appeals raising the following issues:

Whether he was proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt;

Whether he was denied a fair trial when the trial court permitted improper cross-examination of defendant; and

Whether he was denied a fair trial when the trial court denied his motion in limine to prevent the State from using a prior misdemeanor theft conviction to impeach defendant's credibility.

Floyd Ross testified that on February 6, 1976, as he was exiting the Grant Park Tavern he was struck on the head with a beer bottle, struck with a fist, and his wallet was taken from him by two men. One of the offenders, standing six feet away from him, he recognized as the defendant, having seen him in the tavern earlier that evening when he challenged John Kellems to a game of pool. According to Ross, he had had five beers at the tavern. While his glasses were knocked off when he was struck, he could see without them, and the lighting conditions in the parking lot were good. Ross identified defendant at a lineup on February 27, 1976, and at trial.

John Kellems testified that he was at the Grant Park Tavern on February 6, 1976. While he was talking with Floyd Ross and another friend, a black man came up to him and challenged him to a game of pool. After playing two games Kellems went home. Later, the police came to his home; after the police left, the same black man entered his home. The man asked him what the police wanted and repeatedly told him, "I didn't do it." On February 23, 1976, Kellems viewed a lineup in which he identified defendant as the man he had shot pool with and who had come to his home that same evening. He also identified defendant at trial.

Rockford police officer John Casky testified that in the course of his investigation of the incident he recovered part of a beer bottle that had been broken, at the scene of the attack. Casky also recovered two copies of a traffic ticket issued to defendant approximately 15 feet north of the scene of the incident. The tickets were dry and were lying on top of the snow. On the night of the attack on Ross, Casky also took photographs, including the defendant's, to the Grant Park Tavern and showed them to the bartender and several of the witnesses, including Kellems, but none of the photographs were identified.

Defendant testified that he had pleaded guilty to the offense of petty theft on October 31, 1974, and pleaded guilty to grand theft on November 15, 1968. He testified that he played pool with John Kellems at the Grant Park Tavern; that he left the tavern through the back door and went to a pharmacy. He returned to the tavern to see if a friend of his had shown up. When he didn't see his friend he left walking south. He had received a traffic citation but had lost it, though he did not know when.

During cross-examination, Assistant State's Attorney McWilliams asked the defendant the following questions:

"Q. You heard him testify that he [John Kellems] was home that February 6th in the evening and that you came into his house without knocking.

A. That's not true.

Q. And you asked him what the police wanted.

A. No.

Q. He was ...


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