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People v. Smith

OPINION FILED MARCH 16, 1979.

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

v.

VITTORIO SMITH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ROBERT J. COLLINS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied April 12, 1979.

Following a bench trial, defendant was convicted of armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 18-2) and sentenced to a term of four to 10 years imprisonment. On appeal he contends that he was not convicted beyond a reasonable doubt.

At trial, the following pertinent evidence was adduced.

For the State

Ronald Buckhalter

On June 13, 1975, he, his cousin William James, and Larry Hibbler were working at his father's Citgo Service Station at 7458 S. Jeffery in Chicago. At midnight, which was closing time, he locked up the station. He took the day's receipts, which came to $325.43, and the inventory sheet which James had filled out, and put them in his pocket. He, James and Hibbler then drove to the 7400 block of Euclid, parked and entered a party being held in the basement of a house. There was an entry fee of 50 cents per person, and he paid this fee for James and himself. After staying for five or 10 minutes and observing that there were "no young ladies down there," he, James and Hibbler left the party and headed for their car. As they left the house, defendant Vittorio Smith and another man whose name he doesn't know approached them. Smith told all the other people to go, "threw" a gun to his stomach, and said it was "a stick-up." He gave Smith all the paper currency he had, which was $322, but kept the change in his pocket. Smith also took approximately $2 from William James. Smith told them to run back toward the house. He and James did this, but then turned around, went back to Euclid, and went to the E-Z Go Gas Station to call the police. Some people at the station told him that the police were already there. He ran over to the police, who were standing at 75th Street and Euclid, and saw that Smith was lying diagonally on 75th Street. He told the police that Smith had "just stuck me up" and taken $322. The police officer "went to the fella's [sic] pocket I think it was and he pulled out this money" which he counted. The officer then called a squadrol to take Smith to the hospital. Buckhalter followed them to the hospital, spoke with the police, and showed them the inventory list for the day's receipts from his father's service station.

On cross-examination, he stated that the "take for the day" from his father's gas station was $322.43, and that he left the party because "there were not many young ladies down there." He denied seeing a dice game at the party, and acknowledged that he doesn't really know what a dice game looks like. He denied taking the $322 out of his pocket while at the party or telling anyone he had it, or leaving it bulging or sticking out of his pocket. He acknowledged that when he saw Smith lying in the street he did not see a gun or a cap in the area, and that he saw the money clutched in Smith's hand.

On redirect examination he stated that the money was originally clutched in Smith's hand, that one of the police officers took the money and put it in Smith's pocket, and that after he told the police that Smith had just robbed him, the police officer took the money out and "counted it I assume." He does not know the present whereabouts of the inventory list which he showed to the police.

William James

He corroborated Buckhalter's testimony, and identified defendant Vittorio Smith as the man who robbed them at gunpoint. He put the day's gas station receipts at $323 and approximately 50 cents in change. He gave the money and the sheet listing the day's receipts to Buckhalter. He saw Buckhalter give that money to Smith when they were robbed, and stated that he also gave Smith one or two dollars that he had in his pocket. After he and Buckhalter came to where Smith was lying unconscious on 75th Street, they had a conversation with the police. A police officer then bent down and removed their money from Smith's pocket. He did not see a gun on the street where Smith was lying, and he did not see the fellow who had been with Smith earlier. He did not play dice at the party or see a dice game in progress.

On cross-examination, he acknowledged that there were "fellows and girls" at the party, but not as many women as men. He conceded that he was not sure that the police officer removed the money from Smith's pocket, but stated that he did not see any money in Smith's hands.

Leon Armistead, Chicago Police Officer

In the early morning of June 14, 1975, he and his partner, William Hopkins, were patrolling in civilian dress in an unmarked squad car. As they approached the intersection of 75th and Euclid, he observed two male Negroes running south on 75th Street. One of the men ran quickly across the street, across the South Shore High School baseball field, and out of his sight. He noticed that traffic in the intersection had stopped. He approached the intersection and saw lying on the ground a person who apparently had been struck by the vehicle which was stopped two or three feet away from him. This person, whom he identified as defendant Vittorio Smith, was one of the two male Negroes he had seen run into the intersection. Because Smith was unconscious, he told his partner to go call for a squadrol or ambulance to take Smith to the hospital. He saw a male youth remove something from Smith's hands. He told the youth to give it to him, and then discovered that it was money. He stuck the money into Smith's back pocket. Ronald Buckhalter and William James then approached him and his partner, and stated that Smith had just robbed them. After a conversation with ...


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