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People v. Boyd





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. MARVIN E. ASPEN, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Nathaniel Boyd, was found guilty in a bench trial of two counts of armed robbery of a cab driver, and sentenced to a term of 4 to 6 years imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant contends: (i) the trial court erred in permitting the prosecutor to ask his own witness a leading question on redirect examination, (ii) it also erred in preventing defense counsel's attempt to impeach two prosecution witnesses who identified the defendant, (iii) the trial court improperly sustained the prosecutor's objections to testimony as hearsay, and (iv) the defendant was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

At trial, Carol Banks testified that at 4 a.m. she and her baby were passengers in a parked taxicab. Two men approached the cab, one on each side, and the man on the passenger side attempted to open the locked door. Meanwhile, the other man put a pistol through the half-opened window on the driver's side, announced that it was a robbery, and ordered the driver out of the cab. She positively identified the defendant as the man who approached the cab on the passenger side.

She further testified that the two men pulled the driver out of the cab, brought him around to the trunk, and took his watch, ring, and money. Then the defendant's accomplice approached her, ripped her shirt open and took money out of her bra. At this time police officers arrived, and as they were arriving, the two robbers fled. Banks, who had watched as the defendant fled, led a police officer to a bush behind which the defendant was hiding and the officer arrested him.

The cab driver stated that he was robbed by two men, one of whom had a gun. He further stated that $40, a watch, and a ring were taken from him, and he identified a watch and ring as the articles taken from him during the robbery. When the defendant was arrested, the cab driver identified him as one of the robbers. During cross-examination, however, the cab driver admitted that he did not recognize the defendant at the trial because he had not seen the defendant in over a year, and the defendant had grown during that time. On redirect examination, the cab driver stated that he was present at the defendant's arrest and that the individual the police arrested in his presence was one of the men who had robbed him.

One of the arresting officers testified that while he and his partner were patrolling in a marked squad car, they were informed by a citizen that a cab was being robbed about two blocks away. As they approached the address given them, they observed several people standing near a cab, at which time two men fled. The cab driver and Banks were yelling that they had been robbed, and pointed out a person hiding in a bush a short distance away. The officer observed that man lying on the ground face down, and in court identified the defendant as that person. The officer further stated that $40 was found in the defendant's pocket and that a watch and ring were recovered from his hat. The officer identified the watch, ring, and currency in court as articles recovered from the defendant upon his arrest.

The defendant, testifying on his own behalf, stated that he was at the scene of the crime near the time it was committed. He explained, however, that he was on his way from his sister's house to a store to make a phone call. His sister lived, at that time, a few houses from the scene of the crime. The defendant stated that he had about $42 with him, which was given to him by the brother of a paraplegic friend to purchase things for the friend.

The defendant stated that as he approached the scene of the crime, he observed a man and a woman outside a cab, and a police car approaching with its lights and siren on. He testified that he stopped by a single bush about 2 feet wide, which came up to his knees. It was a bush no one would be able to hide behind. One of the police officers drew his weapon and ordered him not to move.

The defendant also testified that his sister and her friend were near the scene, and he told his sister to take the $40 out of his pocket and return it to his friend, at which time an officer grabbed her hand and took the money. When confronted with the ring and watch, the defendant denied ever seeing them prior to trial.

Allen Mitchell, the defendant's friend and a paraplegic, testified that on the day in question, while he was in the hospital, he had two visitors — his brother and his sister. He stated that he receives $43 each month from public aid and that he sent $40 of it to the defendant via his brother, Calvin Mitchell. Allen Mitchell further stated that he never before had sent money to the defendant.

The next witness, Calvin Mitchell, testified that on the evening in question he gave the defendant $40 to buy clothes for his brother, Allen, since the defendant knew the style of clothing that Allen liked. On cross-examination, Calvin Mitchell stated that he actually did not remember what date in October of 1972 he gave the money to the defendant.

The defendant's first contention is that the prosecutor was improperly allowed to ask his own witness, John Edmond, the cab driver, a leading question on redirect examination. The exchange complained of occurred when Edmond responded affirmatively to the question, "Now, the individual that the police arrested in your presence on October 6, 1972, was that one of the individuals that robbed you?" The defendant's objection to this question as leading was overruled.

• 1 Here, even if the prosecutor's inquiry can properly be characterized as leading, no prejudicial error occurred. Because the cab driver earlier, on direct examination, had testified that the person the police arrested that night was one of the robbers, his answer to the prosecutor's question on redirect merely repeated his earlier testimony — testimony already on record. Thus, no prejudicial error could have been caused by the repetitious exchange on redirect examination.

The defendant's second complaint, that he was prejudiced by being prevented from impeaching two prosecution witnesses who had identified him, also is unpersuasive. The defendant asserts that the trial judge erred in limiting cross-examination of the passenger about the conditions under which she identified the defendant at the police station, and in sustaining the People's objection to the defendant's inquiry whether ...

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