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People v. Brown

OPINION FILED MARCH 29, 1979.

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

v.

JAMES C. BROWN ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES E. STRUNCK, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE JIGANTI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, the defendant, Carl Tillman, was found guilty of the armed robbery of Cathleen Elam and Louis Crenshaw, the attempted murder of Crenshaw, and the murders of Sidney Holland and Felicia and Luella Edwards. In a concurrent trial without a jury, the trial judge found a similarly charged co-defendant, James C. Brown, guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Holland and the Edwardses, but acquitted him of armed robbery and attempted murder. Brown is not a party to this appeal.

The trial court sentenced Tillman to two, four to twelve year terms of imprisonment for the armed robbery and attempted murder convictions and terms of 15 to 45 years imprisonment for each murder conviction, all sentences to be served concurrently. On appeal, Tillman contends that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of the murders; that the indictment under which he was charged was invalid; and, that a jury instruction involving the attempted murder charge was in error.

Crenshaw and Elam testified that they were robbed by two men, one of whom carried a gun, in the stairway of Elam's apartment building in Chicago. The witnesses identified Tillman as the gunman at a police lineup and in court.

During the robbery, after Elam gave the robbers the coat she was carrying, the gunman, standing on the stairs below her, ordered her to approach him; she complied. He took the rabbit jacket she was wearing and her black purse. Crenshaw and the accomplice began to scuffle on the stairs above them. Crenshaw testified that he heard a gun go off during the struggle. Elam testified that, facing the gunman, she watched him as he "moved the gun out of my face and shot." A bullet struck a banister one foot away from Crenshaw.

After the shot, the robbers fled down the stairs; both victims chased after them. Elam followed the men out of the apartment building. Crenshaw, however, returned to the stairway to retrieve his glasses lost in the struggle. On the stairs he found one of the coats taken from Elam and a blue platform shoe he believed belonged to one of the robbers.

On the street Elam saw the gunman run west and his accomplice run east. She watched the gunman, holding her jacket and purse, enter the passenger side of a parked, dark Pontiac. She flagged down a passing police patrol car, got into it and told the officers inside that she had been robbed and that the culprits were in the Pontiac just a few car lengths ahead of them.

Several police officers corroborated the testimony of the robbery victims. The driver of the police car flagged down by Elam said that after her identification, he turned on the siren of the police car and followed the Pontiac, attempting to stop it, but that the Pontiac sped up, traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour. The officer stated that after chasing it several blocks, he saw the Pontiac, without any hesitation, speed through a stop sign at 59th and Ada Streets, ram into a Cadillac passing through the intersection and slam up against a wall on the northwest corner of the intersection.

A patrolman looked into the Cadillac and found the driver, Holland, and two passengers, Luella and Felicia Edwards, dead; a fourth passenger survived the crash. The officer returned to help his partner who was trying to open the Pontiac car door with a crowbar. When they succeeded in prying loose the passenger side door, Tillman got out and began to struggle with one of the officers; the driver of the Pontiac, Brown, also started to fight with the police. Both were arrested but only after additional policemen arrived at the scene and subdued them.

Inside the Pontiac, the police found a rabbit jacket, a black purse and a blue platform shoe. The jacket and purse were identified by Elam as those taken from her by the gunman. The shoe matched the one found by Crenshaw at the scene of the robbery.

Tillman contends that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of the murders of Holland and the Edwardses. His convictions are based on the felony-murder rule, which states:

"(a) A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits murder if, in performing the acts which cause the death:

(3) He is attempting or committing a forcible felony other than voluntary manslaughter." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(3).)

Tillman points out that his co-defendant Brown, as driver of the Pontiac, was the person who actually performed the act which killed the occupants of the Cadillac and that Brown was acquitted of armed robbery and murder. According to Tillman, in order to hold him responsible for Brown's conduct, the ...


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