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People v. Williams





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. MATTHEW J. MORAN, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied May 17, 1979.

The defendant, Clarence Williams, was indicted for aggravated battery and attempt murder. A jury in the Circuit Court of Cook County found the defendant guilty of aggravated battery and the court sentenced him to the Illinois Department of Corrections for a period of not less than two nor more than six years. On appeal, the defendant raised the following issues:

1. Whether the defendant was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

2. Whether the motion for an arrest of judgment at the conclusion of the trial should have been granted.

3. Whether the court erred in refusing to admit into evidence certain photographs offered by the defendant.

4. Whether the court should have excluded certain testimony of the people's witnesses as hearsay.

5. Whether certain statements made by the prosecutor in closing argument were improper and deprived the defendant of a fair trial.

Darnell Spann, a 14-year-old student, was shot in the arm at approximately 6:30 p.m. on November 10, 1974, while standing at an entrance to an apartment building on Oakley and Adams Streets in Chicago. Darnell and a friend, Terry Dixon, went to the building to visit an acquaintance who lived there. The boys attempted to enter the building through three separate entrances on Adams Street, but they discovered that all three doors were locked. The boys went to Oakley Avenue where they saw Steven Johnson, another friend who resides in the building, and requested Steven to climb a locked fence and to open it so they could enter the building from the rear. Steven agreed and commenced climbing the fence while Darnell and Terry stood on the city sidewalk.

Clarence Williams lived in the building and operated a grocery store in the basement. Darnell knew him by name and sight. Darnell testified that as Steven was climbing the fence, he observed Williams start up from the basement and then jump back into the basement. Darnell had no difficulty recognizing Williams because of a light shining above his head. A few seconds later, Darnell heard a shot and felt pain in his left arm. The three boys ran to Darnell's home and Darnell's mother called the police.

Terry Dixon testified that he also observed Williams at the basement door while the boys were standing at the fence. In addition, he stated that he saw the defendant step out of the door a second time with a gun in his hands. Williams pointed the gun at the boys, fired it and ran upstairs.

Officer Pappalito of the Chicago Police Department testified that he went to Darnell's home and spoke to Terry Dixon and Steven Johnson concerning the incident. He went with the boys to the scene of the shooting, but they were unable to gain entrance to the building. Officer Pappalito and his partner later returned to the building. A man responded to their knock, opened the door for them, and led the officers to the rear of the building. Officer Pappalito testified that there was a light in the doorway in the basement and one over the basement steps. Both lights were working properly. The officer stated that he discovered the defendant working on some pipes in the basement and placed him under arrest. Although the police officers searched the defendant's office, they were unable to locate a gun.

Clarence Williams testified that he has been the manager of the building located at Adams and Oakley for five years. He also performs minor maintenance work in the building and operates a small grocery store in the basement. Williams denied owning a gun and shooting Darnell Spann.

The defendant testified that on the evening of November 10 he left the apartment building at approximately 5:30 p.m. to borrow some tools to repair a leaking pipe. He drove to the home of a plumber, Frank Burnett, picked up the necessary tools and returned to his building at approximately 7 p.m. He was repairing the pipes when Shirley Johnson, a resident, brought the police officer into the basement. Subsequently, he was placed under arrest. The defendant also testified that because of a shortage in the wiring, the lights in the rear of the building ...

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