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People v. Bridges





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. GEORGE MAROVICH, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Jack Bridges, also known as Jack Belton, was indicted for attempt murder and two counts of aggravated battery. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, pars. 8-4, 9-1, 12-4(a), 12-4(b)(1).) A jury found defendant not guilty of attempt murder, but guilty of each count of aggravated battery. The trial court entered a judgment of guilty of aggravated battery and sentenced defendant to a term of imprisonment of not less than 2 1/2 nor more than 7 1/2 years.

On appeal, defendant asserts that: (1) the State committed prejudicial error in its opening statement; 2) repeated references to defendant's alias by the State were improper and prejudicial; and 3) the trial court erred in imposing concurrent sentences for each count of aggravated battery where both counts arose from the same act.

Defendant does not contest the sufficiency of the evidence. Accordingly, a detailed rendition of all the facts is not necessary. Additional facts will be recounted in connection with the contentions of the parties.

On October 25, 1973, Larry Henderson was the victim of a shotgun shooting. Henderson testified that he drove to his mother-in-law's residence to pick up his wife, Debra. Upon arrival, he observed a man he knew only as "Jackie" reach into the trunk of his car, a 1965 or 1966 black over white Cadillac. At trial, Henderson identified "Jackie" as the defendant. Henderson entered the home and told his wife to leave with him. At this point, he noticed "Jackie" had also come into the residence.

Debra Henderson insisted that she and her daughter were not ready to leave, but walked with her husband outside to his car. While sitting on the car they continued to discuss whether Debra would leave. At this point, defendant came running out of the house with a shotgun. Defendant approached Henderson and shot him in the back of his right shoulder and neck. On cross-examination, Henderson admitted that, while on the front porch, he put his hands around his wife's neck and slapped her on her face.

Leona Lake and Bernice Smith were also occurrence witnesses. Smith was Debra Henderson's mother and Lake was a friend of the family. Both were at Smith's home the day of the incident and testified that defendant shot Henderson. Smith also testified that Debra and Larry Henderson were on the car fighting and that Larry was slapping and choking Debra immediately before defendant emerged from the house with a shotgun. Lake stated that she heard someone yelling "Jackie" before defendant ran out of the house toward the Hendersons. Both Lake and Smith made positive, in-court identifications of defendant as the assailant.

On cross-examination, Lake explained that she did not contact the police before trial because she did not want to get involved as she was fearful for her safety and that of her child. On cross-examination, Smith testified that the evening of the shooting she told police that Jack Bridges did the shooting. She further stated that Bridges had been "going out" with her daughter.

Officer Edmond Larenz testified for the State that on the day of the shooting he interviewed the victim at the hospital. Henderson identified his assailant as "Jackie." Henderson provided no other information concerning the whereabouts or identity of "Jackie." Larenz also ascertained that Debra Henderson knew a man known as "Jackie." Larenz also had a conversation with Larry Henderson's grandmother at the hospital. At the scene of the incident, Larenz interviewed Smith and discovered that she also knew "Jackie."

Based on these interviewed, Larenz located "Jackie's" employer, the manager of a gasoline station. The station manager informed Larenz that he had an employee named Jack Bridges who drove a black over white 1965 or 1966 Cadillac. Larenz again contacted Larry Henderson, who nowiprovided "Jackie's" home address. Larenz then checked with the records division of the Chicago Police Department and discovered that an individual named Jack Bridges, also known as Jack Belton, lived at the address Henderson had provided. Larenz then obtained a photograph of defendant which he presented to Henderson. Henderson identified the photograph as depicting his assailant "Jackie."

On January 7, 1974, Officer LaPorta and his partner noticed a 1965 black over white Cadillac, which had a cracked windshield and no brake lights. The vehicle was stopped and the driver produced a traffic summons made out to Jack Bridges. Officer LaPorta then saw a shotgun barrel on the floor of the rear seat. Defendant was placed under arrest and the gun and various shotgun shells were confiscated. Upon returning to the station, LaPorta checked certain police records and discovered that Jack Bridges, also known as Jack Belton, was wanted for aggravated battery.

The State also presented evidence probative of the fact that the shotgun found in defendant's car was the weapon used to shoot Henderson. It is not necessary to summarize this evidence, because defendant does not contest that his gun was the weapon used, but contends that at the time of the incident his gun and car were not under his control.

Defendant testified on his own behalf that he had known Debra Henderson and her family since grade school. They were close friends, but defendant denied dating Debra. According to defendant, he had met Larry Henderson on only one occasion. He also acknowledged that he kept a 20-gauge shotgun and shells in the trunk of his 1965 black over white Cadillac.

Defendant further testified that on October 25, 1973, Debra Henderson and her cousin came to his home to borrow his car. He had often lent his car to her and did so on this occasion. He had previously warned her to leave the shotgun in the trunk alone.

Shortly thereafter, defendant went to work at the gas station, where he stayed for an eight-hour shift. At 10:30 p.m., Debra Henderson returned with defendant's car. At this time, defendant first learned that her husband had been shot. Defendant maintained that he was at work during the time of the shooting and denied shooting Larry Henderson.

Defendant also introduced a transcription of the hospital notes of Doctor Lenardo Chato, who had examined Larry Henderson the day of the shooting. According to his documented patient interview, Henderson told Dr. Chato that he did not see his assailant. Henderson had previously explained that he told Dr. Chato he did not know who shot him "because I felt he wasn't the police." Finally, Officer Larenz testified for the defense that when he interviewed Bernice Smith at the hospital, she denied seeing the shooting.

Defendant now appeals his conviction of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and causing great bodily injury.

Defendant contends he was deprived of a fair trial due to three assertions made in the State's opening argument. He submits that these remarks were not ...

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