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People v. Mayfield





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. WILLIAM E. COUSINS, JR., Judge, presiding.


The defendants, Jeffrey Mayfield and Lamark Johnson, were jointly tried before a jury and were both convicted of armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 18-2), and sentenced to a minimum of four years and a maximum of four years and one day with the Illinois Department of Corrections. On appeal defendants contend: (1) their guilt was not established beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the trial court erred in restricting impeachment of the complaining witness concerning his attempt to have the charges against the defendants dismissed; (3) the trial court abused its discretion by restricting cross-examination of the complaining witness concerning matters tending to support the defense theory of the case; (4) defendants were unduly restricted in their efforts to present testimony concerning the bias and motivation of the complaining witness; (5) defendants were prejudiced by the improper closing argument of the prosecution; and (6) they were prejudiced by the court's response to the jury's request to see a police report.

We affirm defendants' convictions.

Andre Bird testified for the State that on May 3, 1976, at about 8:30 p.m., he and Brian Ridley were playing basketball with some others at 71st and Lowe in Chicago. He and Ridley stopped playing at nine and walked toward 69th and Halsted where they intended to catch a bus. At that intersection Bird saw the defendants, whom he identified in court. Mayfield asked Bird if he wanted to buy a revolver and Bird said no. Bird walked into the street to look for the bus and returned to the sidewalk, where Mayfield again asked if he wanted to buy a gun. At this time Ridley was six to 10 feet away, talking to a friend who had walked by. Bird again refused the offer of sale. Mayfield and Johnson spoke to a group of people who had arrived. When the people left Mayfield brought out the gun, which was in a hat, inside a bag he was holding. He asked Bird a third time if he wanted to buy it. When Bird refused, Mayfield announced a "stick-up." Bird, who had known the defendants for three years from playing basketball with them, asked why they would hold up someone they knew. However, Mayfield told him to proceed east on 69th Street and Bird complied. Ridley, who was still six to 10 feet away, asked where they were going but was told by the defendants to get away. The three walked east down 69th; Mayfield was behind Bird with the gun and Johnson walked in front of Bird. They turned into an alley where Mayfield again declared this was a "stick-up." Bird asked why they were going to rob him, but kept walking when Mayfield told him to do so. In the middle of the alley the defendants demanded money and Bird refused. Johnson said that Bird "must think we playing something." Mayfield handed the gun to Johnson and struck Bird in the eye. Bird then gave 10 $1 bills and his watch to Mayfield, who gave the watch to Johnson. Johnson informed Bird they usually killed people after they robbed them. Bird told them he would not tell anyone about it and they then fled. Bird returned to 69th and Halsted where he saw Ridley and related what had happened. They saw a police car near the intersection and reported the robbery to the police.

On May 4, 1976, Bird looked for the defendants with the police in a police car. At 69th and Ashland Bird saw them and pointed them out to the police. One officer "grabbed" Johnson and another pursued Mayfield down the street. When Mayfield was caught the police showed Bird a revolver. He told them it looked like the same gun used against him. He was again shown the gun in court and again indicated it looked like the gun used.

On cross-examination Bird admitted that he used to gamble but denied playing dice with the defendants on May 3, 1976. He also denied that the money taken from him was won in a dice game or in basketball; he indicated he earned it. The 10 $1 bills taken were folded over each other at the time. Objections were sustained to questions asking him whether this was the normal way people who shot dice and played cards folded their money and whether he recognized this as a "hustler's fold." Bird admitted that in an earlier court hearing he indicated that he wanted to drop the charges.

Defendants were not permitted to present the testimony of an assistant public defender, who, according to the offer of proof, would have testified that Bird identified himself as the complaining witness and said he wished to drop the charges. This was after the public defender heard Bird make the same statement to the clerk when the case was continued.

Two Chicago police investigators, Gerald Hansen and John Kinnane, testified to the circumstances of the arrests. They confirmed that Bird pointed out the defendants from the police car. The officers got out of the car and announced their office, at which point the defendants ran. Hansen arrested Johnson after he had run about 20 feet. Kinnane chased Mayfield and arrested him after he had jumped over a fence, dropping a gun in the process. He identified a gun produced in court as the one Mayfield had dropped.

Defendants presented the testimony of Officer James Nelson. On May 3, 1976, at about 9:15 p.m. he spoke to Bird at 60th and Halsted. Bird told him he was "walking at" 69th and Halsted when the defendants approached and displayed a handgun. They made Ridley walk on and took Bird to an alley. Johnson had a gun and Mayfield struck Bird in the eye with the gun. However, Bird did not say that Johnson had the gun the entire time.

Lamark Johnson testified that on May 3, 1976, at about 8:30 p.m. he and Mayfield were at the corner of 69th and Halsted when Bird and Ridley approached. Bird and Mayfield discussed the fact that Bird had broken into Mayfield's brother's basement. The State objected when Johnson was asked what was said, but he did state that at the end of the conversation Mayfield said as far as he was concerned it was all over with. Mayfield then produced some dice and asked the others if they wanted to "shoot some." Ridley did not accompany them but the defendants and Bird went into an alley and shot dice for about half an hour. During this period Bird consistently lost money to the defendants. He told them they could not win his money like that, that he was broke, and would get his money back one way or the other. Bird then walked away. Johnson did not have a gun nor did he see Mayfield with one. No one robbed Bird at gunpoint. He did not strike Bird and did not see Mayfield strike him. He did recall that Mayfield and Bird had a fight two weeks before the dice game. Johnson was asked whether this fight was the subject of the conversation between Mayfield and Bird but the State's objection to his response was sustained. Johnson denied running when the police arrested him. He did not see Bird in the police car at that time until he himself entered the car. He testified that he had shot dice with Bird many times before and had met him in a dice game. Bird had testified that he never played dice with Johnson and had not met him while shooting craps.


• 1-3 Defendants contend that Bird's account of being robbed by two people he had known for years was improbable, uncorroborated and contradicted by other witnesses. The contradictions cited, however, are minor or nonexistent. Officer Nelson's recollection that Bird said he was walking at the intersection does not clearly contradict Bird's testimony that he was standing there and periodically walking into the street to see if the bus was coming. While it is true there was no testimony that Bird had a bruised or black eye as a result of being struck, he was never asked whether this was the result. He did state that he could still see out of the eye after the blow, though his vision was blurred, indicating the blow was not that serious. Officer Nelson's recollection that Bird reported being struck by Mayfield with a gun is corroborative as to who struck the blow but contradictory as to what was used. This presented a matter of credibility for the jury as the trier of fact, as did the question of the probability of two acquaintances robbing Bird. In People v. Urban (1949), 403 Ill. 420, 86 N.E.2d 219, cited by defendants, the court did cite the improbability of a man committing a robbery in a place where he was known. But this was only one factor in their determination that reasonable doubt of the defendant's guilt remained. There the testimony of most of the State's eyewitnesses tended to exculpate the defendant. The one eyewitness who implicated the defendant was herself discredited by other State witnesses. In this cause a single eyewitness clearly identified the defendants, whom he had known for years, as the men who robbed him at gunpoint. The robbery was promptly reported to the police and the next day the witness pointed out the defendants to the police. Such positive and credible testimony, even though by a single witness, would in itself be sufficient to sustain a conviction despite contradiction by the accused. (People v. Rodriguez (1978), 58 Ill. App.3d 562, 374 N.E.2d 904; People v. Lee (1975), 33 Ill. App.3d 45, 337 N.E.2d 381.) In addition there was testimony that the defendants fled the police, who were accompanied by the victim at the time. Under these circumstances the jury could have found this to establish a consciousness of guilt to be considered along with the other evidence. (People v. Pierce (1975), 26 Ill. App.3d 550, 325 N.E.2d 758, aff'd (1976), 62 Ill.2d 223, 341 N.E.2d 705.) Defendants argue that the failure of the State to call Brian Ridley to the stand contributed to creation of a reasonable doubt in this case. But as defendants note in their brief, the name and address of Ridley was supplied to them by the State six weeks before trial. No negative inference is raised by the failure of the State to call a witness where that witness is also known and available to the defense. People v. Lee (1975), 33 Ill. App.3d 45, 337 N.E.2d 381.

• 4 All these matters were argued to the jury at trial and that body, as the trier of fact, obviously believed the testimony of Andre Bird. A reviewing court will not substitute its credibility determination for that of the trier of fact unless the evidence is so improbable as to create a reasonable doubt of the defendant's guilt. (People v. Rodriguez (1978), 58 Ill. App.3d ...

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