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People v. Hightower

OPINION FILED JUNE 29, 1979.

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

v.

RUSSELL HIGHTOWER ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JOHN J. DEVINE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Following a bench trial, defendants were convicted of theft (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 16-1) and sentenced to 30 days imprisonment. On appeal, they contend that their convictions should be reversed because their waivers of jury trials were not understandingly made.

The following pertinent facts were adduced at trial.

For the State

Joseph Jackson

On February 9, 1978, he was robbed at gunpoint. His 1975 Buick LeSabre, his watch, and his wallet containing his driver's license and motor club card were taken. He never gave defendants Hightower and Harris permission to touch or take anything on his car.

On cross-examination, he acknowledged that neither Hightower nor Harris robbed him on February 9, 1978.

Raymond Tuman, Chicago Police Officer

On February 27, 1978, he saw defendants Hightower and Harris at 30th and Federal in Chicago. He observed Hightower and Harris take the last tire off a 1975 Buick, which was on "blocks" on the street, and put the tire into a white stationwagon. When he questioned them about this activity, Hightower told him that the Buick was his car, and he was selling the tires to Harris. Hightower showed him an "Amco" card and a driver's license which were in the name of Joseph Jackson. He noticed a discrepancy between Hightower's height and weight and the height and weight on the driver's license. After a check revealed that the 1975 Buick had been reported stolen, he placed Hightower and Harris under arrest. Harris told him he was purchasing "the tires" for $200.

On cross-examination, he conceded that Hightower told him that he had purchased the Buick for $500.

For the Defense

Defendant Travis Harris, on his own behalf

When arrested on February 27, he was buying four tires from Hightower. He had first met Hightower that same day at the house of his girlfriend, Cynthia Brown, and he thought Hightower owned the tires. On cross-examination he denied ever going into the trunk of the Buick, and ...


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