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People v. Smith

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 27, 1979.

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

v.

CLAUDE SMITH, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ROBERT L. MASSEY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE LINN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

At the conclusion of a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, Claude Smith, Jr., was found guilty of two counts of voluntary manslaughter (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 9-2). He was sentenced to a term of 2 1/2, to 10 years imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends the two killings were justified because the deadly force he used was necessary to prevent the commission of a robbery, a forcible felony. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, pars. 2-8, 7-3, 18-1.

We affirm the trial court.

Georgette Rosemoore was called as a witness for the State. Rosemoore testified that on December 6, 1974, at approximately 12 p.m., Veda Jefferson, Derrick Simmons and Anthony Richardson drove her and her three-month-old baby to a medical clinic. This group left the clinic sometime after 3 p.m. As they drove south on Stony Island Avenue, they met Rosemoore's cousin, Sharon Hawkins. Hawkins was a passenger in a Cadillac automobile along with Gerald Haynes, Ronald Jackson, Paul Wright and Robert O'Neal.

Both groups decided to have a party. They drove to 88th Street and Stony Island Avenue and double parked in front of Claude's Playgirl Lounge, the defendant's place of business.

Haynes and Jackson entered the lounge. Three minutes later, Simmons and Richardson followed them in. Hawkins and O'Neal waited in the Cadillac while Wright and Jefferson, who was holding Rosemoore's baby, sat in the other car. Rosemoore walked over to the "Chicken Shack," located next door to the lounge, to buy some food.

As Rosemoore came out of the Chicken Shack, she noticed that Haynes, Jackson, Simmons and Richardson had returned from the lounge. Haynes was sitting in the Cadillac with O'Neal and Hawkins, while Richardson stood near the passenger window. Jackson and Simmons were standing near the other car.

Rosemoore began walking toward the two cars when the defendant ran out of the lounge brandishing a gun. Defendant hollered, "I am going to kill all you mother fuckers out here." The defendant then fired at the Cadillac. Richardson fell to the ground screaming, "I'm hit, I'm hurt." Jackson and Simmons dragged Richardson out of the defendant's line of fire.

Rosemoore told the defendant to stop shooting because her baby was nearby. The defendant responded, "[W]ell, if you are with them, I will kill you too." Whereupon, the defendant fired at her. As the defendant turned toward Jefferson, who was holding Rosemoore's baby, Jackson hollered, "No, shoot me." The defendant fired at Jackson.

When the defendant's gun ran out of bullets, he asked a man standing nearby for his gun. The man handed the defendant another revolver. The defendant walked into the street, stood in front of the Cadillac and fired one shot through the windshield. He then walked around to the driver's door, opened it, leaned inside and fired four shots.

Hawkins, who was sitting in the rear seat of the Cadillac, died from a bullet wound in the back. O'Neal, who was sitting in the front seat, died from a bullet wound in the side.

During the entire episode, Rosemoore did not see anyone else with a gun, nor did she hear anyone else fire a gun. Aside from the two guns fired by the defendant, the police found no other weapons in the vicinity of the lounge.

On cross-examination, Rosemoore testified that when the defendant finished firing the second gun, the Cadillac pulled away; "Bobby O'Neal had slumped over the steering wheel and the car just started rolling." At that time, several police officers arrived on the scene. Two of the officers drove off after the Cadillac, while the others ordered the defendant to drop his gun. The defendant fell to his knees pleading, "[P]lease don't shoot me * * * they tried to rob me."

James Doyle, an investigator in the robbery section of the Chicago Police Department, was called as the State's next witness. Officer Doyle testified that on December 6, 1974, at approximately 4 p.m., he and his partner, Dale Riordan, received a radio dispatch of shots being fired at 8822 South Stony Island Avenue. When they reached the intersection of 88th Street and Stony Island Avenue, Anthony Richardson and another male ran in front of their squad car. Richardson was limping badly from a bullet wound in his leg.

Officer Doyle directed these two men to follow him back to the lounge. As Doyle neared the lounge, he observed the defendant standing on the driver's side of the Cadillac and he heard three shots fired. The Cadillac then pulled away. Officer Doyle ordered the defendant to drop his gun. The defendant did not respond. Officer Doyle repeated the command. Again the defendant did not respond. Finally, Doyle told the defendant if he did not drop the gun, he would be killed. The defendant placed the gun on the hood of a car.

In response to Officer Doyle's command, the defendant then dropped to his knees and put his hands behind his head. The defendant claimed several persons had robbed him. The police arrested the defendant and three other men who the defendant identified as the alleged robbers. At the station, the police found 14 live rounds of 32-caliber ammunition in the defendant's pocket.

Burt Nielson, a police officer in the firearms unit of the Chicago Police Department, testified that based on ballistic tests, in his opinion, the bullets and bullet jackets recovered in connection with the shooting of Robert O'Neal and Sharon Hawkins were fired from the defendant's gun.

The defense called as its first witness, Ernest Anderson, a disc jockey at the Playgirl Lounge. Anderson testified that on December 6, 1974, he arrived at the lounge at approximately 4:15 p.m. He noticed three men standing inside the door and a woman standing off to the side near the juke box. The defendant and Haynes were having a loud argument near the bar. Anderson asserted that Haynes had a gun in his right hand and some money in his left. ...


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