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People v. Mclaren





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. VINCENT BENTIVENGA, Judge, presiding.


After a bench trial, defendant Alexander McLaren was found guilty of murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 9-1) and was sentenced to a term of 20 to 30 years. The issues presented for review by defendant are whether: (1) he was proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the court erred in allowing two witnesses to assert fifth-amendment privileges against self-incrimination; (3) the court erred in not calling the same two witnesses as court's witnesses; and (4) the sentence of 20 to 30 years was excessive.

The following pertinent evidence was adduced at trial.

For the State

Donald Bridges

He is an 18-year-old student. He and James Martinez, a 16-year-old at the time of the incident, left a restaurant at 26th and Kedzie in Chicago at 3:30 a.m. on June 2, 1974, intending to get on a bus. As they walked along the street, they noticed a group of people standing near a liquor store. The group consisted of several Latinos and one white man subsequently identified as the defendant. As they approached the group, defendant remarked to Bridges, "Hey, Nigger, what are you going [sic] around here." Several more remarks were exchanged and then defendant said, "Get your shit, man; get your shit." Bridges said the expression meant to get a gun. Bridges told Martinez to run and he himself ran south on Kedzie. When he was about one-half block away, someone hollered that it was all right to come back. A couple of minutes later, he heard several shots fired and he saw a body lying on the ground. He flagged down a police car and was driven to the scene where he discovered that the body was James Martinez.

Lorenzo Rendon

On June 1, 1974, he was in the B & A Tap located between 23rd and 24th Streets on South Kedzie. Jorge Roman, Juan Perea and the defendant were also in the tavern. He had previously known defendant for about three months and Roman and Perea for about six months before the shooting. Rendon testified that while he was playing pool in the tavern he heard a shot. He turned and saw defendant pointing a gun at a security guard named Bennett. When defendant ordered Bennett not to move Bennett remained seated on a bar stool. About 1:45 a.m. he, Perea, Roman and defendant went outside and stood around drinking beer.

About an hour later, two people, a Puerto Rican and a black, passed by on the sidewalk. Defendant said, "Say, Nigger, where are you from." Responding to Roman's question, the Puerto Rican said, "I live at 26th and Sawyer." Roman said, "He's just a punk." Then defendant said, "Get the shit," and Randon saw defendant bend down and start firing. He saw the Puerto Rican lying on the sidewalk. They attempted to run away, but Roman, who had been shot in the leg, said that if the police came he should tell them the shots were fired from a black Cadillac that passed by. Rendon told this story to the police, but later told them that defendant had done the shooting.

On cross-examination, Rendon testified his only contact with Roman and Perea were at the tavern. He stated that both Roman and Perea were members of the Latin Kings, but denied he was. However, at the preliminary hearing, he testified that both Roman and Perea had been in a social club longer than he had and when asked to name the organization, he replied, "Latin Kings."

William Bennett

He was a licensed private detective, and on June 1, 1974, his offices were above the B & A Tap. About 9:30 p.m. on June 1, 1974, a shot was fired next to his head as he sat in the bar. He whirled around and saw defendant standing in front of him, pointing a gun at him, saying, "Don't move, hold it." At that time Roman and Perea got between himself and defendant, and Roman told defendant to "cool it."

About 3:15 a.m. he heard seven or eight shots fired in rapid succession outside the tavern and ventured outside with his gun drawn. He saw the victim lying on the sidewalk and Jorge Roman hopping around with blood on his right leg. Bennett saw defendant put something in his belt as he was crossing the street about 30 or 40 feet away. When he flagged down a police car after the shots were fired, he told the police that he thought defendant had done it.

Bennett said he believed that Rendon, Roman and Perea were all members of the Latin Kings. This was based on overhearing their ...

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