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People v. Lurry

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 16, 1979.

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

v.

THURMOND LURRY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. ROBERT L. DANNEHL, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant Thurmond Lurry, following trial by jury in the Circuit Court of Will County, was found guilty of the offenses of attempt murder and armed violence. Judgment of conviction was imposed only on the offense of attempt murder and upon this conviction the defendant was sentenced to a term of not less than five years nor more than 20 years in the penitentiary. From this conviction and the sentence imposed thereon the defendant appeals.

A detailed recitation of the evidence adduced at trial is not necessary to determine the issues presented in this appeal. A summarization of such evidence is that there was testimony that the defendant, in the company of Gary Wright, entered an establishment known as Harry's Wine and Liquors at approximately 12:25 a.m. on June 10, 1977. In the establishment the defendant and Wright encountered Joseph Smith, who was playing cards. The defendant asked Smith if he wanted to smoke a couple of "joints." Smith accepted the invitation and left the tavern with the defendant and Wright. The trio entered the defendant's automobile which was driven around until they were in a rural area. At approximately 12:45 a.m. the defendant told Wright to pull over or stop the car so that he could "take a leak." Both the defendant and Smith left the car in order to relieve themselves. Smith testified that as he was about to re-enter the car the defendant fired five or six shots at him, and further testimony established that two bullets hit him. A resident of a nearby farmhouse established the time of the shooting to be at about 12:45 a.m. and that he discovered Smith lying in a fence.

The defendant testified in his own behalf and presented an alibi defense to the effect that at the time established for the shooting he was watching a "big fire" which was in progress about four blocks from Harry's Wine and Liquors store. An employee of the Joliet Fire Department testified that there was in fact a fire five or six blocks from the tavern on the night in question, but not between the time of 12:02 a.m. and 12:50 a.m. on June 10, 1977.

We deem it pertinent to this appeal that the victim Smith admitted that during the year 1974 he had been addicted to heroin and that at the time of the trial he had scars on his forearm from sources other than the wounds he received as a result of the shooting.

The defendant raises a number of issues in this appeal, among which is his contention that the trial court committed reversible error in limiting defense counsel's cross-examination of the State's principal witness by refusing to compel the witness to exhibit his forearm in order to demonstrate, contrary to his testimony, recent drug addiction.

In examining this contention it cannot be denied that Joseph Smith, the victim, was the State's principal witness. He was the only person in a position to identify his assailant or assailants. It was his testimony that identified the defendant as the individual who fired a number of shots at him, two of which struck him in the back.

During defense counsel's cross-examination of the victim Smith the following colloquy ensued:

"MR. BLOCK: Mr. Smith, have you ever used or possessed heroin?

THE WITNESS: Yes.

Q. How much heroin — when did you have this habit of heroin, Mr. Smith?

A. 1974.

Q. Just of one year?

A. Yes.

Q. And how much did you take?

MR. RONKOWSKI: Objection.

THE COURT: Sustained as to 1974.

MR. BLOCK: Okay, Mr. Smith, have you used any contraband substances since 1974.

THE WITNESS: No.

Q. Well, Mr. Smith, you did testify, did you not, that you smoked some joints?

A. Yes.

Q. What do you mean by ...


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