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People v. Turner





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. FRANK BARBARO, Judge, presiding.


Edward Turner, the defendant, was tried before a jury for the murder and armed robbery of Levi Anderson. He was convicted of both crimes and was sentenced to 50 to 100 years for murder and 20 to 40 years for armed robbery, sentences to run concurrently. On appeal defendant contends (1) his guilt was not established beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) he was deprived of a fair trial when the State was permitted to introduce evidence that he had committed a subsequent kidnapping; (3) he was deprived of a fair trial when the State was permitted to introduce evidence of prior burglaries committed by him; (4) the trial court erred in permitting the State to elicit testimony that the police had obtained the approval of the State's Attorney's office before placing felony charges against him; (5) his sentences were excessive; and (6) a new sentencing hearing is required because the trial court considered other alleged crimes of the defendant which had not resulted in convictions.

We reverse and remand for a new trial.

Prior to trial defense counsel made an oral motion in limine to exclude evidence of prior burglaries of Levi Anderson's home allegedly committed by the defendant as well as evidence that defendant attempted to use Anderson's bank book, taken in one such burglary, to withdraw money from Anderson's savings account. In argument on the motion the State represented to the court that a State witness, Walter Goodrum, would testify that on several of these earlier burglaries Anderson was present and defendant would cover him so as to prevent his identification, but that on the last occasion the covering was removed, permitting Anderson to identify defendant and precipitating the murder. Apparently, on the basis of these representations the trial court denied the motion as to prior burglaries but allowed it as to the bank book.

In opening argument to the jury the prosecutor stated that Goodrum would testify that on two occasions prior to the death he and the defendant entered the victim's apartment and took some items. The prosecutor also detailed at some length what the testimony would be concerning a kidnapping scheme carried out by the defendant several weeks after the death of Anderson.

At trial Chicago Police Officer Arthur Munin testified that on October 14, 1975, he spoke to the defendant at 1017 West 59th Street in Chicago. Defendant told him he was worried about his elderly landlord, whom he had not seen for two days. Munin first told defendant to wait several more days but defendant persisted in expressing his concern, so Munin tried the back door, which he found to be locked. Munin again began to leave but defendant then told him that the back porch light was on although his landlord always turned it off every morning. At Munin's direction the defendant pried the wire mesh off a window, entered the apartment, and opened the door for the officer. Munin heard a radio playing and followed the sound to a bedroom where he found Levi Anderson dead on a bed. He saw no evidence of foul play.

It was stipulated that if called Dr. Choi, a pathologist employed by Cook County, would testify that he examined Anderson's body on October 14, 1975. He had been informed the body was found in bed, with no foul play indicated. He saw no outward signs of trauma in an external examination and performed no autopsy. It was his opinion that the death was due to cardiac arrest.

Walter Goodrum, 17 years old and a corporal in the army at the time of trial, testified that he met the defendant in the summer of 1974. At that time Goodrum lived at 1019 West 59th Street in Chicago with his mother; the defendant lived next door. Goodrum visited the defendant often and considered him a friend, like a big brother. He also knew Levi Anderson, who was defendant's landlord, and for whom he used to do yard work. About a month before Anderson's death, Goodrum and the defendant entered Anderson's apartment using a key defendant had. Anderson was not home at the time and at defendant's direction Goodrum looked for money. Finding none, they took some cans of milk and a can of roach spray. About one week later they again entered the apartment using the key and took some tools.

On October 13, 1975 Goodrum went to visit defendant in his apartment, which was above Anderson's. As he entered the downstairs hallway defendant opened Anderson's door from the inside. Goodrum entered the apartment and saw Anderson lying bound and gagged on the floor, with something covering his eyes. Defendant choked Anderson and asked him where the money was but Anderson said he did not have any. He then kicked Anderson hard and again asked him where the money was. Finally, after being threatened by defendant with a revolver, Anderson directed him to some money in a book; defendant located the money and placed it in his pocket. He then placed Anderson on a chair in the closet and tied him to it. Defendant and Goodrum went up to defendant's apartment but after about three minutes defendant went back downstairs, saying he had left something there. After waiting about five minutes Goodrum went downstairs to tell defendant he was leaving. The door was open and upon entering he saw defendant in the closet with Anderson, who had one hand free and whose eyes were partially uncovered. Defendant said Anderson had gotten loose and had seen him so he would have to kill him. Goodrum responded that he wanted no part of it. Defendant then took a "billy club" and began to press it against Anderson's neck. Anderson reminded the defendant that he had been good to him, allowing him to live there without paying rent for 10 months. He then told defendant to go ahead and kill him, as he knew he was going to heaven and also knew where defendant was going. Defendant again began forcing the club against his neck. Sickened by what he saw, Goodrum went out into the hallway. He saw two friends coming up the stairs to pick him up for a rehearsal. Before they reached the top of the stairs he told them he would not be going and they left. He then re-entered the apartment and saw that Anderson was dead.

Defendant told Goodrum he would go to jail if he said anything because he was part of it. He then told him to help him put Anderson on the bed and Goodrum complied. Defendant removed the blood from around Anderson's mouth, turned a radio on, and also turned on the light. They then left the apartment, defendant locking the door behind them. Defendant reminded Goodrum that he would go to jail if he said anything. The next day Goodrum saw the defendant, who told him the police had discovered the body and believed the death to have been a natural one.

At this point in the testimony of Walter Goodrum, the State elicited from him, without objection by defense counsel, a lengthy and detailed account of a kidnapping scheme devised by defendant. Goodrum testified that on November 4, 1975, he stopped at defendant's apartment on the way to school to retrieve a book. Defendant said he wanted to feign a kidnapping because he needed money. Goodrum was to be the pretended victim. Goodrum told him he was crazy but defendant locked the door and said if he did not comply he would harm Goodrum or Goodrum's sisters in the same manner he had harmed Anderson. Goodrum had two sisters, ages 15 and 17, living at home at the time. Goodrum remained in the apartment for two days. At about 7 the second morning someone rang the doorbell. Goodrum complied with defendant's order to go into a closet and defendant answered the door. He then returned from the door and told Goodrum he was going next door to Goodrum's mother's house, so Goodrum should not forget what he had said about his sisters. He was gone about two hours. When he returned he got some newspapers and began cutting out letters and pasting them on a brown paper bag. He then cut Goodrum's thumb with a razor blade and smeared the blood over an envelope. Goodrum read some of the note and recalled it said something about $2,000. Defendant then placed the note in Goodrum's mother's mailbox. That evening between 7:30 and 8 p.m. someone rang the doorbell. Goodrum got in the closet at defendant's direction. About five minutes later he was discovered there by Officer Dowd. The officer asked who he was and he first gave a false name because he was afraid of the defendant. The officer then took Goodrum into a front bedroom where Goodrum said he immediately told about Mr. Anderson. At trial Goodrum identified a number of items and photographs of items belonging to Anderson which were recovered from defendant's apartment, including a C.T.A. reduced fare card, Anderson's will, a certificate of deposit, and the tools and roach spray taken from Anderson's apartment. He also identified photographs of items and some of the actual items used in the kidnapping scheme, including the newspaper from which the note was cut, a picture of his thumb showing the razor cut, peroxide and swabs he used to care for the cut at defendant's apartment, and the ransom note. Finally he identified the "billy club" used by the defendant.

On cross-examination Goodrum testified that when he came to defendant's building on the day of Anderson's death he did not knock on Anderson's door or ring his doorbell before defendant opened Anderson's door. He testified that after he was discovered in defendant's closet he gave two statements to the police. He could not recall whether in his first statement to the police he told them of the two friends he had seen during the murder, but he believed he told them of this in the second statement, which was tape-recorded. He did not recall telling the police that defendant took Anderson into the bedroom and then choked him. He did concede that in the tape-recorded statement he told the police that defendant placed the body on the bed and he stood and watched the entire incident. During the kidnapping the defendant left the apartment once or twice without locking it, but Goodrum did not flee because he was afraid for his sisters.

The next witness for the State was Investigator Thomas Dowd. On November 5, 1975, he interviewed Goodrum's mother, Mrs. Patsy Brown, and examined two kidnapping notes received by her. One note was smeared with blood, determined by the police to be of human origin, and demanded $2,000 for Goodrum's return. Defense counsel objected to this entire line of questioning concerning the kidnapping as irrelevant to the charge of murder but the objection was overruled. Dowd further testified that the evening of November 5 he went to defendant's house and defendant consented to a search of the apartment. Dowd found Goodrum, who appeared completely shaken physically, in a closet in the rear bedroom. Goodrum first identified himself as Leroy but also said if he could be protected he would tell everything. Dowd assured him of protection and took him to a front bedroom where he took a statement.

Dowd testified that a number of items were found in defendant's apartment at that time, including a police baton, several pages of the Chicago Sun-Times with the words and letters cut out, a C.T.A. reduced fare card issued to Levi Anderson, Anderson's will, and his certificate of deposit. He identified these items from photographs after being shown the actual items. He also identified photographs showing Goodrum's cut thumb and the peroxide and swabs Goodrum said he used on the thumb. Over defense objection Dowd then testified that they contacted the State's Attorney's office because they believed Anderson had been ...

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