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People v. Bradford





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. FRANCIS J. MAHON, Judge, presiding.


Defendants Jerome Bradford and Melvin R. Davis were charged by information with the armed robbery of a Jewel food store located at 7707 South Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago. After a jury trial, defendants were found guilty as charged. The trial court entered judgments on the verdicts and sentenced defendant Bradford to 9 to 20 years and defendant Davis to 7 to 15 years. Both terms were to be served in the Illinois State Penitentiary.

Both defendants now appeal and raise the following issues: (1) whether they were convicted of robbery or armed robbery beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) whether the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the crime of theft; (3) whether certain remarks by the trial court deprived defendants of their right to a presumption of innocence; (4) whether the trial court abused its discretion in preventing the defense from cross-examining a prosecution witness concerning the potential civil liability of that witness for shooting a bystander; (5) whether the trial court erred in denying a defense challenge for cause of one of the jurors whose wife worked for a subsidiary of the Jewel food stores; and (6) whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying a defense motion for a continuance.

We affirm.

The first witness to testify for the State was a cashier for the Jewel food store who was working behind a service desk sorting checks and counting money at approximately 9:45 p.m. on August 21, 1976. She heard a voice ask if she was still cashing checks, looked up, and saw two men. One of the men was standing immediately in front of her and the other was standing three feet in back and to the side of the first man. The cashier identified the first man in court as the defendant Bradford. The first man handed the cashier a note. She read the first line of the note which stated, "Put all the money in the cash drawer in a bag." She looked up at the first man and he put his right hand entirely inside a shoulder bag which he carried on his right side. The cashier then filled a white Brinks' bag with money from the cash drawer. The first man then directed the cashier to remove the money from the safe. The cashier did as she was told and gave the money to the first man. The two men then walked toward the door where they were joined by a third man. As the three men left the store, Bradford was stuffing the Brinks' bag into his shoulder bag. The cashier then heard two to four gunshots outside the store. Chicago police officers arrived and took her to the station where she saw the Brinks' bag she had given Bradford and counted the money. The bag contained $3,451. The cashier also testified that neither of the two men who approached her service desk threatened her nor did she notice that either one of them had any guns.

Another witness called by the State, one of the Jewel shoppers outside the store at the time of the incident, testified that she heard sounds like exploding firecrackers coming from between where she stood and the door to the Jewel store approximately 20 feet away. The shopper saw a security guard with a gun in front of her. She saw the two defendants fall to the ground, grabbed her small daughter, and hastened to the door of the Jewel store. The doors were locked and she stood with her daughter in the corner, facing the door, with her back to the disturbance. The shooting continued. A man unlocked the door, the shopper entered the store, and noticed that there was blood all over her daughter and herself. A bullet had lodged in her daughter's foot. At this time, the police had arrived and the defendants were lying on the ground. The shopper saw no guns other than a gun held by the security guard and did not know who had shot her daughter.

The State also called as a witness a second shopper who was in front of the Jewel food store at the time of the shooting. This second shopper heard approximately five shots but was unable to see who fired the shots or what exactly had occurred. After the shooting was over, the second shopper ran to the side of the store where she was unable to witness what was occurring in front of the store. She returned to the front of the store where she saw the security guard, one man on the ground, a number of bystanders and a Chicago police officer. She approached the police officer and told him that a bullet had grazed her arm.

Also called by the State to testify was the security guard who encountered the three men as they were leaving the Jewel food store. He indicated that he was in plain clothes in front of the store, locking the doors between 5 and 10 minutes before closing. He saw three men enter the store together. After helping a woman put her groceries into her car, he walked toward the exit doors of the store and saw the three men approaching the first of two exit doors at a rapid pace. One of the three, whom he identified as the defendant Bradford, had a camera bag over his left shoulder and was trying to insert a Brinks' bag into it. The same hand which he used to push the money into the camera bag also held a gun. Another of the three men, whom he identified as defendant Davis, was sticking a gun down into his trousers. The security guard removed his gun from its holster and when the three men were approximately 16 feet from him, he ordered them to drop their guns and the Brinks' bag. When Bradford lunged at the security guard with his gun, he shot Bradford. The security guard fired again at Davis when Davis reached for his inside trouser waistband. Davis fell to the ground. The third man escaped. During the shooting, both of defendants' guns fell to the ground. The security guard retrieved the guns and put them in his back pocket. He also retrieved the Brinks' bag which contained approximately $3,000.

During cross-examination, the security guard denied that he fired his gun five times. He also stated that he had no knowledge of having shot anybody other than the defendants. He testified that he fired his gun four times and hit each defendant twice. Although admitting he occasionally carried an extra gun, the security guard denied that he had an extra gun with him during the shooting.

Also called by the State was Officer Bukiri, who with his partner arrived at the scene less than 10 minutes after the shooting. When he arrived, Officer Bukiri saw Jewel's security guard holding a gun in his hand and a camera case over his arm. The officer observed two men who had been shot, defendant Bradford, who was handcuffed and standing against the wall, and defendant Davis, who was lying on the ground and whom Officer Bukiri handcuffed. The officer learned that the defendants were the two offenders in a robbery. The officer was told that there had been a third man who fled and the officer checked the immediate area. The security guard handed the officer two weapons which he took from his back pocket. Officer Bukiri took the clip out of the .45-caliber weapon that defendant Bradford had carried. It was loaded with six copper jacketed shells and one hollow point. The second weapon, Davis' .38 Savage, had no bullets. Officer Bukiri also examined the security guard's weapon and discovered that it contained four empty cartridges.

The only defendant to file a brief in this appeal is Jerome Bradford. Although defendant Davis has not filed a brief in this appeal, he did move in this court to adopt the brief of defendant Bradford as his own. We allowed the motion and will thus consider each of the contentions in appellant's brief on behalf of both defendants.

• 1, 2 Defendants first contend that they were not convicted of robbery or armed robbery beyond a reasonable doubt because the cashier testified that she was not threatened by either assailant and that she saw no guns. After reviewing the evidence we find no reasonable doubt of defendants' guilt. Section 18-1(a) of the Criminal Code defines robbery as follows:

"A person commits robbery when he takes property from the person or presence of another by the use of force or by threatening the imminent use of force." ...

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