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People v. Jackson





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD L. SAMUELS, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Jerome Jackson, was charged by indictment with armed robbery. He was tried by a jury, found guilty, and sentenced to 5 to 15 years in the Department of Corrections. On appeal the defendant argues that (1) the State failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) he was denied a fair trial in that the State was permitted to impeach his testimony with a prior misdemeanor theft conviction; (3) the court committed reversible error in refusing to allow him to cross-examine a witness regarding a prior inconsistent statement; (4) his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel was violated in that defense counsel failed to conduct an appropriate investigation of his defense, failed to object to evidence of an unrelated offense committed by a co-indictee, and failed to object when the State misstated the law to the jury during closing argument; and (5) the sentence of 5 to 15 years should be reduced.

At trial, Rose Cain testified that on June 8, 1976, she was employed as manager and sales clerk at Tri-American Oil Company in Markham, which is a gas station and convenience store. At about 9 p.m., as the station was about to close, two black males robbed the station. One man had a gun. The attendant and two customers were told to lie on the floor in the back and the manager was directed to empty all the cash from the register into a paper bag and to give the robbers lottery tickets. One man collected the wallets of the persons in the store and placed them in Cain's purse. The robbers left with about $450 in bills, rolled coin, and loose coin, cigarettes, a bottle of wine and receipts in a brown manila envelope. Cain identified a manila envelope containing receipts, a register tape, and a shift inventory as items taken during the armed robbery.

A few minutes after the robbers had left the manager reported the robbery to the Markham police. She described the robbers as two black males in their early 20's, one wearing a pin stripe suit and one wearing a hat. She told the police that the gas station attendant described the car as a dark green Oldsmobile.

Clarence Simmons, a police officer for the City of Markham, testified that at 9 p.m., on June 8, 1976, he received a radio message of an armed robbery at Tri-American Oil Company. At the time he heard the radio message Officer Simmons was approximately 175 to 200 feet away from the gas station. He observed two black males entering a dark green car parked behind the gas station. After entering the car, the occupants drove away from the station. Simmons followed the car.

Officer Simmons was driving alone in an unmarked vehicle. He observed three people in the car. The defendant was driving. Simmons observed that all three occupants of the car took turns sipping from a bottle of wine. At one point, Officer Simmons pulled adjacent to the vehicle and the defendant and officer exchanged black power signals. The officer also saw the defendant kiss an amount of currency and then make gestures to the other passengers which Simmons described as "an indication of exchanging five."

As the vehicles approached 80th Street on the Dan Ryan Expressway, the officer attempted to curb the other vehicle. He placed a magnetic red light on top of his car and hit a switch that alternated his headlights. The car which the defendant was driving made an exact right hand turn and went across three lanes of traffic in an attempt to make the 79th Street exit. The car crashed into a light post and three persons exited the vehicle and proceeded up the ramp on foot.

After curbing his car, Officer Simmons announced that he was a police officer. Danny Creer, one of the defendant's companions, then turned and fired three shots from an automatic handgun. Officer Simmons was unable to return the fire because there were spectators along the ramp.

With the help of two off-duty Chicago Policemen Officer Simmons arrested the defendant. The officer had chased the defendant for 1 1/2 blocks before he caught him. Officer Simmons testified that he found $433 in United States currency and receipts from Tri-American Oil Company on the defendant's person. Recovered from the green Oldsmobile were a brown manila envelope, charge receipts, $37.30 in coins, and a bottle of wine.

A statement the defendant gave to Officer Simmons at the Markham police station was read into the record. In this statement the defendant stated that he was a passenger in Nelson Langdon's car because Langdon had taken the defendant to see a friend. Danny Creer, a friend of Langdon's, was also a passenger. Langdon drove to the gas station to buy cigarettes and Langdon and Creer went inside. When they came out they ran back to the car and the defendant saw that Creer was carrying a gun and money bags. Langdon drove the car away from the station. The defendant began driving after the car reached the expressway and his companion told him to do so. After the officer told them to stop, Langdon grabbed the wheel causing the car to crash into a pole near the 79th Street exit.

Officer Simmons testified that at no time did the occupants of the car exchange drivers. He also testified that he did not see Langdon grab the steering wheel from the defendant.

The defendant was called as a witness on his own behalf. He stated that at the time of the robbery he was working for Amtrak and had worked there for approximately two years. On the day of the robbery, the defendant met Langdon and Creer at Langdon's house so that Langdon could drive the defendant to his aunt's house to discuss the purchase of a car. The aunt's house was in the vicinity of the gas station.

After visiting the aunt's home, at approximately 9 p.m., Langdon drove to the gas station. Langdon and Creer went in to buy cigarettes. The defendant testified that he remained in the car sitting on the passenger's side wondering what was taking his companions so long to buy cigarettes. As the defendant got out of the car, he saw Langdon and Creer running toward him. Creer was carrying a gun and Langdon had money bags and some envelopes. The defendant testified that contrary to what Officer Simmons had stated, Langdon got behind the steering wheel and Creer got into the back seat.

The defendant testified that when they reached the expressway he was told to drive because Langdon was driving recklessly. When he refused, Creer pointed a gun at the defendant and insisted he drive. The defendant got behind the wheel and started to drive. He denied that he kissed money or gave a clenched fist sign. He testified that he drank nothing.

As they approached the 79th Street exit the Chicago police came behind them and told them to pull over. Langdon grabbed the steering wheel and they hit a lamp post on the ramp. They jumped out of the car. Langdon and Creer ran but Jackson did not. A fireman and a Chicago police officer on a motorcycle told the defendant to lie down. They searched him and he said he had done nothing. Thereafter, Officer Simmons arrived, showed his badge, and said he wanted to take Jackson back to Harvey.

The defendant testified that in the statement he gave at the Markham police station he did not mention that Creer had threatened him with a gun because he felt that Creer was in enough trouble.

The defendant testified that on May 26, 1976, he made a $500 withdrawal from his credit union. The purpose of the withdrawal was to purchase a car. To support this contention, the defendant attempted to introduce a copy of the record of his account at the credit union. The People objected to any further use of the exhibit because it had not been disclosed pursuant to discovery, and because its admission would violate the best evidence rule. The court subsequently conducted a hearing on the exhibit outside the presence of the jury.

The State withdrew its objections and put the defense on notice that it would argue to the jury that the credit union record was a forgery. It would base its argument upon the similarity of the handwritten name of Jackson on the card, and the admitted signature of Jackson on his bail bond slip.

The defendant testified that he had lost his passbook and never obtained a replacement. The credit union had the original document. He testified that neither he nor his attorney had attempted to subpoena the original record. He denied that he had obtained someone else's ...

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