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People v. Perry






CHARGES: Armed robbery, home invasion, burglary, and felony theft.

JURY: Guilty.

JUDGE: 20 years, concurrent.


A jury trial resulted in defendant's convictions for three counts of armed robbery, one count each of home invasion, burglary, and felony theft. He was sentenced to 20 years for each armed robbery charge, 20 years for home invasion, 7 years for burglary, and 5 years for the theft — all to run concurrently. He raises eight issues on appeal.

But first, a brief review of the facts.

The incident in question occurred in the early morning hours of December 18, 1978, at a residence at 216 South Coolidge in Normal, Illinois. Three of the five occupants were in the home asleep at 1:20 a.m. when the doorbell rang. One of the residents, Ronald Sobkoviak, answered the call and encountered a thin black man, who asked for "Dan."

Daniel Flick was summoned, at which time the black man and several others forcibly entered the dwelling. In the next 15 to 20 minutes, the residents were threatened, beaten, cut, held at gunpoint, and robbed. Due to the lighting conditions, the residents were unable to identify the perpetrators but they were able to tell that one wore an Army fatigue jacket and that three different types of shoes were worn: blue tennis shoes with white stripes, hiking boots, and black dress shoes. A number of items which were taken by the intruders were identified at trial, including a Pioneer stereo amplifier and an Illinois State University class ring bearing the inscription "Greg Burmeister."

Martin Belz, the next-door neighbor of the victims, upon hearing of the event, informed police that he had seen a black over light yellow Buick equipped with amber colored lenses over the brights, and an object hanging from the rearview mirror. The automobile was outside his residence at the time of the offense.

This vehicle was spotted by an Illinois State University police officer at 4:24 p.m. outside the Watterson Towers dormitory. The officer observed four men loading items into the auto. As the auto left, it was stopped by ISU and Normal police officers. The defendant was the driver of the auto and the Pioneer stereo amplifier was seen on the front seat. After defendant consented, the officers searched his dorm room and found the class ring. They also recovered an Army fatigue jacket and a pair of blue tennis shoes with white stripes. At trial, defendant stated that he had spent the entire evening in question with his girl-friend, Pamela Pharms, in her dorm room. He stated that he purchased the amplifier and ring from a man named "Bob" in a parking lot for $60. He borrowed the automobile from a friend to use while moving between dormitories.


The defendant initially submits that in light of the fact that all of the evidence of guilt was circumstantial and the fact that there existed unrefuted alibi evidence, he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendant cites a number of cases wherein the appellate court has reversed convictions due to failure to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Moore (1973), 12 Ill. App.3d 78, 298 N.E.2d 202; People v. Claudio (1971), 3 Ill. App.3d 309, 279 N.E.2d 39; People v. Adams (1969), 115 Ill. App.2d 360, 253 N.E.2d 23.

We are not persuaded.

To support a conviction upon circumstantial evidence, it is only necessary that the proof of circumstances be of such a conclusive nature and tendency as to lead, on the whole, to a satisfactory conclusion and to produce a reasonable and moral certainty that the accused, and no one else, committed the crime. (People v. Marino (1970), 44 Ill.2d 562, 256 N.E.2d 770.) It is essential that the facts proved be not only consistent with defendant's guilt but also inconsistent with any reasonable hypothesis of innocence. The State is not, however, required to establish guilt beyond the possibility of a doubt. People v. Branion (1970), 47 Ill.2d 70, 77, 265 N.E.2d 1, 5, cert. denied (1971), 403 U.S. 907, 29 L.Ed.2d 683, 91 S.Ct. 2213.

In the instant case, the defendant was the operator of an automobile which matched the description of the one at the scene. He possessed blue tennis shoes with white stripes and a green Army fatigue jacket — both no different from those worn by the perpetrators. Finally — the most incriminating circumstance — he was in possession of the spoils of the offense. Recent, exclusive, and unexplained possession of stolen items may give rise to an inference of burglary and armed robbery, and is sufficient to sustain the conviction unless overcome by facts or circumstances which create a reasonable doubt. People v. Franceschini (1960), 20 Ill.2d 126, 169 N.E.2d 244; People v. Bullock (1977), 51 Ill. App.3d 149, 366 N.E.2d 475.

• 1 Defendant strenuously points to the unrefuted alibi evidence. As noted above, defendant testified that he spent the entire evening with Pamela Pharms. Pharms corroborated this statement and another resident of the floor, Tina Holmes, stated that she saw the defendant on the dorm floor on the night in question. The State offered no evidence to refute this testimony. The jury was not, however, required to believe the alibi evidence, even though it was unrefuted. People v. Grice (1978), 60 Ill. App.3d 7, 376 N.E.2d 283.

We further note that there were sufficient questions raised so as to discredit the corroboration of defendant's alibi. Holmes stated that she saw defendant between 7 p.m. and 12 p.m. on the night of December 17, 1978. She stated that she did not see defendant enter Pharms' room and that she would not have known if defendant had left the floor. Since the instant offense was committed sometime after 1 a.m., the testimony of Holmes was of little probative value.

The credibility of Pharms was also questioned. Pharms stated that she did not know whether she loved defendant or whether she hoped to marry him. The prosecution then introduced a copy of a letter Pharms had written in 1978 stating that she loved defendant and hoped to marry him. Clearly she was not a disinterested witness.

• 2 Under the facts and circumstances of this case, the jury could have properly determined that defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and we will not ...

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