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People v. Rashid





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


Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He was sentenced to a prison term of 50 to 150 years. On appeal defendant contends that: (1) the prosecutor's inquiry of a witness as to the commission of other crimes by defendant was so prejudicial that it deprived him of a fair trial; (2) the trial court erred by giving a deadlock instruction to the jury; and (3) the conspiracy conviction is erroneous. We affirm in part and reverse in part. The following facts were adduced at trial.

In February of 1974, Paul Bivens, the victim, and Georgia Lee Bivens were living apart as a result of marital problems. Paul Bivens was living in the office of his plumbing and sewer business on Lawndale Avenue. On February 2, 1974, Mrs. Bivens and her two sons, Richard and Clark Puckett (children of a prior marriage), went to the apartment of Richard T. Covelli at 3210 1/2 Sunnyside Avenue, where he lived with Linda Dworak and her two children. Mrs. Bivens had been drinking that day and while at the apartment remarked that she would pay someone to kill her husband, Paul. Covelli responded, "I'm your man." Following further discussion, Mrs. Bivens and Covelli agreed upon a price of $300 plus "a $200 bonus if the job was done right."

Later that afternoon, defendant Richard Rashid, also known as "Rabbi," arrived at the apartment, whereupon Covelli announced that they were partners. Defendant stated that he would need $50 in advance for the purchase of a gun. Mrs. Bivens gave him $50 and stated that would "come off the top of the $500." She and her sons then went to her apartment to obtain a photograph of the victim. Thereafter, they proceeded to the "F and Z" tavern where they met Covelli, Linda Dworak, and defendant.

While at the tavern, Richard Puckett gave the photograph to Covelli, who remarked, "I will have to live with this face for a long time." Covelli gave the photograph to defendant, who also examined it. Richard then gave Covelli a key to the victim's office and upon Covelli's request, he drew a diagram of the interior of the office. After examining the diagram, Covelli gave it to defendant who stated, "He can thank God he has got another 24 hours to live." Covelli then remarked that they would make the office appear as though it had been burglarized and then kill Paul Bivens.

On the afternoon of February 25, the same group of people met at Covelli's apartment. During that meeting Covelli sawed off the barrel of his .410 gauge shotgun and defendant, who was accompanied by his girlfriend Shiela Howard, cleaned a .44-caliber handgun and bullets he brought with him. As he cleaned the gun and bullets he stated that it would get the job done.

Shortly thereafter, Covelli and defendant left the apartment with their guns. The others left and went to the Bug Eye Tavern, arriving at about 8:30 or 9 p.m. While at the tavern, Mrs. Bivens received a telephone call after which she stated that Covelli and defendant were waiting in the victim's office. After receiving a second phone call she stated that it was defendant and that the job was done. After receiving a third phone call, she shouted, "Oh, my God, Paul's been shot." She then gave Richard $450 and proceeded to the hospital with her son Clark.

When Covelli later arrived at the tavern, Richard gave him $450 and they all went to Covelli's apartment. While en route, Covelli and defendant described the shooting of the victim. Covelli stated that he shot the victim as he entered the office; he spun in the doorway and fell onto the sidewalk. Covelli then ran out past him and into an alley. Defendant stated that he walked from behind the counter where he was standing and went outside where the victim lay, straddled him and shot him several times. Each time the victim was shot, "he squealed like a stuck pig and bounced." Defendant then told Richard to destroy the guns which he had thrown on top of a garage around the corner from the victim's office. On the following day, February 26, Richard and Clark retrieved the guns and put them in a suitcase in the basement of Mrs. Bivens' apartment.

On February 25 at approximately midnight, Mrs. Ethel Stermer was in the kitchen of her apartment which was directly opposite the victim's office. Upon hearing a "terrific noise," she looked out of the window and observed the door to the victim's office partially opened with a light on inside. A man was standing in front of the door firing a gun towards the sidewalk. However, she could not see his face nor could she see the sidewalk due to the parked cars. As she telephoned the police, she observed the man as he ran down the street and into an alley.

Within minutes Officer Dorner and his partner responded to the radio call and upon arriving at the scene found the victim lying on the sidewalk. The door to the office was opened; however, there were no signs of forced entry. The office appeared to have been ransacked. Approximately two feet inside the office a .22-caliber pistol was found lying on the floor. Eleven .410-gauge shotgun shells and twenty-four .22-caliber bullets were also recovered from the pockets of a suede jacket. Prior to being transported to the hospital, the victim told Dorner that he had been shot by two fellows who ran down the alley. On or about February 28, the victim died.

In the early morning hours of March 2, Edward Puckett, the father of Richard and Clark Puckett, arrived in Chicago to attend the funeral services of the victim. He proceeded to the victim's office where he met Richard, who gave him a .44-caliber handgun and described a crime. The gun was subsequently turned over to the police as was the .410-gauge shotgun hidden in the basement of Mrs. Bivens' apartment.

Thereafter, Mrs. Bivens and Covelli were arrested by Investigator James Griffin. On March 4, Griffin, Clark Puckett, Rickey Landrum, and other investigators went to a building at 1259 Sunnyside in an attempt to arrest defendant. Landrum entered the building to find defendant and when he came out, he was bleeding from the mouth and some of his teeth had been knocked out.

On February 26, 1975, defendant was arrested by an FBI agent at the Admiral Oasis Hotel in Morton Grove. At that time, defendant emerged from a room registered to Abed Bader. He also carried a driver's license and social security card bearing that name.

Based upon an autopsy of the victim's body performed by the Cook County Medical Examiner, it was determined that the cause of death was a bullet wound to the pelvic bone and penetration of the intestine. Five bullets had entered the victim's body, none of which appeared to have been inflicted by a shotgun.

During the redirect examination of Richard Puckett regarding Rickey Landrum's involvement in the apprehension of defendant, the following colloquy occurred:

"Prosecutor: By the way, this individual, Rickey Landrum, did he try to help the police in trying to locate this individual Rabbi, to your knowledge?

Defense Attorney: Objection.

The Court: Sustained.

Prosecutor: Q. By the way, Is Rickey Landrum today ...

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