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People v. Robinson

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 19, 1980.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

VIRGIL ROBINSON, A/K/A CODY ROBINSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES BAILEY, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE SULLIVAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After a jury trial, defendant was convicted of murder and given a sentence of 200 to 600 years. On appeal, he contends that his warrantless arrest made inside his home should have been quashed; that he was denied a fair trial by evidence that he attempted to escape from custody; and that he was prejudiced by comments made in the prosecution's rebuttal argument.

It appears that in September 1977, defendant and Renee Jones (his girl friend) were on trial for the armed robbery of Tyrone Taylor and, on September 21, after completion of the direct examination of Tyrone, the trial was adjourned until the next day. Later that day, Steven Taylor (stepfather of Tyrone) was shot at the door of his apartment and died later of the wounds. Then, on September 25, a warrantless arrest was made of defendant in his father's apartment.

Prior to trial, defendant moved to quash his arrest and suppress evidence derived therefrom. At the hearing on the motion, Renee Jones testified that on September 25, 1977, she and defendant were in bed in defendant's parents' apartment when two or three police officers knocked on the front door and identified themselves; that she heard defendant's sister let the officers in; that they searched the apartment and found a gun, after which defendant was placed under arrest. Defendant testified that it was his father who opened the door in response to the knocking of the police officers; that two officers entered — one of whom came into the bedroom and the other opened the back door to allow other policemen to enter; that an officer found a gun in the bedroom, and he was then arrested and transported to the police station where his finger and palm prints were taken. Officer Yucaitis testified that after receiving information that other police officers had stopped defendant's car on the evening of September 21 in the vicinity of the Taylor killing, he obtained defendant's rap sheet from which he learned that defendant previously used the name of "Cody"; that on the morning of September 25, he was told by Benny Liggins, the victim of a July 16 murder attempt, that the man who shot him was from the neighborhood; that he knew him only as "Cody"; and that he made a photographic identification of defendant as his assailant. After the Liggins interview, Yucaitis (along with three other officers) went to defendant's residence, where he and his partner went to the rear door and two other officers to the front door; that there was knocking at the front door, and he heard Officer Dignan say, "Police officers," following which there were sounds of the movement of people and furniture in the apartment and then he and his partner were admitted through the back door; that defendant's father said he was not there, but a small child pointed to the bedroom and said, "He's in there"; and that defendant was arrested after he was found hiding in the bedroom. The court denied the motion to quash and suppress.

The evidence at trial relevant to the issues raised was as follows. Rosalie Taylor, the wife of Steven and the mother of Tyrone, testified that on September 21, 1977, her husband answered the doorbell of their apartment and she then heard two or three shots — after which he said, "Call the police, I'm shot." Police officer Hodges testified that when he arrived at the scene of the shooting, Taylor (who was lying on the hallway floor) told him that he had opened the apartment door and was shot by a black male wearing a stocking over his face. There was additional testimony that a palm print taken from the door of the Taylor apartment was determined to be that of defendant; and that two .38-caliber bullets in the body of Taylor were the cause of his death.

Leroy White, a State's witness, essentially testified that on the evening of September 21 he and defendant were in the latter's car talking about his being on trial for the armed robbery of Tyrone Taylor; that defendant obtained a .38-caliber revolver from an acquaintance who was passing by; that he and defendant then drove to Renee Jones' home, where she gave defendant an address at 77th and Essex *fn1 and a pair of pantyhose; that at about 9 p.m. defendant's car was stopped by police in the vicinity of the Taylor residence, and they were told by the police to leave the area; that about an hour later they returned, and defendant took the pantyhose and revolver and went to the Taylor apartment; that he (White) heard two gunshots, following which defendant returned to the car; that defendant later told someone in White's presence that he had "taken care of the victim"; and that he (White) went to court on the following day with defendant for his pending trial and that, when he saw a man in the hallway, defendant said, "Damn, I must have made the wrong hit."

Police officer Thompson testified that he observed defendant's car on three occasions on the evening of September 21 in the vicinity of 77th and Essex and, eventually, stopped it at 8:55 that evening on 78th Street near Phillips Avenue (a short distance from 7737 Essex), and he identified defendant as the driver of the vehicle.

Officer Dignan testified that at approximately 9:30 a.m. on September 25, he and other officers went to defendant's residence; that after he knocked on the front door and announced his office, he heard talking and movements of people and furniture inside the apartment; that about five minutes later, defendant's father answered the door, whereupon he identified himself as a police officer and stated that defendant was wanted by the police; that defendant's father initially said nothing; but then said defendant was not there; that a young child standing next to defendant's father pointed to the bedroom and said that defendant was there; and that he and the other officers then found defendant in the bedroom and arrested him. Defendant was sentenced on October 25, 1977, and three deputy sheriffs gave testimony that later, on October 25 and again on November 19, 1977, defendant attempted escapes from custody.

Elvira Echols, the victim's daughter, testified for defendant that about 8:30 p.m. on the evening of the murder, a stranger came to the building where she and her parents lived looking for one Michael Evans and then left.

OPINION

Defendant first contends that the warrantless arrest in his home was illegal and therefore the palm print taken from him at the police station following the arrest should have been suppressed. He relies principally upon Payton v. New York (1980), 445 U.S. 573, 63 L.Ed.2d 639, 100 S.Ct. 1371, which holds that in the absence of exigent circumstances a warrantless and nonconsensual entry into a suspect's home to make an arrest is prohibited by the fourth amendment.

We initially note the retroactivity of Payton is not an issue here, as we believe that Payton did not alter the law in Illinois governing warrantless entries into homes for the purpose of making an arrest. In People v. Abney (1980), 81 Ill.2d 159, 407 N.E.2d 543, our supreme court determined the validity of the provisions of the Illinois arrest statute, which authorized entries to arrest when probable cause is present (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, pars. 107-2(c), 107-5(d)), in the light of Payton. The court reasoned:

"Although the opinions of this court which have upheld warrantless entries seem merely to echo the words of the statute, a close examination of the cases reveals that factors in addition to probable cause were present in each which rendered the police activity reasonable under the circumstances within the meaning of the constitutional provisions governing the arrest of persons [citations]. Although this court in [People v.] Johnson [(1970), 45 Ill.2d 283, 259 N.E.2d 57], [People v.] Sprovieri [(1969), 43 Ill.2d 223, 252 N.E.2d 531] and [People v.] Barbee [(1966), 35 Ill.2d 407, 220 N.E.2d 401] did not use the phrase `exigent circumstances' and even expressed some doubts about the exigent-circumstances requirement [citation], it appears that the principles of the exigent-circumstances rule were adopted in those cases and that the requirements of the rule, by virtue of constitutional restrictions, have been judicially engrafted upon the statute. The statute, as construed, is in compliance with the constitutional guidelines enunciated in Payton." (81 Ill.2d 159, 167-68, 407 N.E.2d 543, 547.)

In People v. Genus (1979), 74 Ill. App.3d 1002, 1013, 393 N.E.2d 1162, 1170, defendant argued that absent a warrant or exigent circumstances an officer may not enter a citizen's home for the purpose of making an arrest, and this court stated, "[D]efendant's argument and citation of authority, in our opinion, overlook consent to the officer's entry as an established exception to the warrant requirement of the fourth and fourteenth amendments." Reading Abney and Genus together, we are of the opinion that prior to Payton, in this jurisdiction, a warrantless entry into a citizen's home to make an arrest did not violate the fourth amendment if ...


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