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People v. Johnson





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ANTHONY SCOTILLO, Judge, presiding.


Defendant Gregory Johnson, having been convicted in a jury trial of murder and attempt armed robbery, was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 16 to 22 years and 4 to 8 years for those respective crimes. On appeal he contends: (1) a statement allegedly taken from him at his home was the product of custodial interrogation and should have been suppressed because he had not first been advised of his rights; (2) statements allegedly made by him while in custody after charges had been filed against him should have been suppressed because they were made without benefit of counsel; (3) defendant's guilt was not established beyond a reasonable doubt; (4) the trial judge abused his discretion in preventing defense counsel from using an exhibit at trial.

We affirm.

Prior to trial defendant made several motions to suppress a number of statements he had allegedly made. At the hearing on those motions the following pertinent evidence was adduced. Officer Lonnie Segroves testified that on August 9, 1975, at about 2 a.m. he and his partner, Philip Lane, were on patrol in a marked squad car in Chicago on 21st Street, just west of Leavitt Street. Two men ran west on 21st in front of the squad car, pursued by a group of people. Segroves identified defendant in court as one of the two men being pursued. Segroves and his partner drove west in pursuit, and Segroves then got out of the car and stopped one of the men. The defendant ran past, in front of the squad car to the corner of 21st and Oakley, where he stood for several seconds and then ran down a gangway. Segroves spoke to one of the pursuers, Mr. Chavira, in English and some broken Spanish. Chavira said "something like" he had just been hit by a bat. But he then got upset and nervous and told the officer to "forget it." Segroves released the man he was holding and the group of pursuers left. The officers drove east on 21st Street to Leavitt where they saw an ambulance and a squad car. A man was being placed on a stretcher and Segroves learned that he had been beaten or had been involved in a fight. Two police officers at the scene told Segroves that the two people who had perpetrated the attack had been chased by the group. Chavira also appeared at the scene and stated that Segroves had "let the ones go that had done this to the man." Segroves then went back to where he had caught the one man. One of a group of teenagers there told him that one of the two men was known as Greg and lived at 2329 West 21st Place.

The officers went to that address, arriving at about 2:50 a.m. At this time, according to Segroves, he believed defendant was involved in something but did not know what it was or if it was a crime. He also did not know who the actual eyewitnesses to the incident were. The defendant came to the door and the officers spoke with him on the front porch, telling him they were investigating an incident at 21st Street and Leavitt, and asking him why he was there. Defendant told them that he and his friend, Ricardo Amora, had been chased by a group of "Mexicans" for unknown reasons. At some point during this conversation defendant's mother also came to the porch. Segroves asked defendant if he would come to the hospital. Segroves denied having told defendant to come along and also denied that he had placed defendant under arrest at this time. Defendant's mother asked if she could accompany the defendant and the officers assented. The four then drove to Amora's home and he accompanied them to the hospital. Segroves testified that Amora was the same person he had stopped on the street. At the hospital defendant and Amora remained in the squad car for about 15 to 30 minutes. According to Segroves they were not yet under arrest and could have left had they wished to do so. Chavira and some other people came to the car and identified Amora in connection with the battery. Segroves then informed the two men that they were under arrest and they were taken to police headquarters.

Defendant testified at the hearing that the police came to his home without a warrant and immediately ordered him into their car, informing him that he was under arrest. He had been sleeping and had not committed any crime in their presence. He denied making any statement to them at that time. He did not mention Amora's name but the police, who had not told him why he was under arrest, told him they were going to Amora's house. From there he and Amora were transported to the hospital where some people identified Amora. Defendant stated that he was not handcuffed during this time.

Investigator William Baldree testified that on August 13, 1975, he went to Branch Court 43 and informed Assistant State's Attorney Parkerson that the victim had died. Parkerson requested the transfer of the case to Branch 66. Defendant was present and was advised by the judge to speak to a lawyer before he spoke to anyone else. The judge also told him that if he could not afford private counsel he should request the public defender. According to the transcript of the proceedings at this hearing, which was stipulated to at the hearing, the State also requested leave to file an additional charge of murder against the defendant and leave to do so was granted. The murder charge was filed on that date, but the record is silent as to the exact time at which it was filed.

According to Baldree defendant was interviewed in the lock-up next to the courtroom by Baldree and Parkerson. Parkerson first advised defendant of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602. After each right was told to him defendant nodded and stated yes. (At trial Parkerson also testified that defendant then gave permission for a statement to be taken.) Defendant did not ask to speak to an attorney. He did give a statement.

On August 16 Baldree again spoke with the defendant. He did not advise the defendant of his rights. The defendant at that time made another statement.

Defendant's testimony as to the lock-up statements was also elicited at the hearing. On the morning of his arrest he cut his wrist and was taken to the hospital. On August 13 he was taken to court, where he appeared before a judge. The judge advised him to remain silent, to get a public defender, and to talk to a lawyer before talking to anyone else. He was then taken to the lock-up where several men questioned him without advising him of his rights. He repeatedly asked to see his lawyer, Mr. Stearney (trial counsel), who had represented him before, but he was told he could talk to him later. Defendant denied giving the men a statement.

At the conclusion of the hearing the trial court suppressed the statement of August 16 but denied defendant's request that the statements of August 9 and August 13 be suppressed.

At trial Officer Segroves again testified to having observed two men run in front of the squad car at about 2 a.m., with a group of people running behind them. He described one of them as "Mexican," with dark pants and a white undershirt. The other, identified by Segroves in court as the defendant, wore dark pants and what Segroves described variously as a light-colored shirt, a short-sleeved colored shirt, and a t-shirt. Segroves caught the "Mexican" after the man had discarded a baseball bat, but the defendant ran in front of the police car and kept going. As Segroves held the one man, the group running behind approached. Segroves spoke to Chavira, whom he understood to say that he had been struck with a bat. Chavira then told the officers to "forget it," and the man was released. The officers resumed their patrol but then saw a fire department ambulance which they followed to 2014 South Leavitt. There they learned that an offense had been committed and saw the victim being placed into an ambulance. They returned to where they had stopped the runner and learned from one of several teenagers there that the man who had gotten away was named Greg and lived at 2329 West 21st Place. At that location a woman answered the door and told them upon inquiry that she had a son named Greg. When they asked to speak to him she brought to the door a man Segroves identified as the defendant and as the man whom they had seen being chased earlier that evening. Defendant was asked what had happened at that time. He responded that he and a friend were chased by a group of "Mexicans," for no apparent reason. He identified this friend as Ricardo Amora and gave his address. Defendant agreed to come with the officers and they proceeded to Amora's house and then went on with Amora to the hospital. Segroves testified that Amora was the same person he had detained on the street. At the hospital some of the people that had been chasing the two identified Amora. He and the defendant were then arrested. The officers drove back to where Amora had discarded a bat and recovered two bats.

Segroves' partner also testified at trial, substantially corroborating his account of the evening.

Assistant State's Attorney Frank Parkerson testified about the statements obtained from the defendant on August 13, 1975. Defendant related, in essentially narrative form, several exculpatory accounts of what happened on August 9, 1975. He first stated that he was standing on the corner of 21st and Oakley when two men came down the street and each threw a baseball bat at him. He picked up one bat and threw it back. He then heard several shots fired, but denied participating in or observing any fight. Defendant then changed his account, stating that it was one man, who looked exactly like defendant, who threw the bat at him. Defendant also stated that he was with Amora at the time. Defendant had had only one beer but Amora was "kind of messed up on alcohol." When Parkerson informed defendant that police officers had seen him fleeing the scene he gave a third account, stating that he and Amora had a conversation concerning "jack-rolling." Amora and the man who resembled defendant chased two other people. The man resembling defendant hit a man with a bat and demanded his money. Defendant fled. In a fourth account defendant gave the location as 21st and Leavitt and did not indicate ...

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