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People v. Dates





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. GARLAND W. WATT, Judge, presiding.


Following a jury trial, defendant Larry Dates was convicted of robbery and murder of Anthony Mason, and the attempt murder and aggravated battery of Nicholas Barnes. The trial court sentenced defendant to terms of 6 to 20 years for the robbery, 3 years and 4 months to 10 years for the aggravated battery, 25 to 50 years for the attempt murder, and 50 to 150 years for the murder, all sentences to run concurrently. From these judgments of conviction, defendant brings this appeal.

Defendant has raised the following issues:

(1) Whether there was sufficient evidence to prove defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the robbery of Anthony Mason;

(2) Whether the State presented evidence which makes it improbable that defendant committed a robbery so that defendant was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt;

(3) Whether the State proved that defendant was guilty of the murder of Anthony Mason;

(4) Whether the court committed reversible error in refusing the tendered instruction on the defensive use of force by an initial aggressor;

(5) Whether the court erred in sentencing defendant and if such sentences are excessive.

For the reasons hereinafter stated, we affirm.

At trial the following pertinent testimony was adduced. Nicholas Barnes testified that on November 23, 1976, he was working with Anthony Mason at the Clark gas station at 2310 E. 79th Street in Chicago. At approximately 9 p.m., he and Mason were in the station, and defendant and another man, Charles Simpson, came in. Defendant requested change for a $50 bill, and in asking for the change, took off his shoe, and reached into his sock and pulled out the bill. Barnes told defendant that he could not give him change. Defendant requested change again, and Barnes refused again. Barnes testified that he had seen defendant about five times previously at the station and at his high school. He was not a friend of defendant.

Barnes went outside to service some cars that had arrived in the lot, and Mason, Simpson, and defendant remained in the station. The outside wall of the station consisted of floor-to-ceiling, see-through glass and Barnes observed that Mason was sitting at the desk in the station and that defendant and Simpson were standing up. Barnes saw defendant walk behind Mason into the back room of the station, where money, oil, and cigarettes were stored. Simpson was standing alongside Mason with his left hand in his pocket at this time. The back room was not open to the public.

Defendant returned from the back room after about 15 seconds with both hands in his pockets. Barnes observed that defendant stood next to Mason, who was still sitting at the desk. Defendant, with one hand in the pocket of his coat, took some money out of Mason's right hand, which was raised about head-high. Barnes had finished servicing the cars, and he then walked back towards the station and saw defendant and Simpson run out the front door towards 79th Street. Defendant turned towards Barnes as he was running away and said, "[Y]ou better watch out or you're going to get robbed one day." Defendant and Simpson then ran east on 79th Street.

As Barnes opened the front door of the station, Mason yelled out, "I've just been robbed, call the police." Mason appeared excited and in a state of shock. Barnes called the police, who subsequently arrived. After calling the police, Barnes went into the back room and observed that the sum of $40, consisting of rolls of quarters and dimes, was gone. Barnes had placed the money there earlier in the evening.

Barnes testified that defendant was about 5 feet, 9 inches tall, weighed 130 pounds, had brown eyes, black hair, and a medium brown complexion. On the night of the robbery, defendant had been wearing a brown "middy length" leather coat with green pants and green shoes.

On the following day, November 24, 1976, Barnes and Mason were again working at the station. At approximately 8 p.m., while Barnes was in the back room counting money, Charles Simpson entered the station and began using a telephone. After seeing Simpson, Barnes went outside to get Mason. ...

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