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People v. Jackson





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. THOMAS R. FITZGERALD, Judge, presiding.


After a jury trial, Vernon Jackson (defendant) was found guilty of armed robbery and armed violence. He was sentenced to eight years. He appeals.

In this court defendant contends closing argument by the prosecutor was unduly prejudicial; defendant did not receive effective assistance of counsel during trial; the trial judge failed to appoint other counsel for defendant at the sentencing hearing and the trial court should have conducted a hearing on incompetence of defense counsel.

Defendant raises no issue on the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his conviction beyond reasonable doubt. However, we will summarize the facts.

John Harris, the complainant, 63 years old and a retired janitor, entered the vestibule of his apartment building about 8:45 p.m. on December 29, 1979. He was returning from a neighborhood liquor store where he had purchased a 6-pack of Budweiser beer in 16 ounce cans and a pint of Old Taylor whiskey. He was carrying these items in a paper bag. The ceiling light in the vestibule was on. As he was about to open the inner door, a man (later identified as Henry Lockhart, not a party to this appeal) pushed him up against the mail boxes and put a knife to his throat. Harris later described this man to the police as 5 feet 9 inches tall, stout, weight about 180 pounds, 30 to 35 years old, wearing a green knitted cap, dark trousers and coat.

A second man approached, searched Harris and took his wallet with three or four single dollar bills and a cigarette lighter. This second man, identified in court by Harris as the defendant, was described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, about 38 years old, weight 130 pounds. Harris had these men in view for three or four minutes. The men seized the bag he had been carrying and ran out to a parked car.

Harris followed. Outside he saw a neighbor named Mark. They watched the car drive south to 48th Street and then west. Harris and Mark ran through the alley and saw the automobile again. They noted the license number. Harris ran home and called the police. They arrived in four or five minutes. Harris gave them the license number. He entered the police car, and they drove about for a short time.

They noticed the other car parked in an A & P lot. The police took the occupants of this car into custody. Harris identified the two men. There was also a woman in the car whom he did not know. A police officer identified the defendants in court. The license number of this car was DS 5490, the number previously supplied to the police. In the car the police found six cans of Budweiser beer, each 16 ounces, of which four were intact and two were open and empty. A knife found between the two front seats of the car was identified in court by Harris as the knife held against his throat. Defendant was found in possession of three $1 bills which were inventoried by the police.

In our opinion, this uncontradicted evidence is sufficient to prove the defendant guilty as charged beyond any reasonable doubt. We will consider the contentions of the defendant in order.


In final argument the prosecutor told the jury, "Now we know what happened to the whiskey. * * * They had been drinking the beer. The whiskey was gone. The wallet was ditched, we know that. There's no money in there. We don't keep a man's identification."

The prosecutor also said to the jury that the woman found in the car at the time of the arrest, "was in the car waiting while her two friends went in and did this armed robbery." The prosecutor also said the defendant "had the same dollar bills."

• 1 We find no reversible error in any or all of these statements. Defendant's counsel in effect invited these arguments by the prosecution. Defense counsel brought out on cross-examination and in his final argument that the whiskey and the wallet were described as missing but they were not in the defendant's possession when he was arrested. Defense counsel also mentioned the woman in his closing argument. This had the tendency of raising the inference that the defendants were not the people who committed the robbery but were simply innocent persons sitting in a car together. In situations where defense counsel has invited statements by the prosecutor, the defense ...

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