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People v. Mcnair





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. LOUIS B. GARIPPO, Judge, presiding.


After a jury trial, Sharon McNair (defendant) was found guilty of conspiracy to commit escape (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 8-2) and also of aiding prisoners to escape (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 31-7(b)). She was sentenced to seven years. She appeals.

Our examination of the entire record had convinced us the proof of guilt is sufficient beyond any reasonable doubt, and actually overwhelming. The record shows:

Michael McNair and Bobby Lewis were indicted during 1974 for burglary, several rapes, armed robbery, armed violence, unlawful restraint, and unlawful use of weapons resulting from a home invasion. Bond for Michael McNair was fixed at $250,000 and for Bobby Lewis at $100,000. The cases were pending in the courtroom of Honorable Albert S. Porter, judge of the circuit court. The cases were called on a number of occasions. Defendant was present in court at each of these times. Judge Porter never held any hearing on a motion to reduce these bonds and never entered any order for reduction. During March of 1975 a deputy clerk in Judge Porter's courtroom noticed more than 25 bond reduction slips, referred to as "Form 199," were missing. He reported this to his supervisor.

On March 19, 1975, Eddie Hoskins, a deputy clerk of the circuit court, tendered a number of these bond reduction forms to the supervisor of the Cook County Department of Corrections. These various documents showed bond for Michael McNair reduced from $250,000 to $1500 and bond for Bobby Lewis reduced from $100,000 to $1000. The cases of these men had been called in open court that day and continued by agreement. The two men read and signed their bonds. They left the jail in company of the defendant.

The evidence showed all of the documents upon which the release of these men was predicated were spurious. None of these documents had been prepared by Judge Porter or by his clerk. A white woman had ordered the rubber stamp of Judge Porter's signature during January of 1975 from Utility Stationery store. The police found on a dresser in the apartment occupied by defendant, Michael McNair and Bobby Lewis, copies of the bonds actually signed by the two men upon which their releases were obtained, originals of the spurious bond reduction slips, the false rubber stamps, and a Utility Stationery paper bag. A different colored ink from the one used by Judge Porter appeared on these documents.

Expert testimony identified the various documents found on these premises. The expert established the documents did not contain imprints by Judge Porter's stamp but did contain the imprint of the stamps found on the dresser. The handwriting on the Form 199 bond reduction slips was not that of the Judge's regular clerk or of the clerk who worked in Judge Porter's courtroom on the date of the release of the prisoners.

Defendant had been present every time the case against McNair and Lewis had been called, even including days upon which they did not appear. She had visited them in jail. Defendant and Michael McNair were married several days after his release. The apartment in which these items were found, number 2A at 6230 North Hoyne Avenue, had been rented by the defendant. The bonds for release of the prisoners had been posted by a woman who had listed a telephone number thereon. This number was traced to the same apartment rented by defendant under the name Sharon Marshall and occupied by her, her husband and Lewis.

Additional portions of the testimony will be described in detail as required.

The State contends preliminarily defendant failed to file a written motion for new trial (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 116-1(b)) so that most, or all, of the contentions raised in defendant's brief have been waived. People v. Adkisson (1980), 83 Ill.2d 1, 7, 413 N.E.2d 1238.

• 1 The record shows counsel for defendant made an oral motion for new trial. The prosecutor made no specific objection to the use of the oral motion but merely told the court that the State rested on responses made during trial. Since the State failed to object specifically to the oral motion and failed to request that the grounds for new trial be specified in writing, we find no waiver as a result of defendant's oral motion. People v. Boyd (1980), 88 Ill. App.3d 825, 852, 410 N.E.2d 931, appeal denied (1981), 82 Ill.2d 586.


The defendant filed a written motion to quash her arrest and to suppress evidence taken by the police from her apartment. Defendant testified simply that on April 2, 1975, at 4:30 a.m. the police entered her apartment without a warrant and placed her under arrest. The State introduced evidence showing that, commencing March 24, 1975, the police were investigating the homicide of a person named Roger Hickman. On that date police found Hickman's body in a room at the Tropicana Motel. The deceased had been a witness for the State in still another homicide case. The body of the deceased had been dismembered. The police were informed that the room where the remains were found had been rented the previous evening by a white female generally described in a manner approximating the defendant. In addition, a resident of the motel had seen two black men leaving the room with a white woman. The general descriptions of these two men were close to Bobby Lewis and Michael McNair.

The police received anonymous information that the woman who had rented the motel room was married to a black person who had recently left the county jail. The name of "Ruby Black" was given to the police in this connection. The informant also told the police a person known as "Ruby Black" might be living in the approximate area of the Hoyne Avenue apartment rented by defendant.

The police were then advised Michael McNair had been released on forged bond slips and on bail furnished by a young white female; Michael McNair had a girlfriend named Sharon and his street name was "Black Ruby." A telephone number had been written on the spurious release documents. Further investigation from this disclosure led the police to the apartment on Hoyne Avenue. The police also found a similarity of handwriting between the registration card used for the room at the Tropicana Motel and the lease application for the Hoyne Avenue apartment. The police ascertained a young white woman had rented the apartment. She resembled a composite sketch of the woman who had rented the motel room.

On April 1, 1975, about 10:30 p.m. the Hoyne Avenue apartment was placed under surveillance. The police had arrest warrants for Michael McNair and Bobby Lewis. At 1 a.m. a white female and a black male entered the building. The man conformed to the general description of one of the men who had left the Tropicana Motel with the young woman. The lights in apartment 2A of the building went on. About 3 a.m. the same man left the building. It was Bobby Lewis. He was placed under arrest. The police obtained a key to the apartment from Bobby Lewis. They simultaneously called the apartment to announce their office and impending entry and made entry with the key. Defendant was found standing in the living room there. At her feet police found a gun, assorted cartridges "and a quantity of narcotics." Defendant was arrested. A police officer testified that as soon as he entered the apartment he saw defendant was wearing wire-rimmed glasses which conformed to the description of the young lady who had rented the Tropicana room and she resembled a composite sketch of that same person.

At the same time, the police observed a dresser in the bedroom. On top of the dresser, or in an open drawer, they saw in plain view a bond receipt, two No. 199 bond reduction forms, a paper bag of the Utility Stationery store, a stamp pad, rubber stamps bearing the names of Judge Porter and his clerk and a date stamp. These were the articles later introduced in evidence and above described. Defendant was then arrested. On April 2, 1975, the police officers were furnished with a search warrant in this regard and they then took possession of the items in question. The police remained in the apartment until they had obtained these documents and for some time thereafter. This was because of an unusual snow storm which made traveling difficult. The trial judge denied the motion to quash the arrest and suppress the evidence.

• 2, 3 Probable cause or reasonable grounds to arrest depend upon whether "`the facts and circumstances within the arresting officer's knowledge are sufficient to warrant a man of reasonable caution in believing that an offense has been committed and that the person arrested has committed the offense.'" (People v. Creach (1980), 79 Ill.2d 96, 101, 402 N.E.2d 228, cert. denied (1980), 449 U.S. 1010, 66 L.Ed.2d 467, 101 S.Ct. 564, quoting from People v. Robinson (1976), 62 Ill.2d 273, 276, 342 N.E.2d 356.) The conclusion reached by the trial court may not be disturbed by this court unless we find it "manifestly erroneous." (People v. Clay (1973), 55 Ill.2d 501, 505, 304 N.E.2d 280, and cases there cited.) A lesser standard is required to support a finding of probable cause than would be necessary for a conviction. Courts> "are not disposed to be unduly technical" in this regard. Robinson, 62 Ill.2d 273, 277.

In the instant case, the officers were aware of the close association between defendant and Michael McNair. Police knew the room in the Tropicana Motel, where the gory homicide was committed, had been rented by defendant. The police knew Michael McNair and Bobby Lewis had been bailed out by a white young lady and Michael McNair was friendly with a young lady named "Sharon." A resident at the motel told the police he saw two male blacks and a white female leaving the room. The police received an anonymous telephone call to the effect that the woman who rented the motel room was married to a black person recently released from the county jail. The police knew about the rape, home invasion and robbery allegedly committed by McNair and Lewis and learned they had been released on bail on March 19.

• 4 In addition, the police knew their release had been effected by forged bond documents upon which the same white woman had written a telephone number. This number was traced to the apartment in question, No. 2A at 6230 North Hoyne Avenue. The police found a young white woman had rented this apartment. The building manager advised that this woman resembled a composite sketch, shown her by the police, of the woman who rented the motel room. The police noted clear similarities between the handwriting on the rental application and the motel registration card. The police noted a black male resembling Bobby Lewis and the white woman entered the apartment building on Hoyne Avenue and shortly turned on the lights in apartment 2A. The police saw the incriminating documents on the dresser in the apartment in plain view. In our opinion, the able and experienced trial judge acted with complete legal propriety when he found the police had probable cause to arrest the defendant.

Defendant carries the argument further by contending that the police entered her apartment without a warrant and without exigent circumstances so that the arrest was unlawful despite any showing of probable cause. Defendant cites cases such as Payton v. New York (1980), 445 U.S. 573, 63 L.Ed.2d 639, 100 S.Ct. 1371, which has been followed and applied in other decisions including People v. Rembert (1980), 89 Ill. App.3d 371, 411 N.E.2d 996. The various factors required to show exigent circumstances are fully discussed in People v. Abney (1980), 81 Ill.2d 159, 407 N.E.2d 543.

• 5 In our opinion, upon consideration of the following factors, we conclude there were sufficient exigent circumstances here to justify the arrest of defendant even without considering the need for a warrant:

(1) The arrest was made a short time after the police were able to ascertain the residence of defendant and to work out the many details which linked her to the dismemberment murder and to the ...

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