APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. FRANK
B. MACHALA, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE DOWNING DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendant Eddie Hudson was charged in a four-count information with the murders of two men. A jury found defendant guilty of two counts of murder. Although defendant was eligible for the death penalty, the trial court found sufficient mitigating factors, and instead sentenced defendant to an extended term of 45 years.
Defendant claims (1) that the evidence did not prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) certain remarks of the assistant state's attorney during closing argument deprived him of a fair trial; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in entering an extended term sentence.
On December 6, 1977, Jimmy and Willie Ewing were shot to death and Roy Woods was injured at a Chicago location. Defendant was arrested and brought to trial for the Ewing murders.
James Clark, the State's first witness, testified that on the night of the shootings, he had finished work and proceeded to Big Man's Liquor Store, 5648 S. Halsted, Chicago, at about 1 a.m. He sat in his pickup truck across the street on the east side of Halsted for one-half hour, listening to the radio. His friend, Tommy Larry, came by. Clark and Larry bought some beer at Big Man's and sat drinking it at the tailgate of Clark's truck.
During this time, three men walked by, coming from the north. One of them slapped Larry on the shoulder and spoke a few words to him. Clark did not see the men's faces at that time. The three men continued south on Halsted, crossed the street, and then turned north on the west side of Halsted. Clark saw the men walk up to a hallway located next to Big Man's. He heard shots and saw one of the men firing a gun into the hallway. Four or five shots were fired, and then the men ran. One of them crossed Halsted and passed within five feet of Clark. At trial, Clark identified this man, the one who had done the shooting, as defendant, and related that defendant was wearing a black turtleneck sweater and grey trousers on that night. Defendant fled past Clark and turned east into an alley on Clark's side of Halsted.
On cross-examination, Clark stated that he did not pay attention whether there was anyone else on the street when he first arrived at Big Man's. He was not looking at the liquor store as he sat in the truck. He might have seen one or two people go into the store during that time. Clark could see the hallway from his truck and did not see anyone enter or leave it. He did not see anyone pushed into the hallway. The first time he saw the three men was when they passed him on the street. After the attack, Clark saw Roy Woods, a victim of the shooting, lying in the hallway.
Woods testified tht he met Jimmy and Willie Ewing and two other men outside of Big Man's at about 1 a.m. on December 6, 1977. As the men talked, two men walked up to Willie Ewing. Woods did not pay attention to their conversation. Woods identified defendant as one of the two men. He was wearing a black turtleneck sweater.
Woods later noticed that defendant and the other man had left. About five minutes later, defendant returned with two others. Woods was standing next to the hallway near the store. One of the three pushed Woods into the hallway. Woods fell on the steps and started to get up. Woods could see defendant's face, since he was only six feet away. Woods then saw that defendant had a gun, and he stepped back. Defendant raised the gun and pointed it at Woods. Woods raised his arms up, and defendant fired a shot. The bullet hit his left forearm, and the impact spun him around. Woods fell on his face. He then heard the "constant repeat of fire." He felt Jimmy Ewing's body hit his, and felt it jerk several times. Jimmy hollered, "aw, man." Woods thought he heard five shots while he was down. He then heard the gun click and looked up. Defendant was pointing the gun down at him and the Ewings, and it clicked three more times.
Woods then saw defendant turn around and run across the street holding the gun in the air and saying something. Defendant ran across Halsted in a northeast direction, turned north, and cut through a gangway on the east side of the street. A man then ran across the street to Woods. Woods later learned that the man was James Clark.
On cross-examination, Woods stated that he did not remember seeing anyone else on the street during the time. There was a light at the top of the hallway into which he was pushed. He did not pay attention to the initial conversation between defendant and Willie Ewing. Three or four minutes elapsed between when Woods was pushed into the hallway and when the shooting started. Woods recalled that defendant and the two others had approached him from the south.
The State called several other witnesses whose testimony is not considered relevant to the issues raised on this appeal. *fn1 The sole evidence presented by the defense was the stipulated testimony of a toxicologist, which reflected that examiner's findings as to the level of alcohol found in the bodies of the shooting victims.
The State and the defense then proceeded to present closing arguments. During the State's rebuttal argument, the assistant state's attorney made comments which are the subject of one of defendant's contentions on this appeal. The content of those statements will be discussed more fully in the analysis of ...