APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. GEORGE
M. MAROVICH, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Following a jury trial, defendant Raymond Hall was found guilty of armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 18-2) and was sentenced to a term of 10 years. He appeals contending that (1) the evidence is not sufficient to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) he was denied a fair trial when the State improperly cross-examined him about another crime unrelated to this prosecution, and (3) he was deprived of a fair trial by the improper closing arguments of the State.
The following pertinent evidence was adduced at trial.
Andrew Robertson, the owner of the Harvey ATC Cab Company, was dispatched to pick up a passenger in front of a lounge at 159th and Dixie Highway in Harvey, Illinois, at 12:30 a.m. on May 22, 1978. Robertson testified that defendant was standing in a well-lit area when he arrived at the lounge; that as defendant entered the cab the inside light went on and Robertson observed him for about a minute.
He described defendant as being approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing between 150 and 160 pounds and appearing to be in his late forties or early fifties, wearing a long green army coat, a billed cap, gloves, and carrying a green bag with two flaps on it.
After driving for six blocks, he heard a click. He turned to see defendant pointing a gun at the right side of his head. Defendant told Robertson to drive straight ahead and not to try anything or else defendant would shoot him. He ordered Robertson to continue driving on various streets. When another car pulled alongside as the cab stopped for a traffic light at the intersection of 147th and Kedzie, defendant pointed the gun at Robertson's ribs. He looked at defendant at this time. The lighting from the street and the traffic lights illuminated the area very well. When the traffic light changed Robertson continued to drive. Defendant ordered him to pull the microphone cord out of the cab radio, which he pretended to do, and defendant said, "If the dispatch answers you, I'm going to kill you."
Defendant commented that he had never seen Robertson before, and asked him if he knew the Jamaican driver, stating, "You got a Jamaican working with you all over there. That's who I wanted." Robertson replied that he was not certain who defendant was referring to because he did not know "many of the guys."
They were near 119th and Lafayette when defendant told him to park the cab, move slowly over to the passenger seat, remove all of his clothes and get down on the floorboard. Defendant then entered the driver's seat and drove the cab with his left hand holding the gun in his right hand.
He drove for 15 minutes and then parked the cab at 109th and Racine. When the defendant pulled off his gloves, Robertson saw that he did not have fingers on his left hand, and that there were three or four rings on the nubs of that hand. On cross-examination, Robertson admitted that he had previously testified at the pretrial hearing that it was the fingers of defendant's right hand which were partially amputated, and that the defendant held the gun in his right hand.
Defendant searched through Robertson's clothes and took the money out of them. He ordered Robertson to unbolt the cab radio and when Robertson threw the radio at defendant in an attempt to knock the gun out of his hand, the gun discharged. Defendant said, "Get out right now or I'll kill you." He then tossed Robertson's clothes out of the cab window and drove away.
Robertson dressed and summoned a police car approximately seven minutes later. After explaining to Chicago police officers Raymond Elder and Michael Thomas that he had just been robbed, they drove through the area in an unsuccessful search for the cab. A police report was made later which described the robber as weighing 163 pounds and having black hair. The report does not have any reference to the assailant's deformed hand.
The following day, Robertson spoke with Dan Narty, one of his drivers who had grown up in a Jamaican neighborhood in England, and when he described his assailant to Narty including the fact of the injured hand, Narty told him that Raymond Hall fit that description. Dan Narty testified that defendant was one of his regular customers and often carried a green bag.
Narty saw defendant going to the Harvey, Illinois, courthouse, a half block from the cab company headquarters, on June 6, 1978 and he immediately told Robertson. After Robertson went to the courthouse and observed defendant for 10 minutes in a courtroom he called two policemen who subsequently arrested defendant.
On defendant's behalf, a nurse at Oak Forest Hospital testified that, according to her records, defendant weighed 112 pounds on June 6, 1978. His wife, Delores Hall, stated that defendant has had gray hair for the last 15 to 20 years, and that he never wore jewelry. She further testified that defendant was home with her on May 22, 1978.
Defendant testified on his own behalf that he has only one partial finger on his left hand due to an industrial accident in 1972. He cannot wear rings on his left hand due to poor circulation. He has not driven a car since his driver's license was suspended in 1976 or 1977.
On direct examination he was asked about his ability to drive at all:
Q. "Now, are you able to drive. You're able to drive?
A. If I drove a car, it would have to be with ...