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People v. Bryant





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Robert Nix, Judge, presiding.


A Cook County jury convicted defendant, Dennis Bryant, on two counts of armed robbery for the holdup of an Evanston 7-Eleven store. He was sentenced to two concurrent 12-year terms of imprisonment. In the appellate court, the State agreed that defendant should only have been charged with one count of armed robbery. After finding erroneous an in-court identification of defendant and the introduction of a hearsay statement concerning his guilt, the appellate court reversed defendant's conviction on the remaining count. (100 Ill. App.3d 17.) We granted the State's petition for leave to appeal.

On December 23, 1978, Harold and Norma Lederer were accosted inside the 7-Eleven store by a young black male who was armed with a pistol. The robber took small bills and loose change from the cash register and packets of bills wrapped in 7-Eleven cash register tape, some of which bore Harold's initials, from a floor safe. While Harold, the assistant night manager, was opening the register and safe, the gunman stood next to Norma under the store's bright fluorescent lights. After pocketing the money from the safe, the robber ordered the Lederers to lie upon the floor; Norma, however, refused to do so and continued to observe the robber while he left the store.

The Lederers quickly called the Evanston police, and Norma gave a detailed description of the robber. She told the police that he had worn blue pants, a blue jacket, a blue knit hat with a golden or orange tassel, and a piece of cloth covering part of his face. While responding to the call, Officer Glanz used a spotlight to view passengers in on-coming cars. Noting that the sole occupant of a Cadillac matched the description radioed to him, Officer Glanz attempted to stop that car. A chase ensued and, after numerous turns, the Cadillac entered an alley blocked by another car. The driver abandoned the Cadillac, which was later found to be registered to defendant. The driver also left behind his hat, a gun, two pieces of white cloth, and some loose money and rolls of change.

Officer Glanz lost sight of the driver, but was able to follow his footprints in the fresh snow. This trail led to the open door of a ground-level apartment. Upon entering the apartment, Officer Glanz found a black male using the telephone and took him into custody. This man was later identified as Early Patterson, the tenant of that apartment and a friend of defendant's aunt. Other officers arriving at the scene also entered the apartment and found defendant crouched down by a refrigerator. At the time of his arrest, defendant was wearing blue pants with wet cuffs and a blue jacket. In his pockets were bills wrapped in 7-Eleven register tape bearing Harold Lederer's initials.

Both Early Patterson and defendant were taken to the station house, but Patterson was released after dictating a statement. Defendant remained in custody, and Officer Glanz noted that defendant had a puncture wound in his hand similar to the one suffered by Officer Glanz while climbing a fence in the course of the chase.

Later in the day, Harold and Norma Lederer went to the station house and identified the hat, gun and money recovered by the police. In addition, Norma Lederer was shown an array of six photographs, consisting of 10 different mug shots of five individuals and one Polaroid photo of defendant, all of which were small color prints. The photo of defendant was a somewhat blurry frontal view. Norma Lederer told the police that defendant's photograph was that of the robber.

At trial, Norma and Harold Lederer identified the defendant as the gunman. Norma again described him, testifying that he had worn a hat pulled down to about one-half inch above his eyebrows and a piece of cloth which hung down loosely from the middle of the bridge of his nose to below his jaw. She testified that she was able to discern the structural features of the robber's face despite the mask because his face was outlined through the cloth as he moved.

After Officer Glanz testified, the prosecutor sought to call Early Patterson as a court's witness, claiming that he could not vouch for Patterson's veracity. Upon objection by defendant, the trial judge ruled that the State could call Patterson as a hostile witness and that the prosecutor would be allowed to impeach Patterson if necessary. After Patterson denied that defendant had told him of robbing the 7-Eleven store, the prosecutor sought to impeach him by introducing part of the written statement which Patterson had signed on the morning of the robbery:

"Q. Did you tell — strike the question. Was this question asked of you, Mr. Patterson, by Detective Haytow, and did you give these answers:

`Q. Mr. Patterson, will you tell me what you know of this armed robbery?'

`A. Dennis Bryant came down in the basement. I went down behind him. I asked him what was wrong. He said the police had just taken his car. He said he just robbed a 711, I think that's what it was.'"

The State again referred to the same portion of this statement while subsequently examining the officer ...

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