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People v. Sanford





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Robert L. Sklodowski, Judge, presiding.


Following a joint jury trial, defendants Leroy Sanford, Edward James and James Lewis were found guilty of armed robbery stemming from a hold up of a service station. Each defendant was sentenced to an extended term of 60 years' imprisonment. Their appeals have been consolidated.

The issues raised on appeal are: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying James' motion for severance; (2) whether the trial court erred in admitting co-defendants' incriminating statements at their joint trial; (3) whether the trial court erred in denying James' motion to suppress police identification testimony; (4) whether an accumulation of errors denied James and Lewis their right to a fair trial; (5) whether James' inculpatory statement should have been suppressed as stemming from improper extradition; and (6) whether Lewis and Sanford were improperly sentenced to extended-term sentences.

The defendants, along with Lawrence Poree, were indicted jointly. James and Lewis were taken into custody from authorities in Memphis, Tennessee, by Chicago police officers. Before trial, James and Lewis moved for severance on the ground that each of the four defendants had made statements to police which inculpated themselves and the others. The motion was denied and the statements were ultimately admitted into evidence. The trial court granted Lewis' motion in limine to bar an alleged statement by him regarding an unrelated crime and denied James' and Lewis' pretrial motions to suppress identification testimony and other evidence at their subsequent trial.

The State presented the following pertinent evidence at trial. Dwayne Humbert was employed pumping gas at the Concord Gas Station in Chicago at 4:15 a.m. on August 7, 1979, when a white Mercedes Benz containing four black men entered the gas lane in the wrong direction. While he filled their order for gas, two of the men walked to the station, a third walked to the front of the car, and the fourth got out of the car. The latter wore a black stocking mask on his face and held a gun which looked like a machine gun. Humbert was then ordered to go to the porch of the station where he saw co-worker Joe Varner lying face down on the ground. One of the men took the witness' money, $100, and made him lie down next to Varner. After the robbers drove away, he found Hoover Thompkins in the back of the station. He did not observe any faces of the robbers.

Hoover Thompkins, manager of the gas station, testified. Upon seeing the Mercedes parked in the wrong direction, he approached the car and told the four occupants to turn the car around. He identified Poree as one of the men in the car. He could not recognize anyone else. Poree carried what looked to him like a submachine gun. Then a person whom he identified as Sanford placed a .45-caliber gun in his face and ordered him to get the keys and open the safe. When the witness replied that the keys weren't there, Sanford turned him around and hit him on the back of the head, telling him to find the keys or he would be killed. After the witness opened the safe, Sanford took between $4,700 and $5,700 and ordered Thompkins to lie on the floor. Thompkins later received seven stitches as treatment for his head injury. He later viewed a police lineup and identified Poree and Sanford.

Charles Hardison, a gas station employee, testified that he and Eddie Jones, the station security guard, saw a man wielding a .45-caliber gun enter the station. This man had some grey hair and a slight beard. In court he indicated that James was this man. He also saw a tall masked man at the door carrying a machine gun. This man ordered him to lie on the floor and not to look at him or he'd be shot. Then the masked man took from him a money belt and coin changer and an additional $120, $60 in cash and a $60 check payable to Percy Powell.

Eddie Jones, the security guard, testified that at about 4:15 a.m. he saw a man carrying a .45-caliber automatic handgun walk up and say "This is a hold up." This man was light-skinned and had a grey streak in his hair and beard. He identified this man in court as James. He was ordered to "hit the floor" while his gun and wallet were removed. He then heard Thompkins get the safe keys and open the safe. As security guard he had deposited 57 envelopes of cash, or $5,700, into the safe that night. Later he identified a photo of James as depicting the gunman. He also identified James in a lineup and again identified him in court.

Stanley Dillard, an employee of the service station, testified that after he sold a black man a pack of cigarettes this man displayed a .38-caliber handgun. At gunpoint, the man took the witness' money, about $40 or $50, and walked him to the area where the others were lying on the ground. He was unable to identify anyone in a later police lineup and none of the four defendants present in court had held him up. He identified a photograph of Maurice Powell as the man who robbed him.

Chicago police officer Kevin Hanlon testified that at 4:45 a.m. he responded to a radio dispatch of an officer needing help. After arriving at a T-shaped alley near South Morgan and Sangamon streets, he joined 20 police officers in a search of the area. While searching, he found a .44-caliber revolver on the street. An evidence technician dusted the weapon for latent fingerprints.

Sergeant William Ross, a police beat supervisor, testified that on the date of the robbery he was patrolling alone in a marked squad car near 87th Street and Vincennes Avenue when he observed a Cadillac run a red light. He noticed there were several occupants in the car but he only observed the face of the driver. He then chased the vehicle into the T-alley at Morgan and Sangamon. There, he pulled alongside the car. Its doors were open, the engine running and its occupants were just in front, running away. Two of them turned and he saw their faces from a distance of about 25 feet. It was dark but the alley was lighted up and down. He gave chase on foot and as he got out of his car, he heard two shots. He called for help on his portable radio. Upon searching the Cadillac, he found a gun belt, an empty holster, a coin changer, shotgun shells and a styrofoam case for a Thompson-type submachine gun. At a police lineup he identified Lewis and James as the two men he observed in the alley. Prior to this lineup he had seen a police bulletin containing photographs of these defendants. At trial, he again identified Lewis and James. On cross-examination he did not recall giving a statement to an investigator "that as [I] entered the alley several shots were fired at [me] and [I] then accelerated [my] squad car to escape injuries and block with [my] vehicle the southern escape and wait for additional units to arrive."

Officers John O'Brien, Thomas White and Gerald Corless testified. They participated in an organized search of the alley. O'Brien found a shotgun, and then observed a man lying near a bush. The man was placed under arrest. O'Brien then saw an automatic pistol and what appeared to be a machine gun magazine loaded with .45-caliber bullets. He then found the purported machine gun which turned out to be a semi-automatic carbine. Investigator Corless saw Poree in the bushes in the alley and found a 12-gauge shotgun nearby. A live red shell inside its chamber matched those found in the Cadillac. Corless searched Poree and found U.S. currency and the check made out to Percy Powell. Later, he located the white Mercedes. Inside it was a .9-millimeter spent casing. The certificate of title of the Cadillac was in the name of Maurice Powell. Officer White found two masks, one in the grass and the other on Sanford, who was lying in some shrubbery along a house nearby. He also found a loaded .9-millimeter pistol and a large .45-caliber magazine in the front yard of the house. In his hand Sanford was holding a roll of single dollar bills, totaling $60.

James Linn, assistant State's Attorney, testified that he interviewed Sanford and Poree on August 7, 1979. Their conversations were recorded only by Linn's brief written notes. Sanford's statement to Linn recounted that he, James, Lewis, Poree and Maurice Powell all met at Poree's house to plan a robbery of the gas station. They had decided that if they were all armed, they could overpower anyone there and easily get the money. They proceeded to the scene, all armed, except Sanford; Poree had the carbine, Powell and Lewis had handguns, and James had a shotgun. After they first checked out the gas station, they entered with their guns drawn. Poree aimed the so-called machine gun at the manager and threatened to blow his head off if he did not open the safe. Sanford took the money from the safe. After the group fled in the car somebody started shooting. They finally came to an alley and everybody ran in different directions. Poree's statement was essentially the same. Poree carried the carbine which he hoped would appear to be a machine gun and he wore a nylon stocking mask. After the robbery Maurice Powell started shooting at someone, ultimately attracting the police. After Linn's testimony, the trial court instructed the jury to consider Poree's statement only against him and Sanford's statement only against him and not against any of the other defendants.

Chicago police sergeant John Burge testified that he and Investigator Wagner interviewed Poree and Sanford on August 7, 1979. Poree furnished the officers with the names of the four other people allegedly involved — Sanford, Lewis, James and Maurice Powell. He then described the robbery. Sanford mentioned the use of the stolen Mercedes Benz which was used in conjunction with Maurice Powell's Cadillac and he gave information on the location of the other participants. After telephone conversations with Tennessee authorities, extradition proceedings were commenced with respect to James and Lewis. On November ...

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