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People v. Grayson

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 8, 1983.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JOHN LEE GRAYSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Theodore Swain, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE DOWNING DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, John Lee Grayson, appeals from his conviction of felonious unlawful use of weapons. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 24-1(a)(10).) The sentence imposed was an extended term of 10 years' imprisonment.

Two grounds for reversal are presented by defendant: (1) that certain testimonial evidence proffered during trial, as well as specific prosecutorial comments made during closing argument, tainted the jury's guilty verdict so as to constitute prejudicial error; and, (2) that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing defendant to an extended term of imprisonment. As the issue of reasonable doubt was not raised, only a brief summary of the evidence is necessary.

Defendant was arrested on January 27, 1981, on the west side of the city of Chicago, after a chase by two Chicago policemen, Detectives Robert Kleinschmidt and Michael O'Sullivan. During the chase, the policemen recovered one Bower stainless steel .25-caliber automatic handgun which had been discarded by defendant. Following a jury trial, defendant was found guilty as charged; judgment was entered on January 6, 1982.

At the sentencing hearing on February 5, 1982, arguments were heard in aggravation and mitigation. The trial court, indicating that it had reviewed the presentence social investigation report, sentenced defendant to an extended term of 10 years imprisonment. Defendant's 1978 felony conviction for the offense of possession of controlled substance (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1402) was used to enhance the instant conviction to a Class 3 felony; whereas, defendant's 1975 conviction for the offense of robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 18-1) provided the basis for the imposition of an extended-term sentence.

I

We first consider defendant's contention that certain testimonial evidence proffered at trial, as well as specific prosecutorial comments made during closing argument, suggested his involvement in other crimes. It is urged that this alleged inference was highly prejudicial in that it had the effect of persuading the jury to find defendant guilty of felonious unlawful use of weapons.

A

At trial, during the direct examination of Detective O'Sullivan, the following colloquy took place between the prosecutor and the police officer:

"[STATE]: Okay. Let me ask you this, approximately how many arrests have you made in the two-block radius of 3500 West Fifth Avenue in those eleven years?

[WITNESS]: Several hundred, it has been known as an [sic] narcotic area."

At this point, defense counsel immediately objected and the trial court sustained his objection. However, defendant now contends that the above-quoted testimony had the effect of denying his constitutional right to a fair trial.

• 1 Detective O'Sullivan's comment regarding the reputation of the crime scene as a narcotic area did not constitute direct evidence of prior criminality, but merely permitted an inference of suspicion. The record before us does not manifest an effort on the part of the prosecution to elaborate on, much less exploit, the remark in question. Even the detective did not even provide details suggesting the possibility that defendant might have been involved in narcotics transactions. As a result, we are convinced that this isolated comment by the police officer did not single defendant out as a party to the area's reputed drug activities.

We do not deem it necessary to restate the oft-repeated principle applicable to this subject. Defendant relies on People v. Goodwin (1979), 69 Ill. App.3d 347, 349, 387 N.E.2d 433 (where the police officer testified "[defendant] asked me to let him go, he did not want to go back to prison again"), and People v. Curry (1975), 25 Ill. App.3d 637, 639, 323 N.E.2d 778 (where the police officer testified "we had two rape warrants out for [defendant] with a gang-related incident at the time of the shooting"). As can be readily discerned, however, the questioned testimonial evidence here falls far short of that considered by Illinois courts> to constitute reversible error.

• 2 We therefore hold that Detective O'Sullivan's characterization of the vicinity in which defendant was arrested, taken in the context of his familiarity with the crime scene, did not prejudicially induce the jury to regard defendant as a man with the criminal propensity to commit the offense of unlawful use of weapons.

B

• 3 Next, we consider defendant's assertion that he was denied a fair trial because of alleged prejudicial comments made by the prosecutor during closing argument. Specifically, defendant cites five instances which merely contained the prosecutor's argument pertaining to what the testimonial evidence adduced at trial demonstrated. We note, however, that three of the five remarks were not objected to by defendant at trial; nor were they raised in his written motion for a new trial. We thus consider these three alleged errors as having been waived for ...


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