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People v. Davis





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Dwight McKay, Judge, presiding.


Following a jury trial, defendants Michael L. Davis and Michael Boney were convicted for the offenses of home invasion and armed robbery. Each was sentenced to 60 years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendants have asserted errors in the trial court's rulings on pretrial motions, reception of evidence, allegedly prejudical remarks of the trial judge, the sufficiency of the evidence to convict, the length of sentences, and the effectiveness of trial counsel. We affirm.

Defendants were indicted for home invasion, burglary, unlawful restraint, armed violence and armed robbery involving a home in Midlothian, Illinois. Defendants filed motions to quash their arrests and suppress certain evidence. At the hearing on these motions Richard Solita testified that he is an investigator with the Chicago police department. On July 25, 1980, at about 11:30 p.m., he arrested the defendants without a warrant. He and his partner, Investigator L. Suelke, received a tip concerning an armed robbery of a home in Midlothian, Illinois. The informant stated that he had just left 743 West 61st Street in Chicago, where he had observed a group of men moving the proceeds of the armed robbery from one location to another. Suelke contacted the Midlothian police and verified the fact of the armed robbery. He thereby learned that the proceeds included rifles, a shotgun, a television set and various other household appliances. The Midlothian police described the suspects as two black males in their middle twenties; one had light skin and one had dark skin; and one had tattoos on his arm and was wearing a blue denim vest. On redirect examination, Investigator Solita stated that the description was "29 year old, dark complected and one with tattoos; denim jacket sleeveless, no shirt on." The other offender was described as a black male, 29 years old, wearing a green t-shirt and having light skin. As Investigator Solita approached 743 West 61st Street, he observed defendant Boney seated on the hood of an automobile wearing a blue denim vest and no shirt. The automobile was filled with "stolen property." Solita further testified that his report stated that he observed rifle or shotgun stocks in the car. He then placed Boney under arrest. Defendant Davis, who was carrying a small television set, then approached the vehicle and was also arrested.

Investigator L. Suelke corroborated Solita's testimony and also stated that he observed two gun butts protruding from the passenger side windows and that he could see numerous household appliances inside the car.

Michael Davis testified that the police arrested him inside the house at 743 West 61st Street and, further, that he did not leave the house all evening and did not carry a television set outside of the house.

The trial court thereupon specifically found that Solita was credible and denied the motions.

At trial, Eileen Ames testified that she and her husband and their youngest daughter, Kathy, resided together in their home located in Midlothian, Illinois. On July 25, 1980, at about 4:45 a.m., she heard a creaking on the stairs and turned on her bedroom light. Two men walked into the bedroom. One was tall and carried a sawed-off shotgun and the other was shorter. She testified that she could see both men's faces. She identified in open court defendant Boney as the man with the shotgun and defendant Davis as the other man. Boney remained in the bedroom while Davis brought Kathy Ames into the bedroom. The two men then began ransacking the house. Davis carried a television set out of the room and Boney took Victor Ames into the basement of the home, where Ames kept his gun collection. Boney later returned with Ames and emptied the witness's purse, taking $500. The two men herded the family into the bathroom after the witness heard Davis say "Our taxi is here." The family waited until the defendants had left and then called the police. Eileen Ames testified that the house was in disarray and that her husband's 12 guns were missing. A window in the basement was open and the screen was removed. Before they had gone to bed the previous evening, the screen was in place. She identified various exhibits, including the sawed-off shotgun which she stated that Boney had carried and several of her husband's guns. She testified that she had seen Boney take several of the items. On cross-examination, she admitted that she was not looking at Boney the entire half hour that the intruders were in her home. She told the police that the man with the gun was dark complected. On redirect examination, she testified that it was fairly bright in the bedroom and that she was able to see Boney's face as well as that of the other man even though he was wearing a nylon stocking mask. She had no doubt that Boney and Davis were the persons in her home.

Kathy Ames corroborated her mother's testimony. She also identified both defendants in open court as the men in her home and also identified various exhibits as property taken from her home or carried by the intruders. She denied telling the police that the man with the gun was light complected. She admitted failing to tell the police that the man had any facial hair although he did have a beard and mustache.

Frederick Kozick, a sergeant with the Midlothian police department, testified that he investigated the crime scene for evidence and obtained several fingerprint lifts which he took to the crime laboratory. He admitted that his police report described the taller man as light complected. However, he stated that he had made a mistake and that the description which the witnesses had given to him was that this man was dark complected.

Sergeant Harold Kaufman of the Midlothian police testified that he fingerprinted Davis and Boney after their arrest.

Richard Solita, a detective with the Chicago police department, testified that on the evening of July 25, 1980, he and other police officers went to 741 West 61st Street in Chicago. There, at the rear of a building, he observed an automobile in an empty lot. He could see a rifle stock sticking out of one of the vehicle's windows and two men, one of whom he identified in court as defendant Boney, sitting on the vehicle. Detective Solita testified that he drew his gun and ordered both men to place their hands on top of the car. At this time a man whom he identified in court as defendant Davis walked out of the house carrying a portable television set. Detective Solita ordered Davis to join the other two men. Solita testified that he looked inside the car and observed a couple of rifles, a sawed-off shotgun, a television set, and various household articles. After establishing a chain of custody, he testified that the exhibits, which had previously been identified by Kathy and Eileen Ames, were the ones found inside the vehicle. On cross-examination, Solita admitted that he had no warrant at the time he arrested the defendants and that defendant Boney had had none of the items on his person, although he was within reach of the rifle stocks in the car.

Jacqueline Farcaro testified that she is employed by the Illinois Department of Law Enforcement, Bureau of Scientific Services, as a forensic scientist specializing in latent fingerprints and other areas. She testified to her qualifications as an expert in the field of fingerprints and stated that in her opinion the latent lift (People's exhibit No. 19) and an inked print (People's exhibit No. 20) had over 20 points in common and were made by the same person. Exhibit No. 19 was a fingerprint lift which Sergeant Kozick had taken from a window screen at the Ames' home and exhibit No. 20 was Davis' fingerprint card which Sergeant Kaufman had taken. Both exhibits were admitted into evidence, along with the guns and other property recovered from the vehicle. The prosecution then rested.

Defendants' motions for directed verdict were denied and both defendants then rested.

After closing arguments and receiving instructions, including an accountability instruction from the court, the jury found both defendants guilty of home ...

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