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People v. Adams





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. John Crowley, Judge, presiding.


Following a jury trial, defendants, Myron Adams and Walter McKee, were convicted of armed robbery and murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, pars. 18-2(a), 9-1(a)) of Donald Pender. Adams received concurrent sentences of 25 years for murder and 15 years for armed robbery; McKee received concurrent sentences of 40 years for murder and 30 years for armed robbery. Both defendants appeal.

We are asked to consider (1) whether the evidence proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) whether it was reversible error for the trial court to prevent the defense attorney from cross-examining the prosecution's witness about the circumstances surrounding the witness' own detention, questioning and subsequent accusatory statement to the police; (3) whether there was prosecutorial misconduct which prevented defendants from receiving a fair trial; (4) whether it was reversible error for the trial judge to fail to question prospective jurors about racial prejudice and the possibility that the defendants would not testify; (5) whether the prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges to exclude blacks from the jury violated the defendants' constitutional rights; and (6) whether it was reversible error for the trial court to refuse defendant McKee's instruction on the credibility of a narcotic addict.

We reverse.

The following evidence was adduced at trial. Norman Gill, a male prostitute, testified for the State. Shortly after 1:30 a.m. on November 10, 1981, he walked to the corner of West End and Cicero Avenues in Chicago for the purpose of soliciting customers. Gill was dressed as a female. On his way to Cicero and West End, Gill noticed defendant McKee walking a half block behind him. Gill gave conflicting testimony about whether he saw defendant Adams in the vicinity at the time in question.

The victim, Donald Pender, stopped his car at the corner of Cicero and West End avenues and conversed with Gill. Pender and Gill agreed that Gill would perform certain sexual acts in exchange for $20. At Gill's direction, Pender drove to a deserted location two blocks away. Gill testified that he told Pender that he (Gill) was a man. Pender gave Gill $20 and Gill performed an act of fellatio, and then they had intercourse in the front seat of Pender's car.

Gill and Pender had just completed intercourse and rearranged their clothing when defendants McKee and Adams entered the car. McKee pointed a gun at Pender and told him to "give it up." Gill understood that to mean McKee wanted Pender's money. Gill's testimony was conflicting as to defendant Adams' action in demanding money from either Gill or Pender. Gill was allowed to leave the car. When he was approximately 15 feet away, he looked back and saw the gun, held by McKee, go off. McKee was sitting next to Pender in the front seat of the car when the shooting occurred.

After the shooting, Gill ran to the intersection of West End and Cicero Avenues where he was stopped by the police. He was asked by the officers for his name, address, and some form of identification. Gill gave his name as Norman Thompson and told the police that he had no identification. The police drove Gill back to the scene of the shooting and inquired whether he (Gill) knew anything about it. Gill denied knowing Pender or anything about the incident. He was then driven home by the police officers.

Two Chicago police officers testified that witnesses placed Gill with Pender immediately prior to the shooting. On November 13, 1981, the police took Gill from his home to the area four violent crimes headquarters. Gill was placed in a room and questioned many times by several police officers over the next 28 hours. He was told that witnesses had placed him with the victim at approximately the time and place of death. Gill repeatedly denied any knowledge of Pender's death. Gill eventually made a statement implicating the defendants in the killing. There was conflicting testimony about whether Gill had been in custody 28 or 36 hours at the time he made the statement.

Gill testified that at the time of the killing, he spent $150 per day on drugs, namely, heroin, "T's" and "blues." He had used heroin approximately 1 1/2 hours before meeting Pender. At the time of trial, Gill testified that he had been drug-free for four months.

Chicago police officer Gerald Dorich testified that he interviewed several known prostitutes, as well as Gill, on November 12 and 13, 1981. On November 13, pursuant to certain information, Dorich brought defendant McKee into the police station. Gill identified McKee through a two-way mirror. Shortly thereafter, Gill gave a complete statement naming McKee and Adams as the killers. Gill later picked Adams' photograph out of a group of five photographs. On November 30, 1981, defendant Adams was arrested.

Gill testified that he and defendant McKee had been lovers prior to November 10, 1981, but had terminated their relationship before the date of the killing. Gill knew defendant Adams by sight, but the two were not friends.

The medical evidence established that Pender died from a single gunshot to the abdomen. The murder weapon was not recovered.

At trial, defense attorneys repeatedly attempted to question Gill, the State's principal witness, about what had occurred during the 28 to 36 hours he spent at the police station prior to making a statement. Specifically, the defense attempted to ask Gill whether he had been charged with the murder before he named Adams and McKee as the killers, whether he had been given Miranda warnings while in custody and prior to his statement, and whether he had been free to leave at any time prior to the statement. The defense also attempted to elicit the same information from the police officers who ...

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