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People v. Bias





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. Raymond L. Terrell, Judge, presiding.


Armed robbery — jury — six years.

No evidence as to the nature of the instrumentality used to persuade the victim to part with his billfold — except that it may have been a sharp fingernail.

Since no portion of the human anatomy is legally a dangerous weapon, we reduce Bias' conviction to simple robbery and remand for resentencing.

Because Bias also asserts that the victim's identification testimony was insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that she was the robber, a rather detailed summary of the evidence is required.


The State's first witness, Everett Jackson, testified that on December 19, 1983, he went to the Argonne Tavern in Springfield, where he had a couple of beers. After leaving the tavern at about midnight, he went to his car which was parked nearby. He had started his car and was cleaning the frost off the side mirror when he was approached by a black woman who asked, "Do you want a date?" Jackson replied in the negative, and stated that she wasn't his type. Almost immediately thereafter, the woman said, "Just give me your money then." At that time, the woman, using one hand, pointed something which felt sharp at Jackson's neck. The robber was about one to two feet away from Jackson at the time of the encounter, and the area was lighted to the extent that Jackson could see his assailant.

After Jackson surrendered his wallet, the robber began running in an easterly direction. Jackson gave chase and kept track of the robber by means of her distinctive black and white striped leg warmers. He lost sight of his assailant once during the chase, but soon caught up with her and followed her to the area of a public housing project. Upon arriving at the project, the robber first knocked on the door of an apartment at which no one was apparently home. She then knocked on the door of a second residence, to which she was admitted. Jackson subsequently went to the Springfield police station and reported the robbery.

Jackson first stated that he retrieved his wallet while in pursuit of the robber. He subsequently testified, however, that he was "mixed up" (apparently while testifying) and that he retrieved the wallet after reporting the robbery to the police, because they asked him to retrace his path in pursuing the robber.

Jackson testified that at the time of the robbery, the assailant was wearing white striped leg warmers, a brown stocking cap, and a brown furry coat. He also made an in-court identification of Bias as the robber and stated that, upon viewing her in court, she appeared to be about five feet two inches in height.

A day or two after the robbery, Jackson viewed an array of photographs of possible suspects. After viewing the photographs for approximately two minutes, he identified a picture of Bias as that of the robber. A copy of the array of five sets of photographs which Jackson viewed was preserved, and at trial Jackson identified the first set as those of the robber of whom he had previously made the in-court identification. There was no doubt in Jackson's mind that this was the person who robbed him.

On cross-examination, Jackson stated that on the same day he viewed the photograph array, he pointed out to a detective and to a uniformed police officer the residence which the robber entered. He did not know the address of the residence which he pointed out to them and could not remember whether his identification of the residence took place before or after he viewed the five sets of photographs.

Jackson specifically remembered that the desk sergeant on duty when he reported the robbery was a female officer, but he could not remember the figures as to the robber's height or weight which he provided the officer who took his initial report on the night of the robbery. Jackson admitted that he did not describe to the investigating officer the length of the robber's hair or the condition of the robber's teeth, and did not state whether the robber had facial scars.

Also on cross-examination, Jackson implied that at the time of the robbery, he was working for the Wyzard Roofing Company from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and was usually paid every Friday. He further stated, however, that on the day of the robbery he worked at Wyzard's "shop" from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and that on the evening of the robbery, he did ...

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