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People v. Curtis

OPINION FILED MARCH 20, 1986.

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

v.

DANIEL CURTIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. John C. Layng, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE SCHNAKE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On March 21, 1985, after a jury trial in the circuit court of Winnebago County, defendant, Daniel Curtis, was found guilty of armed robbery and sentenced to 10 years' incarceration. On appeal defendant argues: (1) that the trial court erred in admitting extensive evidence of other crimes; (2) that the State's discovery violations require a new trial; and (3) that the trial court abused its discretion in denying this motion for a continuance.

Defendant was charged by separate informations with the November 21 and November 23, 1984, armed robberies of Paul Villa, the clerk of a Rockford adult bookstore. Prior to trial on the November 21, 1984, robbery, the trial court denied defendant's motion in limine which requested that no evidence of the November 23, 1984, robbery be admitted. The cause proceeded to trial on February 19 and 20, 1985.

At trial Villa testified that he was working at the bookstore on the morning of November 21, 1984, and that he usually opened the store at 9 a.m. At 9:08 that morning a man wearing a black stocking mask and a green army fatigue jacket entered the bookstore, displayed a gun and ordered him to get the money out of the register. The gun was a black revolver with a short barrel, and the stocking mask had two eye holes and one nose hole. Villa instantly recognized the man's voice as that of a man who had been in the bookstore about 15 times before. Villa placed approximately $70 in a small white plastic bag with red lettering that the man was carrying.

Villa further testified that two days later, on November 23, 1984, a man using an identical stocking mask, gun and plastic bag entered the bookstore at about 9 a.m. and robbed him. During this second robbery the man took money as well as 13 video cassettes. Villa again recognized the man's voice. One week after the second robbery, on November 30, 1984, Villa picked defendant's picture out of a photo lineup as the man whose voice he had recognized during both robberies. Villa also identified several recovered video cassettes as having been taken during the second robbery.

Detective Roland Donnelli of the Rockford police department testified that he recovered from Noel Haye several of the video cassettes taken in the second robbery. Haye, a friend of defendant, testified that he got the video cassettes, from defendant who asked him to try to sell them. On cross-examination, however, Haye also stated that he saw defendant purchase several pornographic video cassettes from Jimmy Chadwick at 8:30 p.m. on the night of the second robbery. The State then impeached Haye with his prior statement to Detective Donnelli where he stated he did not know where defendant had gotten the video cassettes. Chadwick later testified that he did not sell defendant any video cassettes.

After the State rested, defendant presented an alibi defense which included the testimony of himself, Gladys Curtis (his mother), Randall Curtis (his brother), and Mona Knight (his girl friend). Defendant then made a motion for a continuance in order to secure the attendance of an alleged material witness, L.B. Clark. The court denied defendant's motion. At 8:40 p.m. on February 20, 1985, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on the November 21, 1984, armed robbery.

I

Defendant's first argument is that the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce extensive testimony and physical evidence on the second robbery. The State responds that the evidence was properly admitted to show modus operandi and identity.

• 1, 2 Generally, evidence of other crimes is inadmissible if relevant merely to establish the defendant's propensity to commit crime. (People v. McKibbins (1983), 96 Ill.2d 176, 182, cert. denied (1983), 464 U.S. 844, 78 L.Ed.2d 136, 104 S.Ct. 145.) Evidence of the commission of other crimes is admissible, however, when such evidence is relevant to prove modus operandi, intent, identity, motive, absence of mistake, or for any other purpose other than to show defendant's propensity to commit crime. (96 Ill.2d 176, 182.) If admissible, the trial court should carefully limit the evidence of the other crime to that evidence which is relevant to the issues on which the other crime evidence is admitted. People v. Bartall (1983), 98 Ill.2d 294, 315.

In the present case the State presented detailed evidence on the second robbery which included: (1) that the offender used a black stocking mask with two eye holes and one nose hole, a black snub-nosed revolver, and a small white plastic bag with red lettering and handles; (2) that the robbery occurred shortly after 9 a.m.; (3) that the victim identified defendant as the offender by his voice; (4) that defendant gave Noel Haye several of the stolen video tapes the week after the robbery; (5) that Jimmy Chadwick did not sell Haye the stolen tapes. We find these details of the second robbery were properly admitted to show the similar modus operandi between the two robberies and that defendant committed the second robbery. From this evidence and the victim's voice identification of the offender in the first robbery, the jury could find that defendant committed the first robbery.

• 3 Defendant argues that under People v. Butler (1975), 31 Ill. App.3d 78, it was improper to admit these details of the second robbery. In Butler, however, the details of the other crime elicited from the witness were clearly unrelated to the crime for which defendant was being tried and were unnecessary for the purpose for which they were offered, to establish identity. Here the details of the second robbery were the very basis for the showing that there was a second occurrence with the same modus operandi committed by defendant. Butler, which did not involve showing similar modus operandi, does not support defendant in this case. See People v. Moore (1978), 61 Ill. App.3d 694.

II

Defendant's second argument is that the State's failure to disclose one of its witnesses and his prior criminal record requires a new trial. During trial the State called Noel Haye to testify that, during the week following the robberies, defendant gave him several of the video cassettes stolen during the second robbery. On cross-examination, however, Haye testified that he saw defendant buy these video cassettes from Jimmy Chadwick on the night of the robberies. The State then impeached Haye with his prior statement that he had no knowledge of where defendant had gotten the video cassettes. The State also called Jimmy Chadwick ...


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