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People v. Williams





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Michael Getty, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Louis Williams, was charged by information with armed robbery, armed violence based on armed robbery, theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, unlawful restraint and two counts of aggravated kidnaping. After a bench trial he was found guilty of all but the aggravated kidnaping charges. He was sentenced to two 20-year terms for armed-robbery and armed-violence charges, five years each for possession of a stolen vehicle and theft, and three years for unlawful restraint, all to be served concurrently.

On the afternoon of October 8, 1983, the victim, Cheryl Ann Sintic, walked to her car in the Sears parking lot at 61st Street and Western Avenue in Chicago. She drove a 1979, brown, two-door Cadillac Coupe deVille. She noticed that defendant was walking toward her. When she opened her car door and put her packages in the car, the defendant ran up to her with a gun and told her to get inside. At this time, she saw his face. Defendant got in the car and told Ms. Sintic to move over. Again she looked at his face as she slid over to the front passenger seat. Defendant took her car keys and told Ms. Sintic to put her head between her legs. She complied. Defendant then drove around for 20 to 30 minutes while pointing the gun at her side the entire time.

After a while, defendant stopped the car and took money from Ms. Sintic's purse. As defendant was counting the money, Ms. Sintic looked up and saw his face again. Defendant drove a while longer, stopped the car, and told Ms. Sintic to get out of the car, walk away, and not to yell or turn around. As she got out, Ms. Sintic looked at defendant's face once again. She walked away, flagged a cab, and went to the nearest police station where she filed a report. She described the defendant as a black male about 20 to 30 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, and weighing about 125 pounds.

Four days later, on October 12, 1983, defendant went to an automobile alarm company to have an alarm installed on "his" 1979 brown Cadillac Coupe deVille. Defendant told Inez Gray, manager of the alarm company, that he wanted to use his mother's credit card to pay for the installation. The alarm company then installed an alarm on "defendant's" Cadillac. Ms. Gray gave defendant the bill and he gave her a Visa credit card bearing the name of Cheryl Ann Sintic. At this point, Ms. Gray walked out to the car and looked at the license applied for sticker on the windshield. The windshield sticker bore defendant's name and address. However, the sticker was intended for a 1975 Chrysler. After Ms. Gray looked at the car, she called in the credit card and was informed that the card was stolen. When she informed defendant that she would not honor the credit card, he paid for the alarm in cash and left.

Thereafter, on October 14, 1983, Officer Ronald Chirello of the Chicago police department was investigating a separate theft of Illinois license plates. The theft report indicated that defendant was a suspect and was driving a 1979 Cadillac Coupe deVille. Officer Chirello spotted a 1979 Cadillac at the corner of Jackson and Campbell streets and kept the car under surveillance. Later, defendant drove away in the car. Officer Chirello ran the vehicle identification number (hereinafter VIN) of "defendant's" vehicle into the computer and was informed that the vehicle was taken in an armed robbery and that it belonged to Cheryl Ann Sintic. Defendant was placed under arrest and both he and the vehicle were searched. Pursuant to the search, the officer recovered Ms. Sintic's checkbook, savings book, a receipt for car repairs with Ms. Sintic's name on it, and two of her credit cards. On that same day, Ms. Sintic picked defendant out of a lineup as the offender. Defendant was also positively identified at trial by Ms. Sintic and by Ms. Gray.

On appeal, the defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether he was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) whether the trial court erred in admitting certain documents that purported to be public records; (3) whether his 20-year sentence for armed robbery was an abuse of discretion; (4) whether his conviction for armed violence can be sustained when it was predicated on armed robbery and both convictions arose out of the same physical act; and (5) whether his sentence for the "incidental" offense of unlawful restraint was proper.


Defendant contends that his convictions should be reversed because the victim's identification testimony was insufficient and the car found in defendant's possession did not match the victim's car. We disagree.

• 1 The sufficiency, weight and credibility given to a witness' testimony is a determination for the trier of fact. (People v. Sanders (1980), 87 Ill. App.3d 708, 712, 410 N.E.2d 182.) The testimony of one identification witness, if positive and credible, and even if contradicted by the accused, is sufficient for a conviction. (People v. Diaz (1981), 101 Ill. App.3d 903, 913, 428 N.E.2d 953, appeal denied (1982), 91 Ill.2d 554.) It may be significant, of course, that such testimony is consistent with and supported by testimony of other identification witnesses.

The most important factor is whether the witness had an adequate opportunity to view the offender at the time of the crime. (People v. Moore (1983), 115 Ill. App.3d 266, 270, 450 N.E.2d 855.) Therefore, an identification may be credible on that basis alone. (People v. Bell (1976), 44 Ill. App.3d 185, 190-91, 357 N.E.2d 1256, appeal denied (1977), 65 Ill.2d 582.) Moreover, a positive identification need not be based upon perfect conditions for observation, nor does the observation have to be of a prolonged nature. People v. Crawford (1980), 90 Ill. App.3d 888, 891, 414 N.E.2d 25.

• 2 In the instant case, the trial court, as trier of fact, found the victim's testimony to be credible. Ms. Sintic testified that she observed defendant's face four times within the 20 to 30 minutes that she was with defendant. Although Ms. Sintic had her head down as defendant drove, this factor did not undermine her ability to see defendant's face at other intervals during her encounter with defendant. Ms. Sintic first saw defendant when he approached her as she walked toward her car in the parking lot. Next, she saw his face when she moved over to the passenger side of the car. She had another opportunity to view him while he counted the money he stole from her purse. Finally, she looked "straight at" defendant as she got out of her car.

In addition, Ms. Sintic's testimony was corroborated by Ms. Gray, who testified that defendant drove a 1979 Cadillac Coupe deVille to her store and attempted to use a Visa credit card bearing Ms. Sintic's name to pay for an alarm he had installed in the car. Six days after the incident at the Sears' parking lot, defendant was found in possession of Ms. Sintic's automobile, checkbook, savings passbook, repair bill, and credit cards. Both Ms. Sintic and Ms. Gray positively identified defendant at trial.

Defendant also contends that the evidence failed to establish that the car in which he was arrested was the one stolen from Ms. Sintic. In support, he cites to People v. Hope (1979), 69 Ill. App.3d 375, 387 N.E.2d 795, and People v. Stone (1979), 75 Ill. App.3d 571, 394 N.E.2d 810.

• 3 We find both cases distinguishable because in neither did an eyewitness testify that the defendant stole the car, nor was evidence introduced that the stolen vehicle and the one in which the defendants were arrested bore the same VIN. In this case, Ms. Sintic testified that defendant was the man who stole her car and that the VIN of her car was 6D47599181496. Officer Chirello testified that after defendant was stopped in a 1979 Cadillac Coupe deVille, he called in the VIN of that car and was told that it was registered to Sintic and had been reported stolen. Chirello testified that the VIN was 6D47S99181496. The trial court resolved this minor discrepancy over the VIN by determining that the correct VIN was the one to which Chirello testified. We find that the evidence was sufficient to establish that defendant was in possession of the car stolen from Ms. Sintic. The minor discrepancy in the testimony ...

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