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09/14/87 the People of the State of v. James Greene

September 14, 1987





513 N.E.2d 1092, 160 Ill. App. 3d 1089, 112 Ill. Dec. 483 1987.IL.1340

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


JUSTICE MANNING delivered the opinion of the court. CAMPBELL and O'CONNOR, JJ., concur.


Defendant, James Greene, was charged by indictment with the murder of Rickey Baldwin. Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County, the defendant was found guilty of murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1), and sentenced to 27 years' imprisonment. Defendant contends in his appeal that: (1) the trial court erred by restricting cross-examination of one of the State's witnesses; (2) he was not proved guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt; (3) the evidence justified at the most a conviction for voluntary manslaughter; and (4) the sentence of 27 years' imprisonment was excessive.

Hugh Adams testified that during the early morning hours on July 29, 1983, he was standing outside of the Ida B. Wells housing project at 39th and Langley Avenue when he saw the victim, Rickey Baldwin (Rickey Dog), and Marcus Thompson (Morocco) leave the building located at 706 East 39th Street. Baldwin (hereinafter referred to as the victim) was carrying a 10-speed bicycle. He called out to Adams and Adams walked towards him and Thompson. At this time Adams noticed the defendant standing near the side of the 706 East 39th Street building. He saw the defendant reach into his pants, pull out a gun and fire one shot at the group.

Adams yelled "break" and they all ran in different directions. After Adams ran across the street, he turned and saw defendant chase the victim. When the victim tripped over a chain and tried to flee, defendant shot him in the back. The defendant then put the gun in the front of his pants, ran towards Adams and proceeded to the housing project.

Marcus Thompson testified that on July 29, 1983, during the early morning hours he was on the eighth floor of the 706 East 39th Street building when the victim left his girlfriend's apartment. Thompson told the victim that he had seen the defendant earlier in the building. The victim pulled a 30-inch chain from his 10-speed bicycle and the two of them walked down the back stairs and left the building together. The victim was a member of the Black P. Stone Rangers gang and defendant was a member of the Gangster Goon Squad, a rival gang.

After they exited the building, the victim called Hugh Adams, who began walking towards them, and it was at this time that the defendant shot at the group. The victim, Adams and Thompson ran in different directions. The defendant chased only the victim. Thompson testified that he heard a second shot fired but he did not actually see the defendant shoot the victim, nor did he see a chain beside the victim after he had been shot.

Thompson heard no verbal exchange between defendant and victim before the former fired the weapon, nor did he observe the victim physically threaten defendant with a chain.

The defendant, James Greene, testified that he did not intentionally try to kill the victim. However, when the victim, Adams and Thompson began walking towards him, he was "scared" and "panicked" because of a prior encounter with the victim. Specifically, on September 17, 1982, the victim and some of his friends followed defendant after he left a store at 38th and Cottage Grove. Defendant was shot by someone in the victim's group. The defendant was hospitalized for six months as a result of the gunshot wound. Also, the bullet was never removed because it was too close to his heart. The defendant added that a relative of the victim came to the hospital and told defendant that he "better not say nothing." Although the defendant did not at that time tell the police who had shot him, he had told his brother that "Rickey Dog" shot him.

The defendant further testified that on July 29, 1983, at midnight, he visited his girlfriend on the eighth floor of the 706 East 39th Street building. When he arrived on the eighth floor, the victim and Thompson were there, but defendant did not speak to them. When defendant left his girlfriend's apartment at 1:30 a.m., the victim and Thompson faced the front of the building. Defendant added that he went down the back stairs to avoid them but walked "through the building" and exited from the front entrance.

Defendant proceeded to the corner, turned and heard either the victim or Thompson "drop a bicycle." He observed the victim, who had a "chain wrapped double around his hand," and Thompson approach him. Thompson then called Hugh Adams, who was across the street. Thompson, Adams and the victim then walked toward the defendant, who pulled out a gun and fired a shot. When the three men fled, defendant pursued the victim, whom defendant shot from a distance of 10 to 15 feet while the victim was running away.

Detective Henry Sigler was assigned to investigate the death of Rickey Baldwin. Defendant was arrested on January 3, 1984, and signed a written confession on January 4, 1984, which stated that after the victim tripped over a small chain fence the defendant shot him in the back. The statement was stipulated to at trial. Additionally, there was a stipulation regarding a report submitted by the Cook County medical examiner's office, which performed a post-mortem examination on the victim. Dr. Eupil Choi would testify "that Rickey Baldwin died of a bullet wound of the back with penetrations in the aorta and the lung, with internal bleeding."

At the close of all the evidence, the court found the defendant guilty of murder and sentenced him to 27 years' imprisonment. Subsequently, defense counsel filed a written motion for a new trial and a motion to reduce the sentence. Both motions ...

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