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09/22/87 the People of the State of v. Thomas Sykes

September 22, 1987

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

THOMAS SYKES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SECOND DIVISION

515 N.E.2d 253, 161 Ill. App. 3d 623, 113 Ill. Dec. 444

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Kenneth L. Gillis, Judge, presiding. 1987.IL.1399

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE BILANDIC delivered the opinion of the court. STAMOS and HARTMAN, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE BILANDIC

Defendant, Thomas Sykes, was convicted by a jury for aggravated kidnapping and unlawful restraint. He was sentenced on the aggravated kidnapping charge to an extended term of imprisonment of 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence.

On April 13, 1984, at about 8:30 a.m., the victim, age 10, was walking to school. As she approached a playground, a man she had never seen before came up to her and asked where her parents were. She identified the man as the defendant. After she told defendant she could not talk to strangers, he asked her if she wanted some candy or money and asked her name. She ignored defendant. Defendant then grabbed her arm, dragging her into an alley. She testified that defendant threatened to kill her if she screamed and that he pulled a gun from his sock and put it to her head.

The victim testified that defendant pulled her through two or three alleys until they reached a partially vacant apartment building. At this point, defendant encountered Lark Branch, the manager of the building, and represented the victim as his niece. Lark denied defendant access to the building.

Defendant then pulled her down the street. Branch, suspicious of defendant, followed. Upon seeing another man across the street, the victim yelled for help. Defendant ran off.

The victim described defendant as wearing a light tan jacket, brown shoes, black pants, brown hat, and having brown eyes. She also stated that he did not have a beard or mustache. At trial, she identified the jacket defendant was wearing as that worn by the man who abducted her.

On May 3, 1984, Branch saw defendant walking down the street. This was the first time Branch had seen the defendant since the incident. Branch called the police and together they found defendant and he was arrested.

The next morning, the victim viewed a lineup in the presence of her mother and Detective Jack Stewart. She identified defendant as her abductor. Prior to trial, a hearing was held on defendant's motion to suppress identification testimony on the ground that the lineup was unconstitutionally suggestive.

Stewart testified at the hearing that there were five participants in the lineup, including defendant, who was in the second position. Defendant wore a beige or tan jacket in the lineup, while the other participants wore jackets which were black, brown, or blue. Four of the five men in the lineup, including defendant, had some facial hair. After argument, the trial court found that the lineup was not unduly suggestive and the motion was denied.

The victim testified at trial that she recognized the defendant because of his face, not the jacket. She stated that she was looking at defendant's face most of the time during which he pulled her through the alleys and down the street.

Lark Branch also testified concerning the occurrence. Prior to his testimony, the trial court granted defendant's motion in limine to bar any testimony that would refer to Sykes as a "vagrant" who was "hanging around" the apartments in Branch's building. The court also granted another motion to bar Branch from testifying about an alleged incident in which defendant supposedly tried to rob an elderly woman in the building.

During his testimony, however, Branch testified that he had "[put] him [defendant] out of a vacant apartment . . . he was trying to sleep in one time." He also stated, "[And] then when I put him out of the apartment, next day some tenants were moving out and they got him from somewhere to help . . .. Then two weeks after that he tried to stick up a lady." At this point, defendant objected. The court sustained the objection.

The State also presented the testimony of another victim at trial for the purpose of showing modus operandi, identification and intent. Prior to trial, defendant moved to preclude the admission into evidence of other crimes by defendant. The State indicated that they intended to introduce in their case in chief evidence of three other alleged crimes by defendant. After argument, the court allowed only the evidence from the case involving the victim, concluding that there was "a similarity of facts and circumstances that would indicate a behavioral pattern that is unique." The court found that the alleged facts in both involved the abduction of 10-year-old black girls in the same neighborhood, in the proximity to some school. The court also noted that in one case, the victim was taken to a vacant apartment, while in another, the victim was taken to an abandoned building., Defendant renewed his motion prior to the testimony of this witness at trial. The court denied this motion.

The witness testified that at about noon, on April 3, 1984, she began to walk home from school. As she was crossing an alley, a man she had never seen before grabbed her by the arm, put a gun to her head, and told her that he would kill her if she screamed. She identified that man as the defendant both at a lineup and in court. She testified that defendant was wearing a light brown ...


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