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12/17/87 the People of the State of v. Robert Taylor

December 17, 1987





518 N.E.2d 409, 164 Ill. App. 3d 938, 115 Ill. Dec. 884 1987.IL.1858

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


JUSTICE JOHNSON delivered the opinion of the court. McMORROW, P.J., and LINN, J., concur.


Defendant, Robert Taylor, was convicted of armed robbery and murder in a jury trial and resentenced to life imprisonment. It is from this sentence that defendant appeals and raises the following three issues: (1) whether the sentencing court erred in finding, as an aggravating factor, that the homicide occurred during the commission of a burglary; (2) whether the sentencing court erred in imposing a life sentence based on the finding, as an aggravating factor, that the murder was exceptionally brutal and heinous; and (3) whether the sentencing court abused its discretion by imposing a natural life sentence without considering his potential for rehabilitation.

We affirm.

Testimony at trial adduced the following facts. On March 7, 1979, Ronald Howell, who resided at 1157 North Cleveland Avenue in Chicago, Illinois (also known as Cabrini Green Public Housing), and Romy Wright heard gunshots as they descended on the elevator in the Cabrini Green building. When the elevator reached the lobby level, Howell saw a neighbor standing near the stairwell and heard her screaming. Howell then saw Robert Taylor bending over Freddie Lampton's body. Freddie was also a resident of Cabrini Green. Howell testified that as Taylor bent over Freddie's body it appeared as though he removed a watch and something else from decedent's pocket. Once Taylor noticed Howell, he aimed a gun at him, but Howell escaped into the adjoining building. Howell identified Robert Taylor in a lineup and in court as being the man he encountered in the lobby.

Chicago police officer Howard Hagen arrived shortly thereafter and discovered the deceased on the stairwell. Defendant was apprehended on March 9, 1979, by Officer Grandy, who recovered a revolver from defendant's waistband. The revolver was later identified as the weapon used in the murder of Freddie Lampton.

Subsequent to defendant's arrest, on March 10, 1979, Assistant State's Attorney Mary Shropshire, who was assigned to the felony review unit of the State's Attorney's office, had a conversation with defendant. Her partner was present. Shropshire informed defendant that she was not his attorney. After being advised of his Miranda rights, defendant informed Shropshire that on the night in question he was at his aunt's house until 7:30 p.m. He also said that he had not been in Cabrini Green since 1973. In response to questioning concerning the weapon he was carrying when he was arrested, defendant admitted that he had purchased the gun a week earlier. Defendant said he had not given the gun to anyone else and that no one else knew he had a gun.

The deceased's wife, Virginia Lampton, testified that her husband's watch and wallet had not been seen since Wednesday, March 7, the day of his murder. She stated that Freddie received his paycheck on Wednesdays. However, Officer Hagen, who examined Freddie's body at the scene of the crime, did not find any identification, wallet, money, or watch on decedent's body.

The court also heard testimony pertaining to two similar incidents which occurred in the same vicinity within a few days of Freddie's murder. The assailant in these incidents also carried a gun -- later identified as the same gun used to murder Freddie Lampton. Both victims positively identified defendant as their assailant. Defendant was found guilty and convicted for these offenses.

In mitigation, defendant presented testimony of Maria Sattar, a counselor and job developer for the Safe Foundation. Miss Sattar opined that defendant appeared to be a very intelligent person who knew what he was doing. Defendant's mother also testified and defendant testified on his own behalf.

At the close of all arguments, the jury rendered a guilty verdict and the court sentenced defendant to 60 years' imprisonment for the armed robbery offense and further sentenced him to death for the murder conviction. On direct appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Taylor (1984), 101 Ill. 2d 508, reversed the armed robbery conviction, affirmed the murder conviction, but vacated the death sentence. The court remanded the case to the trial court with directions to impose a sentence other than death for ...

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