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12/21/88 the People of the State of v. Dino Connor

December 21, 1988





532 N.E.2d 520, 177 Ill. App. 3d 532, 126 Ill. Dec. 835 1988.IL.1847

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Arthur J. Cieslik, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE McNAMARA delivered the opinion of the court. WHITE, P.J., and FREEMAN, J., concur.


Defendant Dino Connor was charged with armed robbery, armed violence and unlawful restraint. A jury found him guilty of armed robbery, and the trial court sentenced defendant to a term of 17 years. Defendant appeals, contending that he was denied a fair trial as the result of the trial Judge's hostility toward defense counsel, the introduction of other crimes evidence, and the ineffective assistance of counsel. He also contends that the sentences of defendant and a codefendant were disproportionate. (Daniel Clay, who is not involved in this appeal, was found guilty of the same offense and was sentenced to a term of six years.)

On October 31, 1982, at about 9:20 p.m., 76-year-old Elmar Runguls was walking near his home when two men accosted him and demanded his money. One man stood in front of Runguls, holding a gun to his head. The other man, later identified as defendant, stood at Runguls' side and went through his pockets. The men took Runguls' wallet, which contained $10 and identification, and ran away.

Runguls returned home and telephoned the police with a description, which was broadcast on the police radio. About 20 minutes later, Runguls identified defendant and Clay in a squad car at his home, and later identified them in a lineup. Runguls testified that the gun recovered from defendant looked like the one used in the robbery.

Officer Michael Keas testified that at about 9:55 p.m. he and his partner saw Clay running, with his arm raised, toward two women in a car stopped at a red light. Clay saw the officers, dropped his arm, and began running the other way. Defendant was standing near a building, and defendant started moving in the same direction as Clay, but they did not speak to each other. Both men were stopped by the officers. Keas found a loaded gun in defendant's waistband. The officers brought the two men to Runguls' home, and Runguls identified them.

It was stipulated that defendant was admitted to bond on November 6, 1982, failed to appear in court on December 6, 1982, and had a bond forfeiture warrant issued for his arrest.

Tondaleo Clinton, defendant's mother, offered alibi testimony for defendant. She stated that defendant was at home with her on October 31 from 8 p.m. until about 10 p.m.

During a sidebar, defense counsel asked to use John Johnson, who was listed as a character witness, as an alibi witness. On the day of trial, counsel had learned that defendant was with Johnson while he repaired a thermostat in defendant's home. The court denied the request and limited Johnson's testimony to character evidence. Johnson, defendant's landlord, testified that defendant was a peaceful, law-abiding person. Carnita Woolfolk testified similarly.

Defendant testified that he was at his mother's home until 9:40 or 9:45 p.m., when he left for his grandmother's home. After leaving, he saw a friend, Marshon Stewart, who offered to sell defendant a gun. Defendant took the gun and agreed to pay Stewart the $40 later. While standing at a bus stop several blocks from his home, defendant and Clay were detained by several police officers. Defendant knew Clay from high school, but they had not spoken to each other near the bus stop.

In August 1982, defendant had been accepted by the Marine Corps. Defendant's full name is Dino E. Clinton Connor. Because he had previously enlisted under the name of Dino Clinton in August 1982, he used the name Connor when he was arrested in October 1982, "to avoid any mix-ups with this here and the government." When he bought the gun from Stewart on October 31, defendant knew he would be leaving for boot camp in about a week. Defendant had stated in his August 1982 application that he had never been arrested, charged, detained in prison or involved in a court action. He had not taken the final oath when he was charged with these crimes on November 1, 1982. On November 8, 1982, defendant reexecuted the end of the 41-page Marine ...

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