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03/28/89 the People of the State of v. Edward R. Shields

March 28, 1989





536 N.E.2d 999, 181 Ill. App. 3d 260, 129 Ill. Dec. 949 1989.IL.402

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Jack G. Stein, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE EGAN delivered the opinion of the court. HARTMAN and SCARIANO, JJ., concur.


The defendant, Edward Shields, was found guilty of the murder of Richard Benage by a jury and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for 24 years.

The killing of Benage took place on August 16, 1986, during a traffic altercation at the intersection of Granville and Kenmore in Chicago. At the time of the occurrence the defendant was 51 years old; he was handicapped in that he had lost one leg in 1973 and was using a wooden leg. Because of bone infections and adhesions to the knee in his other leg, he could not bend that knee more than 50 degrees. As a result his ability to move was restricted.

On the day of the murder, the defendant, who owned his own white Ford cab, was driving around to buy tires. At approximately 2 p.m. on August 16, 1986, Karen Goodiron, a full-time employee of SAS Auto Delivery, picked up a co-employee, Richard Benage, to go with her to Granville and Kenmore to open up a car door because a man had locked his keys in the car. Benage, who was not scheduled to work that day, rode in the passenger seat. He was wearing jeans and a tee-shirt. He was unarmed and did not appear to her to be intoxicated.

At approximately 2:50 p.m., while Goodiron was driving north on Broadway, a white taxi came from Foster and cut her off. She later identified the defendant as the driver. She saw that he was wearing a tee-shirt with no collar. The cab stopped suddenly in the right-hand lane of traffic as did Goodiron. Benage told Goodiron to go around the cab; she pulled out and ended up to the left of the cab. Both the driver's side and passenger windows of both her car and the cab were open. The defendant was alone. During the course of driving down the block, Goodiron beeped her car horn as did the defendant; both the defendant and Benage were swearing and "giving each other the finger."

Both cars stopped at Bryn Mawr for the red light. At that point there were four lanes of traffic going north. Another car, operated by John Yun, was in the left-hand turn lane; Goodiron's car was in the lane immediately to the right; both lanes to the right of her car were empty. The cab pulled about eight feet to the rear of her car. The defendant and Benage gave each other the "finger" again, and Benage began to leave her car to see what the problem was. She attempted to restrain Benage but was unsuccessful. She testified she did not detect the smell of alcohol on his breath nor did he otherwise appear to be intoxicated. (Chemical tests later showed that he had a blood-alcohol level of .239.) Benage did not have anything in his hands when he left the car. He went around the back of her car to the driver's side of the taxi. As Benage approached the cab, Goodiron saw the defendant bend down in the cab. When she looked back after a shot had been fired, she saw the defendant "leaning" away from the driver's window. John Yun, in another car, testified he saw the victim say something and reach through the open window. He also said that a few seconds later a shot was fired. Neither Goodiron nor Yun saw the actual shooting, because at that moment both were checking the traffic signals to see if the stoplight had turned green. The shot directed their attention back to the cab. Both witnesses testified that after the shot Benage grabbed his chest and he had nothing in his hands.

The defendant then pulled the cab to the right of Goodiron's car, paused and stared at her and then drove east on Bryn Mawr. Benage was still standing, holding his chest, and blood was coming through his fingers. He told Goodiron, "Do you believe this, he shot me." Goodiron did not see anything in his hand or near him.

After Goodiron parked the car, Benage walked across the street to the corner. She went to call for assistance, and when she returned, the police were on the scene. She described the shooter as a white man in his late thirties or early forties with grayish hair. She did not describe his clothing, but she told the police that the man was driving a white cab.

Judith Zydowsky, one of the police officers who responded to the report of the shooting, testified that she and her partner, Detective William Agsted, were heading northbound on the 5600 block of Broadway when a call came in over their radio that a man had been shot at Bryn Mawr and Broadway. They arrived at the scene within moments. She noticed a man, bleeding, wearing a tee-shirt, pants and gym shoes lying on the sidewalk. She searched the area after interviewing witnesses and did not recover any weapon. After learning from Goodiron that the vehicle involved was a white taxi, she sent out a "flash message" on the police radio and toured the area looking for the cab.

Officer James Berg testified that he and his partner received a flash message that a man had been shot and that the offender was a white male driving a white cab eastbound on Catalpa. They received a second message giving the license number "9802 taxi-cab." They received a third message that the cab was a Ford and that the license number was registered to a suburban cab company, The Shield Cab Company. He recalled that he had seen that cab at the Acres Motel on Lincoln Avenue. They went to the motel and saw the cab in the parking lot. After learning from the manager where the cab driver was staying, the officers went to the room, knocked on the door and announced that they were police officers. After no response they obtained a ...

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