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06/16/89 the People of the State of v. Osborne Alexander

June 16, 1989





540 N.E.2d 949, 184 Ill. App. 3d 855, 133 Ill. Dec. 83 1989.IL.906

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Earl Strayhorn, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE QUINLAN delivered the opinion of the court. EGAN, P.J., and LaPORTA, J., concur.


The defendant, Osborne Alexander, was arrested and charged by indictment with the murder and armed robbery of Michael Winfield. Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, the defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 40 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The defendant has appealed his conviction to this court, asking that this court reverse his conviction and order a new trial.

On March 3, 1985, Michael Winfield, a Checker Cab driver, was found shot to death in his cab in the 7300 block of South Clyde in Chicago. Chicago police officer Phyllis Stewart was called to the scene and discovered the cab wedged between two cars, with its motor still running, and the driver slumped behind the wheel of the car. The cab's fare box was still on and registered $3.60, plus 50 cents in extras. Upon investigation, neighborhood residents gave a description of the offender as a male black, approximately 6 feet tall. Later, the defendant, Osborne Alexander, was arrested and charged with the murder and armed robbery of Winfield.

At defendant's trial, the State's chief witness was Claude Young. Young admitted that he was under indictment for 10 armed robberies and that the State had agreed to recommend a maximum sentence of 15 years on those robberies in return for his testimony. He also admitted that he had previously been convicted of voluntary manslaughter. In his testimony, Young stated that he was at home on March 3, 1985, at 3 a.m., watching television in his second-floor apartment, when he heard a gunshot, which was followed by the sound of crashing automobiles. He then heard someone banging on the window of the first floor of the building. Young went downstairs and saw the defendant, Osborne Alexander, and Jerry Polk, who lived on the first floor of Young's building, standing together and talking. Young said the defendant had a .38 caliber gun with him, which Young said he knew was the defendant's gun. Young further testified that he noticed blood on the sleeve of the defendant's coat.

Young additionally testified that the defendant told him at that time that the defendant and his wife had been at the Jedi Lounge and had taken a cab home. He said the defendant also told him he had instructed the cab driver to drop his wife off at home and then drive him to 73rd and Clyde. Once the cab driver reached 73rd and Clyde, the defendant stated that he pulled out his gun and demanded the cab driver's money. The cab driver, the defendant said, refused to give him any money and turned around to hit the defendant in the face. Young stated that the defendant then shot the cab driver, jumped out of the cab, and took the cab driver's money from his pockets, along with some pornographic pictures that were on the front seat of the cab, and ran to Young's building, which was just down the alley from 73rd and Clyde.

Young said that the defendant initially wanted to escape through the back of Young's building, but decided to wait when he saw that the police had arrived. The defendant, Young and Polk then went down to Polk's apartment. At one point, Polk went to the defendant's house and brought back a change of clothes for him. Once the police were gone, the defendant changed his clothes, gave his gun to Young, and left. Around noon that same day, Young returned the defendant's clothes and gun to him. Several days later, the defendant gave the gun back to Young and asked Young to sell it. Young then sold the gun to a bootlegger.

Later, Young said, on April 8, 1985, he was arrested on an unrelated charge, and after talking with the police officers, agreed to take them to the bootlegger to retrieve the defendant's gun. The bootlegger had sold the gun, but was able to recover it. Thereafter, the gun was turned over to the police.

Robert Loeb next testified that he was an assistant State's Attorney and on April 8, 1985, was assigned to the felony review unit of the State's Attorney's office. On April 8, he was called to the police station to talk with the defendant concerning the murder of Winfield. The defendant was not handcuffed and appeared alert and composed. Loeb introduced himself to the defendant, explained that he was working with the police, and advised the defendant of his Miranda rights. Loeb talked with the defendant for approximately 45 minutes. Loeb then asked the defendant if he would go through the same statement again in front of a court reporter. The defendant refused, but agreed to sign a typed statement of what he had just said.

Loeb then typed a summary of the defendant's statement and read the statement to the defendant. Loeb read the statement a second time and the defendant pointed out two mistakes. Loeb then wrote in the corrections that the defendant told him to make and the defendant initialled those corrections. On cross-examination, Loeb said that the defendant had never actually signed the typed statement and had never admitted that he shot Winfield, but instead said that a man named James Grace had done the shooting. Loeb also said that he saw the defendant's wife at the police station, but that she was not in custody or restrained in any way.

The defendant's typed statement was then read to the jury. In his statement, the defendant said that James Grace had dropped the defendant and his wife, Lydia, off at the Jedi Lounge at 11 p.m. on March 2, 1985. Defendant and Lydia left the Jedi around 1:30 a.m. (now March 3) and took a cab home. The cab dropped Lydia off, and defendant then told the cab driver to pick Grace up at the P & J Liquor store. After picking Grace up, the defendant had the cab driver take them to "Catman's" to buy cocaine. The defendant went up to Catman's and left Grace in the cab. The defendant did not want to take his gun to Catman's, so he left it with Grace. Defendant then returned to the cab and sat in the front seat. When the cab reached the 7300 block of South Clyde, Grace pulled out defendant's gun. The cab driver tried to hit Grace, and Grace shot him. The cab then hit a parked car. Grace jumped out of the cab and defendant took $30 ...

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