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06/20/89 the People of the State of v. Henry Sargent

June 20, 1989

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

HENRY SARGENT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SECOND DIVISION

540 N.E.2d 981, 184 Ill. App. 3d 1016, 133 Ill. Dec. 115 1989.IL.933

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Sophia Hall, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE HARTMAN delivered the opinion of the court. BILANDIC, P.J., and DiVITO, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE HARTMAN

After a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of armed robbery and sentenced to 22 years in custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Defendant appeals and raises as issues whether: (1) the circuit court erred in denying his request for a continuance of the trial; (2) certain remarks made by the prosecutor in closing argument denied him a fair trial; (3) he was entitled to a new sentencing hearing; and (4) his sentence should be modified.

On September 26, 1985, at about 3 a.m., Daisy Price and Ernest Walker were robbed by two men, one of whom carried a sawed-off shotgun. Defendant was subsequently arrested and charged with the armed robbery.

At trial the evidence revealed that Daisy Price and Ernest Walker left the New Ritz Hotel, located near Lake and Central in Chicago, between 2:15 and 3 a.m. on the morning of September 26, 1985. As they walked toward Walker's car, they noticed three men sitting in a small brown four-door station wagon. Walker unlocked the passenger door for Price and, as she entered the vehicle, a man rushed around from in front of the car. One man, later identified as defendant, and a second man holding a shotgun, later alleged to be Ricky Westbrook, began pushing Walker. The man with the shotgun placed it against Walker's head, walked him around the car, and made him lie on the ground. He searched Walker's pockets, taking his wallet containing $9.

As Price sat in the car with the door still open, defendant grabbed her arm and demanded "Where is your purse?" When Price denied having a purse, which was actually located on the floor of the car, defendant leaned inside the vehicle to look for himself. The armed offender then entered the car from the driver's side and pointed the shotgun in Price's face. Defendant eventually found the purse, which contained an ID, checkbook, and $300 in cash, tucked the purse under his arm, and

Price recalled that during the entire incident, she saw defendant's face clearly. The car's interior dome light was on, and the location was illuminated by streetlights. She also described being "eyeball to eyeball" with defendant during the robbery. Walker claimed he caught a quick glimpse of defendant at the outset of the encounter.

Larry Daniels was the third man sitting in the car noticed earlier by Price and Walker. He testified that in the early hours of September 26, 1985, he was driving to a relative's house in his brown Hornet station wagon when he saw defendant and Ricky Westbrook on the street. The two men flagged down Daniels and asked for a ride to Lake and Central. He initially refused, but later agreed when offered $5.

Daniels dropped off his family and proceeded to the requested intersection. Westbrook, and then defendant, told Daniels they were planning to rob somebody. Daniels drove to the New Ritz Hotel and pulled into the parking lot. They saw a lady and man walking to their car; Westbrook and defendant got out of Daniels' car and ran towards them. Although he was supposed to wait for the two men, Daniels became scared, not wanting to be involved. He drove off, but his car stalled on Central directly in front of the hotel. As Daniels restarted his vehicle, police sergeant Bill Sheldon, on routine patrol, drove up and asked if there was a problem. After a brief conversation, Daniels drove away down Central; 30 seconds to 1 minute later, the sergeant received a radio call informing him of the recent robbery.

Meanwhile, as Price reported the robbery and described the car she saw earlier to Eichinger, she looked down the street and noticed Daniels' vehicle, which was slowly proceeding down Central. Eichinger pursued the vehicle, curbed it less than two blocks away, and arrested Daniels.

Daniels immediately agreed to cooperate with police. He showed them an apartment building on the 4300 block of West Van Buren, where he thought the offenders might be staying, and later named Westbrook and defendant as the perpetrators. In cross-examination, however, Daniels admitted that he initially did not name defendant and told police a conflicting version of the robbery. At approximately 5:15 that same morning, he took two officers and two detectives back to the building on Van Buren. Daniels knocked on the door of the basement apartment and identified himself; defendant answered and opened the door asking "Where the fuck you been? You booked on us." The police entered the apartment and saw defendant and four other men inside, standing around a bar, attempting to stuff money into their pockets. Daniels then told police which men were Westbrook and defendant.

The five men eventually were taken to a police station, and around 7:15 a.m. that same morning, put into a lineup. Price, upon viewing that lineup, immediately identified defendant, saying she was "absolutely positive" he was the man who robbed her. She did not identify Westbrook, however, who also was placed in the same lineup. Walker also identified defendant, but was tentative; he stated that he was not positive, but was "reasonably sure" or "almost sure" of his identification of defendant. Walker also did not recognize Westbrook in the lineup at the station. Both Walker and Price identified defendant in court.

Defendant's testimony differed from that of the foregoing State's witnesses in several details. He claimed that he met his girlfriend, Verdel Evans, at 4:30 p.m. the previous day, and they went to drink and gamble in the apartment at 4340 W. Van Buren. He stayed in that apartment from 5 to about 12:30 a.m. the following morning, when he left with Evans to purchase alcohol from a nearby store. He immediately returned to the apartment and continued to drink and gamble. He never left the apartment, never went anywhere with Westbrook, and never entered a car driven by Daniels. A man named Willie Stiffend answered the apartment door when Daniels knocked. The money confiscated from him by police ...


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