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06/30/89 the People of the State of v. Reginald Baldwin

June 30, 1989





541 N.E.2d 1315, 185 Ill. App. 3d 1079, 133 Ill. Dec. 877

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Kenneth Gillis, Judge, presiding. 1989.IL.1059


JUSTICE CAMPBELL delivered the opinion of the court. MANNING, P.J., and O'CONNOR, J., concur.


Following a bench trial, the defendant, Reginald Baldwin, was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to six years' imprisonment. The defendant appeals from the conviction.

On appeal, defendant contends (1) his conviction must be reversed where it was based on identification testimony that was doubtful and vague and, therefore, he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) his conviction must be reversed because of errors made by the trial court in determining that defendant was fit for trial and was able to cooperate with his counsel; and (3) he did not receive effective assistance of counsel where defense counsel proceeded to trial prior to investigating defendant's mental condition and where he failed to obtain relevant psychiatric records until after trial.

At trial, Patricia Kesterson testified that on the night of August 5, 1986, at approximately 10:20 p.m., she returned home to her courtyard apartment on the north side of Chicago. She unlocked the exterior vestibule door, propped the door open with her right foot, and began pulling her keys out of the door. At that moment, the defendant approached the victim and stuck his foot in the door. The defendant put a knife to the victim's throat with his right hand and used his left hand to push her against the mailboxes. Kesterson stated the robber had "crazy black eyes," which she described as watery, glossy, extremely shiny, and bulging out. The defendant repeatedly stated "give it to me," indicating that he wanted her purse, and Kesterson protested. The defendant finally grabbed Kesterson's purse and started to run through the courtyard. Kesterson ran after the defendant, calling out for help. Michael McClory, a neighbor of Kesterson's, heard her cries and also began chasing the defendant. Kesterson lost sight of the defendant, but hailed down a police car and the two police officers began running after McClory. The defendant was subsequently apprehended and Kesterson identified the defendant in court.

Michael McClory testified that he resides in the vicinity of Patricia Kesterson's apartment. On the night of August 5, 1986, he heard screams and saw Kesterson running. Kesterson told him that her purse had been taken and pointed at the defendant. McClory chased the defendant down an alleyway. He followed the defendant over a fence at the end of the alleyway but twisted his ankle. He yelled out to the police officers the direction in which the defendant was running. McClory identified defendant in court as the man he had chased.

Peter Roach testified that he heard shouting in the alley outside his home on August 5, 1986. He looked out over his balcony and saw a person moving from one stairwell to another stairwell. Roach saw the police officers on the street and told them that there could be a problem. The police began checking the stairwells and found the defendant hiding in the stairwell below Roach's apartment. The officers also found a knife and a baseball cap in the stairwell.

Chicago police officer James Buckner testified that he received a call about an offender being chased in the area of 2331 N. Geneva Terrace in Chicago. Buckner and his partner, Officer Jakowski, began a foot search in the rear of some of the buildings in that area. Buckner heard his partner yell "don't move" and went to his assistance. Jakowski had his revolver drawn and pointed down a stairwell. Jakowski ordered the defendant to come up from the stairwell, handcuffed him and advised him of his rights. Buckner testified that defendant was wearing a gray sports jacket and dark pants. The defendant had a moustache and brown eyes. The defendant told the police officers that he had been sleeping. The officers found a knife and a black baseball cap with a yellow front in the stairwell. It was stipulated by the parties that no fingerprint evidence was taken from the knife or the victim's purse.

Defendant's first contention is that his conviction must be reversed because it was based upon identification testimony which was doubtful and vague and which did not prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The State maintains that the defendant was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt where two eyewitnesses identified the defendant in court as the offender, and the defendant was arrested within minutes after the offense a short distance from the scene of the crime, and the knife used in the armed robbery was recovered in the defendant's immediate vicinity.

In a bench trial, it is for the trial Judge to determine the credibility of witnesses, to weigh evidence and draw reasonable inferences therefrom, and to resolve any conflicts in the evidence. (People v. Berland (1978), 74 Ill. 2d 286, 385 N.E.2d 649; People v. Mendoza (1978), 62 Ill. App. 3d 609, 378 N.E.2d 1318.) On review the trial court's judgment will not be set aside unless the proof is so unsatisfactory, improbable or implausible as to justify a reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt. (People v. Johnson (1986), 114 Ill. 2d 170, 499 N.E.2d 1355; People v. Collins (1985), 106 Ill. 2d 237, 478 N.E.2d 267.) Discrepancies or conflicts in the testimony generally affect only the weight to be given the testimony, and the trier of fact is free to accept or reject a witness' testimony. People v. Childs (1981), 95 Ill. App. 3d 606, 420 N.E.2d 513.

In the case at bar, the victim testified that the defendant approached her while she was standing in an area adequately supplied with artificial light. She stated she was able to view the defendant's face at close range for approximately two minutes. Later, after the defendant was apprehended by the police, ...

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