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09/29/89 the People of the State of v. Ronald Banks

September 29, 1989





545 N.E.2d 416, 189 Ill. App. 3d 580, 136 Ill. Dec. 892 1989.IL.1581

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas Hett, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE McMORROW delivered the opinion of the court. JIGANTI, P.J., and JOHNSON, J., concur.


Following a jury trial, defendant Ronald Banks was convicted of armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 18-2(a)) and sentenced to a term of natural life imprisonment. On appeal, defendant argues that he should receive a new trial because (1) the trial court should have allowed his motion to quash his warrantless arrest and to suppress evidence seized during and following that arrest; and (2) he was denied effective representation of counsel at trial. We affirm.

Defendant was tried by a jury for the armed robbery of a currency exchange that occurred at approximately 6 p.m. on October 1, 1985. Dorothy Harrison (Harrison), an employee at the currency exchange, testified that at that time she had closed the business for the day and was preparing to leave the building. As she exited the building, a man grabbed her from behind, put a hand over her mouth, and held a large butcher knife up to her face. Harrison testified that the man forced her back into the currency exchange and told her that he had a stick of dynamite. The assailant ordered her to open the safe and put money into a plastic bag that he handed to her. Harrison complied, placing money, food stamps, city stickers, and six money orders for $250 each, which he directed her to make, into the bag. The man then demanded her car keys, which she gave to him, and also took her wallet. The offender then directed Harrison to stay in a certain area of the currency exchange and fled in her car.

Harrison summoned the police, who arrived shortly thereafter. She told them that the assailant was a black male with a medium complexion, 30 to 35 years old, 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, and that he had black nappy hair and a mustache. Harrison also told police that the offender was wearing a blue jean jacket and dark pants. She said that the man had taken over $5,000 in cash, $8,000 in food stamps, the money orders, and a number of city stickers, CTA tokens and coins, as well as Harrison's car, wallet, and keys. At trial, Harrison identified defendant as the offender.

At approximately 10:30 p.m. the day after the incident, the police received an anonymous tip that a man was selling food stamps from a room in a hotel located approximately three miles from the currency exchange that had been robbed the previous evening. The caller's description of the man matched that which Harrison had given, except that the anonymous caller's description did not include a mustache. As relayed to investigating officers, the caller said that he believed the man was the person who had robbed the currency exchange the day before, that the man "was currently at the hotel, but he was leaving his room right now, and he would be leaving the hotel shortly." Based on this information, Chicago police officers proceeded to the hotel and set up surveillance of the front and rear of the hotel. After a short period of time, the police officers waiting in front of the hotel saw a man who fit Harrison's description go into a hotel room. After verifying with the hotel manager that the man was renting this room, the officers went to the door of the hotel room and knocked on the door, announcing that they were police officers. The man answered that he would come to the door in a minute. The officers waited a few minutes, knocked again, and the man opened the door. The officers could see into the room through the open doorway, and observed several large stacks of food stamps on a nightstand in the room. The man attempted to close the door, but the officers held the door open and the man ran into a bathroom in the hotel room. The officers then entered the room and placed the man under arrest. The person so arrested was defendant. The officers recovered the food stamps that were in plain view in the room. They also seized a blue nylon bag that was open on a bed in the hotel room, searched the bag, and found additional evidence therein, including Harrison's wallet. Later they recovered Harrison's car keys from defendant, as well as Harrison's car, which was parked in a location to which defendant had directed the officers.

Defendant was then taken to a police station for processing. During post-arrest interrogation conducted by officers following defendant's waiver of his Miranda rights, defendant admitted to the robbery of the currency exchange. In this statement, defendant told the officers that after he had taken all the proceeds from the safe, and taken Harrison's keys and wallet from her possession, defendant "showed" Harrison a knife. Defendant's statement made no reference to threatening to use dynamite at any time during the robbery. While at the police station, defendant was placed in a lineup, where he was positively identified by Harrison.

A fingerprint recovered from the inside surface of a door that led to the employee work area of the currency exchange was found to match defendant's fingerprints. No knife was ever recovered from the currency exchange, from defendant's hotel room, or from Harrison's car.

Defendant's defense at trial was that the State's evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of armed robbery, on the premise that the State's evidence did not establish that he had used a knife during the course of the robbery. In his defense, defendant called a Chicago police officer who spoke to Harrison shortly after the incident. The officer testified that according to the narrative portion of the officer's report, Harrison did not mention to the officer that her assailant had used a knife. In rebuttal, the State called another police officer who had also talked with Harrison shortly after the incident; this officer testified that Harrison did state that the offender had used a knife to gain entry to the currency exchange and force her to turn over the items taken during the course of the incident.

Based upon this evidence, the jury found the defendant guilty of armed robbery. The trial court sentenced the defendant to a term of natural ...

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