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April 5, 1994



Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied October 6, 1994.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scariano

JUSTICE SCARIANO delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant Warren Murdock was charged by indictment with the August 22, 1989 murder of Marina Justice which occurred during the course of a robbery in which he took her purse without authority. The following evidence was adduced at his trial or at hearings held on the multiple pre-trial motions he filed.

Sally Jones testified that at approximately 8:15 a.m. on August 22, 1989, she was phoning her employer from a pay phone located at the corner of Race and Ohio Streets in the City of Chicago when she noticed an individual walking up Ohio Street, approaching her from the west. From her vantage point, she had an unobstructed opportunity to observe the individual and she noted that he was a very dark-complectedmale, with long dark hair, who was wearing a red shirt, dark pants and a hat; that he was approximately 28 to 30 years old; and that he carried a black umbrella.

While she waited for someone at her employer's office to answer her phone call, the individual passed her and continued walking west. She let the phone ring for about a minute but no one answered; in the meantime, the individual had reached the end of the block, turned around and again walked toward her. Jones sensed his presence as he neared her and she turned to look at him. This time she clearly saw his face and recalled that he was tall with a medium build. Soon thereafter he attacked her and attempted to take the purse she carried.

At trial, she identified defendant as being the person who assaulted her. She testified that she tried to fight him off, during which she was able to scratch his face, but she ultimately fell to the ground, still clutching her purse. Although she continued to struggle on the ground with defendant, he was finally able to pull the purse from her grasp and fled with it.

Jones chased after him, and by throwing her shoe at him she forced him to drop the purse as he continued to flee. She recovered her purse, ensured that it still contained her money, and immediately called police to report the crime. Six days later she was called to the police station where she viewed a lineup and identified defendant as being the person who had attempted to rob her.

Defendant moved in limine to exclude the evidence concerning his alleged robbery of Jones and that of another State witness, Pearl Patton, arguing that these incidents were other crimes evidence unrelated to the instant crime and thus were inadmissible. The court denied the motion and allowed the State to offer evidence of both crimes.

Frank DuBose, who was a neighbor of the murder victim, testified that on August 22, 1989, around 9 a.m., he was walking west on Midway Parkway from his home toward the home of a friend. The day was overcast with a slight drizzle, and the pavement was damp. As he walked, he observed the victim, whom he had known for two or three years, as she exited her home on the opposite side of Midway Parkway about a hundred feet to his front, and he recalled that she carried a black umbrella. The victim's estranged husband had earlier testified that she worked downtown and took the Lake Street elevated train to work, catching it at the Austin Boulevard station.

DuBose mounted the front stairs of his friend's home and rang his doorbell. His friend did not respond for some time and as he waited, DuBose looked around the neighborhood and noticed an individualwearing a red t-shirt, black, soiled pants and carrying a black umbrella, who was walking some distance behind the victim. Although he could not discern his facial features with any degree of precision, he did recognize that the man was very dark skinned, approximately six feet tall with thick hair combed straight back, and DuBose roughly estimated his age to be 22 to 30 years old. DuBose identified defendant for the record as the individual he had seen walking behind the victim.

DuBose left the porch, walked to the sidewalk and watched defendant as he was walking away. DuBose did so out of concern for the victim. After he saw that she neared Austin Avenue, a busy thoroughfare, he went into the home of his friend, who had opened the door some time before.

That morning Penny Ford, another neighbor of the victim, left her home on Midway Parkway at about 9 a.m. to take her three sons to their pediatrician. On her way to the Lake Street rapid transit station at Austin, she saw a person lying on a driveway, approximately 1/4 of a block east of Austin. She called to the prone figure, but the victim's labored breathing was the only response she received. Near the body she saw a pair of glasses and a broken umbrella. Soon the police and paramedics arrived, provided emergency treatment to the victim at the scene and then transported her to a nearby hospital, where she died.

Dr. Mary Jumbelic, a forensic pathologist with the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, performed an autopsy of the victim which disclosed that she had died due to craniocerebral injuries which resulted from blunt trauma to the skull. Jumbelic opined that an umbrella could have been the blunt instrument which delivered the trauma to the head. She added that even though she could not confirm with absolute certainty that an umbrella was the precise instrument used to deliver the fatal blow, she was confident that the death was properly classified as a homicide.

On August 28, 1989, Pearl Patton was walking with her granddaughter when a tall black man, weighing about 160 or 170 pounds, whom she later identified as defendant, stole her purse about a mile from where the victim was slain. Defendant fled down a nearby alley as Patton called for the police, and Chicago police officer Kevin O'Rourke arrived a very short time later. After learning of the robbery and getting a description of the person who snatched her purse, O'Rourke testified that he drove around the neighborhood with Patton and her granddaughter in his squadrol, looking for the robber. After a while, Patton saw defendant and pointed him out as the man who had taken her purse from her. O'Rourke arrested himand performed ...

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