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04/18/94 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. RAMONE WRIGHT

April 18, 1994

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE,
v.
RAMONE WRIGHT, A/K/A RAMON FOX AND RAMON WHITE, DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 91-CF-1124. Honorable Michael J. O'Malley, Judge Presiding.

Lewis, Welch, Maag

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lewis

PRESIDING JUSTICE LEWIS delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Ramone Wright, was convicted of armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, par. 18-2(a)), by a jury, and was sentenced to 12 years' incarceration. He appeals, raising one issue on appeal: that he was denied his due process rights to confront the witnesses against him when the court limited his cross-examination of a State's witness regarding statements made by defendant. We affirm for the reasons set forth below.

The facts adduced at trial were as follows: At approximately 3:30 a.m. on September 24, 1991, Christopher Blanchard (Blanchard) and his girlfriend, Chris O'Rourke (O'Rourke), were driving home after attending a barbecue at Blanchard's cousin's house in East St. Louis. O'Rourke, who was driving her 1984 Buick Regal, stopped at a Clark service station to use the restroom.

While she was in the restroom, Blanchard sat in the car and waited. Defendant approached the passenger-side window, bent down towards the window, and asked Blanchard if there was a restroom in the service station. Blanchard replied that there was, told the defendant that the restroom was occupied, and turned and motioned to his left, away from the window, to indicate where the restroom was. When Blanchard turned back to defendant, defendant had a gun pointed at his face. Blanchard testified that he looked at the gun, then looked up at defendant's face to see if he were serious, saw that he was, then looked back at the gun. According to Blanchard, the area was well lit.

Defendant told Blanchard to step out of the car and to step behind the service station's dumpster, which was nearby. Blanchard complied. As Blanchard went behind the dumpster, he looked back and saw defendant get into the passenger side of the car and move over to the driver's side. When defendant did this, the overhead dome light was on, and Blanchard was able to see defendant's face. Although Blanchard was behind the dumpster, he was able to see defendant's face through the windshield as defendant backed the car out onto State Street and drove away.

O'Rourke came out of the restroom just as defendant drove off the service station lot. She did not see Blanchard immediately as he was behind the dumpster. However, she was able to see that it was not Blanchard driving her car away. Blanchard came from behind the dumpster and told her what had happened.

Blanchard called the East St. Louis police to report the theft of O'Rourke's car. While Blanchard and O'Rourke waited for the East St. Louis police to arrive, an Illinois State Trooper car passed by and they hailed it down. The State trooper allowed them to sit inside the patrol car, and they told the trooper what had transpired. Approximately 20 to 30 minutes after defendant had stolen O'Rourke's car, Officer Alecia Bruce of the East St. Louis police arrived at the service station, and she took over the investigation of the robbery.

Blanchard and O'Rourke were in Bruce's patrol car giving details of the robbery and a description of defendant when a broadcast came over Officer Bruce's police radio informing the officer that a car matching the description of O'Rourke's car had been located near the Gompers Homes, a housing project in East St. Louis. Officer Bruce immediately took O'Rourke and Blanchard to that location so that O'Rourke could identify her car.

When Officer Bruce arrived at the Gompers Homes, there were already three or four officers at the scene. Additionally, two men, one of whom was defendant, were standing behind the stolen car. As Officer Bruce pulled up and stopped the patrol car, Blanchard pointed to defendant, who had his back to him, and informed Officer Bruce that defendant was the person who had held the gun to his face and had taken the car.

Officer Bruce got out of her car and talked to the other officers present. Subsequently, Blanchard got out of the car and again identified the defendant as the man who had taken O'Rourke's car after holding a gun on him. Blanchard told the officers that he had never before seen the other person with defendant. O'Rourke identified her car. O'Rourke went up to the driver's side of her car and looked inside the open door. There she saw a chrome-colored gun laying between the driver's seat and the door. Defendant was placed under arrest at approximately 4 a.m. or 4:15 a.m., about 45 minutes after the robbery had taken place.

Testimony was also presented at trial regarding the locating of O'Rourke's car and defendant's arrest, as well as the arrest of the other person found in the stolen car with defendant, a Percy Edwards. Edwards was subsequently cleared and released.

Defendant presented the testimony of David Peck, a forensic scientist for the Illinois State Police crime lab. Peck had examined the gun found in O'Rourke's car for latent prints and had found a latent palm print on the gun. Peck also received defendant's fingerprint cards from the East St. Louis police, which were taken when defendant was booked. Peck was unable to compare defendant's palm print with the palm print found on the gun as defendant's palm print was incomplete. Peck informed the East St. Louis police that ...


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