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June 17, 1994



Gordon, Murray, Cousins, Jr.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gordon

JUSTICE GORDON delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, Shawanda Collins was found guilty of residential burglary, armed violence, and two counts of armed robbery. The trial court entered judgment on the two armed robbery convictions and sentenced defendant to two concurrent eight-year terms of imprisonment. The trial court also imposed a $1000 fine. Defendant appeals the convictions and the fine entered against her.


This case arose from events which allegedly occurred on July 27, 1990, at the Chicago apartment of Dwayne Ross ("Ross"). Ross, a friend named Althea Johnson, and Chicago Police Department Officer Mark Flynn testified for the State.

Ross testified that on that night he was sleeping in his guest bedroom when, at approximately 2:00 a.m., he awoke to muffled voices. He arose and noticed that the outside door to the apartment, which he had locked before retiring, was wide open. He went into his bedroom where his guests, Althea and Gabriella Johnson were staying. There, he saw the two women against the wall. Defendant was going through his belongings in a wardrobe closet, while a man pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him. Ross was acquainted with defendant.

Ross stated that the gunman commanded him to get on his knees, threatening to shoot him. Ross obeyed. Defendant, who had a baseball bat under her arm, asked Ross where the money was. Ross asked if defendant meant the $60 he owed her. She replied that she was talking about $200. Defendant then hit Ross two or three times in the face with her fist. As Ross attempted to stand, defendant and the gunman both ordered him to get down, and the gunman struck Ross in the face with his fist. As Ross attempted to block the blows with his arm, the gunman ripped gold chains from Ross' wrist.

Ross further testified that defendant threw some clothes at him and told him, "You are going with us." Defendant started pushing Ross out the door, saying, "You are going with me. You are going to die tonight. You are going to get $200 from somewhere." Defendant pushed him out of the apartment into the alley by a garage. At this point, Ross noticed that the gunman was not with them, so he struggled free of defendant and ran to a nearby shop where he called the police.

According to Ross, the police met him at the shop and they proceeded to the apartment. When they arrived, Ross saw that the door frame was splintered as if the door had been kicked open, the bedroom was "messed up", the television was smashed, and several items were missing, including a bus pass, $30 in cash, two watches and over 100 cassette tapes.

On cross-examination, the defense sought to impeach Ross with his preliminary hearing testimony in which he indicated that he was on his knees when defendant entered the bedroom. Regarding Ross' conversation with Officer Flynn and his partner, he did not recall mentioning that defendant carried a baseball bat or that she threatened his life, nor did Ross recall whether he called his swollen face to the attention of the officers. Ross also conceded that he did not request medical attention.

Althea Johnson ("Althea") testified that she and her cousin were staying in Ross' bedroom that night, while Ross stayed in an adjacent room. At about 2:00 a.m., while she watched television, she heard a very loud kick at a door. She jumped from the bed onto the floor. Next she heard a second kick and realized there were intruders in the apartment. A man with a sawed-off shotgun entered the bedroom and ordered the two women to get up. The two women rose and stood beside the bed. The gunman threatened to "blow [their] heads off" if they moved. Five or ten minutes later, defendant entered the bedroom, while the gunman was still holding the gun on them. Then Ross entered and asked what was happening.

Althea testified that defendant said she wanted her $200 and told Ross to get on the floor. Both defendant and the gunman hit Ross in the face with their fists. Defendant rummaged through the closet, threw something at Ross, and told him he was coming with her. As the gunman stood near Ross, defendant smashed the television, ripped the phone wire from the wall, threw the phone, then dragged Ross from the room.

Althea further testified that after defendant dragged Ross outside, the gunman rummaged through the room and took two gold rings and a watch. He made Althea open dresser drawers, from which he took $30, a bus pass, and another watch. He also took a case filled with cassette tapes. The gunman threatened to shoot the two women and ordered them to undress and lie face down on the bed. After five or ten minutes, Althea saw the gunman leave. They waited a little while before getting up and dressing. Althea went to the apartment door and closed it, noticing it did not make a latching sound. She returned to the bedroom. Shortly, she heard keys rattling, and the police entered.

On cross-examination, Althea related that defendant returned to the apartment before the gunman left. At this time, the gunman handed defendant a microwave oven. As to any words exchanged at that time between the gunman and defendant, Althea's testimony was contradictory, but her testimony was consistent that the gunman handed the oven to defendant who took it. Althea also stated on cross-examination that she did not see defendant with a baseball bat. She could not recall if she had told the police who came to the apartment that defendant had struck Ross or that the microwave had been taken.

Officer Mark Flynn also testified for the State. He and his partner, responding to a radio call, met Ross outside a shop and then proceeded to the nearby building where Ross lived in the basement apartment. They spoke with Ross on the front lawn, then went with him to the back basement door. The door was loose from the hinges and the door frame was broken away in the area of the lock. Officer Flynn testified that they went through the door into the kitchen which appeared to have been ransacked. They walked through a sparsely furnished room to a bedroom in the front of the apartment. Clothes were strewn about the bedroom, drawers were open, and the mattress was pulled away from the bed frame. Officer Flynn also testified that Althea Johnson was crying, and Mr. Ross was agitated and on the verge of tears.

Over defendant's objections, Officer Flynn was allowed to testify to the particulars of his conversation with Ross, which included statements that Shawanda Collins and a man with a gun had come into his apartment, that Shawanda demanded $200, and that he was struck, losing some jewelry in the process. Officer Flynn was also allowed to testify that Ross told him the microwave oven and $30 had been taken. Officer Flynn further testified that he saw no cuts or bleeding, but he did ask Ross if he wanted to go to the hospital to see a doctor. Ross declined.

On cross-examination Officer Flynn stated he did not recall Ross mentioning that defendant had a baseball bat, nor did he recall with certainty the amount of money Ross said had been taken, although his police report indicated the amount was $30. Although the report did not mention that Ross' life was threatened or that Ross had been beaten, Officer ...

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