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July 20, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Michael Getty, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication August 25, 1994.

Cerda, Rizzi, Greiman

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cerda

JUSTICE CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a bench trial, defendant, Roland Thompson, was convicted of the February 23, 1973, murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1)(now codified as 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 1992))) of Jack Akins. After defendant elected to be sentenced under the sentencing provisions in effect at the time of the murder, he was sentenced to an indeterminate term of 25 to 75 years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant asserts that (1) the trial court erred in failing to dismiss the indictment due to prejudice; and (2) he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Based on the reasons that follow, we affirm.

Prior to a bench trial, the trial court conducted a hearing on defendant's motion to dismiss his indictment based on the 18 year period between the murder and the indictment. Defendant presented evidence that Chicago police investigator Brunhart interviewed neighbors in the area of Luella Park shortly after the murder. According to Brunhart's testimony to the coroner's inquiry on May 1, 1973, several witnesses told him that there had been a running gun battle at 11:30 p.m. near Luella Park on February 23, 1973. Brunhart's notes indicated that Edith Chapman, who is now deceased, told him that at 11:30 p.m. on February 23, 1973, she heard five or six gunshots outside her home, which was one-half block from Luella Park.

Marilyn Strorigl told Brunhart that she heard five or six gunshots around 11:30 p.m. outside her home at 10113 South Luella, followed by two more shots. Ms. C. Clark said that she heard several gunshots at that time outside her home at 10047 South Luella. Ms. Clark's son Michael told Brunhart that he was walking by Luella Park when he heard shots and saw a man shooting in a westerly direction. Martin Luther said that he heard gunshots at the same time and saw a car turn south on Crandon Street, which is one block east of Luella.

The defense counsel argued that he was unable to locate those witnesses due to the passage of time. Strorigl and the Clarks had moved from the neighborhood and could not be located. Defense counsel spoke with Martin Luther, who could not remember hearing gunshots. He remembered only that the police interviewed him regarding the shooting and that blood was found on his driveway. The trial court denied defendant's motion to dismiss his indictment.

At trial, Aaron Akins testified that his son, Jack, lived with him at 10046 S. Bensley Street, Chicago, on February 23, 1973. That night, Jack left home around 8:45 p.m. to go to a nearby drugstore.

Daniel Judon testified that he saw Jack Akins and defendant near 100th and Bensley Streets on February 23, 1973. The three men walked to a liquor store at 100th and Yates Streets to get a drink, but as they approached the store, Earl Martin, Jackie Robinson, and a man known as Satan drove up in a Toronado. The three men got into the car and rode to Walgreens at 95th Street and Jeffrey Avenue, where they could buy liquor at a cheaper price. At Walgreens, the men pooled their money and bought beer and whiskey.

According to Judon, he was seated in the middle back seat; Robinson was on his left; Akins was on his right; Satan was driving; Martin was in the front middle seat; and defendant was in the front right seat. From Walgreens, Satan drove to Luella Park, which is located at 100th and Luella Streets. As they were getting ready to drink, defendant suddenly turned around and said "light some fire." Judon then heard a pop. When he looked around, he saw defendant with a gun in his hand and heard Akins cough.

Defendant told everyone to keep his mouth shut and then told Satan to drive off. Defendant directed Satan to the back of a house. During that time, defendant had the gun pointed at the men in the back seat.

When the car stopped, Martin got out of the car and ran. Defendant asked the other men to help him remove the body from the car, but they all refused. Finally, defendant pulled the body out by himself and left it lying on the ground. Satan then drove the men back to 100th Street, where they all went their own way. Defendant walked with Judon and told him not to say anything; that he knew where his mother worked and where she got off the bus.

A week later, Judon saw defendant, who said that he shot Akins because Akins had called him a half breed just as his mother's killer had said. Judon testified that he knew that defendant's ...

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