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October 7, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Honorable Themis Karnezis, Judge Presiding.

Egan, McNAMARA, Rakowski

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Egan

PRESIDING JUSTICE EGAN delivered the opinion of the court:

A jury found the defendant, Hilton Keller, guilty of the first degree murder and attempted armed robbery of Ollie Jones. The Judge sentenced the defendant to concurrent imprisonment terms of 70 years for murder and 15 years for attempted armed robbery. He first contends that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of either offense.

The deceased, nicknamed O.B., owned a variety store at 1940 West 69th Street in Chicago. On May 15, 1991, at about 5:30 p.m., Rashim Black, who had several criminal charges pending against him in juvenile court at the time he testified for the State, went to O.B's store and started playing a video game. No one was in the store except O.B. and Black. About 15 minutes later, the defendant, whom Black knew by the nickname "Dooley," came into the store. Black had associated with the defendant for about a year and a half. The defendant told Black he needed some money. Black told him he did not have any. O.B. started yelling at the defendant to get out of the store. When the defendant answered with obscene language, O.B. unlocked the counter door and walked toward the defendant. As O.B. approached him, the defendant left the store. Black continued to play video games and then left to go next door to a store owned by William Jones. Black stayed at Jones' store for approximately two hours.

Black returned to O.B.'s store and played pinball. While Black was playing, the defendant returned and began arguing with O.B. Black saw the defendant pull out a long black gun and hold it down by his right side so that it was concealed from O.B.'s sight. Because he was frightened, Black left O.B.'s store and went to Jones' store. Approximately two and one-half minutes later Black heard gunshots. Black then saw O.B. in the street bleeding from his stomach. O.B. yelled for Jones.

Tyesha Green, who was eight years old, testified that she often played with the defendant when he visited her cousin Shakita. As she, Shakita and another girl named Latonya walked toward O.B.'s store she saw the defendant leaving the store trying to conceal a black gun in his right arm under his coat. As the defendant ran through an alley, O.B. left the store; he was bleeding from his stomach.

William Jones testified that Black was in his store when he heard O.B. call him. As Jones ran toward the front of the store he saw Black playing a video game. After O.B. fell to the ground, the police arrived. As the police blockaded the front of O.B.'s store, Jones and Black had a 20 minute conversation during which Black told O.B. that the defendant had shot O.B. Because Black was afraid, Jones let him out the side door so that Black could avoid the police.

Leonard Dawson had known the defendant for a number of years. At around 7:30 p.m., Dawson was walking down Damen Avenue toward 68th Street and Winchester; as he approached O.B.'s store he saw the defendant leave with his right hand tucked away. He had known the defendant for three or four years and was on friendly terms with him. He saw him in the neighborhood everyday. Dawson yelled the defendant's name two or three times, and the defendant looked at him and continued to run and conceal his right hand. Dawson saw O.B. stagger out the front door of his store and motion toward Jones' store. After the police arrived, Dawson left.

Some time later the police came to Dawson's girl friend's house. Dawson accompanied them to 22nd and Clark Street as they searched for the defendant. While at the police station, Dawson gave a written statement in which he told the police what he had seen. At the time he testified, Dawson had a robbery case pending. At the time he made the statement to the police, he was on parole but did not have any charges pending against him. He expected some type of consideration for testifying against the defendant.

Chicago Police Officer Judith Solava arrived at the scene at approximately 7:30 p.m. She saw O.B. staggering out of a building. He was calling out the name, "Hot Rod," a nickname for Jones. She was unable to have any type of a conversation with O.B. A fire department ambulance took O.B. to a hospital where he subsequently died. There was trail of blood from where O.B. had fallen that led into the store.

Police evidence technician John Stella went to O.B.'s store at 8:30 p.m. He was unable to obtain any fingerprints that were suitable for comparison purposes. The cash register was open. "Miscellaneous change" was inside the register and a large bag containing pennies was lying next to the register. There was no paper money inside the register.

An autopsy of O.B.'s body disclosed six gunshot wounds of entrance. One bullet perforated the lung; another perforated the intestines; one entered his left arm; and two entered the left leg. The skin adjacent to the wound that perforated the lung displayed a pattern of gun powder stippling that was "evidence of close range firing." Only loose change was recovered from his clothes; no paper money was recovered.

Detective Thomas Ptak went to an apartment at 2031 South Clark, and a young woman named Sandra Gilbert answered the door. After the police told her that they had a warrant for the defendant's arrest and showed her an "IR photograph," she let them into the apartment. Ptak did not find the defendant in the apartment at that time. About 20 minutes later, Ptak and another officer returned to the apartment. Sandra Gilbert again answered and allowed the officers into the apartment. At that time they found the defendant in a bedroom under an "enormous pile" of clothes. When Ptak asked the defendant why ...

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