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November 27, 1996



Released for Publication January 15, 1997.

The Honorable Justice Cousins delivered the opinion of the court: Hourihane, J., concurs. Gordon, J., dissents.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cousins

JUSTICE COUSINS delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a bench trial, defendant Anthony Lewis was found guilty of robbery and sentenced to six years in prison. On appeal, he contends that the State failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that the trial court abused its sentencing discretion when it disregarded his expression of remorse. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

The complaining witness, Dallas Pickett, testified that he was in a food and liquor store at 5415 South Ashland Avenue in Chicago shortly after midnight on October 26, 1994, when he noticed a man standing directly behind him in the lighted store vestibule. Pickett hurriedly placed his purchase in his shoulder bag, but when the teller laid Pickett's $17 to $18 in change on the turnstile, the man reached around Pickett and placed his hand on the money. Pickett testified that he "grabbed [the man's] hand which had the money in it" and tried to hold the man but some of the money fell to the floor. As the man broke away, Pickett grabbed his coat and pushed him. The man stooped down, causing Pickett to fall over him, and then fled. Pickett testified that the man escaped with $6 or $7 dollars. Pickett did not chase him, but returned to the store vestibule where he found a $10 bill on the floor. Pickett told the store teller about the incident but did not call the police.

Pickett testified that he got several good looks at his assailant. He saw the man again within a few hours but did not call the police. Some time later he flagged down a police car, told the officers what had happened and gave them a description of his assailant's clothing and physical features. Several weeks later, Pickett saw his assailant looking in the same store and followed him. The man fled when he saw Pickett. Pickett drove around the area with police but was unable to find the man. Chicago police officer John Murray testified that he stopped defendant a short time later and Pickett identified him. Pickett also identified him in court.

Defendant's grandmother testified that defendant had been sick in bed the entire week when the incident occurred and did not leave the house.

Defendant first contends that the State's evidence was insufficient to prove (1) that any money was taken, (2) that sufficient force was used to constitute a robbery or (3) that he was properly identified. A criminal conviction will not be set aside on review unless the evidence is so improbable or unsatisfactory that a reasonable doubt of defendant's guilt remains. People v. Byron, 164 Ill. 2d 279, 299, 207 Ill. Dec. 453, 647 N.E.2d 946 (1995). Determinations of the credibility of witnesses, weight to be given their testimony, and reasonable inferences to be drawn from the evidence are responsibilities of the trier of fact. People v. Steidl, 142 Ill. 2d 204, 226, 154 Ill. Dec. 616, 568 N.E.2d 837 (1991). On review, the relevant question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Nitz, 143 Ill. 2d 82, 95-96, 157 Ill. Dec. 431, 572 N.E.2d 895 (1991).

In Illinois, a person commits robbery when he takes property from the person or presence of another by the use of force or by threatening the imminent use of force. 720 ILCS 5/18-1 (West 1994). An apposite case is People v. Bowel, 111 Ill. 2d 58, 94 Ill. Dec. 748, 488 N.E.2d 995 (1986). In Bowel, a woman was carrying her purse at her side, holding the purse at the zipper when the purse opened. The defendant walked towards her and took her left hand with his left hand and "touched" her fingertips as he pulled the purse from her hand with his right hand leaving her fingers "a little red" but not bruised. As the defendant took the woman's left hand, he pushed it back, immobilizing her arm and causing her body to be "turned slightly." She then turned and watched him flee. A week later, the defendant was identified in a lineup as the purse snatcher. At trial, he was convicted of robbery. In affirming the robbery conviction, in Bowel, the Illinois Supreme Court wrote:

"The degree of force necessary to constitute robbery must be such that the power of the owner to retain his property is overcome, either by actual violence physically applied, or by putting him in such fear as to over power his will. Bowel, 111 Ill. 2d at 63. We consider that the trial court was correct in holding there was a robbery and not a theft from the person.

Looking at all the evidence of the incident, there was a taking of the purse by use of force and, thus, a robbery." People v. Bowel, 111 Ill. 2d at 63-64, 94 Ill. Dec. 748, 488 N.E.2d 995."

In the case sub judice, Pickett grabbed defendant's hand first as defendant snatched Pickett's change from the turnstile. The defendant retained some money and some money was scattered on the floor. Pickett sought to grab the defendant and fell over him. The use of force was sufficient to constitute robbery. People v. Bowel, 111 Ill. 2d at 64.

The dissent in this case places reliance primarily upon People v. Ryan, 239 Ill. 410, 88 N.E. 170 (1909), and People v. Patton, 76 Ill. 2d 45, 27 Ill. Dec. 766, 389 N.E.2d 1174 (1979). However, Ryan is distinguishable from the present appeal because Ryan, as the dissent writes, involved "an attempt to remove the stud from the necktie by stealth and adroitness, by means of the newspaper placed under the chin and by detaching the stud in some way. There was no injury to the person of the owner and no violence or struggle either to obtain the stud or retain it." (Emphasis added.) Slip ...

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