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People v. Parchman

December 18, 1998


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Greiman

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

Following a jury trial, defendant Reginald Parchman was found guilty of armed robbery and home invasion and sentenced to two concurrent nine-year sentences. Defendant appeals, arguing that he is entitled to a new trial because (1) the prosecutor made improper comments during closing argument; (2) the State improperly withheld evidence; and (3) the trial court improperly limited his right to cross examine the State's key witness. We affirm.

The State charged defendant with several offenses related to allegations of an armed robbery of Shan Wang at 8022 South Ellis in Chicago. The case proceeded to trial on the charges of home invasion in violation of section 12--11(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/12--11(a)(1) (West 1996)) and armed robbery in violation of section 18--2 (720 ILCS 5/18--2 (West 1996)).

At trial, Wang testified that he moved into an apartment on South Ellis in August 1996. He did not know anyone in the neighborhood, but eventually met people in the building and neighborhood. He was introduced to defendant by a neighbor who lived in the building next to defendant's building. In October of 1996, he saw defendant fairly frequently. They spoke and exchanged greetings periodically. On one occasion Wang gave defendant a ride to school and back. On at least two occasions, defendant was a guest at Wang's apartment with several other friends and acquaintances. Wang estimated that defendant stayed an hour or two on each occasion and the group socialized, played cards, watched television, and smoked marijuana. Wang had also seen defendant in the building visiting other people. Defendant was a good friend of a person named Lamont, who lived upstairs.

On October 29, 1996, as Wang was getting ready for school at approximately 7:45 a.m., he heard a knock on the door and he asked who was there. He heard a male voice claiming to be Lamont; looked through a peep hole in the door and saw an African-American male whom he did not recognize. He assumed, however, that Lamont was standing next to him. When Wang opened the door slightly, it was forcibly pushed open and two men entered. One man wore a ski mask and the other did not. He identified defendant as the man who wore the ski mask. Defendant put a gun to Wang's head and Wang heard defendant cock the gun. Defendant told Wang it was a "stick up" and demanded Wang's money.

Wang testified that he instantly knew it was defendant behind the mask. Despite the mask, Wang could see his eyes, eyebrows, the shape of his mouth, and other physical features. Wang also stated that as soon as defendant spoke he recognized his voice. Wang stated that at first he thought it was a terrible joke and was tempted to ask defendant what he was doing. However, he said nothing, deciding that if defendant knew that he had been recognized, he might kill him. Wang stated that the other intruder was in his mid 20s, heavy-set, bald, and wore a green jumpsuit. Wang had never seen him before.

After the two men entered the apartment, they closed the door. Defendant continued to hold the gun at Wang's head and demanded his wallet. Wang had the proceeds of a student loan in his wallet, and Wang was reluctant to give it to defendant. Wang feigned that he did not know the whereabouts of his wallet and defendant became upset. Wang told defendant that the wallet might be in the closet and he and the other man went to look for it. Wang pretended to look through his clothes. Defendant then ordered him out of the closet. Defendant kicked at a pair of Wang's pants and Wang's wallet fell out in plain view. Defendant took Wang's wallet, which contained approximately $1,100, an alien card, a social security card, a driver's license, credit cards, pictures, and other memorabilia. The other man took Wang's video cassette recorder (VCR).

Defendant pointed the gun at Wang and ordered him into the bathroom. After he heard the men run down the stairs, Wang came out of the bathroom and called the police. Wang estimated that the whole incident last approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

The police arrived in about 10 minutes and Wang identified defendant as one of the persons who had entered the apartment. He informed the officer that defendant lived down the street and he gave her a description. Wang rode in the back of the police car while the officer drove down the street and Wang identified the area where defendant lived. Wang was not sure as to which of two buildings on Ellis, but he was certain that it was one of them.

After the police had left, Wang discovered that his compact disc player was also missing. He believed defendant took it from his bag on the couch while Wang and the other man were searching the closet. Wang testified that he then canceled his credit cards. On November 7, 1996, Wang went to the police station, viewed a lineup, and identified defendant as the person who pointed the gun at him and took his money.

On cross-examination, Wang stated that his apartment had been burglarized a few weeks before this incident and he had reported it to the police. At that time, he lost over $2,000 of jewelry, a computer, an answering machine, speakers, checks, and a miniature stereo. He did not have the VCR at the time. He bought the VCR from the mother of a friend on October 28, 1996. Defense counsel attempted to inquire as to how often Wang smoked marijuana, but the court sustained objection to the question. Wang also stated on cross-examination that he initially opened the door to his apartment after he heard a deep African-American voice that he assumed belonged to Lamont.

The State called Officer Gloria Holcomb, who testified that on October 29, 1996, she responded to a robbery call and spoke to Wang. She learned that he had been robbed by two people who had forced their way into the apartment. Wang knew the name of one of the people to be "Reggie." He described him as a black male between the ages of 14 and 16, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, and approximately 150 pounds. He was medium complected with brown eyes and black hair. Reggie was wearing a face mask, purple sweatshirt, and black sweatpants. Wang stated that he was acquainted with Reggie and that Reggie had been in his apartment before. Wang gave Holcomb an approximate address of where Reggie lived. Wang was unable to identify the second offender, but described him as a black male, about 6 feet and approximately 225 pounds. He wore a green jumpsuit, was light complected, and had black hair. Wang was not acquainted with the second offender.

The State called Detective William Higgins, the officer who conducted the lineup, to testify. He stated that there were six individuals in the lineup, including defendant. The detective was in the room when Wang identified defendant as the man who robbed him. Defendant was then placed under arrest. Higgins learned that defendant lived at 7928 Ellis. He was 16 years old, 5 feet 9 inches, 125 pounds, and had brown eyes. On cross-examination, the officer stated that the police never recovered any of the stolen property. Nor did they recover the gun or a ski mask.

Willie Gaines testified as a witness for the defense. He stated that he is a teacher at Chicago Vocational High School and that defendant was a student in his second-period class. The class started at 8:54 a.m. and he takes attendance sometime after 8:57 a.m. Gaines could not recall specifically seeing defendant in class on October 29, 1996, but his attendance record indicated that defendant was present for class that day.

James Jones testified for defendant. He stated that he met Wang in August of 1996. They played video games together, smoked marijuana, and talked. Jones spoke with Wang on the morning of October 29, 1996. Wang told him that someone had robbed him and Wang said that he believed it was defendant. Wang said that he knew him by his voice. Thomas Theodore also testified for defendant. He stated that he knew Wang and they had played video games, smoked marijuana, and rode in cars together. He spoke with Wang after the incident on October 29, 1996, and Wang told him that he thought defendant was the robber. He said that he knew it was defendant because of the way he talked and the way he walked.

Officer Michelle Carter testified for defendant. She took the report of a burglary on October 13, 1996, from Wang. Wang told her that various miscellaneous items of jewelry had been taken, a computer, a monitor, a printer, an ...

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