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People v. Flores

July 14, 2000


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'brien

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County

Honorable Ralph Reyna, Judge Presiding.

Following a jury trial, defendant, Santos "Shorty" Flores, was convicted of armed robbery and first degree murder. He was sentenced to 30 years for armed robbery and 60 years for first degree murder, the sentences to run consecutively. Defendant appeals.

On appeal, defendant contends the circuit court erred in that: (1) defendant's confession should have been suppressed; (2) defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel; (3) defendant's sentences were excessive; and (4) defendant's sentences should run concurrently rather than consecutively.

At trial, the testimony revealed that the victim, Ted Kontzias, operated Alfa Restaurant Supply Company at 4318 North Elston in Chicago, on the northwest corner of Elston and Berteau. Usually, at the end of each day, the victim took the day's money proceeds and paperwork home, but on December 13, 1995, the date of the incident, the victim's wife took the money home around 8:15 p.m.

James Radkins testified that shortly before 9 p.m. that evening, he arrived with his family at their family home at 4150 North Springfield, at the intersection of Springfield and Berteau, across the street from the Alfa Restaurant Supply Company parking lot. Radkins' wife was driving and entered the alley off Berteau to access their garage. Radkins saw a gray compact car, with its lights on and motor running, blocking the garage. The gray car moved slowly down the alley, pulled over, and parked about six or seven houses down. Radkins investigated the gray car, walked past where it had stopped and noticed the car was a gray Honda with license plate number CPP 816. Radkins then told his wife to call the police and report a suspicious car in the area, and she did.

Radkins further testified that at about 9 p.m. he heard gunshots coming from the direction of Elston Avenue. His neighbor ran out of his house and said somebody had been shot. Radkins went to the alley and saw computer papers and ledger sheets, which he had not seen before. Radkins then went to the Alfa Restaurant Supply parking lot and saw the victim on the ground. Radkins talked to police and reported the license number of the gray Honda.

Another witness, Sargon Albazi, testified that he was traveling northbound on Elston Avenue when he heard a couple of gunshots coming from a parking lot on the left-hand side of Elston prompting him to make a U-turn into the parking lot. Albazi saw a man in the parking lot who was holding his stomach or chest and who was sinking to his knees. Albazi glanced at two males running through an alley. He could not see their faces but noticed they were wearing dark clothes, which contrasted with the falling white snow. The man in the parking lot was yelling for help. Albazi went to a nearby police station and told two officers about what he had seen. The officers followed Albazi to the scene, where the victim was lying on the ground with people aiding him.

Officer Christine Caraballo testified she was one of the officers whom Mr. Albazi summoned to the scene, that she found the victim shot in the chest, bleeding, lying in the snow in the parking lot. After summoning an ambulance, Officer Caraballo and her partner knelt down and asked the victim what happened. The victim said that two men approached him and told him to give them his money. He said he did not have any. They shot him, took his papers, and ran.

Officer Granias testified that he also went to the scene. After interviewing Radkins, Albazi and another witness, Mr. Bradke, Officer Granias toured the area, looking for a gray Honda with tinted windows bearing license plate CPP 816, and for two male Hispanics wearing dark "hoodies."

Dr. Eupil Choi testified the victim died of two gunshot wounds to the chest.

An evidence technician testified that on the evening of December 13, 1995, he found snow on the ground and "paperwork" lying behind the garage at 4150 N. Springfield, consisting of computer printouts, invoices and other papers.

Gloria Ortiz, girlfriend of co-defendant Nelson "Coco" Rivera, testified that she lived at 1839 North Harding in Chicago with Nelson Rivera, Nelson's brother David Rivera, and David's wife, Miriam. She testified Nelson and defendant were members of the Maniac Latin Disciples, and that David Rivera owned a gray Honda with tinted windows. She further testified that on the evening of December 13, 1995, Nelson came home looking pale and said that he shot someone. Shortly thereafter, defendant walked in and Gloria asked him what was going on. Defendant said they tried to rob an old man, that Nelson shot him and that it happened near Pulaski and Irving Park. Defendant seemed upset that Nelson had shot the man. Nelson admitted to Gloria that he should not have shot the person.

Gloria and Miriam left in the gray Honda, with Gloria at the wheel, and went to Irving Park and Pulaski to "see what really happened." Officer Granias stopped the car, arrested Gloria and Miriam and took them to a police station for questioning. After a conversation with Gloria, Officer Granias went to 1839 North Harding in Chicago, arriving at 10 p.m. Officer Granias looked in the front window and saw people milling around, including a tall subject in a white T-shirt, and two other male Hispanic subjects wearing black or dark "hoodies." David, Nelson and defendant were all ...

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