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People v. Fields

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

March 31, 2017

ANTHONY FIELDS, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 10 CR 2886 Honorable William Hooks, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE PIERCE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Neville and Mason concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant Anthony Fields was convicted of armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(2) (West 2008)) and being an armed habitual criminal (AHC) (720 ILCS 5/24-1.7(a) (West 2008)). The trial court imposed a 21-year sentence for armed robbery, which included a 15-year enhancement for the use of a firearm and a concurrent 10-year sentence on the conviction of being an AHC. Defendant appealed, arguing (1)the evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of either charge, (2)the 15-year enhancement of his sentence for armed robbery is unconstitutional, and (3) he received ineffective assistance of counsel. On February 11, 2014, we issued an opinion modified upon denial of rehearing, affirming his armed robbery conviction but reversing the AHC conviction. People v. Fields, 2014 IL App (1st) 110311. In September 2016, our supreme court issued a supervisory order directing us to reconsider that judgment in light of its decision in People v. McFadden, 2016 IL 117424. We now affirm defendant's conviction for AHC as well as armed robbery.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 The record on appeal discloses the following facts. The State charged defendant with armed robbery and being an AHC. Prior to trial, defendant's counsel filed a motion to suppress a show-up identification by the victim, Felicia Rowell. Following a hearing, the circuit court denied the motion to suppress.

         ¶ 4 Defendant's counsel also filed a motion in limine to bar admission of his 2005 conviction for unlawful use of a weapon and his 2006 conviction for armed robbery as impeachment. Fields's counsel argued that the similarity of the prior convictions to the armed robbery charge rendered the evidence unfairly prejudicial. The record shows that the trial judge granted this motion, stating that while Fields's testimony could reopen the issue, the judge could not envision a fair trial if the prior convictions were ruled admissible. The trial judge also asked how Fields's counsel intended to handle the AHC charge. Fields's counsel responded that the defense would agree with the State to stipulate to the fact that Fields had two qualifying prior convictions, without specifying the exact nature of those convictions.

         ¶ 5 At trial, Rowell testified that on December 24, 2009, at approximately 10:15 a.m., she went to the Happy Food convenience store at the corner of 115th Street and Princeton Avenue in Chicago. Rowell carried $185 in cash to complete her Christmas shopping. Rowell stated that, once inside the store, she saw the cashier behind the counter, while Fields and another man stood next to an ice cream freezer. Rowell looked at Fields and the other man, and she was unsure whether they were in line to check out. They stepped aside, and Rowell got into the line to check out. Rowell further stated that, while in line, she looked at the cashier, while Fields and the other man stood one or two feet away from her, facing her.

         ¶ 6 Rowell purchased a pack of cigarettes, taking the $185 out of her pocket and returning the remainder to her top jacket pocket as she left the store. According to Rowell, as she turned north, she heard Fields say, "What up?" Looking at Fields over her right shoulder, Rowell heard Fields say, "Let me get that." Rowell testified that she then saw Fields holding a black gun at his side, pointed at her. Rowell then looked back at Fields's face. Rowell also testified that she removed her money from her jacket pocket with her right hand and Fields grabbed the money with his left hand.

         ¶ 7 Rowell further testified that she continued to look at Fields in the face, but there was a moment of awkward silence. According to Rowell, she said, "Dude, it's Christmas Eve. I've got kids." Rowell stated that Fields responded, "Remember my face. This [is] your lucky day. Get in your car." Moreover, Rowell stated that she did look at Fields's face noting he was a dark-skinned male, with hair on his face, wearing a black skull cap, a black jacket with a red "H" on it, denim jeans, and a black hoodie. She described Fields as approximately 5 feet 7 inches, but she said she just knew that he was taller than her own height, 5 feet 5 inches. She also described Fields as chubby, weighing between 180 and 200 pounds. She described the other man as light-skinned and slender, taller than Fields and wearing a red jacket. Rowell entered her car from the passenger side and drove away. Rowell estimated the time from her entry to the store to this point was approximately five minutes.

         ¶ 8 Rowell arrived home approximately five minutes later. Rowell testified that she was hysterical. When Rowell walked through the door, her husband, children, and brother were there. According to Rowell, her brother was on the telephone with their mother. Rowell announced that she had been robbed, took the telephone from her brother, and told their mother she had been robbed. Rowell's mother advised her to report the offense to the police. Rowell went to a police station on 103rd Street, where she was referred to the fifth district police station on 111th Street. Rowell provided a statement to police at the fifth district station.

         ¶ 9 Chicago police officer Edgar Neal testified that he worked at the front desk at the fifth district police station on December 24, 2009. After refreshing his recollection, Officer Neal stated that Rowell described Fields as a black male with a dark complexion and brown eyes, wearing a black skull cap and a black hoodie with a red "T" on it, 28 to 30 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, and weighing 190 to 200 pounds. Officer Neal could not recall whether the flash message mentioned Fields having facial hair. Officer Neal sent out a flash message by radio about the crime, but the police did not locate anyone meeting the description on that day.

         ¶ 10 Rowell testified that on January 21, 2010, while driving her children to school, she saw Fields standing outside Happy Food, wearing the same clothing he wore during the robbery. Rowell realized the jacket bore a red "H, " rather than a "T." She stared at Fields while at a stop sign; Fields did not recognize her. Rowell took her children to school, then drove to the fifth district police station and showed her original complaint to an officer on duty. The police did not locate Fields that day.

         ¶ 11 Further, Rowell testified that on January 22, 2010, she again saw Fields standing at the corner of 115th Street and Princeton Avenue. Fields again drove to the police station, where an officer said she would have to wait 30 to 60 minutes for an officer to escort her to search for Fields. Rowell said she refused, responding that Fields would be gone by then. Rowell saw Fields at the same location during her drive home. Upon arriving home, she telephoned the police. Rowell stated that she lived on the west side of the 115th block of Princeton Avenue and told the police dispatcher she could see Fields while she was speaking to the dispatcher. Rowell told the officer that she would meet the police at 115th Street and Harvard Avenue because she did not want them arriving at her house.

         ¶ 12 Chicago police officer Michael Kavanaugh testified that he and his partner responded to a dispatch call at approximately 2 p.m. on January 22, 2010, about a person wanted at 115th Street and South Princeton Avenue. The person described by police computer was a black male, 28 years old, approximately 5 feet 6 inches, dark complexion, hairy face, and wearing a black jacket with a red "H" on the front. When they arrived, there was no one in front of the Happy Food store, so the police entered the store. Officer Kavanaugh testified that a man matching the description, except for his height, was inside the store; he identified the man in court as Fields. The police detained Fields, handcuffed him, and brought him outside the store.

         ¶ 13 According to Officer Cavanaugh, he asked Officers Novy and Coutinho, who also responded to the police dispatch call, whether they could bring Rowell to 115th Street and Princeton Avenue. Officer Cavanaugh testified that Officers Novy and Coutinho returned approximately two minutes later. Officer Cavanaugh stated that he removed Fields from his police car as the other officers arrived. When the second police car came to a stop, approximately 10 feet away, Rowell looked out the side window and identified Fields. Officer Cavanaugh then arrested Fields and took him to the fifth district station.

         ¶ 14 The State read the jury a stipulation that Fields had "two qualifying felony convictions to be considered in connection with the AHC charge." Those convictions were for armed robbery and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW).

         ¶ 15 Christine Fields, defendant's grandmother, testified that Fields lived with her and other family members at 12035 South Wentworth Avenue. Christine testified that she awakened at 6 a.m. on December 24, 2009, to prepare a Christmas feast. According to Christine, Fields took some food from the kitchen at approximately 6:30 a.m. and returned for milk between 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. Christine did not know whether Fields left the apartment at any other time that day.

         ¶ 16 Fields testified on his own behalf that he worked at Happy Food for five months before his arrest but he received his wages in cash and never filled out tax forms or deposited the wages into a bank account. Fields also testified that on the Christmas Eve in question, he spent the morning in his bedroom, except for a trip to the kitchen to get some pie. Fields stated he visited his nieces that afternoon and went to a mall with a friend that evening, returning home after 10 p.m. Fields further testified that he bought the Harvard jacket he was wearing at the time of ...

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