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People v. Robinson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

May 8, 2018

GLENN ROBINSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 12 CR 18676 The Honorable Joseph Michael Claps, Judge, presiding.

          JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Pucinski and Mason concurred in the judgment and opinion.


          HYMAN JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Two police officers saw a masked man committing an armed robbery and tried to stop him. The man opened fire on the officers, who responded in kind and chased him for several blocks. Along the way, the man fired shots at other police officers. At the end of the chase, discarded beside a house, the police found a handgun and a mask. Nearby, defendant Glenn Robinson lay with bullet wounds. A jury convicted Robinson of several counts of attempted first degree murder.

         ¶ 2 Robinson argues that a state ballistics expert laid an insufficient foundation for her expert opinion linking several cartridge casings found along the masked man's route to the handgun found near Robinson. But any weakness in that testimony could have been brought out on cross-examination, and goes to the weight of the evidence, not its admissibility. Robinson also challenges his sentence as a habitual criminal, arguing that his earlier convictions for armed robbery consist of elements different than the current armed robbery statute. We reject this as overly formalistic and affirm the conviction and sentence.

         ¶ 3 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 Around 3 a.m. on September 4, 2012, two police officers, Cecil Phillips and Shantell Clinton, were driving in unmarked squad car near the corner of State Street and 75th Street, when they saw two men standing in front of an electronics store. One man, wearing a mask and a dark hooded sweatshirt, pointed a gun at the other man. Phillips and Clinton stopped, got out, announced they were police officers, and directed the armed man to drop his weapon. Instead, the man turned and fired multiple times at Phillips and Clinton. The officers took cover behind the squad car and returned fire. The armed man ran north on State Street, and Phillips ran after him. Clinton used her police radio to report the shots, and drove north in pursuit.

         ¶ 5 Two other officers, Tiffany Ermon and Evona Earnest, sat in a marked squad car a block further north, at 74th Street and State Street, when they heard multiple gunshots. They then saw the armed man at the corner, firing his weapon southward on State Street. He turned and fired at the squad car. Ermon fired back from behind the car; Earnest fired back from the driver's side window. The man ran east on 74th Street until Ermon lost sight of him as he passed an alley between State Street and Wabash Avenue. Ermon and Earnest followed him in their squad car; Ermon saw the man running south through the yards of houses on Wabash Avenue.

         ¶ 6 Phillips had followed the man north on State Street, then east on 74th Street, until he reached the alley between State Street and Wabash Avenue. He heard the man trying to jump the fences between the houses. At 7418 South Wabash Avenue, Phillips jumped a fence into a gangway between two houses. On the ground, he found a bloodied black hooded sweatshirt with holes in the front and right arm sleeve, an empty Glock semiautomatic weapon, gloves, a hat, and a mask.

         ¶ 7 At 7422 South Wabash Avenue, Ermon saw Phillips in the alley; she then climbed a fence into yards, crossed onto Wabash Avenue, and saw a man lying on the porch at 7422 South Wabash Avenue, surrounded by other officers who had converged there. The man (Robinson) had been shot five times in the right forearm, scrotum, and abdomen.

         ¶ 8 Police charged Robinson with 16 counts of attempted first degree murder. The State presented the testimony of all four officers (as well as a civilian who witnessed the initial shots fired at Phillips and Clinton). None of the officers could identify the shooter since he had been wearing a mask. There were no usable fingerprints on either the handgun or its magazine, and no useful DNA on the handgun.

         ¶ 9 But, Robinson could not be excluded from the DNA profiles obtained from the hat and the mask. At 7411 South State Street (between 74th and 75th Streets), police found car keys belonging to a Chevy Tahoe parked on 74th Street east of State Street. Robinson was the Tahoe's registered owner; police recovered Robinson's driver's license in the center console.

         ¶ 10 The shootout left several dozen cartridge casings strewn along 75th, State, and 74th Streets. The State presented firearm examiner Jennifer Hanna from the Illinois State Police, who had examined the handgun found in the alley, along with the officers' guns, and the recovered cartridge casings. Just before Hanna's scheduled testimony, Robinson's counsel objected, arguing that Hanna did not have sufficient foundation for the basis of her opinions. The trial court denied this objection, stating that counsel should have requested more discovery on Hanna's methods or filed a motion in limine.

         ¶ 11 Hanna testified that, generally, she identifies firearms based on their "class characteristics" (common to a particular type or model of handgun) versus their "individual characteristics" (imperfections unique to a particular weapon). She test-fired each of the five handguns (four from the officers, and the one found in the gangway) and compared the results to each of the cartridge casings recovered. She opined, without detail, that 15 of the casings had been fired by the gun in the gangway, 15 casings had been fired from Phillips's gun, 8 casings had been fired from Ermon's gun, 8 casings had ...

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