People v. Johnson, 76--55

Citation362 N.E.2d 701,6 Ill.Dec. 66,47 Ill.App.3d 362
Decision Date28 March 1977
Docket NumberNo. 76--55,76--55
Parties, 6 Ill.Dec. 66 PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Bobby Joe JOHNSON, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Page 701

362 N.E.2d 701
47 Ill.App.3d 362, 6 Ill.Dec. 66
PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Bobby Joe JOHNSON, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 76--55.
Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth District.
March 28, 1977.
Supplemental Opinion On Denial of Rehearing April 27, 1977.

[47 Ill.App.3d 363]

Page 702

[6 Ill.Dec. 67] James A. Bell, and Allen I. Harris, St. Louis, Mo., for defendant-appellant.

Clinton Thurston and W. C. Spomer, State's Attys., Cairo, for plaintiff-appellee; Bruce D. Irish, Keith P. Vanden Dooren, Ill. State's Attys. Assn., Statewide Appellate Assistance Service, Mt. Vernon, of counsel.

KARNS, Justice:

Defendant-appellant Bobby Joe Johnson was convicted of attempt murder and aggravated battery after a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Alexander County, and was sentenced to a term of four to six years in the penitentiary for attempt murder. On appeal he raises numerous issues, only one of which we find it necessary to address: whether the court below committed reversible error in excluding the testimony of a prospective defense witness who had been in the courtroom during the [47 Ill.App.3d 364] testimony of other witnesses in violation of the sequestration rule announced by the court at the beginning of the trial. 1

The instant charges stemmed from a gun-shot wound in the forearm suffered by one would in the forearm suffered by one Donald G. Cook during a barroom brawl at a tavern, variously denominated as Ruby's Grove and the Stork Club, located in Future

Page 703

[6 Ill.Dec. 68] City, just north of Cairo. Cook testified that on the night of January 26, 1975, he was on his way with three friends from the suburbs of Chicago to Kentucky Lake. About 11:00 p.m., they stopped at the Stork Club to purchase some beer. They paid the cover charge of 75 cents apiece, bought beers, and found places to sit. There were 25 to 30 people in the establishment; all but Cook and his three friends were black. The tavern was dimly lit. There were 'black lights' on the stage, where a man was playing records.

According to Cook, one of his companions, James Lubin, walked over to a nearby table where four young black women were sitting and asked one of them to dance. The woman began to shout at Lubin, and someone else came up and hit him. Cook and his other two companions were moving towards the altercation when one of them, Thomas Palmer, was knocked to the floor with a short club. Two men then grabbed Cook and spun him around. Another man, whom Cook identified as the defendant, then approached within five or six feet of him with a small-caliber gun, which he fired into the floor in front of Cook. He then pointed the gun at Cook's head, said that he was going to kill him, and pulled the trigger. Cook threw up his hands and was struck by a bullet in the left forearm. He fell to one knee and watched his assailant run away. As he got up, someone else hit him in the mouth. When he and his friends were able to leave the tavern, they went to the Cairo hospital. Later that night Cook was transferred to another hospital in Paducah, Kentucky. The bullet shattered the bone in his left forearm, necessitating the placement of a three-inch steel plate in his arm.

Cook testified that he described his assailant to police as a slender black man about six feet tall, wearing a light sports coat and a dark shirt open at the neck. The man was not, according to Cook, wearing denim clothing. The day after the shooting, while he was still in the hospital, Cook was unable to identify his assailant from photographs. About six days later, [47 Ill.App.3d 365] however, he selected a photograph, which he testified was that of the defendant, from several pictures brought to him by the police. None of the officers to whom Cook gave his description, or in whose presence he made the photographic identification, was called to testify, nor were the photographs or any record of the photographic identification introduced into evidence.

The State's second witness was Thomas Palmer, whose account of the incident was substantially the same as Cook's. He testified that as he approached Lubin he was clubbed across the forehead and knocked to the floor. When he got up he heard a shot. He looked in the direction of the shot and saw a man, whom he identified as the defendant, fire a second time. He said that he saw the defendant later that night at the hospital in Cairo, and told one of the police officers that he had seen the gunman. He testified that he selected the defendant's picture from some 15 shown to him by police the day after the shooting.

Palmer denied offering any of the young women at the next table money to have sexual intercourse with him. He said that he asked one of the girls if she wanted to dance and she began swearing at him. He testified that he had originally told the state's attorney's investigator that Cook's assailant was black, under 30, five feet eight inches tall with a medium build. In court, however, when Palmer, who was six feet one inch tall, stood next to the defendant, they were about the same size. His in-court description of the clothing worn by the man who shot Cook was similar to Cook's. The light sports coat, he said, had a kind of houndstooth check. Shortly after the incident, however, Palmer had told the investigator that the assailant was wearing a green shirt and pants.

Connell Smith, Jr., a state police detective, and James Hunt, Jr., an Alexander County deputy sheriff, then testified as to the chain of custody of two spent .25-caliber casings and one slug recovered by Hunt at the Stork Club. The casings and slug were admitted into evidence over objection of the defendant.

Page 704

[6 Ill.Dec. 69] Hunt testified that he arrived at the tavern about 11:30 the night of January 26, about half an hour after the shooting. When he arrived, the door to the establishment was not locked, and a number of people were still there. Although he knew there had been a shooting, he did not search for a gun or conduct an investigation right away; instead, he waited until the place cleared out. Other officers arrived on the scene five or ten minutes later. When Hunt did execute a search, he found no guns. The defendant was among the patrons still there when Hunt arrived. The officer 'used reasonable force,' as he put it, to get the defendant out of the way during his investigation. He did not how the defendant was dressed. No scientific tests were conducted to determine whether the defendant or anyone else had recently fired a gun.

[47 Ill.App.3d 366] J. Reid Abercrombie, the Alexander County Clerk, testified that Ruby's Grove, the former Stork Club, had been licensed to sell liquor on January 26, 1975. The State moved, without objection by defendant, that the court take judicial notice of Section 12b of the Liquor Control Act (Ill.Rev.Stat.1975, ch. 43, par. 133), which provides that no person shall be denied the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations of any placed licensed to sell liquor. After the court read this statute to the jury, the State rested its case.

The first four witnesses for the defense were Floretta Avant, Barbara Holder, Mary Holder, and Ida Duncan, who had been sitting at the table in the tavern near the four white men before the shooting. Floretta Avant testified that shortly after the men entered, one of them cane over and offered to buy her a drink. When she declined, he offered her money '(f)or my body' and put his hands on her. She cursed him and he eventually returned to his seat. Later, another of the men came over to the young women's table and 'said and did the same thing. Only he didn't leave.' Mary Holder hit him over the head with her purse, but he still wouldn't leave. A preacher named Bill Land came over and told the man to leave the women alone, but '(t)he guy got smart with him.' Then James 'Switch' Wilson came over to the table, the man shoved him and swung at him, and a fight broke out.

Barbara Holder's account was similar. Both men who approached their table, she testified, 'kept on rubbing on me and feeling on me' after she told them to leave and 'asked me did I want to make some money.' The second one 'wouldn't take no for an answer,' even after she threatened to hit him with a beer bottle. When Wilson came over to the table, the white man swung at Land but hit Wilson instead, setting off the fight. She had seen the defendant earlier in the evening, standing at the bar. He was wearing a blue jean outfit. She said that the tavern was dark, lighted by a black light and a 'psychedelic light' that flashed rapidly on and off.

Mary Holder gave a similar account. She too had seen the defendant at the bar, wearing a blue jean outfit.

Ida Duncan testified that she saw the second white man offering a 20 dollar bill to Barbara Holder. She also had seen the defendant standing at the bar, but didn't notice how he was dressed. Asked about the lighting in the tavern that night, she said that there were 'flashing lights.' All four of the young women ran to the restroom after the fighting broke out; none of them saw the shooting.

The one defense witness who did claim to have seen the man who fired a gun was the Reverend William L. Land. He identified himself as pastor and administrator of social...

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