People v. Lewis, No. 52338

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtUNDERWOOD; GOLDENHERSH; RYAN; In considering the question with which the chief justice; CLARK; MORAN; While the plurality opinion in Roberts did not address the issue of prosecutorial discretion, the dissent of Mr. Justice White, joined by the Chief
Citation58 Ill.Dec. 895,430 N.E.2d 1346,88 Ill.2d 129
Decision Date13 November 1981
Docket NumberNo. 52338
Parties, 58 Ill.Dec. 895 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Cornelius LEWIS, Appellant.

Page 1346

430 N.E.2d 1346
88 Ill.2d 129, 58 Ill.Dec. 895
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
v.
Cornelius LEWIS, Appellant.
No. 52338.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
Nov. 13, 1981.
Rehearing Denied Jan. 29, 1982.

Page 1348

[88 Ill.2d 136] [58 Ill.Dec. 897] J. Steven Beckett and Glenn A. Stanko, Reno, O'Byrne & Kepley, Champaign, for appellant.

Tyrone C. Fahner, Atty. Gen., Chicago, and Patrick M. Walsh, State's Atty., Decatur

Page 1349

[58 Ill.Dec. 898] (Melbourne A. Noel, Jr., Susan M. Sherwin and Neal B. Goodfriend, Asst. Attys. Gen., Chicago, of counsel), for the People.

UNDERWOOD, Justice:

Cornelius Lewis (defendant) and his sister, Bernice Lewis, were indicted for armed robbery, aggravated kidnaping, and murder in connection with the December 14, 1978, robbery of the Citizens National Bank in Decatur, during which Donald Bivens, a bank security guard, was shot and killed. Willie Sangster, a Decatur resident, was separately charged with the same crimes. The three defendants requested and obtained a change of venue to Champaign County, where, in a separate jury trial, defendant and his sister were found guilty of the crimes. Defendant was sentenced to death as a result of a jury verdict and has appealed directly to this court. Ill.Const.1970, art. VI, sec. 4(b); 73 Ill.2d R. 603.

The testimony of the principal witnesses was as follows. Jodi Myers testified that, at 6:45 a. m. on the morning of the crime, she noticed two or possibly three persons in a maroon Monte Carlo automobile in the parking lot of [88 Ill.2d 137] the day-care center where she worked. As she walked near the Monte Carlo, a black man seated in the driver's seat (whom she later identified from a lineup as Maurice Farris) lowered his sun visor.

Mary Comerford testified that, after delivering her child to the same day-care center, she returned to her car, noticing two black persons in a maroon Monte Carlo parked next to her white Mercury automobile. When she entered her car, a black man wearing a ski mask appeared in her back seat and forced her to drive away, eventually taping her eyes and hands and placing her in the trunk of the Mercury.

Kaye Pinkley, a teller at the Citizens National Bank, testified that decedent Bivens normally drove a van with five tellers from the bank's parking garage to an auto-banking facility. Shortly before 8 a. m. on December 14, as decedent was about to start the van in which the tellers were seated, a tall black man pulled the right front door open, leaned his elbows on the witness's legs, ordered the tellers to remain silent, and shot decedent, as the latter apparently reached for his gun. Then the gunman and another robber took three of the tellers' five briefcases containing money for the day and banking paraphernalia, ran to a light-colored Mercury and drove away. Teller Pinkley and two other tellers later identified items recovered from the Macon County landfill as items which had been in their briefcases that morning.

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Dennis from rural Macon County stated that, while sitting in their car near the Citizens National Bank, they saw two blacks park Mrs. Comerford's Mercury, enter the bank's parking garage, later return to the Mercury, with three black briefcases, and drive off. Gail Thompson, a florist, saw a black man or person dressed as a man, carrying a black briefcase in the vicinity of the parking lot near the bus station, where Norman Goenne, an office worker, saw the driver in a maroon [88 Ill.2d 138] Monte Carlo, waiting with the engine running, at around 7:45 a. m.

Maurice Farris testified that he and Willie Sangster (who according to the prosecution's theory was the mastermind of the robbery) surveyed the Citizens National Bank and the route to the home of Margaret Morgan, where defendant apparently was staying. On two mornings, Farris observed the tellers' routine. Sangster introduced defendant and his sister (using the names "Denise" and "Mingo") to Farris, who at trial estimated the sister's height as 5 feet 11 inches, defendant's as over 6 feet and his own as 5 feet 8 inches. The Lewises and he discussed plans for the robbery of the bank. Farris was to drive the car, the Lewises were to do the actual robbing, and Sangster was to get $10,000 "off the top" the day after the robbery, apparently for his role in planning. On the morning of December 13, when they had intended to carry out the plan, the Lewises and Farris were unable to steal a car for use in the robbery, but they did observe the tellers' routine and drove along the route to Mrs. Morgan's. The next morning defendant and his sister, with Farris driving, went to

Page 1350

[58 Ill.Dec. 899] the day-care center in the Monte Carlo looking for a car to steal. Maurice lowered his sun visor to avoid being identified. Defendant left the car and concealed himself in the back seat of Mrs. Comerford's Mercury. When she entered the car he forced her to drive away and eventually took control of her car, forcing her to get into the trunk. Defendant's sister then left Farris in the Monte Carlo, which had accompanied the Mercury, and sat on the passenger side of the front seat of the Mercury. Farris drove to a parking lot near the bus station, got some coffee at about 7:40, and waited with the motor running until defendant and his sister rejoined him, carrying one and two briefcases respectively. The Lewises concealed themselves on the floor of the maroon Monte Carlo. On the drive to Mrs. Morgan's, a siren prompted comments by the [88 Ill.2d 139] sister, and defendant stated, "The guard went for his gun. I had to burn him." Except for the possibility of a perjury prosecution, Farris received total immunity in return for his testimony.

Mrs. Morgan testified that the Lewises had stayed with her beginning on December 12, 1978. On the morning of December 14, at about 8:05 or 8:10 a. m., she observed the defendants with three black briefcases. She asked Bernice Lewis whether Bernice knew that the bank had been robbed, to which Bernice, with defendant present, replied, "Did he die?" Later that morning Mrs. Morgan saw both Lewises counting a large quantity of money on her coffee table, with black briefcases and "blank money orders from the bank and money wrappers" present. Defendant gave Mrs. Morgan a paper sack to take to Willie Sangster at Jelk's Barbershop, where he worked. Later that day, Bernice Lewis and Mrs. Morgan went to a deteriorated section of Decatur to dispose of the black briefcases and a garbage bag containing two handguns, money wrappers, and other miscellaneous items. Subsequently Mrs. Morgan and two neighbors moved these things from the garbage cans, where Bernice Lewis and she had put them, to a "dumpster." Mrs. Morgan, Shirley Brummet (a neighbor), and the Lewises drove to the Davenport, Iowa, bus station, where defendant and his sister caught the bus to Des Moines. Mrs. Morgan eventually turned over to the FBI some money which she said included that given her by defendant. Mrs. Morgan testified that she discovered a .357-Magnum handgun, which a ballistics expert indicated could have fired the bullet which killed decedent, under a mattress in the room in which the Lewises had been staying. She stated she observed the gun during a January 25 FBI consent search of the room when the agents lifted the foot of the mattress on the bed. According to her testimony the gun was located near the head of the bed and was not seen by the agents. She did not then mention the gun to them [88 Ill.2d 140] but later that day took it to a friend's home from which the agents later recovered it at her direction. The agents both testified that only the lower corners of the mattress were lifted and they did not observe the gun. On January 31 Mrs. Morgan did give to FBI agents five live rounds of .357-caliber ammunition which she had earlier removed from the gun.

Barbara Rigney (one of Mrs. Morgan's children) and Florida Eubanks and Shirley Brummet (two neighbors) testified that Bernice and Cornelius Lewis had been staying at Mrs. Morgan's in mid-December, 1978. Wyonia Adams, another neighbor, testified that she and Shirley Brummet had moved garbage bags containing guns and miscellaneous items from a trash can to a "dumpster." Shirley Brummet testified that, on December 14, she had traveled with the Lewises and Mrs. Morgan, to the Davenport, Iowa, bus station. Officer McQuaid, of the Decatur police, testified that he observed a black lady carrying a sack into Jelk's Barbershop on the morning of December 14, 1978.

Defendant's brother-in-law, Dwight David, testified that in late December 1978 defendant had asked him to keep a box which contained money. After he heard that defendant had been arrested, David took the money from the box, put it in a bag, and asked a friend, Mrs. Bradford, to hold it for him. He later retrieved it, and

Page 1351

[58 Ill.Dec. 900] gave it, still in the bag, to the FBI, together with the box from which he had taken it. FBI Agent Ryan testified that new $20 bills with serial numbers G21536201A through G21536247A were included in the money turned over by David. Daniel Kinsella, an official of the Federal Reserve Bank, testified that numbers written on the back of a form (Exhibit 80) indicated that $20 notes with serial numbers G21536001A through G21540000A were in a shipment of currency which had been sent to the Citizens National Bank in Decatur.

Lee Jarombeck, an employee of a Minnesota car [88 Ill.2d 141] dealer, testified that defendant had rented from him the maroon Monte Carlo which had been observed in the day-care lot and eventually recovered from Farris' garage.

Defendant offered no testimony, adopting Bernice Lewis' case, which primarily emphasized Mrs. Comerford's lineup identification of Farris as her kidnapper, and teller King's positive statements to Decatur police officers that the robbers were both male.

Defendant asserts numerous errors, the resolution of which...

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196 practice notes
  • Williams v. Chrans, No. 87 C 02084.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • July 5, 1990
    ...77 Ill.2d at 544-61, 34 Ill.Dec. at 142-50, 397 N.E.2d at 816-24 (Ryan, J., Goldenhersh, C.J., Clark, J., dissenting); People v. Lewis, 88 Ill.2d 129, 179-93, 58 Ill.Dec. 895, 919-26, 430 N.E.2d 1346, 1370-77 (1981) (Simon, J., dissenting). Three of those Justices later indicated that since......
  • People v. Phillips, No. 86-2711
    • United States
    • Illinois Appellate Court
    • March 10, 1989
    ...would have so stated. [181 Ill.App.3d 157] Before reviewing Jackson v. Virginia, however, it is noteworthy that People v. Lewis (1981), 88 Ill.2d 129, 58 Ill.Dec. 895, 430 N.E.2d 1346 appears to be the first Illinois authority expressing that the evidence on review is to be "viewed in a lig......
  • People v. Yates, No. 53482
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • October 25, 1983
    ...to the guilt of defendant remains. People v. Williams (1982), 93 Ill.2d 309, 315, 67 Ill.Dec. 97, 444 N.E.2d 136; People v. Lewis (1981), 88 Ill.2d 129, 151, 58 Ill.Dec. 895, 430 N.E.2d 1346, cert. denied (1982), 456 U.S. 1011, 102 S.Ct. 2307, 73 L.Ed.2d Mrs. Yancy, the victim's mother, tes......
  • People v. Anderson
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • October 13, 1987
    ...of continuing public importance. The court, however, again upheld the statute, this time by a six-to-one vote. (People v. Lewis (1981) 88 Ill.2d 129, 58 Ill.Dec. 895, 430 N.E.2d 1346.) Justice Ryan, who dissented in the earlier case, wrote: "This court, not seven individual justices, has co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
195 cases
  • Williams v. Chrans, No. 87 C 02084.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • July 5, 1990
    ...77 Ill.2d at 544-61, 34 Ill.Dec. at 142-50, 397 N.E.2d at 816-24 (Ryan, J., Goldenhersh, C.J., Clark, J., dissenting); People v. Lewis, 88 Ill.2d 129, 179-93, 58 Ill.Dec. 895, 919-26, 430 N.E.2d 1346, 1370-77 (1981) (Simon, J., dissenting). Three of those Justices later indicated that since......
  • People v. Phillips, No. 86-2711
    • United States
    • Illinois Appellate Court
    • March 10, 1989
    ...would have so stated. [181 Ill.App.3d 157] Before reviewing Jackson v. Virginia, however, it is noteworthy that People v. Lewis (1981), 88 Ill.2d 129, 58 Ill.Dec. 895, 430 N.E.2d 1346 appears to be the first Illinois authority expressing that the evidence on review is to be "viewed in a lig......
  • People v. Yates, No. 53482
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • October 25, 1983
    ...to the guilt of defendant remains. People v. Williams (1982), 93 Ill.2d 309, 315, 67 Ill.Dec. 97, 444 N.E.2d 136; People v. Lewis (1981), 88 Ill.2d 129, 151, 58 Ill.Dec. 895, 430 N.E.2d 1346, cert. denied (1982), 456 U.S. 1011, 102 S.Ct. 2307, 73 L.Ed.2d Mrs. Yancy, the victim's mother, tes......
  • People v. Anderson
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • October 13, 1987
    ...of continuing public importance. The court, however, again upheld the statute, this time by a six-to-one vote. (People v. Lewis (1981) 88 Ill.2d 129, 58 Ill.Dec. 895, 430 N.E.2d 1346.) Justice Ryan, who dissented in the earlier case, wrote: "This court, not seven individual justices, has co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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