People v. Richardson, No. 60213

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtCUNNINGHAM
Citation528 N.E.2d 612,123 Ill.2d 322,123 Ill.Dec. 908
Decision Date23 March 1988
Docket NumberNo. 60213
Parties, 123 Ill.Dec. 908 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Floyd RICHARDSON, Appellant.

Page 612

528 N.E.2d 612
123 Ill.2d 322, 123 Ill.Dec. 908
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
v.
Floyd RICHARDSON, Appellant.
No. 60213.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
March 23, 1988.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 3, 1988.

Page 614

[123 Ill.2d 332] [123 Ill.Dec. 910] Paul P. Biebel, Jr., Public Defender of Cook County, Chicago, for appellant; Aaron L. Meyers, Asst. Public Defender, of counsel.

[123 Ill.2d 333] Richard M. Daley, State's Atty., County of Cook, Chicago, for appellee; Thomas V. Gainer, Jr., Kenneth T. McCurry, Paula Carstensen, Asst. State's Attys., of counsel.

Justice CUNNINGHAM delivered the opinion of the court:

In a seven-count indictment returned in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, Floyd Richardson, was charged with the murder of George Vrabel (Ill.Rev.Stat.1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1)), in the course of the forcible felony of armed robbery (Ill.Rev.Stat.1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(3)). Prior to trial, the People nol-prossed three armed violence counts. Defendant presented a written waiver as to his right to have a jury determine whether or not he should receive the death penalty (Ill.Rev.Stat.1983, ch. 38, par. 9-1(d)(3)), and the circuit court found that this waiver was knowing and voluntary. Following a jury trial, verdicts were returned finding defendant guilty on the charges of murder, felony murder, and armed robbery. At the request of the People, a death penalty hearing was held before the court. The circuit court found the existence of an aggravating factor set forth in section 9-1(b) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Code) (Ill.Rev.Stat.1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1(b)), and found that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude a sentence of death. The circuit court, therefore, sentenced defendant to death on the murder charges. Additionally, the court imposed an extended term of 60 years' imprisonment for the armed robbery conviction. The sentence was stayed (107 Ill.2d R. 609(a)) pending appeal to this court [123 Ill.Dec. 911]

Page 615

(Ill. Const.1970, art. VI, § 4(b); 107 Ill.2d R. 603).

Testimony at trial established that on April 1, 1980, around 10 p.m., Shirley Bowden was working at Twin Foods and Liquors at 2251 East 79th Street in Chicago [123 Ill.2d 334] and conversing with some employees in the liquor department when she noticed a man standing inside the store by a display near the department, towards the rear of the store. The store was empty, except for five clerks and one other customer. She testified that she noticed the man because he was huddled up with his coat collar turned up, despite the fact that it was not that cold outside. Miss Bowden described the man she saw as wearing dark pants, a pea coat, and a winter skullcap. Miss Bowden testified that, as she was returning to her register in the food department at the front of the store, the man passed within four feet of her as he walked back into the liquor department, where George Vrabel worked as a clerk. She then heard a shot, followed by the warning, "Stay down mother f--r. This is a stickup. Stay down." Bonnie Williams, another employee of the store working at a register in the food department at the time, testified that she was told someone was robbing the store and ducked behind the counter, getting up when she heard a shot. Both women looked toward the liquor department to see a man reaching behind the counter taking money out of the register. The man turned from the liquor counter and ran back to the front door of the store, passing both Bowden and Williams; the women observed him at close range but ducked behind the counter as he approached their counter and exited the store. Williams testified that she could see his face only a few feet away from her, describing him as a tall, medium-built black with a medium complexion, wearing a skullcap and glasses. Neither woman could state the precise length of the encounter but both estimated that some 10 to 15 seconds elapsed between the time the first shot was fired and the point at which the gunman left the store. After the gunman had fled, Bowden contacted the police, then went to the liquor department and found Vrabel lying on the floor behind the [123 Ill.2d 335] counter, bleeding. Police arrived and removed Vrabel to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Bonnie Williams testified that, in the summer of 1982, she selected defendant's photo from a group of black-and-white photos the police showed her. Shirley Bowden stated that she had never been called to view a lineup. Both women stated that they had seen defendant in the neighborhood prior to April 1, 1980, and both identified defendant at trial as the gunman.

Dr. Shaku Teas, a licensed forensic pathologist, testified that she performed an external examination and an autopsy on George Vrabel. She testified that Vrabel died of a bullet wound to the chest, which severed the aorta and lodged in the muscle behind the right shoulder blade. She noted that the bullet wound and the surrounding tissue contained an amount of gunpowder residue indicating a distance of a few inches to two feet between the firearm and the wound.

Ernest Warner is a firearms examiner for the City of Chicago police department and was qualified by the court as an expert witness. He described to the jury the procedures he employs to compare bullets to determine whether or not they were fired from the same gun, using class characteristics common to all guns produced by a particular manufacturer and individual characteristics unique to each particular firearm. He identified fired bullets recovered from George Vrabel's body and from the wall of a cooler in the Twin Foods Store. He also identified a bullet recovered by the physician who treated Thomas Fitzpatrick for a gunshot wound to the abdomen, after an armed robbery in his tavern on April 5, 1980. Although the murder weapon itself was never recovered, the firearms examiner testified that all three bullets had been fired from the same gun, where they bore the same class and individual characteristics. The [123 Ill.2d 336] witness did not specify the individual characteristics relied upon in reaching his conclusion.

Thomas Fitzpatrick testified that on April 5, 1980, around 1:30 a.m., he was at

Page 616

[123 Ill.Dec. 912] his tavern located at 7159 South Exchange Street in Chicago, approximately one mile from the location of the murder four nights earlier. As he was standing at the cash register behind the bar opposite the entrance 15 to 20 feet away, a man entered waving a gun at him. The assailant said "This is a stickup" and jumped over the bar, shooting Fitzpatrick in the back when Fitzpatrick attempted to run. Fitzpatrick crawled to a hallway lit by a fluorescent light. As Fitzpatrick lay on the ground face up, the assailant stood over him and asked him where the rest of the money was, but departed when Fitzpatrick told him there was no more money. Fitzpatrick stated that he was fully conscious during the encounter and estimated the man stood over him for 15 to 20 seconds in the hallway. The witness testified that in May of 1982, he tentatively identified defendant as the gunman, after viewing a series of six photographs. Fitzpatrick added that when he viewed a subsequent physical lineup, he was positive that defendant was the gunman. The witness identified defendant in court as his assailant.

Ray Slagle testified that on April 5, 1980, he preceded another individual through the front door of Fitzpatrick's bar. When someone "hollered" to him, he moved toward a partition separating the poolroom from the rest of the bar; when he got to the partition, he heard shots, at which point he stepped behind the partition and looked out at the bar. At this point, he observed the man who had followed him inside rifling the cash registers behind the bar. The gunman was in the tavern several minutes, during which time Slagle stuck his head out from behind the partition three or four times to see what was happening; as the gunman ran toward the [123 Ill.2d 337] exit, Slagle threw a chair at him. He described the gunman as a black male, 5 foot 9 inches to 5 foot 10 inches tall, of slender build, with medium complexion, wearing a brownish maroon jacket and a cap with a bill. Slagle's description of the assailant as having a scraggly beard coincided with defense witnesses' testimony that defendant was incapable of growing the full beard depicted by the police composite created from descriptions by witnesses to the Vrabel murder. Slagle testified that he selected defendant's picture out of a photographic array shown to him by police in September 1982; he also testified that he identified defendant in a physical lineup on October 5, 1982. Slagle identified defendant at trial as the gunman.

Sergeant James Sanders of the Chicago police department testified that on May 4, 1982, he received a radio broadcast of a robbery in progress at 1640 East 79th Street. While proceeding to that location, the sergeant heard a broadcast describe the assailant as a male black, approximately 5 foot 9 inches to 5 foot 11 inches tall, weighing 160 pounds, with a large Afro hairstyle. The sergeant testified that, when he reached the vicinity of the crime, he observed an individual matching the description and took him into custody for the investigation of that armed robbery. The sergeant then identified defendant in court as the individual he took into custody.

Detective Joseph Dijiacomo testified that, as a Chicago police officer assigned to Area 2 Violent Crimes, he had conducted the follow-up investigation into the Vrabel homicide. He stated that defendant became a suspect in the Vrabel murder when his physical description matched the description of the offender; the circuit court sustained a defense objection to the testimony and, at defense counsel's request, struck the comment from the record and instructed the jury to disregard it. Dijiacomo then testified that upon...

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179 practice notes
  • People v. Bragg, No. 1-93-3077
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 29, 1995
    ...mistaken identification as to deny due process depends on the totality of the circumstances surrounding it. (People v. Richardson (1988), 123 Ill.2d 322, 348, 123 Ill.Dec. 908, 528 N.E.2d 612.) Defendant bears the burden of proving that a lineup procedure was impermissibly suggestive and re......
  • People v. Hudson, No. 71144
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • November 18, 1993
    ...of the evidence's reliability and relevance lies within the sound discretion of the sentencing judge. People v. Richardson (1988), 123 Ill.2d 322, 361-62, 123 Ill.Dec. 908, 528 N.E.2d Relevant and reliable evidence may be introduced during the second phase of the sentencing hearing even if ......
  • People v. Richardson, No. 83579.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • February 17, 2000
    ...R. 651(a). We affirm. BACKGROUND In defendant's direct appeal, this court recited the details of his crimes. See People v. Richardson, 123 Ill.2d 322, 123 Ill. Dec. 908, 528 N.E.2d 612 (1988). We need not repeat those details here. Defendant was charged with, inter alia, the intentional, 72......
  • People v. Kliner, No. 81314
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • December 3, 1998
    ...sheet," is relevant to the sentencing phase because it provides an insight into the defendant's character. See People v. Richardson, 123 Ill.2d 322, 361-62, 123 Ill.Dec. 908, 528 N.E.2d 612 (1988); People v. Lego, 116 Ill.2d 323, 346-47, 107 Ill.Dec. 647, 507 N.E.2d 800 In this case, d......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
179 cases
  • People v. Bragg, No. 1-93-3077
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 29, 1995
    ...mistaken identification as to deny due process depends on the totality of the circumstances surrounding it. (People v. Richardson (1988), 123 Ill.2d 322, 348, 123 Ill.Dec. 908, 528 N.E.2d 612.) Defendant bears the burden of proving that a lineup procedure was impermissibly suggestive and re......
  • People v. Hudson, No. 71144
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • November 18, 1993
    ...of the evidence's reliability and relevance lies within the sound discretion of the sentencing judge. People v. Richardson (1988), 123 Ill.2d 322, 361-62, 123 Ill.Dec. 908, 528 N.E.2d Relevant and reliable evidence may be introduced during the second phase of the sentencing hearing even if ......
  • People v. Richardson, No. 83579.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • February 17, 2000
    ...R. 651(a). We affirm. BACKGROUND In defendant's direct appeal, this court recited the details of his crimes. See People v. Richardson, 123 Ill.2d 322, 123 Ill. Dec. 908, 528 N.E.2d 612 (1988). We need not repeat those details here. Defendant was charged with, inter alia, the intentional, 72......
  • People v. Kliner, No. 81314
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • December 3, 1998
    ...sheet," is relevant to the sentencing phase because it provides an insight into the defendant's character. See People v. Richardson, 123 Ill.2d 322, 361-62, 123 Ill.Dec. 908, 528 N.E.2d 612 (1988); People v. Lego, 116 Ill.2d 323, 346-47, 107 Ill.Dec. 647, 507 N.E.2d 800 In this case, d......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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