Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ALBERT
LA PLANTE, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.
MR. JUSTICE BURKE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
Defendant was found guilty at a bench trial of the crime of receiving stolen property and was sentenced to a term of six months in the House of Correction. He appeals.
Hazel Porter testified that her home on South Sangamon Street in Chicago had been burglarized and that two television sets were stolen therefrom. She further testified that she thereafter saw one of the sets in the window of the defendant's television repair shop at 1144 West 69th Street in Chicago, which she subsequently identified as her property.
Detective Phillip Pignato testified that he had been assigned to investigate the Porter burglary and that he located the television set in question in the window of the defendant's shop. The witness testified that he questioned defendant concerning the set and was informed by the defendant that he knew nothing of its acquisition in that his partner took the set into the shop for repairs. Defendant told the detective that his partner was not in the shop at the time and that he was not certain when his partner would return. The witness further testified that defendant told him that he did not know his partner's name, and that he did not know where his partner lived nor where he could be contacted. Officer Pignato stated that when he asked the defendant whether he knew the television set had been stolen, the defendant replied that he did not.
Defendant testified that he was a partner in the television repair shop, that his partner's name was "David Poindexter," and that he gave that name to the police at the time he was questioned concerning the television set. He further testified that he did not tell the police where Poindexter lived because he did not know. Defendant related that he was not present when Poindexter took the set into the shop for repairs and stated that he first learned that the set was stolen when he was so informed by the police.
Defendant testified on cross-examination that he repaired a broken antenna on the set and placed the set in the window of the shop to be picked up by the customer. He stated that there was no customer claim check connected with the set and that if the customer had come in to claim the set, he would have had to wait for Poindexter.
Defendant was then questioned as to the identity of Poindexter and stated that he and Poindexter had been partners for two years. He first stated that they had no written partnership agreement, but later testified that he did have "some papers to show this." He further testified that Poindexter was usually in the shop "from morning to night," but that in order to reach him if something urgent arose, "sometimes I can reach him by calling a number that I know, that I may reach him by, but at all times I can't be certain." Defendant further described Poindexter as a "funny type of person. He doesn't stay at any one particular place any length of time. He is constantly moving."
The trial judge, on redirect examination of the defendant, also inquired as to Poindexter. Defendant stated that he had spoken to Poindexter since the instant complaint against him was filed, that he told Poindexter of the charge in this regard, and that he was not certain whether Poindexter knew he was in court on the day of the trial. Defendant stated in response to the judge's questioning that Poindexter was "possibly at the store now," whereupon the trial judge inquired of the defendant whether he desired a continuance in order to bring Poindexter into court. Defendant declined the court's offer and rested his case.
Defendant first contends that the People failed to prove the corpus delicti of the crime, for the reasons that there was no evidence as to when the Porter home had been burglarized, that there was no evidence that unknown persons were responsible for the theft of the television set, that there was no evidence as to when the set was found on the defendant's premises, and that there was no evidence that the defendant received the stolen property. He also contends that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The People's evidence showed that the television set found in the window of the defendant's shop was stolen from the Porter home, that the defendant denied knowledge that the set was stolen, and that the defendant said that the set was taken into the shop by his partner, whose address and whereabouts he did not know. The defendant's testimony was that he had no knowledge that the set was stolen and that the set had been taken into the shop by his partner, Poindexter, whose activities and whereabouts remained a mystery to the defendant.
Guilty knowledge may be proven by means of circumstantial evidence. As stated in People v. Mulford, 385 Ill. 48, 52 N.E.2d 149, at page 56:
"The guilty knowledge which is an essential element of the crime of receiving stolen property is rarely susceptible of direct and positive proof. It may be inferred from all surrounding facts and circumstances involved in the transaction, including the acts and declarations of the accused concerning the same; (People v. Boneau, 327 Ill. 194;) and it is presumed that whatever would convey knowledge or induce belief in the mind of a reasonable person that property was stolen would, in the absence of countervailing evidence, be sufficient to apprise the accused of the like fact or induce in his mind the like impression and belief. (People v. Rife, 382 Ill. 588; State of Connecticut v. Heno, 119 Conn. 29, 174 Atl 181, 94 ALR 696.)"
See also People v. Grodkiewicz, 16 Ill.2d 192, 197, 157 N.E.2d 16.
In the instant case, the circumstances from which it could reasonably be concluded that defendant had knowledge that the television set was stolen, stem not only from the evidence of the People but also from the testimony of the defendant himself. A defendant is not required to take ...