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People v. Lewis

JUNE 14, 1973.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JAMES E. LEWIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Rock Island County; the Hon. PAUL E. RINK, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE DIXON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, James Lewis, was charged with unlawful sale of heroin by two separate indictments. He was found guilty of both charges and he was sentenced by the Circuit Court of Rock Island County to concurrent terms of 15 to 30 years. The two cases were consolidated for appeal by order of this court.

The first issue on appeal is whether defendant's constitutional right to due process and a fair trial was violated by the trial court's refusal to allow discovery of the name and address of the informer who participated in and witnessed the alleged offenses.

(In case no. 72-85)

On June 2, 1972, Illinois Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Grover Webb and a female informer went to the Armstrong residence in Rock Island for the purpose of making a controlled narcotics purchase. Webb testified that the informer suggested that he go to the Armstrong house to purchase narcotics and that she was paid by and under the control of the I.B.I.

Agent Webb further testified that when they entered the house the informer introduced him. After introductions the informer first approached Mrs. Armstrong but there was no sale. Then he and the informer then went out to the porch where the informer asked the defendant to sell him some heroin. The defendant then gave the informer a tin foil packet which later turned out to contain heroin and Webb gave the defendant $50.00.

Mrs. Valeria Armstrong testified that the informer was Nancy Wyerus who knew her well enough to know that she no longer used heroin, that she and Nancy used to "shoot it together", last year sometime, that Webb and the defendant were never alone on the porch and that before departing Nancy told her that she had not been able to make a purchase.

The defendant testified that no sale was made.

(In case No. 72-85)

Webb testified that on June 3, 1971 he and the same informer again went to the Armstrong residence to make a purchase. That he, the informer and the defendant were alone in the kitchen. At defendant's request the informer called Patricia Armstrong (a daughter of Valeria) into the kitchen whereupon defendant reached into her blouse, removed a foil packet which he gave to Webb in exchange for $100.00. The packet contained heroin.

Patricia Armstrong testified that she had never seen Webb before the day of the trial and that on June 3 defendant was never at her home.

The defendant denied ever being in the home on June 3 and denied a sale.

Prior to both trials the defendant's attorney filed a motion wherein he sought to learn the identity of the informer-participant. The motion was denied. At the first trial on cross-examination of Webb, the defense was not permitted to elicit the informer's name, after a showing by the State that there had been threats to the life of the informer.

The facts in the case before us clearly establish that Valeria Armstrong, a defense occurrence witness had a close personal acquaintanceship with the informer Nancy Wyerus long prior to the ...


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