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People v. Beasley





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Williamson County; the Hon. WILLIAM A. LEWIS, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Darrell Beasley, was convicted of burglary and attempt (theft) in the Circuit Court of Williamson County and sentenced to three years' probation for each offense. He appeals.

On March 11, 1974, James Beasley, Sr., his sons, James Beasley, Jr., and Darrell Beasley, and his son-in-law, James Odum, were jointly indicted for burglary and attempt (theft). James Beasley, Sr., was tried by a jury, but the other defendants chose to try their cases to the court. After a joint trial, the jury acquitted James Beasley, Sr. The trial court, however, found the other three defendants guilty on both counts of the indictment.

Defendant, relying primarily upon the acquittal of James Beasley, Sr., argues that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendant also contends that his conviction for attempt must be reversed, because it arose out of the same course of conduct as the burglary. Our disposition of the case makes it unnecessary to consider this latter issue. A summary of the relevant facts adduced at trial follows.

The Old Herrin Filter Plant, part of the municipal water works, is owned by the city of Herrin and located in an isolated part of Williamson County. The plant was no longer in operation at the time in question. Herrin police officer Herbert Long testified that on February 10, 1974, at about 4:15 p.m., he and Frank Hubbard, an off duty patrolman, were making a routine check of the Old Herrin Filter Plant when they noticed a truck parked nearby. Printed on the side of the truck were the words, "J.H. Beasley, Herrin, Empty Weight, 5,500." Officer Long said that James Beasley, Jr., was on top of the truck, cranking a winch which was attached to the vehicle's roof, that Darrell Beasley, James Beasley, Sr., and James Odum were standing on the ground nearby, and that the men on the ground hurried behind the truck in an apparent attempt to hide when they saw the police car approaching. Officer Long also noticed a large electrical motor attached to the truck by a chain and a winch cable. The motor had been dragged from a small building attached to the main plant building. Officer Long said that prior to February 10 someone had unscrewed the nuts which held the motor to its base, and that on the night of February 9 he had helped put them back in place. The four men were arrested and driven to the police station. Frank Hubbard, who also testified at trial, corroborated Officer Long's testimony in almost every detail. Additionally, Hubbard remembered seeing men fishing in a lake located behind the plant. The foregoing testimony was further corroborated by the testimony of police chief William Humphrey and police officer Roy Cole, who were summoned to the scene of the incident shortly after it occurred.

James Beasley, Sr., testified at trial that he had been in the scrap business all of his life and had purchased scrap from the Old Herrin Filter Plant some years earlier. This earlier purchase had been made through Mike Mirani, who was then the Herrin water superintendent. Mr. Beasley said that Mirani visited him some time prior to February 10, 1974, and told him that there was more scrap at the filter plant. Mirani suggested that Mr. Beasley drive out to the plant and inspect it. The testimony of Beasley's wife confirmed this version of the conversation.

Mr. Beasley further testified that he went to the filter plant on February 10 with his two sons and his son-in-law because he was interested in buying the scrap mentioned by Mike Mirani and wanted to inspect it. Beasley said that when they arrived at the plant they spent some time looking over scrap pipe scattered on the ground, and then found the electric motor in a small building, sitting sideways on its base. Mr. Beasley said that the motor was not bolted down. According to Beasley, it was dark in the building and the motor was covered by its casing. In order to inspect the motor, Beasley and his companions attached a chain to the back end of their truck and used it to drag the motor into the sunlight. He said that the winch cable had not been attached to the motor because the winch's lifting capacity was only 145 pounds and the motor weighed approximately a ton. Beasley denied that his son had been in the truck, cranking the winch handle, when the police arrived. He said that at that moment James Odum was under the truck unhooking the chain.

Mike Mirani, former commissioner of the Herrin Water and Sewer Department, testified as follows. He visited James Beasley, Sr., some time before February 10, 1974, and discussed the scrap at the Old Herrin Filter Plant with him. He could not, however, remember advising Beasley to go out and make an inspection. Mirani told Beasley that he was no longer employed by the city and that Beasley would have to talk to Basil Russell, the present water superintendent, about buying the scrap. Lester Hammonds, a friend of the Beasley family, was also present during the conversation between Mirani and Beasley. His testimony corroborates Mike Mirani's version of what was said.

Floyd D. Walker testified that he had been superintendent of the Herrin Water and Sewer Department from 1969 to October of 1973. He stated that he had never given James Beasley, Sr., permission to enter the grounds of the Old Herrin Filter Plant.

Basil Russell, the present superintendent, stated that he was appointed to that position in October of 1973. He said that he knew the members of the Beasley family, but had never discussed the sale of scrap with any of them. Mr. Russell went on to say that he had never given any of the Beasleys permission to enter the plant premises.

James Odum also testified at trial. Mr. Odum stated that he and the other men had first tried to move the motor with their winch. When the winch wouldn't work, they were forced to use a chain attached to the truck. Odum testified that he was underneath the truck, and that James Beasley, Jr. was in the truck, when the police arrived.

Defendant, Darrell Beasley, admitted in his testimony that he had accompanied his father and the other men to the filter plant on February 10, 1974. When asked why he went with them, he responded:

"Well, at the time I was not working because I had been hurt. They asked me if I wanted to go out and look at some junk that I was thinking about buying and if I could work at all, you know, I could use the torch and help them. I told him that I would go out and look at it."

• 1 To support a burglary conviction, specific intent to steal must exist at the time of unauthorized entry. (People v. Polansky, 6 Ill. App.3d 773, 287 N.E.2d 747 (3rd Dist. 1972).) Even assuming that defendant did not personally enter the plant building or help in hauling out the motor, he may be held accountable for the conduct of his companions if he intended to promote or facilitate commission of the burglary. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 5-2(c).) Intent is ordinarily ...

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