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People v. Lofton

OPINION FILED JUNE 9, 1977.

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

v.

CORTEZ LOFTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. LAWRENCE I. GENESEN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE JOHNSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County, Cortez Lofton was found guilty of theft. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 16-1(a)(1).) On February 2, 1976, he was sentenced to 4 months work-release in the House of Correction. The defendant appeals.

The sole issue presented for review is whether the defendant was proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The offense of theft, pursuant to section 16-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 16-1(a)(1)), is committed by a person:

"* * * when he knowingly:

(a) Obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of the owner

and

(a) Intends to deprive the owner permanently of the use or benefit of the property; * * *."

The defendant argues on appeal that the State failed to present evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knowingly possessed stolen property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the use or benefit of that property.

On December 30, 1975, at approximately 2:15 a.m., two Chicago police detectives witnessed the defendant and another man rolling two Firestone radial automobile tires along the alley located behind 5714 South Prairie Avenue in the city of Chicago. The defendant immediately dropped the tire and both he and his companion began to run as the unmarked police vehicle pulled up behind them. The officers "gave chase," and apprehended Lofton approximately 200 feet away from where he dropped the tire. He told the officers that he was just helping his friend with the tires. He offered no resistance and was subsequently arrested.

It was stipulated at trial that the two automobile tires were owned by the complainant, Ephriam Williams. Williams testified that he did not authorize anyone to take possession of his tires.

The defendant testified that he was proceeding to his home that morning when he observed Bernard Dokins rolling two tires down the alley. Dokins asked the defendant to help him move the tires, and the defendant agreed to help. The defendant explained that he ran immediately when the police car pulled up behind him, without looking back, because Dokins told him to run. He denied having any knowledge that the tires were stolen when he agreed to aid Dokins in moving them.

Bernard Dokins testified that he asked the defendant to help him transport the tires, and that he did not reveal to the defendant that the tires had been stolen until the two friends were in police cusody.

After hearing the testimony of the witnesses, the trial court considered the evidence presented sufficient to prove the defendant guilty of theft beyond a reasonable doubt. The court specifically found that under the circumstances in which the incident occurred, the ...


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