Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People v. Connor





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. NATHAN J. KAPLAN, Judge, presiding.


Defendants were indicted for possession of more than 500 grams of marijuana. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 56 1/2, par. 704(e).) In a bench trial, both defendants were found guilty as charged. Defendant Edgar Connor was sentenced to two to six years in the penitentiary, and defendant Martha Connor was sentenced to five years probation conditioned on her performing, during the first six months, voluntary services in the community for one weekend every 30 days. Prior to trial, defendants made a motion to suppress as evidence items removed from a vehicle. The motion was denied. On appeal, defendants contend that the trial court erred in denying their motion to suppress where a stop by policemen was an unreasonable intrusion into defendants' privacy as protected by the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution. Defendants also contend that they were not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, since marijuana belonging to third persons was found in the back seat of defendants' vehicle and defendants were unaware of the marijuana's presence. We affirm.

At the outset, we will consider the issue involving the motion to suppress. The following relevant evidence was adduced at the hearing on the motion. Gerald Ducek, a Chicago police officer, called by defendants testified that on January 11, 1974, he saw defendants sitting inside a yellow vehicle which was parked at approximately 2410 West 81st Street. Both defendants were in the front seat of the vehicle. Martha Connor was to the right of the driver, Edgar Connor. No on else was in the vehicle. However, from time to time, someone, other than defendants, was around the vehicle. Ducek further testified that no laws were being violated and he was not aware of any warrants against defendants. He then kept defendants under surveillance for a period of approximately one hour. During the hour, defendants did not commit a crime. At about 1 p.m., Ducek approached the vehicle in order to get a reason for it being in the area. He testified that when he approached the vehicle, Edgar Connor began to pull out in an attempt to drive away and as he pulled away, he did not commit a crime. Ducek then was in civilian dress, but, as Connor pulled away, Ducek identified himself as a police officer. He stopped in front of the vehicle and asked the driver "to hold on a minute." Edgar Connor stopped.

Ducek further testified that when he asked Edgar Connor for his driver's license, he could not produce a license. Ducek then conducted a search and obtained certain items.

Ducek testified that the surveillance was conducted because he was working on a crime pattern involving a male Negro who was robbing finance companies on Western Avenue from approximately 7600 south to 10,000 south. Robberies had been committed on November 7, 1973 and January 3, 1974. Ducek had a description of the robbery suspect. He was a "male Negro 25 to 30 years of age, five eleven to six feet, 160 to 175 pounds, black hair, black complexion, he was supposed to be wearing a three quarter length coat, silver watch, gold ring, gold frames, dark glasses, platform shoes." Also, Ducek testified that his attention was drawn to the vehicle that defendants were sitting in because Edgar Connor, the driver, resembled the above description in that he was a Negro with black hair who was "around five foot eleven, six feet tall from where he was sitting in the vehicle." During the period of surveillance, a black man came to the vehicle and had a conversation with defendants. He then left and came back after 15 minutes. After another conversation, the man left again. Ducek testified that he saw this happen twice. There were no other activities outside of the vehicle which was parked at a public aid office.

When Ducek stepped up to the vehicle, it was in motion. After Edgar Connor failed to produce his driver's license, Ducek asked him to step out of the vehicle. Connor complied with the request. Ducek further testified that he noticed an open bottle of wine in the vehicle. He placed Edgar Connor under arrest and recovered the bottle. Large, clear plastic bags of "crushed green plant" were found in the rear of the vehicle.

On redirect examination, Ducek testified that Edgar Connor had a heavy beard at the time of the arrest. He also testified that most Negroes have black hair.

• 1 Defendants contend that the trial court erred in denying their motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the stop. They contend that the police officer had no reasonable grounds to stop them at the time in question. Our concern is whether there were specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warranted the stop. (Terry v. Ohio (1968), 392 U.S. 1, 21, 20 L.Ed.2d 889, 88 S.Ct. 1868.) The circumstances justifying the stop or intrusion must be based upon the police officer's reasonable belief that criminality is afoot. (People v. Montgomery (1977), 53 Ill. App.3d 298, 368 N.E.2d 752; Terry.) Section 107-14 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 provides in pertinent part:

"A peace officer, after having identified himself as a peace officer, may stop any person in a public place for a reasonable period of time when the officer reasonably infers from the circumstances that the person is committing, is about to commit or has committed an offense as defined in Section 102-15 of this Code, and may demand the name and address of the person and an explanation of his actions." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 107-14.)

The legislature enacted this statute in order to codify the principle in Terry relating to stops. People v. Lee (1971), 48 Ill.2d 272, 269 N.E.2d 488.

A reviewing court will affirm the result reached by the trial court in ruling on the motion to suppress evidence, unless the ruling was manifestly erroneous. (People v. Berry (1977), 54 Ill. App.3d 647, 370 N.E.2d 26; People v. Rizzo (1977), 49 Ill. App.3d 105; 363 N.E.2d 100.) We cannot say here that the denial of the motion to suppress was manifestly erroneous. Officer Ducek's stop of defendants was reasonable, since it was reasonable for the officer to infer that defendants had committed or were about to commit a robbery. (See People v. McGowan (1977), 69 Ill.2d 73, 370 N.E.2d 537.) There is strong evidence before us that the stop was justified by specific and articulable facts.

• 2 Officer Ducek testified that he approached Edgar Connor's vehicle in order to get a reason for it being in the area. It was an area which had recently been plagued by robberies. For a period of one hour, the vehicle was parked in the area. The officer had a description of the robbery suspect, and he testified that Edgar Connor resembled the description. A man repeatedly came to the vehicle, conversed with defendants, and then left them. We believe that the record "does not disclose policemen on the prowl." (People v. Howlett (1971), 1 Ill. App.3d 906, 274 N.E.2d 885.) The police officer had more than a "bare suspicion or hunch" that the vehicle contained someone who had committed or was about to commit a crime. (People v. Schlottman (1976), 37 Ill. App.3d 62, 65, 344 N.E.2d 8.) Therefore, because of the above factors, we decline to upset the trial court's ruling on the motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the stop. See People v. Staples (1971), 1 Ill. App.3d 922, 275 N.E.2d 259.

We now turn to defendants' contention that they were not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the possession of marijuana. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 56 1/2, par. 704.) Defendants argue that they were unaware of the marijuana, since it was found in the back seat of their vehicle and the marijuana belonged to third persons. At the trial, the following pertinent evidence was adduced.

It was stipulated that the vehicle registration and Illinois license plates were issued to a 1972 Chevrolet utility vehicle which was titled in the name of Edgar Connor. It was also stipulated that a laboratory analysis showed that the green plant was 915.30 grams of marijuana. Officer Gerald Ducek testified as a witness for the State. Basically, he reiterated the testimony given at the hearing on the motion to suppress. In addition, he testified that at the time in question, he was working with his partner, Officer Robert Wagner. During the surveillance, the man who stood by the Chevrolet vehicle periodically went to the window of an unemployment office, appeared to be looking inside the office, and then walked south on Western Avenue. At the end of the surveillance, the officers drove their squad car across Western Avenue in order to talk to defendants. The man standing by Connor's vehicle began walking south on Western Avenue. On foot, Wagner proceeded after the man. As Edgar Connor was arrested, Wagner returned to ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.