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People v. Trull

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 15, 1978.

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

v.

CHARLES TRULL, A/K/A DOUGLAS EDWARD TRULL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Macon County; the Hon. RODNEY A. SCOTT, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Burglary conviction, 4-20 years.

Search and seizure.

Can police use keys found at the scene of a burglary to open a locked door to an apartment building and then enter common areas and hallways therein?

No.

We reverse and remand.

The record tells us the following story: Decatur Police Officer Dennis Harris received a police radio dispatch informing him that someone was attempting to break into an apartment at 2480 N. Graceland in Decatur. Officer Harris proceeded to that address, discovered the defendant on the balcony of an apartment building attempting to forcibly gain entry to one of the apartments and noticed that Trull had a television set in his possession. Trull explained that he lived in the apartment, had lost his keys, and was merely trying to get in. Officer Harris ran a check of defendant's story and learned that Charles Trull (born in the month of March) did in fact reside at 2480 N. Graceland.

With Trull apparently exonerated, Officer Harris continued on his patrol until he heard another radio report informing him that Officer Bly was investigating a burglary on the other side of Decatur and had discovered a set of keys in connection with his investigation. Bly reported that a medallion on the key ring had the word "Pisces" inscribed upon it. Furthermore, Bly reported that the burglary included the theft of two television sets.

Officer Harris recognized that defendant's March birthday corresponded to the astrological sign of "Pisces" and — after matching other peculiar facets of his earlier encounter with Trull to the burglary report of Officer Bly — he and other officers proceeded to Trull's apartment building, taking the keys discovered at the scene of the burglary. The officers made no attempt to procure a warrant, either arrest or search.

The police arrived at Trull's apartment building at about 1:30 a.m. and found the apartment building door locked. Officer Harris inserted one of the keys into the keyhole and successfully turned the lock. The officers then opened the door and proceeded to Apartment Number 7, the apartment number Trull had given Officer Harris.

The officers knocked at the apartment door, and upon receiving no answer, used another one of the keys found at the scene of the burglary to unlock the door, opened the door slightly, announced that they were police officers, and called for defendant to come and answer the door. Trull responded that he was going to get some clothes on. After waiting for a period of time sufficient to allow defendant to get clothed and come to the door, the officers pushed open the apartment door and observed Trull coming out of the bedroom. The officers then entered the apartment and arrested Trull. A subsequent search of the apartment uncovered many of the articles that had been stolen in the burglary.

On appeal, defendant raises issues involving the initial entry into the apartment building, the subsequent entry into defendant's individual apartment, and whether the ensuing search of Trull's apartment was pursuant to a voluntary consent. We need only consider the first issue since we find the police officers' initial warrantless entry into defendant's locked apartment building violated Trull's fourth amendment rights and therefore any evidence found after the officers entered the apartment building must be suppressed.

To reach this result, however, it is necessary for us to examine three questions which are raised by the police officers' warrantless entry into the locked common entry and hallway of the apartment building. I. Does the mere insertion of a key into a door lock constitute a "search" under the fourth amendment? II. Are the common entries and hallways of a locked apartment building constitutionally protected? III. Assuming that such ...


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