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People v. Hope





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JEROME T. BURKE, Judge, presiding.


Following a bench trial, defendant was convicted of theft (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 16-1) and possession of a stolen vehicle (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 95 1/2, par. 4-103(a)). He was sentenced to concurrent terms of one to four years for theft and one to three years for possession of a stolen vehicle. On appeal he contends that he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and that the trial court erred in: (1) admitting a business record without requiring a proper foundation; (2) admitting hearsay testimony; (3) allowing the State to cross-examine a defense witness regarding a prior inconsistent statement without presenting rebuttal evidence where the witness denied having made the statement; (4) failing to hold a hearing prior to imposing sentence; (5) imposing sentence prior to disposing of a post-trial motion; and (6) finding defendant guilty of a lesser included offense.

The following pertinent evidence was adduced at trial.

For the State

Cary B. Seiderman, Assistant General Manager of Nortown Oldsmobile, Inc.

Nortown, which is located at 6501 N. Western Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, buys and sells new and used Oldsmobiles. On July 8, 1976, Nortown was the owner of a 1976 Oldsmobile 98 as evidenced by a carbon copy of an invoice for the automobile. The invoice, which included a serial number, indicated that the automobile was delivered to Nortown on May 20, 1976, from General Motors. He believed that the original invoice was with the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors in Lansing, Michigan.

Prior to July 8, 1976, Nortown reported to the police department and to General Motors that the said automobile had been stolen. The approximate value of the automobile then was $6,000. Sometime after it was reported stolen, he observed the automobile again when it was returned to Nortown's service department by two other Nortown employees. "To the best of [his] recollection" the automobile had been damaged on the driver's side, across the front and back doors. He checked the vehicle identification number of the returned automobile and verified that it was the same as the identification number on the previously mentioned invoice from General Motors. This automobile was subsequently repaired and sold in the ordinary course of business. Nortown did not "ever give the Defendant William E. Hope permission to use, possess, operate or in any way control that automobile."

Dennis Blum, Franklin Park Police Officer

He was proceeding east on Grand Avenue shortly after midnight on July 8, 1976, when he observed a 1976 Oldsmobile parked in front of the Western Auto Tires Store at 9777 Grand Avenue. Two people exited the car, walked up to the front of the building and looked into the store window. Defendant was one of these two people. After observing them for four or five minutes he drove around the block in order to "position myself in such a manner as to observe the parties." The two returned to the automobile and proceeded eastbound on Grand Avenue. As he followed them he ran a check on the license plates and determined that the plates had been issued to a 1971 Dodge Dart. When they drove into a Motorola parking lot he called for a back-up unit. Officer Robert Flood arrived to provide assistance. Blum then asked the driver for his driver's license and vehicle identification. The driver, who was the defendant, produced an expired temporary Illinois driver's license and stated that he did not have the vehicle registration with him. He asked defendant why the license plates on the vehicle did not register to a 1976 Oldsmobile, but received no response. At his request Flood ran a check to determine whether the Oldsmobile was stolen and upon receiving a report over the radio stating that "the vehicle identification and vehicle in question was reported stolen," he placed defendant under arrest. He was later "informed that the vehicle was owned by Nortown Oldsmobile." Although he recalled that there was "minor damage to the side" of the automobile, he could not recall whether the passenger's side or driver's side was damaged.

For the Defendant

Terry Bullock

He is defendant's cousin. On the evening of July 8, 1976, defendant and 10 or 12 other people were playing cards and shooting pool in the basement of his house at 642 N. Homan, Chicago, Illinois. Defendant was present for approximately four hours. At about 9:30 or 9:45 p.m. that evening Willie Wilson, "better known as Fast Willie," arrived at his house along with Margaret McKnight. Defendant asked Wilson if he could borrow his car. When Wilson gave defendant the car keys, Bullock asked defendant if he could ride along because he wanted to pick up a friend. With the defendant driving, they left in a white Oldsmobile 98. They travelled north on Homan to Grand Avenue and then took Grand to Franklin Park "to pick up the girls." Along the way they stopped at a tire store and stood for several minutes looking in the display window. They then left the store and drove "to the place to pick up the girls." After waiting in the parking lot for 10 or 15 minutes, they were approached by two police officers. When he and defendant exited the car, one of the officers stated "The license plates to the car do not match." He testified that before he entered the Oldsmobile that evening he had no knowledge that it was a stolen automobile.

On cross-examination he admitted that he did not know Willie Wilson's address or age and did not really know Wilson very well, but had seen him in the neighborhood five or six times prior to July 1976. He admitted that he spoke with John Healy, an investigator, for the State's Attorney's Office, on November 12, 1976. He told Healy that at the time of the arrest he was "in Franklin Park to pick up a girl at Motorola and drive her home." However, he did not recall telling Healy that this was the only time he had seen the Oldsmobile. Although he did not recall telling Healy that he did not know where the automobile came from, he ...

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