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People v. Taglia





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. HARRY D. STROUSE, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Samuel Taglia, along with a co-defendant, John Sellinger, was found guilty of possession of burglary tools (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 19-2) by a Lake County jury. Taglia was sentenced to a one- to three-year term to run consecutively with a sentence imposed in an unrelated case.

Prior to trial, the defendant succeeded by motion in limine to limit prosecutorial references to the defendant as a "known burglar" and use of evidence of the defendant's prior bad acts.

At trial Arthur Walker, a former Lake Forest police officer, testified that on November 25, 1975, at approximately 7:10 p.m., he was walking on Deerpath Road in Lake Forest. As Walker approached the Village Antique Shop two men exited from a doorway and passed him by. Walker began to testify that the two men "looked familiar" when defense counsel moved for a mistrial. The motion was denied. Walker testified that he then had a brief conversation with fellow Officer Gernenz and left the area.

Officer Gernenz testified that while in his parked squad car, he saw co-defendant Sellinger enter a doorway while Taglia remained in front. Sellinger then exited and the two men walked across the street to the Village Antique Shop. Gernenz, who was about 350 feet away, then saw Sellinger bend over the door lock while Taglia remained at the edge of the doorway. Gernenz called a marked squad car. When this car drove by, the defendants left the doorway and crossed Deerpath Road and got into a car.

Lake Forest Police Officer John Currie testified that as he drove past the scene and observed the defendants by his "peripheral vision," he saw Sellinger bent over the doorway. In his report of November 25, 1975, Currie had stated Sellinger was in front of the store next to the antique shop. At trial he corrected this "mistake."

The testimony shows that the defendants then left the area by car followed by Gernenz who was followed by Currie. While the defendants apparently made no effort to evade the officers, their car crossed over the double yellow line. Currie then activated his police lights and stopped the defendants' car. At trial Currie testified that items, including a brown leather case, were tossed from the defendants' car. Taglia was arrested for improper lane usage. Currie then conducted a pat-down search of defendant Taglia and removed a key chain containing eight keys, six of which were keys commonly used for alarms and cabinets. After this search, Currie recovered an object that he believed to have been among the items tossed from the car. The object was a set containing a "tension bar" and about 20 lockpicks which were later identified as belonging to co-defendant Sellinger, a certified locksmith. A pat-down search of Sellinger revealed another set of keys usable for alarms, cabinets, cash registers, and doors.

After Taglia was taken to the police station he consented to a search of his car. Officers removed the following items from the trunk: a black jack, a radio scanner, drills, a mechanical claw, three steel balls, and some cutting tools.

Officer Ridel searched the area around the antique shop on December 2, 1975, some seven days after the arrest. In a gutter near the store he found a piece of rusted metal 4 to 5 inches in length. However, this object was not turned over to the police crime laboratory until December 23, 1975.

The owner of the antique shop testified she locked the store's front door from the inside when she left on the afternoon of November 25, 1975. When she returned the following morning, she was unable to unlock the front door from the inside. With effort the door was opened from the outside but from then on the door could not be locked from the inside. On December 1, 1975, the owner removed the inside cylinder of the two cylinder lock and gave it to the police. (The outside cylinder was never given to the police however.) There appeared to be a dark foreign object in the inside cylinder.

Officer Donald Verbeke was called by the State as an expert witness. He had recovered two small pieces of metal from the lock cylinder which he identified as portions of a lock pick. He further testified that although rust prevented a physical match-up, he felt it "highly probable" that the pieces found in the cylinder and the metal found in the gutter were part of the same lock pick.

At the close of the State's case, defendant moved for a directed verdict. This motion and a renewal motion after the defense case were denied.

The defendant raises three contentions on appeal: that his guilt was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt, that the trial court improperly instructed the jury on accountability, and that the prosecutor's opening statement and examination of a State's witness were improper.

• 1 The defendant originally phrased the reasonable-doubt issue in terms of an error in denying his motion for a directed verdict at the close of the State's case. It is well settled, however, that the introduction of evidence by the defendant waives any appeal of the denial of a directed verdict. (People v. Washington (1962), 23 Ill.2d 546, 179 N.E.2d 635; People v. Slaughter (1963), 29 Ill.2d 384, 194 N.E.2d 193.) In his reply brief, the defendant does not address this waiver issue ...

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