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People v. Gan

OPINION FILED AUGUST 22, 1979.

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

v.

RONALD PAUL GAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County; the Hon. PAUL M. WRIGHT, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE CRAVEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant was convicted of burglary (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 19-1) and theft of property having a value of more than $150 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 16-1) in a jury trial. He appeals, presenting questions concerning evidentiary rulings and sufficiency of the evidence. He also contends that his sentence of 3 to 9 years' imprisonment is excessive. We affirm.

On December 14, 1977, an information was filed charging the defendant with burglary and theft of property with a value in excess of $150. Prior to trial, the defendant filed a standard motion for discovery which requested, inter alia, any oral or written statements made by the accused. Eight days later, the State filed its response, claiming that no statements were made, thus laying the foundation for an issue on appeal.

The trial commenced on May 24, 1978, and Randy Thornton was the first witness for the State. Thornton described to the jury how he arrived at the Ben Franklin Store in Georgetown, Illinois, on December 13, 1977, at approximately 8:15 a.m. He was the assistant manager of the establishment. Upon entering, Thornton noticed that a merchandise display unit, which had been flush against a hole in the back wall of the store, had been tipped over. A pair of brown Wolverine boots, size 9 or 9 1/2, with safety toes, had been removed from the store. In an aisle there were also several of the store's yellow shopping bags, containing merchandise which included dolls. The coin drawers had been opened.

A leak in the back of the store led Thornton to the roof to remove ice. Once having attained this vantage point, his attention was drawn to a red Chevrolet pickup truck, parked in a lot off the alley in back of the store, approximately 25 to 30 feet from the door. No one was around the truck, but he saw shopping bags in the back of the truck which he believed were from the store. Thornton then accompanied Georgetown Police Chief Keith Emory to the truck where he pointed out a pair of steel-toe, brown, Wolverine boots, size 9 or 9 1/2, as being familiar. He also found coin wrappers in an area behind the store.

Joe Wasko, the manager of the store, stated that he arrived at approximately 7:40 a.m. on the day in question and found merchandise scattered about and a fixture removed from its place over the access hole. The back door had been opened from the inside, so he called the police.

Three cash registers had been pried open and approximately $528 in currency and coins, some in rolls, were missing. He could not determine whether the items in the aisle were from the store's inventory, but to the best of his knowledge, his was the only store in Georgetown which sold that type of doll.

Chief Emory testified that when he arrived at the store at 8:10 a.m., he was told that there were two men in a pickup truck in the rear of the store. The truck was stuck in the snow.

As he moved his patrol car north into the alley, he saw defendant's brother, William Gan, running from the truck. The defendant was standing on the driver's side of the truck with his hand on the door knob. From the passenger side of the truck, Chief Emory saw some dolls protruding from a yellow sack and some tan Wolverine work shoes on the floor. He then asked the defendant where he had gotten the merchandise, and the defendant stated that he had gotten it from a friend. Chief Emory then asked the defendant who owned the truck, and the defendant replied that the truck belonged to Pearson Roofing Company, his employer.

At this point, defense counsel objected to the testimony, claiming that the defendant's identification of himself as the driver of the truck was involuntary and had not been disclosed previously to defense counsel in discovery. An in camera examination was held wherein Chief Emory testified that when he approached the defendant, he was aware that a burglary had been committed and that the defendant was a suspect in the chief's mind. According to Chief Emory, the defendant had not been free to leave and was in custody at that time. He testified that it was his intention to place defendant under arrest after asking defendant a few questions about the merchandise. The court overruled the defense objection.

The jury was brought back in and Chief Emory testified that he discovered a pile of 20 to 25 coin wrappers about 10 feet from the truck. He also stated that after he arrested and handcuffed the defendant, he found no unusual amount of coins on the defendant's person, nor any items identified as having been the property of the store.

The jury returned verdicts of guilty on both charges and the trial court entered judgment. The theft conviction was later set aside on post-trial motion, and a sentence of from 3 to 9 years' imprisonment was imposed.

The defendant initially claims that it was error to admit statements "which practically amounted to confessions" into evidence where statements were elicited in violation of the standards set forth in Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602.

• 1 It is clear that the Miranda warnings must be given prior to custodial interrogation. It is equally clear, however, that the Miranda holding does not apply to "[g]eneral on-the-scene questioning as to facts surrounding a crime or other general questioning of citizens in the fact-finding process." (384 U.S. 436, 477, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 725, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 1629.) The distinction has sent lower ...


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