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People v. Kester





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. STEPHEN J. COVEY, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied December 17, 1979.

This is an appeal from a judgment of conviction for aggravated kidnapping and unlawful restraint entered by the circuit court of Peoria County after jury trial.

Late in December 1977, Vida Pope and Cheryl Oliver were arrested for burglary and theft. While in custody they were questioned about a home invasion which had occurred late in November 1977. Both women admitted participation and said that the defendant, James Steven Kester, had done the planning.

On February 8, 1978, Vida Pope and Cheryl Oliver pleaded guilty to burglary and theft. Each was given a sentence of two to six years on each charge, all sentences to run concurrently. In return for testimony in the instant case each was to receive an additional sentence of two to six years to run concurrently with the previous sentences with credit for time served on those sentences.

On February 7, 1978, defendant was indicted on two counts of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of unlawful restraint.

At the trial Vida Pope testified that on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1977, she, Cheryl Oliver, and the defendant met at a grocery store. They had not seen one another since September when both women had left the drug rehabilitation program at Stonehedge Center in Peoria where defendant had been working as a counselor. At the time of the meeting defendant was working at the Danvers Packing Plant in Danvers, Illinois. He talked to Pope about helping her to get a job there.

On Friday, November 25, 1977, defendant went to the apartment where Pope and Oliver were living. They talked further about possible employment. Later that day Pope and the defendant went to the Danvers plant for defendant's paycheck. They could not get it, however, because only a warehouse employee was there and he could not disburse checks. Defendant and Pope returned to Peoria and agreed to meet the next day to work on defendant's car.

On Saturday, November 26, 1977, defendant again went to Pope's apartment. Defendant and Pope then went back to his house so that he could change his clothes before working on the car. While he was changing the defendant told Pope he had a way to get a lot of money with little chance of getting caught. He had worked at an Eagle store and knew how grocery stores were operated. A Brink's truck arrived at the Eagle store every Wednesday. Receipts by that time were between $30,000 and $50,000. The plan was to learn the name of a grocery store manager and then go to his house, hold his family hostage, and demand money for their safety.

Defendant and Pope then returned to Pope's apartment so that she could change clothes. While Pope was changing defendant told Oliver his plan.

Defendant and Pope drove to the garage where they planned to work on the car but it was closed, so instead they drove past the Eagle store in Madison Park and discussed the plan. Pope went into the store and pretended to apply for a job. She was told the manager's name but she could not find it in the telephone book. Since they could not find out where the manager lived, the defendant and Pope drove to the Kroger store in Madison Park. The manager of that store lived in a trailer park and the parties decided that trailers were too close together for them to avoid detection during the home invasion phase of their plan.

On Monday, November 28, 1977, Pope and the defendant went to the Kroger store on Wisconsin Street in Peoria where they learned the manager was Boyd Kilpatrick. Later that day they drove to Danvers, Illinois, and talked to the manager about defendant's pay and a job for Pope.

On Tuesday, November 29, 1977, Pope, the defendant, and Oliver went to the Kroger store on Wisconsin Street to look at Kilpatrick and decide if he were the type who would pay ransom to save his family and they agreed he was their man. When they could not find Kilpatrick's name in the telephone book, and knowing the cab company had a city directory, they called the Yellow Checker Cab Co. and learned Kilpatrick's home address. Pope and Oliver then drove to the Kilpatrick home. They saw a "For Sale" sign in front of the house. After returning to their home Pope called the realtor and found that the house was for sale and that the Kilpatricks had three children.

Plans were finalized and on November 29, 1977, Pope and Oliver were to enter the Kilpatrick house and hold the family hostage. Defendant was to keep watch on the Kroger store and pick up the ransom money. Originally he was to wait in the Kroger parking lot but the plan was changed so that he was to wait in a telephone booth at the intersection of Nebraska and Wisconsin.

During the home invasion Pope wore a blue coat and a ski mask. She had gotten the coat from the defendant shortly before the occurrence. Oliver wore a ski mask and a scarf. Pope and Oliver gained entry by showing a gun. They told Mrs. Kilpatrick to telephone her husband at the Kroger store. She told her husband not to be upset but some people were in the house with a gun. She then gave the telephone to Pope who read instructions written by the defendant on a yellow sheet of paper. Kilpatrick was told that someone was watching him; he was to take the money from the safe, put it in a bag, and leave it next to a light pole in the parking lot. Then he was to go to the telephone booth at Nebraska and Wisconsin and he had 10 minutes in ...

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