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People v. Beacham





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ROGER KILEY, Judge, presiding. MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE LINN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied September 2, 1980.

At the conclusion of a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, Reginald Beacham, was found guilty of two counts of armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 18-2). He was sentenced to a prison term of 13 to 24 years.

On appeal, defendant contends: (1) the trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to quash his arrest and suppress certain evidence; (2) the trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to discharge the jury; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the prosecutor to cross-examine defendant and a defense witness about unrelated criminal conduct; and (4) the trial court abused its discretion and erred by imposing an excessive sentence. We affirm.

Although no issue is raised as to the sufficiency of the evidence, we nevertheless find it necessary to discuss, in some detail, the testimony presented at the hearing on defendant's motion to quash the arrest and suppress the evidence seized.

Defendant's first witness, police officer Patrick Martin, testified that he had 12 years experience as a Chicago police officer. On May 11, 1976, at approximately 1 p.m., he and his partner, Officer Falinazzo, were patrolling the area of West End and Pulaski Streets. The police department had designated this neighborhood a high crime area. Martin observed defendant walking southbound on Pulaski Street. Defendant was carrying a number of fur coats. Martin stated he was not aware of any furrier or cleaner in that part of the neighborhood.

Martin further asserted that the officers drove their squad car alongside defendant. As Martin got out of the squad car, defendant began to run northbound on Pulaski Street. Martin called to defendant to halt. The defendant stopped and walked back to the squad car. Martin then asked defendant to tell him his name. He also asked defendant to explain how he came to have the fur coats in his possession.

Defendant told Martin that he was a pimp and that he had reclaimed the coats from his "lady," "Donna," because she had left him to work for another pimp. Martin and his partner then asked defendant for the full name and address of defendant's lady friend. Defendant responded, relating his lady friend's name and giving as her address a building which was approximately 100 yards from where they were standing. Martin noted that when he initially observed defendant, defendant was walking toward, not away from, the address he had just given.

Martin further testified that while he and Falinazzo were talking to defendant, they were taking the coats from defendant and examining them. Although Martin could not remember what initials were sewn into the lining of each coat, he stated that none of the coats had the initial "D" on the inside lining. Martin then placed the coats on the backseat of the squad car and asked defendant if Donna would be home and if she would be able to verify ownership of the coats. Defendant indicated Donna was at home and would verify ownership. Martin further stated that at that point defendant asked him and his partner to take defendant to his lady friend's home.

Martin also stated that for protective purposes, he conducted a "field search pat down" of defendant for weapons. While "patting down" defendant, Martin felt something in the pocket of defendant's pants. When Martin asked defendant what was in his pocket, defendant responded that the objects were rings. Upon a request from Martin, defendant removed the rings from his pocket and gave them to Martin. Defendant told Martin he also had repossessed these rings from Donna. Martin did not return the rings to defendant.

Defendant was then seated in the squad car and the police transported defendant approximately 100 yards to the address given by defendant. When they arrived at the location, however, the police noted that the address related to an alley and not a building. Defendant pointed to a specific flat in a nearby apartment building and indicated that it was the correct apartment. Martin then walked to the designated flat. Martin knocked on the door of the apartment, but no one responded to the knocking. A tenant of the building told Martin that the apartment was vacant.

When Martin returned to the squad car and informed defendant that the apartment he had designated was vacant, defendant told Martin he must have knocked on the wrong apartment door. Defendant then offered to show Martin exactly where the apartment was located. As Martin and Falinazzo accompanied defendant to the building, a man, later identified as T.J. Miller, ran towards them and shouted to the police to hold defendant. Martin also said that Miller told them that defendant had robbed him. Miller appeared very excited and told them that defendant had tied his hands. Martin observed bruise marks on Miller's hand. Martin asserted that after Miller identified defendant as the man who had robbed him, Martin placed defendant under arrest and handcuffed him. Martin also testified that immediately after placing defendant under arrest, he conducted a full search of defendant and discovered money in defendant's sock.

Martin and Falinazzo then transported defendant in the squad car to the address where the robbery had occurred. There, Wilma Boyd identified the rings which had been in defendant's possession as the rings which she stated defendant had taken from her. Miller identified the five fur coats, which defendant had been carrying when the police first observed him, as the coats which were taken from his apartment by defendant during the robbery.

Over defense counsel's objection, Martin further testified he first suspected that defendant was involved in criminal activity when he saw defendant carrying a number of fur coats and start running when he saw the police. Martin also stated that the weather was very sunny and warm and the neighborhood was a high crime area.

On redirect examination, Martin asserted that when he first saw defendant, defendant was carrying several coats over his left arm. Martin also stated that while he was talking with defendant about the ownership of the coats, he took each coat from defendant and examined it prior to placing it in the squad car. There were no price tags on the coats, and Martin was not aware of any reports that fur coats recently had been stolen. Martin also acknowledged that he had testified before the grand jury that defendant told him he was returning the coats and rings to a prostitute. *fn1

Defendant testified in support of the motion to quash the arrest. He stated that on May 11, 1976, at 12:30 p.m., he was walking north on Pulaski Street. He was carrying some fur coats on a single hanger; he could not remember how many coats he had. Defendant also asserted that he was walking when the police officers ordered him to stop. When questioned about the coats, he told Martin that he was a pimp and he was returning the coats to his lady, Michelle Davis.

According to the defendant, the officers then took all the coats from him and placed them in the car. The police officers next asked where his lady friend lived and defendant told them. Defendant asserted that he then asked if he was arrested and the officers told him, "We'll find out when we get there."

Prior to being placed in the squad car, Martin frisked defendant. Defendant further asserted that after Martin felt the rings in defendant's pocket and questioned defendant about them, Martin reached into defendant's pocket and took the rings. Defendant told Martin that the rings belonged to his lady friend and he was returning them to her. On cross-examination, defendant admitted he had told the police officers his name was "Reggie Labell" rather than his true name.

Defendant further testified that the police did not conduct the full search of his person until he was brought to the police station. At that time, the police told him he was under arrest.

After arguments, the case was continued. Several weeks later, the trial court denied defendant's motion. In deciding the motion, the court made several findings of fact. The court determined that when the police officers drove their car alongside defendant, defendant started to run. Defendant stopped after Martin yelled, "Stop." Defendant approached Martin upon his request. The court also noted that no guns were drawn and there were no reports of recent crimes in the area. When Martin questioned defendant about the coats, defendant said he was a pimp and he was taking back the coats from his lady friend who had left him. When asked who the lady friend was, defendant responded that her name was Donna and she lived at 4038 West End Street. The court indicated the address was approximately 100 yards away from the location of defendant and the police.

The court further found as fact that while Martin was asking defendant where "his lady" lived, he was taking the coats from defendant and placing them in the squad car. The court ruled this action constituted a seizure.

The court also found that after the officers conducted a pat down search of defendant and asked about the objects in his pockets, defendant said they were rings and took them out of his pocket. Martin then took the rings from defendant and kept them. Although defendant was not handcuffed, defendant did not believe he was free to leave.

The trial court also determined that at the time Martin placed defendant in his car, he suspected the bundle of coats was acquired through some recent criminal act because of the unusual circumstances involving the possession of the fur coats by the defendant on a warm day, that defendant was in a high crime area, and that defendant ran when he saw the police. At this time, however, Martin did not intend to arrest defendant; he was "continuing his investigation." The court noted that Martin did not check to see if robberies or other crimes had been reported in this area although Martin had a police radio in his squad car.

The trial court also stated that defendant was detained approximately three to five minutes before the police transported him to the address which he had given. Noting that the address was nonexistent, the trial court found that defendant offered to show the police where the apartment was located. While they were approaching an apartment, Miller came towards them, told them he had been robbed and identified defendant as one of the three men who had robbed him and who had taken fur coats from his apartment. At this point in time, the trial court found Martin told defendant, "You are under arrest," and, after searching him, recovered money from defendant's ...

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