APPEAL from the Circuit Court of McHenry County; the Hon.
ROLAND A. HERRMANN, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE VAN DEUSEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied November 21, 1980.
Defendant appeals from his convictions of two counts of theft over $150 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 16-1(a)) for which he was sentenced to two concurrent terms of five years.
On May 31, 1975, defendant was charged by complaint with theft over $150. On June 17, 1975, the grand jury indicted defendant for two counts of theft over $150. One count was for theft of a boat, the other, for theft of a boat trailer.
Late in the evening of May 30, 1975, Officer Patrick Palmer was patrolling the area of Commercial and Elm Streets in Richmond, Illinois. He had patrolled the same area 45 minutes earlier. This time, however, he noticed a vehicle parked alongside a building in the area of Ed Wendt's Marina. That vehicle had not been there earlier. Attached to the vehicle was a boat and trailer.
Officer Palmer testified that he had been heading northbound on Commercial and was about to turn right, eastbound, onto Elm, when he noticed the vehicle was moving without lights on. He therefore put his squad car in reverse gear and "stepped on it" to block the vehicle's path. The squad car then died but coasted back a few feet into an angular position, its front part in the northbound lane of Commercial, its back part in the southbound lane of Commercial. The vehicle, a truck, pulled up to the front of his squad car and stopped. He observed two occupants in the truck. Officer Palmer testified that there was a vapor lamp on the northeast corner of Elm and Commercial which lit up the left side of the cab of the truck. He was able to see the driver for about 30-45 seconds but he could not see the passenger. The driver had long hair and looked between the ages of 22 and 24. Officer Palmer attempted to get out of the car. His left leg was outside the door when the truck came forward, crushing his leg between the door and the side of the car. He yelled stop and fired a shot into the air. The occupants of the truck exited the vehicle and ran toward the east. Officer Palmer attempted to follow them but his leg was injured too badly to do so and he fell.
Another officer, Officer Russo, who lived nearby, arrived at the scene. Sergeant George Corson also arrived and spoke with Palmer before Palmer was taken to the hospital.
Sergeant Corson testified that Palmer told Corson, at the time of the incident, that the lights of the truck had been turned on.
Bernice Lachner identified the boat which had been taken from Wendts. She described it, recognized it in a picture, and proved its ownership and value by producing a bill of sale containing the serial number. She and her husband purchased the boat in July 1969.
Henry Gram, sales manager for Ed Wendt Boat & Motor Co., testified that the boat and trailer were parked adjacent to the storage building, that the boat was a storage boat being prepared for summer delivery, and that the boat was "sitting on the trailer, parked off to the side." He produced records showing that the trailer was owned by Ed Wendt's Company. These records contained the serial and model numbers. Mr. Gram also testified as to the value of the trailer.
On appeal, the defendant first contends that he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt where the testimony of the State's sole identification witness, Officer Palmer, was materially impeached by another police officer, Sergeant Corson, concerning the condition under which an attempt at identification of defendant occurred.
Palmer testified that the truck he observed near Wendt's Marina had no lights on and that he became suspicious when the vehicle began to move without the lights on. He therefore put his car in reverse and began to back up southward on Commercial, to block the truck, but his squad car died. The stalled squad car was positioned in an angular fashion, the back part being in the southbound lane of Commercial, the front part in the northbound lane. The squad car, therefore, partially blocked the truck which had moved forward (south) toward the squad car. Officer Palmer stated that, on the northeast corner of Elm and Commercial, there was a very strong vapor light which provided sufficient lighting for him to observe defendant and that he was able to observe defendant for approximately 30-45 seconds.
On cross-examination, Palmer stated that he didn't recall whether the truck's headlights ever went on at the time the truck pulled up to the squad car but, even if they had, due to the angle of the squad car, they would not have affected his ability to see defendant who was in the driver's seat of the truck. The vapor light positioned behind the truck, although not directly behind it, illuminated the left side of the cab of the truck, but there was a dark spot on the right side of the cab so Officer Palmer could not see the passenger. When asked if at any time he told Sergeant Corson that, at some point during the incident, he noticed that the truck's lights had been turned on, Officer Palmer stated "I don't believe so."
Sergeant Corson was called as a court's witness. He had been called upon the scene by Palmer. After refreshing his memory from his police report, he ...