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People v. Smith





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon. HAROLD R. CLARK, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied December 11, 1980.

Defendant, Norris Lee Smith, was convicted of the offense of forgery by a jury in the circuit court of Madison County and was sentenced to a five-year term of imprisonment. Defendant contends on appeal: (1) that venue was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt; and (2) that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress an alleged post-arrest statement and in compelling defendant to provide handwriting exemplars.

At approximately 1:30 on the afternoon of December 20, 1978, a woman presented a prescription to Joseph Kube at the pharmacy counter in Reese's Drug Store in Granite City, Illinois. The prescription, which was dated December 18, 1978, aroused the suspicion of Kube, a registered pharmacist, prompting him to inform the woman that he would have to "check on" the prescription. It was drawn up on a form from Barnes Hospital, located in St. Louis, Missouri, and bore the name of a physician unknown to Kube. As he looked through a telephone directory for the physician's name, Kube noticed the woman leave the store. He went to the front of the store and observed her enter an automobile. He wrote down the license plate number and relayed it to the police by telephone.

At approximately 2 p.m. a woman in an automobile, with Missouri license plates, matching the description supplied by Kube was detained in the parking lot of a nearby K-Mart store. In addition to the woman, who was in the driver's seat, defendant and two small children were in the automobile. The woman, defendant and the children were transported back to Reese's Drug Store, where Kube was able to identify the woman as the person who handed him the prescription. The woman was then placed under arrest. Defendant was asked to accompany an officer back to the K-Mart parking lot to witness a search of the automobile. The search was conducted with the woman's consent.

When defendant arrived at the parking lot, he placed the remains of a sandwich he had been eating into a brown paper bag he had been carrying and threw the bag into a garbage receptacle. The bag was retrieved by the officer conducting the vehicle search. Defendant was placed under arrest when the officer discovered that the bag contained prescription forms.

At the police station defendant was advised of his Miranda rights by Officer Craig Nonn. Defendant indicated to Officer Nonn that he had gotten the prescription forms "from a dude at Barnes" and that they had been "already filled out" at the time of receipt. After the interrogation was terminated, Officer Nonn completed the booking procedure and obtained several handwriting exemplars from defendant. The exemplars and the prescription form presented at the drug store were shown to defendant by Detective Sergeant Don Knight. At this point defendant stated that he had written the prescription.

On December 21, 1978, defendant was charged by an information with the offense of forgery in violation of section 17-3(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 17-3(a)(1)). The information states in pertinent part:

"NORRIS LEE SMITH on the 20th day of December, 1978 at and in the County of Madison, in the State of Illinois, committed the offense of FORGERY in that said defendant, with the intent to defraud, knowingly made a document apparently capable of defrauding another, in the [sic] it purported to have been made by another, Dr. Hyde, said document being a prescription form of Barnes Hospital for 90 tablets of Pyribenzamine, dated 12-20-78, issued to Edward Young, and signed as maker Dr. Hyde knowing said document to have been thus made in violation of Paragraph 17-3(a)(1) Chapter 38, Illinois Revised Statutes * * *."

The information was supplanted on February 16, 1979, by an amended information alleging December 18, 1978, as the date of the making.

Trial was held on May 8, 1979, and the prosecution presented the testimony of Stephen McKasson, an Illinois Department of Law Enforcement documents examiner. McKasson testified that defendant had written the words "Edward Young" on the prescription form based on his comparison of the prescription form from Reese's Drug Store with the handwriting exemplars of defendant provided by the prosecution. He was not able to state positively that the defendant had written any of the balance of the prescription.

The jury returned a verdict finding the defendant guilty of forgery, and, on July 3, 1979, the court imposed a five-year term of imprisonment on the defendant.

Defendant contends on appeal that venue has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, thereby necessitating a reversal of his conviction.

Under the charging document defendant is accused of violating section 17-3(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of ...

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