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People v. Jones





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon. JOHN W. DAY, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied June 1, 1982.

Defendant, Benjamin F. Jones, appeals from a judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict in the Circuit Court of Madison County finding him guilty of the offense of unlawful possession of a controlled substance in violation of section 402(b) of the Illinois Controlled Substance Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1402(b).) He was sentenced to a term of four years' imprisonment.

On appeal, defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether the office of the State Appellate Defender should be allowed to withdraw as counsel on appeal because a conflict of interest arose from the representation of defendant and the prior representation of another individual charged as a result of the same incident; (2) whether there was sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was in possession of the controlled substance; (3) whether defendant was denied a fair trial by the admission of three photographs depicting a weapon and suggesting the commission of another crime; and (4) whether the trial court committed reversible error in allowing a rebuttal witness to testify as to a collateral matter concerning other crimes' evidence. We find it necessary to consider only the first two issues presented for review.

The evidence established that on December 14, 1979, Officer Albrecht of the Alton Police Department was called to a Madison County housing project to investigate a trespassing complaint. Upon his arrival, Albrecht met Barbara Martin, the manager of the project, and she accompanied him to an apartment located at 258 Dooley Drive. As they approached the apartment, they heard music playing inside. Martin knocked on the door, received no response, and, thereupon, opened the door with her passkey.

Albrecht testified that he saw Charles Anthony Covington lying on a couch in the living room of the apartment. As Albrecht and Martin entered the room, Covington sat up and called out that the police had arrived. Albrecht then saw a hand gun on the coffee table, picked it up and unloaded it. Shortly thereafter, defendant came from upstairs and entered the living room.

Albrecht testified that he informed both defendant and Covington that he was investigating a trespassing complaint and that the last authorized tenant had vacated the apartment. According to Albrecht, defendant responded that his mother had moved out of the apartment about two months prior and because the apartment was unoccupied, defendant, about two weeks ago, decided to move into the apartment. Albrecht further testified that defendant stated that he was the only person living at the apartment; Covington and James Jennings, who was discovered upstairs, were his guests. Albrecht testified that during this conversation, defendant walked towards a closet in the corner of the living room and reached inside. Albrecht then ordered defendant to sit down. Albrecht stated that he was unable to see what defendant was doing in the closet. Albrecht testified that Officer Arbuthnot of the Alton Police Department arrived immediately prior to this conversation with defendant. Thereafter, defendant and Covington were arrested and taken to the police station by Arbuthnot. Arbuthnot testified that he did not see defendant walk to the closet.

After obtaining Martin's written consent, several police officers searched the apartment. Albrecht testified that he discovered a small amber vial containing a brown powder on a shelf in the living room closet. Albrecht also testified that there were various items located on the coffee table including drug paraphernalia, handcuffs, an envelope and a gun. The unopened envelope was addressed to defendant at 258 Dooley Drive. He identified these items in three photographs introduced by the State. Albrecht stated that he did not remember seeing any clothing, sheets, towels or personal items other than a box containing wadded up clothing.

Detective Whipple of the Alton Police Department testified that he was called to the apartment to investigate and to take photographs. He stated that the small amber vial, photographed as it was discovered on the shelf in the living room closet, was within an arm's length of the closet entrance. Whipple also identified from the photographs the various items found on the coffee table.

Randall Robbins, a forensic scientist employed by the State of Illinois, testified that the substance in the vial was heroin.

At the close of the State's case, the trial court admitted into evidence the three photographs of the items on the coffee table over objection of defendant.

Testifying in his own behalf, defendant denied that he told Albrecht he was living at 258 Dooley Drive. Defendant stated that during the month of December 1979, he lived at 849 Oakwood Avenue with Carol Crouder and her child. He testified that his mother moved from the apartment in August 1979, to Racine, Wisconsin. Defendant further testified that during a visit to his mother in November 1979, she asked him to move her furniture from the apartment to a friend's basement. He stated that he arrived at the apartment in order to move the furniture only minutes before the police arrived.

At trial, defendant denied that he placed the vial in the closet and he denied that any of the items found on the coffee table belonged to him. He stated that he reached into the closet in order to get his coat. He further testified that he had not seen the envelope prior to trial.

The defense witnesses testified in support of defendant's claim that he was not living at 258 Dooley Drive. Covington testified that he arrived at the apartment early that morning in order to help defendant move his mother's furniture. He stated that he was convicted of illegal possession of a weapon as a result of the incident which occurred on December 14, 1979. According to Covington, the heroin belonged to James Jennings. Dorothy Parks, defendant's mother, and her friend, Joe Willie Vans, corroborated defendant's claim that he went to the apartment in order ...

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