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People v. Koris





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. PHILIP J. CAREY, Judge, presiding.


Defendants, Robert Koris, Robert Conway and Diana Stewart, were found guilty in a bench trial of the theft and possession of a stolen 1976 Lincoln automobile. Judgment was entered only as to the theft. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 16-1(a)(1).) Koris was sentenced to two years' imprisonment; Conway and Stewart to 18 months' probation.

Defendants appeal, contending (1) they were not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the trial court erred in ruling they had no standing to move to quash the search warrant or to suppress evidence; and (3) the trial court erred in denying their request for a continuance.

The State introduced the testimony of Charles M. Edgeton, since deceased, who had testified at the October 28, 1977, preliminary hearing that his automobile was taken on March 29, 1977, that it was later found inside the garage owned by defendant Koris and that he had not given anybody permission to take it.

Chicago Police Investigator James Houtsma testified that from March 29 through March 31, 1977, he and his partner (James Kennealy) were parked across the street from 8612 So. 77th Avenue in Bridgeview, Illinois, maintaining a surveillance of that building. The property at that address was owned by defendant Koris of 7143 So. 84th Street, Bridgeview.

At about 10:45 p.m. on March 29, 1977, defendants Conway and Stewart, with Conway driving, drove up in a black pickup truck with license No. 448 144 B. This license was issued to Donna Eaglesham of 2743 West 84th Place, Bridgeview. Stewart got out and unlocked the gate to the yard next to 8612 So. 77th. Less than a minute later, Houtsma saw defendant Koris drive a 1976 Lincoln into the garage. The lighting conditions were poor at that time. The license plates on the Lincoln were 1977 plates No. GG9595. This license was issued to Donna Eaglesham of the same Bridgeview address. Houtsma testified that to the best of his recollection he had seen these license plates at least four times on four different automobiles. The Lincoln appeared to be a dark color over grayish. Koris drove the Lincoln in to the rear of the building. Stewart closed the gate. Conway walked to the rear, followed by Stewart. Later the three defendants came out of the front of the building and left in the black pickup truck. They drove to a garage at 84th and Pulaski.

On the morning of March 30, 1977, Houtsma saw defendant Koris drive up to the garage at 8612 So. 77th in a red dump truck. Thirty minutes later Koris drove out through the gate in a white GMC step van with 1977 license No. 1616 C. This license was issued to defendant Koris at 7143 West 84th Place, Bridgeview. Koris drove to Keystone Auto in Robbins. There Koris opened the rear of the van and removed a white automobile hood and fenders and white automobile doors with burgundy-colored interior vinyl. These matched the colors of the stolen 1976 Lincoln found the next day in Koris' garage.

On March 31, 1977, at about 7:05 a.m., Houtsma saw defendant Conway drive the same black Chevrolet pickup truck into the lot across from 8612 So. 77th Avenue. Koris was also in the truck. Houtsma and Kennealy approached defendants Conway and Koris and showed them a warrant to search 8612 So. 77th Avenue. Then Houtsma, Kennealy and two other officers and defendant Koris, using his keys, opened the front door of 8612 So. 77th. Kennealy testified that he, defendants Koris and Conway, Investigators Ball, Houtsma and Picket entered the premises. The inside of the building was primarily a garage, the front part being an office.

In the garage area the police found a 1976 Lincoln automobile with no hood, doors or fenders, but otherwise in good condition. There were no license plates on the car. The car had a dark burgundy top and a white bottom. The value of the automobile was about $2700. The VIN number on the auto was 6Y 81 A 863026, the VIN number of Edgeton's automobile. Also in the garage were compressors, tools, tires and other auto accessories.

On cross-examination, Houtsma stated that he arrested defendants Koris and Conway only after executing the search warrant. He explained that his police report, which stated that Koris and Conway were taken into custody and then the search warrant was executed, was in error.

Donna Eaglesham testified that she resides with her sister in an apartment building at 7143 West 84th Place and that other tenants also live in that building. She owned a 1976 Chevrolet Camaro with license plate No. GG 9595. She may have had occasion to loan the car to others. During the time she owned the car, license plate No. GG 9595 was never removed from the car. Defendant Koris is Donna Eaglesham's brother-in-law. Both defendant Koris and defendant Stewart also resided at 7143 West 84th Place during the period of January through March of 1977. Donna Eaglesham at one time was secretary for Waz Body Shop in Oak Lawn, which was owned by defendant Conway.

Defendants argue that they were not proved guilty of theft beyond a reasonable doubt. We disagree. Section 16-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 provides in pertinent part (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 16-1):

"A person commits theft when he knowingly:

(a) Obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of ...

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