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People v. Dorris

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 30, 1982.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JOHN LEE DORRIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. Robert J. Steigmann, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE LEWIS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After bench trial in the circuit court of Champaign County, defendant was convicted of burglary (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 19-1), and sentenced to a five-year term of imprisonment. Defendant appeals the denial of his motion to suppress certain of the State's evidence and his sentence.

We affirm.

The suppression hearing on the evidence in question was held in conjunction with the trial, but only those facts dealing with the propriety of the search will be discussed in detail. On August 7, 1981, at approximately 2:30 a.m., Edna Carson awoke and found an intruder in her house at 1603 West Healey in Champaign, Illinois. The man fled from the house. She described the burglar as "* * * a colored man * * * wearing either a white or very light blue T-shirt and blue jeans." Carson examined her premises and could not locate her handbag and several other items. She told James Ferdinandsen, the investigating police officer, that the handbag, as well as a teacher's retirement check, two social security checks, and approximately $100 in United States currency were missing. She was upset at that time and could not tell if anything else was missing.

Officer Ferdinandsen was told by Philip Manthei that he observed a car parked in front of his residence at 1610 West Healey at approximately 2:30 a.m. on August 7, 1981. He saw a black male come from the direction of Carson's house and get in the car. The man was carrying an arm load of "stuff" and a satchel with a long strap. He drove away with the headlights off. Manthei described the car as a two-door, black and white, 1969 or 70 Dodge Dart Swinger "in pretty good condition." It had Mississippi license plates and a CB antenna in the middle of the trunk lid.

Officer Ferdinandsen broadcasted the following description of the car over the police radio: "A black over white Dodge, CB antenna on the back and clean looking." Officers Tracy Jobe and Richard Eaton stopped and arrested the defendant in Champaign at 5 a.m. on August 7, 1981. Defendant was driving a black and white Dodge with Florida license plates. The interior of the car was loaded with clothing and other articles and contained two dogs. It had a CB antenna on the rear trunk. The car was taken into custody, the doors were locked and it was towed to police headquarters.

Officer Gary Wright testified that after his arrest, defendant consented to a search of his automobile and willingly signed a consent to search form. Defendant was told that if he did not give his consent, the police would obtain a warrant anyway, and that it would save time if he would consent. An hour later Officer Eaton arrived with a search warrant. Eaton and Wright then proceeded to search the car.

The warrant itself is not in the record, but the parties agreed at trial that the following items to be seized, from the complaint for the search warrant, are identical with what was contained in the warrant:

"[A] Teacher Retirement Check issued to Edna Carson, 2 Social Security Checks issued to Edna Carson; One Hundred Dollars in United States Currency; a large Women's handbag containing items of personal property belonging to Edna Carson."

Officer Eaton testified that in the trunk of the car he found a plastic bag of coins in which there was a small, blue, leather coin purse. The purse contained 15 (wheat) pennies and a bank deposit slip. The deposit slip was dated September 1979, had "Champaign National Bank" printed on it, and had an account number on it, but no name. Eaton then called Champaign National Bank and determined that the account number was for the account of Edna Carson. The purse and its contents were then seized.

During subsequent investigation and when brought to her attention, Carson indicated that she had a small, leather coin purse which was missing from her home. The coin purse and its contents were the only items offered at the trial as fruits of the burglary found in the defendant's possession.

Defendant testified that Officer Wright told him that he would get a faster search if he signed the form consenting to the search of his car. He signed the form, but then told Wright that he did not wish to consent to the search.

The court made the following ruling on defendant's motion to suppress the purse and the bank deposit slip:

"The Court finds there was sufficient probable cause for the arrest and search of the defendant and the automobile in which he was riding pursuant to the automobile exception and that the search warrant wasn't even necessary. But having obtained the search warrant, in the event the Court is incorrect in its first assessment, it's clear that in my judgment, the search was within the scope of the warrant and was not a general search and the items which were seized which are now the subject of the motion, People's Exhibits 1 and 2, the contents of 1, the pennies, were properly ...


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