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People v. Thiele

OPINION FILED APRIL 29, 1983.

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

v.

RONALD THIELE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Iroquois County; the Hon. Herman S. Haase, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, Ronald Thiele, appeals his convictions for burglary, theft, criminal damage to property and resisting a peace officer following a jury trial in the circuit court of Iroquois County.

On appeal the defendant contends: (1) that his convictions for burglary and criminal damage to property should be reversed because he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) that the trial court erred when it denied defendant's motion to quash a search warrant and suppress evidence illegally seized on the ground that the search warrant failed to adequately specify the items to be seized; and finally (3) that the denial of defendant's motion for severance of the various counts constituted error.

The facts indicate that on February 16, 1981, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Francis Focken was looking out the front door of his house which was located about 150 feet east of the Martinton Grain Company office. Visibility conditions were poor due to the presence of rain and fog. Focken noticed a car driving slowly past the grain elevator. The car was described as a full-size, light gray, two-door model. Focken was unable to determine the make of the vehicle, nor did he see the license number.

The vehicle stopped near the elevator office and two people got out and the car left the area. Focken was unable to say whether the two individuals were male or female, although he believed they were males by the manner of their walk across the street. The two individuals walked to a light pole in front of the grain company office where they shut off the outside security lights by pulling a breaker switch. Focken then observed two people in the office with a flashlight. At this point he notified the Iroquois County Sheriff's Department to report a burglary in progress. As Focken continued to watch, the two people came out of the office and were picked up by the same car that had dropped them off earlier. The car left the area in an eastbound direction toward Donovan or Beaverville and Focken was unable to say how many people were in the car.

David Whitson, an Illinois State Trooper patrolling the area near Martinton, was the first officer to arrive at the scene, approximately 10 to 15 minutes following Focken's call. Focken and Whitson met each other at the office and each observed a broken window and some de-icer and change scattered on the office floor. Whitson remained at the scene of the break-in for approximately an hour, after which he turned the crime scene over to other investigators and returned to patrol in an attempt to locate the silver gray vehicle described by Focken.

Approximately three miles east of the grain company and one mile west of the Donovan Grade School, Whitson saw a silver car driving slowly towards him in a westerly direction. The car was a 1976 Ford Torino and it pulled into a driveway and stopped. Whitson pulled in behind the vehicle and asked the driver for identification. Donita Thiele produced a traffic citation from the glove compartment with her name on it. Whitson observed what appeared to be two men's wallets in the glove compartment, and when he opened one he saw that it belonged to the defendant, Ronald Thiele. Whitson also observed an open bottle of beer in the car and told the driver that he was going to issue her a citation for illegal transportation of alcohol. Whitson took Donita Thiele into custody because the car she was driving was similar to the description he received of the vehicle involved in the Martinton Grain Company burglary. Donita Thiele kept the keys to the unlocked car as Whitson left with her en route to the Donovan Grade School, where he met deputies from the Iroquois County Sheriff's Department, investigating what appeared to be another burglary at the grade school. Whitson saw a camera, a cardboard box containing fresh meat, a record player and some other small items placed outside the school on the driveway. When Whitson returned to the driveway where the Thiele car had been left an hour earlier, it was gone. He next saw the vehicle at the Iroquois County sheriff's office at approximately 3 a.m.

On February 17, 1981, Whitson obtained a search warrant for the defendant's car. The search warrant commanded officers of the law to search the defendant's vehicle and seize the following:

"Items taken from the Donovan Grade School and Martinton Grain Company, constituting evidence of BURGLARY in violation of Section 19-1a and THEFT in violation of 16-1a1 of Chapter 38 of the Illinois Revised Statutes."

The complaint for the search warrant was sworn to by Whitson and alleged that "a quantity of money was taken from the Martinton Grain Co." and that "a search of the Donovan Grade School revealed United States currency to be missing, photographic equipment, tape recorders, and meat from the kitchen, some of which was found outside the school and the main entrance." The search warrant itself failed to list any of the foregoing as items to be seized from the vehicle to be searched.

Whitson searched the car at approximately 11:45 a.m. on February 17, the morning after the burglaries. The defendant's car had been immediately seized upon the defendant's arrest in Gilman and was towed to the Iroquois County Sheriff's Department where it remained until the search was conducted.

During the search Whitson seized two vests, a windbreaker, an insulated jacket, a plastic bag containing about $36 in change, three pairs of gloves and a crescent wrench. Whitson also seized two single dollar bills, a quantity of change and a $10 quarter wrapper from the defendant's coveralls during a search of the defendant at 3 a.m. at the sheriff's department.

George Sterrenberg, a co-owner of Martinton Grain Company, testified that the defendant did not have permission to be on the premises on February 16, 1981. He further testified that approximately $35 in change was missing from a container kept in the office refrigerator and he identified the vests, windbreaker and jacket as having come from the grain company office.

Gerald Olson was the principal of the Donovan Grade School and testified as to the nature and extent of damage done inside the school and as to the value of the items found on the sidewalk. Olson also testified that a small amount of ...


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