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People v. Mcqueen





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Carl Henninger, Judge, presiding.


An eight-count indictment charged Charles McQueen, defendant, with murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), (2), (3)), attempt to commit murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 8-4(a)), aggravated battery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 12-4(a), (b) (1)), armed violence (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, art. 33A), and armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 18-2(a)) resulting from a shooting which left one person dead and another injured. Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion in limine requesting, inter alia, the court to prohibit the State's introduction of certain evidence found in defendant's home and certain statements made by defendant because they were irrelevant. After a hearing, the Du Page County circuit court granted this motion with respect to guns, ammunition, two books, and a newspaper clipping found in defendant's home and defendant's false statement to police that he did not possess any weapons. The State filed a certificate of impairment and appeals from this pretrial evidentiary order pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (87 Ill.2d R. 604(a)(1)).

At the hearing on defendant's motion, the State represented that on the day of the offense, defendant telephoned the police which resulted in a meeting between the police and defendant. At that meeting, after being informed he was a suspect, defendant gave police an alibi and stated, among other things, that he had no firearms in his house. In a subsequent search of his house, firearms which ballistic experts said were unrelated to the shootings were found along with ammunition which was the same type and caliber as those recovered from the scene of the crime yet which also fit the firearms found in defendant's home. Defendant did not have a firearms ownership identification card (FOID). Police also found a book which concerned the subject of telling lies and creating alibis, a book about Son of Sam, and a newspaper clipping regarding the death penalty statute. At this hearing, the State told the court, to allay defendant's contention that the evidence regarding the firearms would be evidence of other crimes, that it would not tell the jury that defendant did not have a FOID card. At the close of the hearing, the court prohibited the State from introducing the firearms or ammunition, finding that they were unrelated to the charged offense, as well as defendant's false statements, the two books, and the newspaper clipping.

• 1, 2 On appeal, the State argues that defendant's false statement regarding the firearms was relevant in showing defendant's consciousness of guilt and thus admissible, and that the firearms and ammunition were admissible because they were found in defendant's possession and were suitable for the commission of the crimes. The State does not set forth any argument concerning the books or newspaper clipping. Defendant responds by first requesting this court to reconsider its order of September 8, 1982, which found the State's appeal cognizable under Supreme Court Rule 604(a) (87 Ill.2d R. 604(a)).

Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) governs the State's right to appeal interlocutory orders and provides that:

"In criminal cases the State may appeal only from an order or judgment the substantive effect of which results in dismissing a charge for any of the grounds enumerated in section 114-1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963; arresting judgment because of a defective indictment, information or complaint; quashing an arrest or search warrant; or suppressing evidence." 87 Ill.2d R. 604(a)(1).

Pursuant to this rule, the State may appeal a pretrial suppression order whenever it certifies to the trial court that the order substantially impairs the State's ability to prosecute the case. (People v. Young (1980), 82 Ill.2d 234, 247.) The pretrial suppression order need not be premised on evidence illegally obtained; rather, it may concern evidentiary rulings regarding hearsay and relevancy. (See People v. Phipps (1980), 83 Ill.2d 87; People v. Young (1980), 82 Ill.2d 234.) Different rules apply where the State seeks to appeal an interlocutory order which resulted from a motion presented once the trial had already commenced. (See People v. Johnson (1983), 113 Ill. App.3d 367, 447 N.E.2d 502.) Since the substantive effect rather than the form of the trial court's order determines whether it is a suppression order (People v. Phipps (1980), 83 Ill.2d 87, 90-91), this court did not err in its September 8, 1982, order finding the State's appeal cognizable under Supreme Court Rule 604(a) because the effect of the trial court's order was to prohibit the introduction of certain evidence. See People v. Wallace (1982), 106 Ill. App.3d 567, 435 N.E.2d 960; People v. Kite (1981), 97 Ill. App. 817, 423 N.E.2d 524.

The cases cited by defendant, People v. Williams (1982), 108 Ill. App.3d 219, 438 N.E.2d 1311, and People v. Macaluso (1976), 36 Ill. App.3d 592, 344 N.E.2d 476, concern State appeals from midtrial evidentiary rulings and are thus inapposite.

Prior to analyzing the merits of the State's appeal, defendant's contention that this court may only review the trial court's authority to entertain defendant's motion in limine, and not the merits of the court order, must be discussed. Defendant misplaces reliance for this proposition on People v. Flatt (1980), 82 Ill.2d 250, because the supreme court in Flatt addressed a "suppression order" entered after the trial had commenced. The court held that once trial has begun, the State may appeal and challenge only (1) orders suppressing evidence entered pursuant to the provisions of section 114-12(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 114-12(c)) or (2) the authority of the trial court to entertain a motion not authorized pursuant to the provision of section 114-12(c). (82 Ill.2d 250, 264; see also People v. Johnson (1983), 113 Ill. App.3d 367, 447 N.E.2d 502 (includes within appealable midtrial orders those which deny admittance of evidence because of a statutory prohibition or the violation of a court rule or some other ground besides recognized rules concerning the admission of evidence).) In the latter circumstances, the appellate court would only be able to review the trial court's authority to entertain the motion and not the merits of the motion and order. Since the order in the instant case was a pretrial order, Flatt does not apply; rather, People v. Young (1980), 82 Ill.2d 234, previously discussed, which does not limit the appellate court's scope of review, applies.

Defendant's False Statement

• 3 The State argues that it did not seek to introduce defendant's false statement denying possession of firearms to prove the truth of that statement. Rather, according to the State, defendant's false statement evinces defendant's consciousness of guilt.

A defendant's false exculpatory statement may be admissible to establish the defendant's consciousness of guilt. (See People v. Watson (1982), 103 Ill. App.3d 992, 431 N.E.2d 1350; People v. Puente (1981), 98 Ill. App.3d 936, 424 N.E.2d 775; People v. Mitchell (1975), 35 Ill. App.3d 151, 341 N.E.2d 153; People v. Wilson (1972), 8 Ill. App.3d 1075, 291 N.E.2d 270.) The present issue requires a determination of whether defendant's false statement was "exculpatory" and thus admissible to show his consciousness of guilt.

• 4 Although the State did not articulate its rationale for contending that defendant's false statement was admissible as evidence of defendant's consciousness of guilt, it appears that defendant's false statement evinces such a consciousness of guilt. After being made aware that he was a suspect in the shooting of two people, defendant stated that he did not possess any firearms. The subsequent discovery of firearms in defendant's residence leads to the inference that he lied about his possession of firearms to dispel suspicion concerning his culpability in the shooting. Viewed in this light, defendant's false statement is relevant to the issue of his guilt.

While the determination of whether evidence is admissible with regard to relevancy is within the discretion of the trial court, whose decision will not be reversed if the record indicates a sufficient basis for the decision and if the court did not abuse its discretion (People v. Gibson (1982), 109 Ill. App.3d 316, 325, 440 N.E.2d 339, 344; People v. Jones (1982), 108 Ill. App.3d 880, 884, 439 N.E.2d 1011, 1015; People v. Miller (1981), 98 Ill. App.3d 453, 458, 424 N.E.2d 624, 628), the trial court in the instant case abused its discretion. The trial court explained that defendant's false statement should not be admitted because defendant may have lied because he did not possess a FOID card. While it is true that defendant may have lied to cover up his lack of a FOID card, that does not make the evidence irrelevant. Rather, defendant could explain to the fact finder the reason why he lied so as to mitigate any harm. The fact finder would assess this testimony in determining defendant's guilt or innocence. Thus, since a defendant's ...

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