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People v. Klein

OPINION FILED JUNE 16, 1983.

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

v.

JOHN M. KLEIN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Calhoun County; the Hon. Alfred L. Pezman, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Pillage on the Mississippi.

A modern day brigand boarded a moored vessel, plundered the craft, and made off with the spoils.

Burglary and theft — jury — guilty — six years.

We affirm.

On Sunday, August 9, 1981, the Williams family — who reside in Missouri — went on a family outing. They sailed their boat, a 25-footer with an enclosed cabin that sleeps five persons, across the Mississippi River to Royal Landing in Calhoun County, Illinois. Before disembarking, Mr. Williams placed his wallet in his wife's purse and put the purse in the V-berth of the boat. The family spent four to five hours at Royal Landing swimming and picnicking. They were about 50 yards from their boat, but could not always see it, as their vision was partially blocked by a clump of bushes. The members of the family occasionally returned to the boat to retrieve food or drink or to use the bathroom facilities on board. They noticed nothing untoward at these times.

Sometime between 5 and 6 p.m., Mr. and Mrs. Williams and their daughter boarded their boat and sailed for home. When they reached port, they discovered that the purse and wallet which had been in the V-berth were missing. Mr. Williams and his family again set sail for Royal Landing and, upon their arrival at approximately 8 p.m., they found the beach deserted. A search of the area turned up Mrs. Williams' purse (which had been pushed down in the mud some 30 to 40 feet from where the boat had been moored earlier in the day), but was otherwise unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the Williams family, conservation police officers were at another area of Royal Landing investigating a report of a vehicle parked in a restricted area. Officers Will, Stumpf, and Ulery had arrived at the landing at 7:30 p.m. The officers observed a white Chevy pickup stuck in the sand in a restricted area. Five persons, including defendant John Klein, were with the disabled vehicle. All five appeared to be intoxicated. When Will and Stumpf attempted to ascertain ownership of the truck, the five were initially uncooperative, but Dan Harwood eventually claimed that the truck was his. Harwood gave the officers permission to search the cab of the truck for the keys to its ignition. In the course of this search, seven credit cards, in the names of Glenn and Jacqueline Williams, were discovered under a loose piece of carpeting on the floor of the truck. Klein initially explained the presence of the cards by stating that they belonged to a friend of his.

Following a license check of the white Chevy, which revealed that its plates were registered to a 1974 El Camino owned by Glenn Jolly of Florissant, Missouri, Klein, his companions, and the truck were taken to the Calhoun County Jail. At this point, the police obtained a phone number for Glenn Williams and placed a call. The phone rang at the Williams home just as the family was returning from their second trip to Royal Landing.

After ascertaining that the credit cards had been stolen, Officer Will administered Miranda warnings to Klein and questioned him about the cards. Klein indicated that he had found a wallet on the beach, removed the cards, put them under the carpet on the floorboard of his truck, and threw the wallet into the water. At this point, the police also learned that the truck they had impounded was registered to defendant, not Dan Harwood. Klein also informed the police that no one saw him find the wallet or put the cards in the truck.

The following morning, Mr. Williams returned to Calhoun County and identified the credit cards as belonging to his wife and himself. Williams also returned to Royal Landing where he found his wallet and the rest of his cards in some brush 200 yards from where his boat had been moored the previous day. The brush was in a direct line between the boat and where Klein's truck had been stuck.

Klein was charged with burglary and theft and posted bond. Following his conviction, he was sentenced to six years' imprisonment for burglary and 364 days for theft. His bond was also ordered forfeited when it was shown that he had been arrested for bank robbery in Missouri. Klein argues before this court that he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of burglary and that the credit cards seized from his truck should have been suppressed. He also alleges error in ordering his bond forfeited.

I

• 1 The question of whether the State sustained its burden of proof on the burglary charge turns on whether the jury should have been allowed to infer guilt from Klein's exclusive possession of recently stolen property. This subject was recently addressed by our supreme court. The inference is only permissible if: (1) there is a rational connection between possession and participation; (2) guilt of burglary more likely than not flows from possession; and (3) there is evidence which corroborates the inference. (People v. Housby (1981), 84 Ill.2d 415, 420 N.E.2d ...


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