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People v. Terrell





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Kankakee County, the Hon. John F. Michela, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Michael Terrell, was indicted by the grand jury of Kankakee County for the offenses of attempted armed robbery and unlawful use of a weapon. Charles Lott was charged, by the same indictment, with attempted armed robbery and possession of marijuana. The cases were severed for trial and Terrell waived his right to be tried by a jury. At the close of the State's case in chief, the defendant moved for a directed verdict. The motion was taken under advisement and later denied. The record reveals that a written order was entered on December 28, 1981, finding defendant guilty only of attempted armed robbery, for which he was sentenced to two years' probation. The appellate court, with one judge dissenting, affirmed the judgment. (110 Ill. App.3d 1086.) We allowed defendant's petition for leave to appeal (87 Ill.2d R. 315(a)).

The sole issue raised on appeal is: Whether the evidence presented is sufficient to establish the essential elements of the offense of attempted armed robbery.

The evidence revealed that on August 7, 1980, at approximately 6:15 a.m., an anonymous telephone call was received by the Kankakee city police. The caller stated that two men, armed with guns, were hiding behind a service station. This report was dispatched and was responded to by Officer Whitehead in one patrol car, and Officers Pepin and Rokus, who were patrolling the area, in another car.

A diagram, entered into evidence, shows that the service station is located on the southwest corner of Erzinger and Maple streets. The first building south of the station, facing Maple Street, is a construction company. Further south is a tool company. To the rear of the buildings is a large grassy lot which extends to an alley running parallel to the buildings.

Officer Whitehead arrived at the scene within minutes of the radio dispatch and only seconds before Officers Rokus and Pepin. Whitehead pulled into the alley and onto the empty lot behind the station, where he immediately observed a man, crouched in the weeds, 20 to 30 feet from the station. As the officer got out of his car, the defendant, who he saw carrying a gun, jumped up from the weeds, ran towards the fence, climbed to the other side and proceeded south down Maple Street. Officer Whitehead testified that the defendant disposed of the gun sometime before he scaled the fence, although he could not remember seeing it being dropped.

Twelve to fifteen minutes after he was initially observed, Officer Pepin discovered the defendant hiding in the weeds behind the tool company, approximately 280 feet from the service station. The defendant had removed his shirt and was lying on it. A black nylon stocking with a knot in the end of it was found in his pocket. Although the defendant claimed that he was going to the gas station to buy cigarettes, the officer found no money on defendant's person. Officer Whitehead, later, positively identified the defendant as the man he had observed with the gun.

As Officers Rokus and Pepin approached the scene, they observed Whitehead's car and a subject wearing a yellow shirt, later identified as Charles Lott, going over the fence. Rokus apprehended Lott, three minutes later, in the rear of the construction company, approximately 180 feet from the service station. Both Rokus and Pepin identified Lott as the man they had observed scaling the fence. Officer Pepin searched Lott's pants, finding one bag of cannabis and a black stocking with a knot tied on the end. During his search for the second suspect, Officer Pepin found a fully loaded revolver lying on the ground, six inches from the fence. It is unclear from the record if the station was open at the time the officers arrived on the scene. Officer Whitehead did notice, however, that the station was open at some time during his search of the area.

The defendant maintains that the State's evidence is insufficient to establish the two essential elements of the offense of attempt. Section 8-4(a) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 8-4(a)) provides:

"A person commits an attempt when, with intent to commit a specific offense, he does any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that offense." (Emphasis added.)

Section 18-2(a) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 18-2(a)) provides:

"A person commits armed robbery when he or she [takes property from the person or presence of another by the use of force or by threatening imminent use of force] while he or she carries on or about his or her person, or is otherwise armed with a dangerous weapon."

We find that the facts and circumstances of this case are sufficient to prove that the defendant possessed the requisite intent to commit a specific armed robbery and that he took a substantial step toward the commission of that armed robbery. For the reasons to follow, therefore, we affirm the judgment of the appellate court.

It is well established that, to obtain a conviction for attempt, the State must prove that the defendant intended to commit a specific offense. (People v. Stroner (1983), 96 Ill.2d 204, 211; People v. Trinkle (1977), 68 Ill.2d 198, 202; People v. Viser (1975), 62 Ill.2d 568, 581.) As the court stated in Viser, "[t]here is no such criminal offense as an attempt to achieve an unintended result." (62 Ill.2d 568, 581.) The intent to commit a criminal offense need not be expressed, but may be inferred from the conduct of the defendant and the surrounding circumstances. (People v. Mulcahey (1978), 72 Ill.2d 282.) Thus, in Mulcahey, where the defendant was convicted of attempted armed robbery, the court was able to infer the requisite intent to take money from a victim by force, although no specific demand for money had been made.

While the defendant, in the instant case, does not deny the presence of "some" criminal intent, he maintains that the evidence fails to "imply a design to commit an armed robbery at the station." He suggests a list of alternative targets and offenses which includes the crime of burglary as opposed to armed robbery. In addition, he finds it significant that ...

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