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People v. Martin

OPINION FILED MAY 31, 1984.

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

v.

NEAL MARTIN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



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

JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, Neal Martin, was found guilty following a jury trial in the circuit court of Will County of the unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, cocaine. The defendant appeals contending (1) that the manifest weight of the evidence established the defense of entrapment as a matter of law; (2) that the jury was not properly instructed; (3) that the defendant's prior convictions were improperly admitted into evidence for purposes of impeachment; (4) the prosecutor's closing argument was prejudicial and deprived the defendant of a fair trial.

The evidence indicated that the 21-year-old defendant worked for his parents in the family jewelry business and after work would go to public lounges and pass out his business cards and sell small pieces of jewelry.

In April of 1979, the defendant met an individual who came to be known as Crazy John Nello. Nello asked him if he had any cocaine and if not, if he wanted any. The defendant replied that he didn't have any and didn't want any. The defendant said that he had never used cocaine.

Nello told the defendant that he could help him sell a lot of jewelry, which he did, and they exchanged phone numbers and Nello called him daily.

The defendant began attending parties at Nello's house which were attended by a number of girls and where everyone was using cocaine except the defendant. Finally, in late May and early June, 1979, the defendant began to give in to Nello's pressure to use drugs and began to use the drugs which Nello supplied without charge. By the end of June, Nello was pressuring the defendant to deliver cocaine for him but the defendant refused.

By the end of June the defendant had stopped working and his parents sent him to New Mexico in the hopes he would stop using drugs. While out from under Nello's influence, the defendant stopped using drugs.

During July and August, 1979, while the defendant was recovering in New Mexico, Nello called his parents at least 30 times.

When the defendant returned home, he fell under the influence of Nello again and became a user of narcotics.

The defendant's testimony was corroborated by members of his family, including his mother, sister and brother-in-law.

The defendant lost interest in his family's business, wouldn't get up for work and appeared to be constantly under the influence of drugs.

By September of 1979, the defendant had finally agreed to deliver drugs for Nello and was introduced by Nello to two undercover agents for the Department of Law Enforcement. Nello told the defendant that he owed the two men a great deal of money and he would not get paid if they knew it was Nello's cocaine. The two men were Carlos Hevia and John Beck, undercover narcotics officers for the Illinois Department of Law Enforcement.

On September 4, 1979, the defendant was high on drugs and Nello had told him that since Nello had sent him a number of jewelry customers, he owed Nello a favor. Nello and the defendant entered the Old Town Tap, a local tavern, and met with Hevia and Beck. The defendant recognized that Hevia was wearing jewelry from the family business and that Nello had claimed Hevia was interested in purchasing more jewelry. The defendant showed Hevia certain chains and charms he had with him but could not make a sale. Either Hevia or Beck asked the defendant if he had the cocaine and the defendant handed them a package and collected $560 which he promptly turned over to Nello as soon as they left the bar. Hevia testified that their informant was paid $20 for setting up the September 4 transaction.

On September 5 the defendant received a call from Hevia at the jewelry store. Hevia wanted to buy more cocaine. The defendant replied that he was not in the drug business but the jewelry business. The defendant tried to convince Hevia to buy some more jewelry, but all Hevia was interested in was cocaine. Hevia continued to call ...


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