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People v. Jackson

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 7, 1985.

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

v.

THOMAS BERNARD JACKSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. Robert J. Steigmann, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied March 8, 1985.

Conviction: residential burglary.

Sentence: maximum term of 15 years.

We affirm.

Since Jackson argues he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, a fairly detailed recitation of the evidentiary facts is required.

I. THE FACTS

Carol Madison testified at trial that she was the victim of a home burglary. She and her two young children lived in a home at 302 West Vermont in Urbana. On the west side of the home there is a fence approximately five feet tall which extends along the length of her yard as far as the front sidewalk. Also to the west of the house is a large lot with several trees. Carle Drive abuts the lot to the west. Across Carle Drive is the residence of Mrs. Bland Pelmore, Madison's nearest neighbor to the west.

Madison left her home on August 29, 1983, at approximately 7:45 a.m. She locked the front and back doors behind her. She left her two children behind, but they left for school at approximately 7:55 a.m. Madison returned home at approximately 5:30 p.m. that evening and discovered that her television and microwave oven were gone. Both had been in the house that morning. She discovered that an exterior bathroom window screen had been slit open, and the back door to the house left ajar. The interior bathroom window had been raised when Madison left for work. She testified that she had given no one permission to enter the house or remove anything from it.

Two days before the crime, two black males who claimed to be Jehovah's Witnesses came to Madison's home. They approached her house on foot. By the time she got to the door of her house, the two men were in the process of leaving. They were at a distance such that she could not judge their height or weight. One of the men, however, noticed that Madison had opened the door and asked her if she would be interested in purchasing some literature from the Jehovah's Witnesses. She declined the offer, and the two men then left the area.

Mrs. Bland Pelmore, Madison's nearest neighbor to the west, testified at trial. She estimated that the two houses were approximately 200 feet apart. On August 29, 1983, she was home, talking on the phone to her husband. She observed a black male going toward the back of the victim's home. She noticed that he was wearing an orange cap. She also noticed that the man was approximately a head taller than the fence between the homes, which she believed to be about five feet high.

Pelmore noticed a car leaving Madison's home about five minutes later. She had noticed the car backed up in the driveway, with the front of the car facing Vermont Street at the front of Madison's home. The car proceeded west on Vermont Street. She described the car as an older make, large, medium blue vehicle. The last three digits of the license plate were 137. During her testimony, Pelmore stated that she was nearsighted, and that she did not have her glasses on during this time. She further testified that while she could see the front half of Madison's home and the driveway, she could not see all the way to the ground because of the fence between their houses and she could see no part of the back yard or garage. She further testified that the lot separating her home from Madison's bore several large trees which still bore leaves on August 29, 1983.

She testified additionally that the Jehovah's Witnesses who Madison claimed had visited her home had not visited the Pelmore residence, nor did she ever observe two black males visiting Madison's home two days prior to the theft. Finally, she did not recall telling Madison that she, Pelmore, had observed the two Jehovah's Witnesses approach the Madison house or get out of a large blue car that was parked on Carle Drive. She stated that she did not recall Madison having told her about the two black males coming to Madison's home.

Dean Carmien testified that on August 29, 1983, he was working on the exterior of a house at 208 West Vermont in Urbana. The house was approximately one-half block east of the Madison home. He testified that around 11:30 a.m. he observed a car described as a large, dark blue, middle or late 1970's Buick or Lincoln Continental "cruising" Vermont Street. Carmien identified People's exhibit No. 11 as being a photograph of a car that looked like the car which he had seen on that day. People's exhibit No. 11 was a picture of defendant's car. He testified that he could not positively identify the vehicle as being the same car as he saw on August 29. Carmien finally testified that the car which he had observed contained two black males, neither of whom he could identify if he saw them again.

University of Illinois police department investigator Samuel Jordan testified that on August 29, 1983, he was called to 302 West Vermont in Urbana to investigate an apparent burglary. As part of the investigation, he lifted some latent fingerprints from the exterior screen of the bathroom window area of Madison's home. The prints were on the inside sill of a screen that had been cut and appeared, to the investigator, to be facing downward toward the floor. No fingerprints were recovered from the outside of the window.

Jordan testified that he made a total of three lifts of fingerprints from the bathroom window, and placed each lift on its own card. He identified People's exhibits Nos. 10A, 10B, and 10C as being the lift cards. He further testified that he checked many other areas of the Madison home for fingerprints but found none.

Jordan sent the latent fingerprints to the FBI laboratory in Washington, D.C., on November 10, 1983. He later received information from a police officer that the defendant herein had committed crimes of a similar nature in Urbana. Based on this information, he requested an FBI comparison of the latent prints he had removed from the Madison home with known prints of Thomas Bernard Jackson. He was advised that the prints matched, and, based on this information, went to defendant's residence to arrest him. While at Jackson's Urbana residence, Jordan saw, in Jackson's driveway, a large, dark blue, older Lincoln Continental bearing license plate CPS 137. He identified People's exhibit No. 11 as a photo of the car he had seen there. Jordan identified Jackson as the man whom he arrested on January 6, 1984. Following his arrest, Jackson was fingerprinted and the new prints sent to the FBI.

Whitley Brown, an FBI supervisory fingerprint specialist, testified that on February 16, 1984, he compared People's exhibit No. 12, the inked fingerprints taken after Jackson's arrest, with People's exhibit No. 10, the latent prints which had been obtained by Investigator Jordan at the Madison home. Defendant's attorney objected to this line of testimony, but the objection was overruled, after which defendant noted a continuing objection to testimony concerning the fingerprints. Agent Brown's opinion was that five of the latent fingerprints found at the Madison home were defendant's.

Agent Brown stated that he had at no time made a written report concerning the comparison and that his in-court testimony regarding the comparison was from his memory only. He further testified that he had appeared in court 43 times previously for the purpose of giving expert testimony. Brown finally testified that while fingerprints could be transferred from one location to another, doing so was difficult and unlikely. At this point, the State rested its case in chief.

Defendant's case consisted of the testimony of the victim of the theft and the wife of the defendant. Carol Madison testified that she had had a conversation with Mrs. Bland Pelmore concerning the Jehovah's Witnesses who had come to Madison's home. She said that she and Pelmore had provided information to each other about this matter and agreed that Pelmore had, during the conversation, told her that she had observed a family exit a dark blue vehicle that was parked on Carle Drive. Madison added ...


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