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09/28/87 the People of the State of v. Fred Santana Et Al.

September 28, 1987

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

FRED SANTANA ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Before trial, Fred Santana filed a motion to quash the arrest and suppress evidence alleging that his arrest was unlawful because the police had neither a search warrant nor probable cause to arrest him. The trial court denied the motion, stating that although the search was unlawful, the defendant did not have standing to object to the legality of the search.

APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIRST DIVISION

515 N.E.2d 715, 161 Ill. App. 3d 833, 113 Ill. Dec. 730

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James J. Heyda and the Hon. Earl B. Hoffenberg, Judges, presiding. 1987.IL.1440

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE MANNING delivered the opinion of the court. CAMPBELL and BUCKLEY, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MANNING

The defendants Luis Perez and Fred Santana prosecute this appeal from the judgment of conviction and sentence entered by the circuit court of Cook County following a bench trial on an information charging each of them with possession of a stolen motor vehicle in violation of section 4-103(a)(1) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 95 1/2, par. 4-103(a)(1)), a Class II felony. The court sentenced Luis Perez to seven years' imprisonment and Fred Santana to 5 1/2 years' imprisonment. Defendants set forth several arguments for the reversal of their convictions or alternatively for the vacatur or modification of their respective sentences. One such argument common to both defendants is that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Santana further maintains that the trial court erred by denying him automatic standing to challenge the legality of the entry into and search of the garage in which the stolen motor vehicle was found and that his sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Perez further contends that the trial court erred by failing to advise him that he was entitled to treatment under the dangerous drug abuse act. Both defendants contend that the court erred by allowing the State to introduce their criminal records into evidence. We find that each of these contentions lacks merit.

For the reasons that follow, the decision of the trial court is affirmed.

On May 7, 1985, at approximately 1:20 p.m., Officer Guajardo of the Chicago police department received an anonymous phone call informing him that an automobile was being stripped in a garage at 2023 West Thomas in Chicago. The caller also gave him a description of a green van and its license plate number. Officers Guajardo, Kocan and Meister drove to the Thomas address and parked their car in the alley several doors away. As they approached the garage, they heard "mechanical noises, banging of hammers and clanging noises of a ratchet wrench." At trial, Officer Kocan testified that he heard a voice from the garage say something to the effect that, "We will get a good buck for these hot seats." The officers attempted to look in through the windows, but the windows had recently been painted black and were still sticky from the fresh paint. They opened the side door of the garage, but could not gain entry because the rear end of an automobile was up against the door. Officer Kocan testified that he observed that the lock on the trunk of the car had been pulled. The hood of the car was lying alongside the wall and the front of the car was jacked up on one end. The front seats were out of place and the ignition switch had been pulled and half-removed. When he entered the garage, the car doors were open, with Luis Perez leaning into the front passenger side and Fred Santana leaning into the front driver's side with their arms moving.

The officers identified themselves as they crawled over the rear of the car and told the men to put their hands on the car. Officer Kocan had "strong suspicions" that the car was stolen and the defendants were arrested for possession of a stolen motor vehicle. A radio check verified that the automobile had been reported stolen on May 6, 1985. The van that the anonymous caller had referred to was found approximately one-half block away and belonged to Luis Perez.

Luis Perez testified that on the day in question, he was trying to locate a friend named George Gonzales and was told by George's girlfriend that he could be found at 2023 West Thomas. On his way there he ran into Fred Santana and Fred's brother, David. He offered them a ride home but told them he had to make a stop first. They went to the Thomas address, and Fred and David remained in the van while Luis went to find George. Luis went to the house and was told that George was in the garage. He went to the garage, but George wasn't there. A man named Rivera, who was standing next to a car that was partially disassembled, told him George would return shortly.

Fred Santana's testimony was essentially the same as that of Luis. He stated that as time went by, he and his brother decided to walk home. They went to the garage to find Luis and to give him the keys to his van. Luis told them that George would be returning shortly and that they should wait. Shortly thereafter the police arrived. Fred testified that at the time the police entered the garage he was standing talking with Luis Perez.

On appeal, both defendants contend that the State failed to prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. To sustain a conviction for the offense charged, the State must prove that the defendants had possession of the vehicle and that they had knowledge that it was stolen. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 95 1/2, par. 4-103(a)(1).) A person has actual possession over a thing when he has immediate and exclusive control over it. (People v. Valentin (1985), 135 Ill. App. 3d 22, 31, 480 N.E.2d 1351.) The fact that numerous people may be present does not affect the exclusivity of control. The term "exclusive" is relative and joint possession is sufficient to constitute exclusive possession. People v. Clark (1979), 73 Ill. App. 3d 85, 89, 391 N.E.2d 576.

The defendants argue that the evidence used to convict them was circumstantial and that their mere presence in the garage does not constitute possession of the vehicle. The State maintains that the presence of the defendants coupled with the testimony that the defendants were leaning into the car with their arms moving is sufficient to support the Conclusion that the defendants were in possession of the automobile. To sustain a conviction based on circumstantial evidence the trier of fact need not be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt as to each link in the chain of circumstances relied upon to establish guilt. It is sufficient if all the evidence, taken together, satisfies the fact finder of the accused's guilt. (People v. Daniels (1983), 113 Ill. App. 3d 523, 528, 447 N.E.2d 508.) Possession and knowledge are questions of fact to be resolved by the trier of fact and such findings will not be disturbed on appeal unless the evidence is so palpably contrary to the verdict or so unreasonable, improbable or unsatisfactory as to create a reasonable ...


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