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02/26/88 the People of the State of v. Joseph R. Threadgill

February 26, 1988





520 N.E.2d 86, 166 Ill. App. 3d 643, 117 Ill. Dec. 96 1988.IL.265

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Stephenson County; the Hon. Lawrence A. Smith, Jr., Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE REINHARD delivered the opinion of the court. UNVERZAGT and INGLIS, JJ., concur.


Defendant, Joseph R. Threadgill, Jr., was found guilty in a jury trial in the circuit court of Stephenson County of the offenses of residential burglary (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 19-3) and misdemeanor theft (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 16-1(a)(1)). He was sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 7 years and 60 days, respectively.

On appeal, defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction beyond a reasonable doubt and, alternatively, that he is entitled to a new trial because of numerous improper comments made during the prosecutor's closing argument.

The offenses in question took place on the evening of May 2, 1986. Officer Michael Hannan of the City of Freeport police department testified that he was watching defendant's apartment that evening. At about 7:30 p.m., he saw defendant, whom he had seen 25 or 30 times previously, leave his apartment building and enter his car, a blue Chevrolet Nova. Hannan was approximately 300 feet away from defendant at this time, and it was still daylight or dusk. Hannan followed defendant as he drove through town. Defendant stopped at a number of locations, including a home and a Taco Bell restaurant. Later, defendant drove to the 300 block of Avon Street in Freeport. He sat in his car at this location for about five minutes. Defendant then got a black jacket and a pair of white gloves from the trunk of his car, donned these items, and walked around the neighborhood. Hannan saw defendant walk from the back of a home at 332 West Homer to the front door of the home. Defendant shook the front door and looked into a window. He then returned to the back of the home.

About five minutes later, at about 9:15 p.m., Officer Pat Young of the Illinois State Police, who also was involved in the surveillance, stated over the radio that he had just seen a flicker of light from inside the home at 332 West Homer. Hannan then approached the front door of the house while three or four other officers approached the back door, which had been forced open. One of the others announced that they were police officers, that they knew who the intruder was, and that he should come out of the house. The intruder then walked out the front door. Hannan announced who he was and asked the intruder to step down off the porch and lie on the ground. Hannan shined a flashlight in the intruder's face. He was within five feet of the person. He stated that defendant was the intruder.

According to Hannan, defendant had a candlestick in his hand as he exited the front door. When defendant stepped off the porch, he bent over as though he was going to comply with Hannan's instructions and lie down. Instead, however, defendant sprinted away, dropping the candlestick in the front yard. Hannan testified that defendant ran within two or three feet of him when defendant sprinted away.

Freeport police officer Robert Smith testified that he participated in the surveillance of defendant's apartment and had followed defendant when he saw that defendant left in a blue Nova. He observed defendant make numerous stops and eventually saw him stop on Avon Street, exit, and remove a jacket and gloves from the trunk of the Nova. He saw defendant walk to 332 West Homer and go to the back and front of the house. Smith further stated that when the officers moved in to effect an arrest, he went to the rear of the home. When he later came to the front of the house, he ran after defendant when defendant sprinted away from Officer Hannan. Smith chased defendant for about two blocks, then saw him run between two houses and down a lighted driveway. The lighting was provided by an incandescent yard light atop a garage. Smith was about 20 to 25 feet away while defendant was running down the driveway. Once Smith reached the driveway, he lost sight of defendant and did not see him again. Smith testified that he had seen defendant 30 to 40 times prior to the night in question.

For the defense, Richard Newton, a lifelong friend of defendant's, testified that he borrowed defendant's blue Chevrolet Nova on the night of May 2, 1986, and drove it around for awhile and went to the Taco Bell restaurant. After Newton left the restaurant, the car stalled, so Newton walked home. Newton admitted that he had been convicted of the offense of misdemeanor theft by deception. Newton also admitted that he told two police officers incorrectly that he borrowed defendant's car on May 3, not May 2.

Anthony Pugh testified that he was at the Silver Knight's Club on the night in question. He saw defendant arrive between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. He purchased a beer for defendant. Pugh stated that when he left the club at 10:30 p.m., defendant was still present.

Lennet Gosset, another friend of defendant's, testified that she was working at the Silver Knight's Club on May 2, 1986. She began charging admission at about 9 p.m. and saw defendant enter shortly thereafter, possibly as late as 9:30 p.m. She stated that defendant ...

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