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03/22/88 the People of the State of v. Max R. Beck

March 22, 1988

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

MAX R. BECK, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT

521 N.E.2d 269, 167 Ill. App. 3d 412, 118 Ill. Dec. 201 1988.IL.395

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Fayette County; the Hon. Richard Hodson, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE LEWIS delivered the opinion of the court. HARRISON, P.J., and CALVO, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LEWIS

Defendant, Max Beck, was charged in Fayette County with unlawful possession of cannabis and unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver under sections 4(e) and 5(e) of the Cannabis Control Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 56 1/2, pars. 704(e), 705(e)). Defendant filed a motion to quash his arrest and motions to suppress physical evidence and inculpatory statements. The circuit court granted defendant's motions, finding that (1) prior to defendant's arrest, he was stopped on the pretext of a minor traffic violation; (2) the police, acting upon an informant's tip, took defendant into custody with no independent corroborative investigation; and (3) nothing was presented as to the informant's veracity, reliability, or the basis of his knowledge. The court concluded that the informant's tip was insufficient to establish probable cause to arrest defendant; therefore the evidence seized, and the statements made, after defendant's arrest were tainted and thereby inadmissible. We reverse the order of the circuit court.

A suppression hearing was held on April 4, 1986. The principal witnesses testified as follows.

Carie Henken, a trooper with the Illinois State Police, testified that he was on patrol with Trooper Thomas Brown at approximately 8:15 a.m. on November 18, 1985, when they received a radio message regarding defendant. Brown called into headquarters and subsequently advised Henken of the contents of his conversation. Brown said he had been notified that a car occupied by defendant, and carrying a large quantity of cannabis, could be coming north from Vandalia, Illinois, on Highway 51. Henken and Brown set up on Highway 51 north of the Vandalia Correctional Center, specifically looking for defendant's vehicle.

Approximately 15 to 20 minutes later defendant's vehicle passed by, headed north. As it passed, Henken noticed something suspended from the vehicle's rear view mirror. He also saw defendant drink from a bottle. The officers pursued defendant in their vehicle and he pulled over approximately one mile down the highway. Because the shoulder was muddy at that location, defendant was instructed to drive to a farm road farther up the highway.

At the point of the second stop, both troopers approached defendant's vehicle. Henken wrote defendant a warning ticket for violating section 12-503(c) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 95 1/2, par. 12-503(c)) (material obstruction of driver's view). Brown then asked defendant what he had been drinking. Defendant replied that he had been drinking Mountain Dew. Brown asked to see the container and subsequently verified defendant's answer. While standing outside defendant's vehicle, Brown was observed something on the floorboard of defendant's car. While Brown was investigating the substance on the floorboard, Henken smelled an odor of "green" cannabis coming from the vehicle.

At about that time, Agent Michael Geurin arrived on the scene. Five to ten minutes had elapsed from the time defendant had been given the warning ticket. Geurin conferred with Henken and Brown, then placed defendant under arrest for possession of cannabis. Geurin asked defendant if they could look through his car. Defendant agreed to the search.

In the course of the search, Geurin found some keys in the passenger compartment of defendant's car. He asked defendant if the keys fit the trunk. Defendant denied that they were the keys to his trunk; nevertheless, Geurin asked defendant to try them. Defendant put a key in the trunk but did not try to turn it. Geurin put his hand on defendant's and turned the key; the trunk popped open. Inside the trunk, the officers observed a large quantity of cannabis in jars and plastic bags.

Trooper Thomas Brown's testimony essentially echoed that of Trooper Henken. In addition, Brown testified that Geurin had told him that the delivery of cannabis was to be made at the rest area between Vandalia and Ramsey.

Agent Michael Geurin, of the Illinois Division of Criminal Investigation, testified that on November 18, 1985, he was involved in an investigation of defendant. On that day, at approximately 8:15 a.m., he received a call from a confidential informant advising him that defendant had approximately 10 pounds of cannabis in the trunk of his black Mercury Cougar. The informant said that he had seen the cannabis earlier that morning and that defendant was leaving home as he spoke. The informant stated that defendant might be going north on Highway 51. Geurin said the informant had provided ...


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