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05/02/88 the People of the State of v. Romney Adams

May 2, 1988





523 N.E.2d 1103, 169 Ill. App. 3d 284, 120 Ill. Dec. 192 1988.IL.644

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. Robert R. Buchar, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE STOUDER delivered the opinion of the court. HEIPLE and WOMBACHER, JJ., concur.


The defendant, Romney Adams, was charged by indictment with the offenses of delivery of a controlled substance, armed violence, and unlawful use of firearms by a felon. Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Will County, Adams was found guilty of these three offenses as well as possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to concurrent terms of 14, 10, and 4 years' imprisonment.

Adams appeals from the judgment on the following grounds: first, that no probable cause existed for the search of his vehicle and his subsequent arrest; second, that certain improprieties existed in the introduction of testimony at trial; third, that the prosecutor's arguments to the jury denied him a fair trial; and fourth, the three convictions violated the "one-act, one-crime" principle. Upon review of the record in this case, we hold that no probable cause existed for the search and arrest. On that basis, only the facts necessary for our Discussion of that issue will be presented and the alleged errors at trial need not be discussed.

Officer Phillip Valera, a Joliet police officer on assignment with the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad, testified that he had been contacted by a confidential informant who told him that Adams was driving from Kentucky to Will County with some cocaine. This information was received on the evening of October 6, 1986, and was the first information from this informant that led to an arrest. Valera had other conversations with this informant, but there was no claim that he had given any previous reliable information. Valera told the informant he would be paid if the information led to an arrest and the informant was subsequently paid.

The informant told Valera that he received the information from Adams himself though that fact was not included in Valera's report. The informant did not say when his conversation took place with Adams but that Adams told him he was to meet Frank Collins in Kentucky and bring back the cocaine. Valera ran a computer check on the informant and found no criminal record. Valera knew that Collins had been arrested on a cocaine-related charge and was suspected of being a major cocaine distributor in the Will County area. The informant also stated that Adams might be armed with a handgun and that he had served time for shooting someone. Valera checked and found that Adams had been in prison for manslaughter. The informant did supply a description of Adams' car and the license plate number.

Valera attempted to get a warrant on the basis of this information but none was issued. Valera was told to corroborate the fact that the vehicle was coming back from Kentucky. Valera never determined that Adams had been in Kentucky, but, rather, he set up surveillance outside Lowell, Indiana, on Interstate 65. Lowell is located in northern Indiana. Valera observed Adams' vehicle traveling northbound on Interstate 65, recognized Adams as the driver, and followed him until the roadblock stop in Will County. Valera testified that Adams travelled at a speed of 65 miles per hour in Indiana and between 55 and 65 in Illinois.

At the roadblock stop, several officers approached Adams' vehicle with their guns drawn. No arrest or search warrant was presented nor was any traffic citation issued for the excessive speed. However, Valera testified that the speeding was not the reason for the stop. Valera further indicated that Adams was not under arrest at the time of the stop and that the police were merely conducting an investigation. Adams was accompanied in the car by a female passenger.

Both occupants of the vehicle were instructed to exit from the passenger side of the vehicle. As Adams exited the car, the female's purse fell to the pavement and a loaded handgun fell out. Also in the purse were two plastic straws and a blue container with a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine. Both Adams and his female companion were arrested. A further search of the car at the police station uncovered more cocaine packed in a duffel bag in the trunk, in the glove compartment, and in the collar of Adams' coat.

Adams was subsequently tried and convicted of the three offenses. Our sole inquiry here is whether probable cause existed at the time of the search and seizure to bring the search within constitutional parameters. Naturally, the contraband discovered after the stops is not to be considered because probable cause cannot be constructed from evidence discovered after the fact.

Our inquiry here extends not only to the probable cause for the search but also for the arrest. Although Valera testified that no arrest took place at the time of the stop, merely an investigation, ...

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