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08/18/88 the People of the State of v. James Perruquet Et Al.

August 18, 1988





527 N.E.2d 1334, 173 Ill. App. 3d 1054, 123 Ill. Dec. 559 1988.IL.1274

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Williamson County; the Hon. Snyder Howell, Judge, presiding.


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


The State's witnesses, Charles Stilley, owner of Stilley's Used Furniture, Betty Polbinski, a store employee, and Roy Martin, a Royalton police officer, testified to the following facts. Defendants allegedly stole cash from Stilley's Used Furniture Store in Energy, Illinois, on May 10, 1986. The store is 30 feet wide and 100 feet long, with three doors on the north side of the store which lead to the parking lot. The inside of the store is divided into three sections. The easternmost section is a storage room which is walled off from the rest of the store except for a door. One of the doors to the parking lot is in the storage room, and a workbench is along the same wall. The partition between the other two sections of the building has been knocked down and a square furnace sits along the line of the partition. The westernmost section contains the store's counter, which is near the south wall. The front two sections of the store are visible from the counter, except where the furnace blocks the view. The counter contains a wooden cash drawer which cannot be seen from the side of the counter where the customers are located. The drawer can only be released by a latch under the counter which is also not visible from the customer side of the counter. The metal compartment of the cash drawer is placed in the store's safe each night. When the store is opened each morning the compartment is put back into the drawer, but all of the money except one $10 bill, two $5 bills and ten $1 bills, remains in the safe.

On May 9, 1986, Perruquet and his wife came to the store and Stilley showed them an air conditioner for sale on the floor in the storage room near the workbench. The Perruquets did not buy the air conditioner at that time. Stilley testified that the storage room may have contained some wire. On May 10, 1986, Polbinski opened the store at 9 a.m. Stilley, either before or after Polbinski arrived, prepared the cash drawer. He also told Polbinski that a couple had looked at the air conditioner the day before and he stated that they might return. Stilley left the store before any customers arrived.

At about 9:20 a.m., the two defendants entered the store and told Polbinski that they wanted to measure the air conditioner. Polbinski led them to the storage room. After Perruquet measured it, he stated that it would fit his window, and therefore he offered to buy the air conditioner. One of the defendants drove the car around to the door between the storage room and the parking lot. Polbinski unlocked the door, waited until the defendants finished loading the air conditioner into the trunk of the car, and relocked the door.

Polbinski and the defendants then walked from the storage room to the front counter. The air conditioner cost a total of $159, and Perruquet gave Polbinski two $100 bills to pay for it. Polbinski gave Perruquet the entire $30 in the drawer, but because the drawer did not have enough money, she also took out her purse from under the counter and gave Perruquet an additional $11 from her wallet. She put her purse back under the counter. Next, Polbinski prepared a receipt which consisted of two copies, one for the store and one for Perruquet. Polbinski asked Perruquet to write his name and address on the receipt. Perruquet wrote the name "James Davis" and the address "100 Dean Street, Royalton," Illinois, on the receipt. Polbinski filled out the rest of the receipt and handed Perruquet his copy.

Perruquet then asked Polbinski whether the storage room contained anything with which to tie down the trunk of the car. Polbinski replied that she did not know, but that she would look. She asked Perruquet to go with her, but Perruquet told Vreland to accompany her. Perruquet remained at the counter. No other customers were in the store and the front counter could not be seen from the storage room. Polbinski became suspicious so she returned to the counter and Vreland followed her. They did not find any wire to tie down the trunk, and Polbinski testified that she had never seen spools of wire in the store. As Polbinski returned to the counter she saw her wallet on top of it. Defendants left the store and Polbinski did not hear them say anything or see them exchange any kind of signal. When Polbinski checked her purse she noticed $40 missing, and she only found $13 in $1 bills and change in the drawer.

Polbinski notified the police and gave them a description of the defendants and their car. She described the car as old and green. The Energy police contacted Martin and told him to look for a dark green over light green Ford, Buick or Oldsmobile. Martin knew that the house at 100 Dean Street had been vacant for awhile, so he rode around Royalton in search of the car. Martin discovered the car about an hour later at the home of James Burdette. Burdette was standing next to the car, Vreland was sitting in the front passenger seat, and the owner of the car, Donald Roder, was looking under the hood. Martin also drove by Perruquet's residence and saw an air conditioner on the porch. The Energy and Royalton police subsequently questioned both defendants.

Perruquet testified that he had a previous conviction for murder and deviate sexual assault, but was on parole as of 1983. Perruquet, his wife, Desiree, and their son previously lived at 100 Dean Street and that address was on Perruquet's driver's license, but they moved to 212 Cleveland Street, where they lived at the time of the alleged burglary. Perruquet testified that he did not buy the air conditioner on May 9 because he did not know whether it would fit in his window. Perruquet stated that he and Vreland drove Desiree's goldish-brown Chevrolet Impala, not Roder's green Ford, to the store on May 10. Once inside the store, the defendants and Polbinski went to the storage room. After Perruquet measured the air conditioner and decided to buy it, he asked Vreland to drive the car around to the back of the store. Perruquet and Polbinski then went to the counter, where he gave her two $100 bills and she gave him the entire $41 in change from her purse because she said Stilley had not left her enough money for change. Perruquet testified that he did not remember seeing a cash drawer.

Perruquet testified further that he then filled out the receipt with the name "James Davis" instead of James David Perruquet. Perruquet stated that he intended to write "James David" on the receipt and that he told Polbinski of his intent. According to Perruquet, Polbinski said she approved of this action because the receipt would just prove that the sale took place. In the meantime, Vreland had reentered the front of the store. Polbinski got the keys to the back door and the three of them went to the storage room, where the two defendants put the air conditioner into the trunk of the car. Perruquet testified that the air conditioner was too large so they angled it in. Perruquet stated that Vreland drove the car around to the front of the store while he talked with Polbinski about tables. Polbinski then talked to two older ladies who were near the front of the store. Perruquet also stated that a lady with a young girl stood near the counter looking at lampshades.

Vreland reentered the store and after Polbinski finished talking with the two ladies, he asked her for rope or wire to tie down the trunk. She and Vreland walked to the storage room to look for the rope or wire while Perruquet remained in the middle section of the store looking at beds. Perruquet did not go near the counter. Polbinski returned about one minute later, and Vreland returned with her carrying a green spool of wire. Vreland tied down the trunk while Perruquet talked to Polbinski about king-sized beds. Vreland gave the spool to Polbinski, and he and Perruquet left the store about 9:45 a.m. Perruquet testified that he did not take any money from the store. Perruquet ...

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