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09/15/88 the People of the State of v. Bartlett Vought

September 15, 1988





528 N.E.2d 1095, 174 Ill. App. 3d 563, 124 Ill. Dec. 204 1988.IL.1382

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Edward W. Kowal, Judge, presiding.


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


Defendant, Bartlett Vought, was convicted of the unlawful possession of 30 or more grams of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and was sentenced to a 10-year term of imprisonment and fined $240,000. On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a warrantless entry into his hotel room by a police officer. Defendant also contends, and the State concedes, that in the event his conviction is affirmed on appeal, defendant must receive a credit of $915 toward his fine as a result of time spent in custody between his arrest and sentencing. (People v. Hare (1988), 119 Ill. 2d 441, 519 N.E.2d 879.) The State asserts that the officer's entry and subsequent search of defendant's room did not violate the fourth amendment because (1) the search did not exceed the scope of a previous private search by hotel employees; (2) the officer had a good-faith belief that the room was vacant at the time he entered it; (3) the cocaine in the suitcase posed a potential danger to hotel employees; and (4) defendant abandoned any interest in the suitcase in which the contraband was found when he told the officer it did not belong to him. We reverse.

At the hearing of defendant's motion to suppress evidence the parties stipulated that defendant rented room 219 at the Holiday Inn in Itasca from June 21, 1986, through and including June 23, 1986. He arranged and paid for his final day's lodging at some time between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. on June 23. One of the hotel maids, Anna Olivares, checked room 219 during the morning of June 23 and saw clothes hanging up. As her housekeeping sheet showed that the guest in room 219 was due to check out that day, and the room was still occupied, Olivares decided to clean it after the 1 p.m check-out time. When Olivares returned to the room after 1 p.m. and saw a "do not disturb" sign on the door, she informed her supervisor, Maria Garcia, who knocked on the door, unlocked it after receiving no answer, and told Olivares to clean the room.

After Olivares began to clean the room she noticed a suitcase beside one of the beds. The suitcase was closed, but was not locked, and Olivares opened it. She noticed a white powdery substance inside the suitcase and called in Garcia. Another hotel employee, Richard Limukovic, also entered the room at this time. Limukovic tasted the substance and stated that he believed it was cocaine. Garcia informed the hotel general manager, Karen Morlock, about the discovery of the suitcase and its contents at about 2:45 p.m.

Morlock called the Itasca police department, and Officer Rusty Votava arrived at the hotel a few minutes later. Morlock informed the officer that a maid had found a suitcase in room 219 which might contain illegal drugs and that the room was unoccupied. Morlock had not checked the hotel's guest registry list at that time to determine the occupancy status of the room, and her belief that the room was unoccupied was based upon her conversation with Garcia. Officer Votava did not ask Morlock at this time if she had checked the hotel's records with regard to the occupancy status of room 219, nor did he ask her to do so.

Officer Votava and Morlock entered room 219 at approximately 3 p.m., and the "do not disturb" sign was still on the front door. Morlock opened the door with a pass key after knocking and receiving no response. The only personal effects in the room were some change and a hotel key on a television stand, scratch paper on top of the television, and the suitcase. Votava was calling the Itasca police department for assistance in securing the room when the defendant walked into the room. When Votava asked if defendant would mind if he opened the suitcase, defendant stated that he would not mind and that the suitcase did not belong to him. Votava then opened the suitcase, which had been closed but unlocked, and discovered contraband subsequently determined to be 799.1 grams of cocaine. Votava placed defendant under arrest.

The trial court denied defendant's motion to suppress and held a bench trial at which the evidence was received by stipulation. The parties stipulated, among other things, that defendant made certain incriminating statements after his arrest; that at about 3:30 p.m. on June 23, Votava gave defendant Miranda warnings at the Itasca police station, which defendant stated that he understood and signed a Miranda waiver form. Defendant told Votava that he had flown to Chicago with two other men, one of whom he referred to as Alan and the other as Murphy. Alan carried the suitcase on the plane and took it to the Holiday Inn, where it was later moved to defendant's room.

Detective William Simmons of the Metropolitan Enforcement Group and Officer Michael Tellone of the Itasca police department also questioned defendant at about 7:05 p.m. on June 23, 1986. They repeated the Miranda warnings, and defendant signed another waiver form. Defendant stated that he received the cocaine from an individual in Florida and that he and two other men agreed to take the cocaine to Chicago by airplane and to deliver it to an individual in the Chicago area. Defendant and the others took a flight to Chicago on June 21, during which the cocaine was taped to their legs. The delivery fell through, and defendant was planning to return to Florida with the cocaine when Officer Votava arrested him.

On June 24, 1986, during the early morning hours, while Officer Votava transferred defendant to the Du Page County jail, defendant apologized for lying to Votava the previous day, stating that the recent attempted drug transaction was his first effort in retailing cocaine and it did not work out.

Defendant renewed the suppression motion at the stipulated bench trial, and it was once again denied. The trial Judge found defendant guilty, ...

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