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09/28/88 the People of the State of v. Charles Lawrence

September 28, 1988

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

CHARLES LAWRENCE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

529 N.E.2d 63, 174 Ill. App. 3d 818, 124 Ill. Dec. 346 1988.IL.1470

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County; the Hon. John P. O'Rourke, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court. KNECHT and SPITZ, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCCULLOUGH

Defendant was charged with two counts of unlawful use of weapons. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 24-1(a)(7).) Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence alleging a search of his vehicle violated his fourth amendment rights. (U.S. Const., amend. IV.) The trial court granted the motion, and the People appeal (107 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1)).

We reverse.

At the suppression hearing, defendant testified that on April 9, 1987, he and Douglas Pryle were sitting in his car, which was parked in Kickapoo State Park. It was approximately 9 p.m. Defendant and Pryle had bought a two-liter bottle of beer and had just taken a drink from it when defendant noticed a sheriff's car pull into the parking lot. The car shined a spotlight on defendant's car but left the parking lot. Defendant and Pryle decided to leave the park. Defendant drove one-tenth of a mile away from the park before the sheriff stopped his vehicle. Defendant testified that Deputy Kevin Rollins approached defendant's car, asked him to get out of the car, and asked to see his driver's license. After the officer checked defendant's license number, he told defendant that defendant's car had been stopped because of a defective headlight. Defendant looked at the headlight, which was unlit. The officer told defendant that if defendant did not get the headlight fixed, he would be given a ticket. The officer then asked Pryle if Pryle had alcohol or beer by his feet. Pryle and defendant indicated the bottle contained beer and gave it to the officer. The officer noted the bottle was open and told defendant to put it in the trunk. The officer told defendant he would be issued a ticket if he did not put the bottle in the trunk of the vehicle.

Defendant further stated he told the officer his trunk did not have a key and the only way he could open it was with a knife. He asked the officer if he could use a knife to open the trunk. Defendant then got a knife out of the backseat of the car, opened the trunk, and put the beer and knife into the trunk. Defendant stated that the backseat of his car contained a hunting knife, a club, a violin case, and several articles of clothing. The clothing was scattered across the backseat of the car. The club was a tire checker.

After defendant closed the trunk, the officer ordered Pryle out of the car and told Pryle to join defendant at the back of the car. The officer then searched the car, pulled a violin case out of the car, and opened it. The violin case had been on the floor behind the driver's seat under some clothing. After opening the violin case, the officer arrested defendant.

Pryle's testimony supported defendant's testimony. Pryle added that the bottle of beer was in a sack; however, one could tell there was a bottle in the sack. The seal on the beer bottle had been broken prior to the traffic stop.

Deputy Kevin Rollins testified that he was a deputy for the Vermilion County sheriff's department. At about 9:10 p.m. on April 9, 1987, in Kickapoo State Park, he pulled into a parking area, turned around, and drove out of the parking lot. He had noticed a parked vehicle. After Rollins left the parking lot, the vehicle was started. Rollins noted that one of the headlights was out. Rollins stopped the vehicle, approaching the driver's side of it.

Rollins agreed that he informed defendant that defendant's car had been stopped because of the headlight. Defendant stated that he did not know it was out, got out of the car, and went to the front of the vehicle, where he inspected the headlight. Rollins told defendant to get back into the car and then Rollins returned to his squad car to check defendant's driver's license. While talking with defendant at the car, Rollins noticed a faint odor of alcohol, possibly beer, coming from the passenger compartment.

After he conducted a warrant and driver's license status check, Rollins returned to the driver's side window of defendant's vehicle. At that time, he saw a brown paper bag on the passenger side floorboard. He asked if he could look inside the bag, which looked as if it was wrapped around a large bottle. Rollins was able to see inside of the car because of the light from his flashlight and the spotlight of the squad car. Rollins stated that Pryle picked up the bag and handed it to defendant, who then handed it to ...


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