APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIRST DIVISION
530 N.E.2d 1118, 176 Ill. App. 3d 142, 125 Ill. Dec. 709 1988.IL.1618
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James M. Bailey, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the court. CAMPBELL, P.J., and BUCKLEY, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE O'CONNOR
This is a consolidated appeal of convictions for possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
On November 29, 1986, Darryl Lane parked his gray 1982 Ford Escort, with the personalized license "Atom Ant," across the street from the building where he was employed. When he left work later that evening, his car was gone. On December 2, 1986, the Chicago police notified Lane that his car had been found. Lane testified at trial that the front left and rear right fenders had been damaged, customized stereo equipment was gone and the car's spare tire, lug wrench and lock were missing.
Police officer Michael McMeel testified that on December 2, 1986, at 11:15 p.m., he and his partner were on patrol at 1860 South Hamlin when they saw defendants Bob Brown and Felix Davenport taking the lug nuts off of a vehicle in a vacant lot. As McMeel and his partner got out of their car, defendants dropped a four-way lug wrench to the ground and walked toward the officers. Lane later identified the lug wrench as the wrench that had been in his car. The officers ran a license number check on the car. After learning that it had been stolen, they placed defendants under arrest.
Defendant Brown testified that he and co-defendant Felix Davenport were in the vicinity because they had just parked a car at the entrance to a nearby alley. He testified that they were crossing the street to go to a friend's house when the police arrested and handcuffed them in the middle of the street. Brown denied being in or near the Ford Escort and denied that he and Davenport were removing lug nuts from a tire.
Both defendants were found guilty of possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Defendant Davenport was sentenced to 24 months' probation, and defendant Brown was sentenced to six years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Defendants both contend on appeal that the wholly circumstantial evidence failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were in possession of a stolen motor vehicle. They contend that Officer McMeel testified inaccurately in that he stated that the car was recovered on November 29, when in fact it was recovered on December 2. Defendants also suggest that Officer McMeel's testimony was impeached by omission, citing People v. Gonzalez (1983), 120 Ill. App. 3d 1029, 1038, 458 N.E.2d 1047, aff'd (1984), 104 Ill. 2d 332, in that although McMeel testified that the steering column of the car had been "peeled," i.e., tampered with so that the car could be started without a key, the arrest report did not so state and the complainant made no mention of that fact in testifying regarding the damage done to the vehicle.
The statute under which defendants were convicted provides in relevant part as follows:
"Sec. 4 -- 103. Offenses relating to motor vehicles and other vehicles-felonies. (a) It is a violation of this Chapter for:
(1) A person not entitled to the possession of a vehicle or part of a vehicle to receive, possess, conceal, sell, dispose, or transfer it, knowing it to have been stolen or converted; additionally the General Assembly finds that the acquisition and Disposition of vehicles and their essential parts are strictly controlled by law and that such acquisition and Disposition are reflected by documents of title, uniform invoices, and bills of sale. It may be inferred, therefore that a person exercising exclusive unexplained possession over a stolen or converted vehicle or an essential part of a stolen or converted vehicle has knowledge that such vehicle or essential part is ...