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03/31/89 the People of the State of v. Leon Palmer

March 31, 1989

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

LEON PALMER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

536 N.E.2d 1314, 181 Ill. App. 3d 504, 130 Ill. Dec. 103 1989.IL.465

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County; the Hon. John L. Davis, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court. LUND and GREEN, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE KNECHT

The defendant, Leon Palmer, appeals from his conviction for residential burglary (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 19-3) following a jury trial in the circuit court of Macon County. Thereafter, he was sentenced to a term of 20 years' imprisonment. The issues presented for review are (1) whether the in-court identification of the defendant by the victim had an origin independent of a prior improper identification; (2) whether the trial court properly refused to permit exhibits depicting fingerprint evidence to go to the jury room; and (3) whether defendant was proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

On November 5, 1987, defendant was charged by information with the offense of residential burglary (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 19-3). The information alleged that on May 5, 1987, defendant knowingly and without authority entered the dwelling place of Verna King with the intent to commit a theft therein.

On November 16, 1987, defendant was ordered to stand in a lineup for pretrial identification. (107 Ill. 2d R. 413(a)(i).) Defense counsel was present during the actual lineup, but was denied access to the room where the victim, Mrs. King, identified defendant from a Polaroid photograph of the lineup. The actual identification by King was unrecorded and witnessed only by Officer Vernol Bond. The trial court granted defendant's motion to suppress the lineup identification, because the court opined defense counsel was excluded at a critical point in the identification process. Prior to the jury trial on February 18, 1988, defendant filed a motion in limine requesting the court to prohibit the in-court identification of defendant by King. He alleged her in-court identification would be tainted by the improper pretrial identification procedure. The parties engaged in an offer of proof on the issue and the following testimony was heard.

The victim, King, testified she was 89 years old on May 5, 1987. At around nine that night, she was reading in the dining room of her home located at 1290 West Macon, Decatur, when she heard a very loud bump followed by the clatter of broken glass. When King went to investigate, she met an intruder at the entrance to her living room. The man grabbed her by her forearms, took her back to the dining room and demanded money. A 25-watt night-light illuminated the doorway dividing the living and dining areas. After King emptied her wallet, she watched while the intruder unhooked her portable television set. As he exited, the man told her to remain seated. King described the intruder as a clean shaven black man in his early thirties, about 5 feet 7 inches or 5 feet 8 inches in height and weighing around 175 pounds. King identified defendant in court as the man who broke into her home, although she admitted she was not 100% certain.

On cross-examination, the witness indicated that immediately after the incident she had told the police the intruder was between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall and in his late twenties. She acknowledged her inability to identify defendant from a photo array displayed to her by the police on October 18, 1987.

Patrolman Steven Jostes testified that immediately after the incident King described the intruder as a black male between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall, weighing between 175 and 200 pounds, with short hair and a clean shave. Jostes indicated King did not hesitate in making her description and was "amazingly calm and very sure about what she was telling me."

Detective Vernol Bond testified he arranged a lineup on November 16, 1987, of five black men, which included defendant. After King viewed the lineup, Bond showed her a Polaroid photograph of the same. Defense counsel was denied access to the private showing of the photograph when King identified the defendant. Bond indicated the identification was made within seconds and without hesitation. He denied telling King which man to point out. On cross-examination, Bond testified he was aware King failed to identify defendant from a group of photographs she viewed soon after the incident.

After arguments of counsel, the trial court determined any in-court identification by the victim would be independent of the improper pretrial identification; thus, the court declared King would be allowed to identify defendant before the jury.

At trial, King and Officers Bond and Jostes repeated their prior testimony. In addition, Officers Bond and George Lebo testified to the location and lifting of latent fingerprints found at King's residence immediately after the burglary. The trial court allowed Officer Lebo to testify as an expert in the field of fingerprint identification. An objection by the defense to his qualifications was overruled. Officer Lebo explained how latent prints are collected and compared to known prints of ...


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