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06/21/89 the People of the State of v. Rena Wells

June 21, 1989





540 N.E.2d 1070, 184 Ill. App. 3d 925, 133 Ill. Dec. 204 1989.IL.944

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James Schreier, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court. RIZZI and CERDA, JJ., concur.


Defendant, Rena Wells, was charged by information with two counts of delivery of a controlled substance, to wit, cocaine. After a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, in which she was tried jointly with Paul Harris, defendant was convicted of both counts and sentenced to two concurrent terms of six years' imprisonment. She appeals.

On July 18, 1986, defendant was in the company of Harvey Harris (Harris), and a second unidentified male, when Andre Davis, a police officer working undercover for the Northeast Metropolitan Enforcement Group , purchased two ounces of cocaine from Harris in a parking lot of the Kickapoo Woods Forest Preserve.

On August 1, 1986, defendant was again in the company of Harris and his nephew, Paul Harris, when Davis purchased eight ounces of cocaine from Harris at the same location. However, on this date, Harris, Paul Harris and defendant were arrested after the transaction.

Prior to the start of defendant's and Paul Harris' trial, the State moved to consolidate the charges against defendant. The trial court granted the motion on the grounds that defendant would have to "run the gamut twice" if the two charges against her were tried separately. In view of its earlier ruling that the State would be allowed to introduce evidence of the July 18 transaction in a trial of the charge stemming from the August 1 transaction, the trial court also reasoned that defendant would not be prejudiced by a consolidation of the charges against her.

The State's main witness, Agent Davis, testified to the following. Having previously arranged with Harris to meet him there, Agent Davis and a team of officers from MEG drove to the Kickapoo Woods Forest Preserve on the morning of July 18, 1986, arriving there at approximately 10 o'clock. Shortly thereafter, a car driven by an unidentified male and containing Harris in the rear passenger seat and defendant in the front passenger seat pulled into the parking lot and parked five feet away from Davis' car. After they pulled up, Agent Davis exited his car and walked to the passenger side of the other vehicle at Harris' request. Defendant's window was open at this time. Harris then displayed to Davis two clear plastic bags containing a white powder which had been wrapped in newspaper. Defendant, who was less than two feet away, was observing Harris and Davis. After displaying the bags to Davis, Harris stated that each bag contained an ounce of cocaine.

Davis then knelt down at the rear of the vehicle to test the contents of one of the bags. While he did so, defendant was turned, facing the rear, in Davis' direction. After testing the powder, Davis gave Harris $3,600 for the two ounces, or $1,800 per ounce, the price he and Harris had previously agreed upon. Harris handed the money to defendant and asked her to count it. While defendant was counting the money, Davis tested the contents of the second bag. When Davis finished testing the powder, defendant handed the money back to Harris and stated that "it was all there." Thereafter, Harris told Davis that if he was satisfied with the cocaine, he and his supplier could sell him five or eight ounces more. Davis told Harris that he would contact him later that night to let him know. At this time, defendant was still sitting in the front passenger seat, about two feet away from Davis and Harris.

Davis called Harris, at about 3 p.m. that same day, and informed him that he would be willing to buy eight more ounces of cocaine in about two weeks. Harris then suggested "it be the same place and the same time." On July 30, 1986, Davis called Harris after Harris paged him. Harris told Davis that he had the eight ounces of cocaine, that he wanted $14,000 for it, and suggested that they again meet at the Kickapoo Woods on August 1, 1986, at 10 o'clock.

On August 1 at approximately 10 a.m., Davis and his team of MEG agents again went to the Kickapoo Woods parking lot. Five minutes later, a car driven by Harris and containing Paul Harris in the rear passenger seat and defendant in the front passenger seat arrived and parked five feet away from Davis' car, facing the same direction. Harris exited his car, raised the front hood and walked over to Davis' car. Davis and Harris met near the front of Davis' car, less than five feet away from defendant and Paul Harris. Harris asked Davis if he had the money, Davis said "yes" and asked Harris if he had the cocaine. Harris responded "yes" and instructed Davis to walk to the rear passenger door of his vehicle. When Davis reached it, Harris told Paul Harris to give him "the bag." At that time, Davis was standing right in front of defendant's door. Co-defendant handed Davis the bag and Davis asked if it was all there. Harris replied that it was and Davis told him he had to test it. Davis returned to his car and, while sitting in the driver's seat, tested the white powder he found inside the bag. After testing the powder, Davis got out of his car and stood between the two cars with Harris and Paul Harris. Harris asked Davis for the money and Davis gave it to him. Harris then gave the money to defendant and asked her to count it. Davis then stood by defendant's door and told her there was $7,000 and that he had another package of money. As defendant counted the money, Davis gave the other officers the arrest signal.

As the officers converged on the scene, defendant threw the money out of the car through the open driver's door. When Davis identified himself as a police officer, Paul Harris ran around the rear of the car to the driver's side and attempted to retrieve a revolver from the rear passenger seat but was arrested before he could do so.

Harvey Harris was the only witness for the defense. He testified that on July 18, he had gone to defendant's home and asked her to go with him. However, Harris did not tell her where they were going or otherwise discuss their destination with defendant. Specifically, Harris did not tell defendant or the unidentified male with him that he was going to deliver drugs to someone. On that date, the drugs were covered with newspaper the entire time the three were in the car. Harris admitted asking defendant to count the money Davis had given him on July 18. However, while she told Harris how much money "was there," she did not tell him that "it was all there." After leaving the forest preserve on July 18, Harris did not discuss the sale of the cocaine with defendant nor did she ask him why she was counting the money for him.

Harris further testified that on August 1, he left his house with Paul Harris but did not tell him where they were going. They went to defendant's home and Harris again asked her to go for a ride with him. When defendant told Harris that she had not yet fed her children, he said that they would be gone 15 to 20 minutes and would buy some food on the way back. Upon their arrival at the forest preserve, Harris parked his car next to Davis' car. The cars were "close together." Harris opened the hood of his car because there was steam coming from the engine. Lastly, Harris denied discussing, at any time, with defendant his drug dealing in ...

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