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06/22/89 the People of the State of v. Kascell Jennings

June 22, 1989





541 N.E.2d 155, 185 Ill. App. 3d 164, 133 Ill. Dec. 318 1989.IL.968

Appeal from the Circuit Court of McLean County; the Hon. Luther H. Dearborn, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE GREEN delivered the opinion of the court. McCULLOUGH, P.J., and SPITZ, J., concur.


On March 17, 1988, the circuit court of McLean County entered judgment on a jury verdict returned finding defendant Kascell Jennings guilty of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver 15 grams or more (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1401(c)) and unlawful use or possession of weapons by a felon (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 24-1.1). The court subsequently sentenced defendant to a term of 33 years' imprisonment on the controlled substances offense and five years' imprisonment on the unlawful use of weapons offense, the sentences to run concurrently.

Defendant now appeals his conviction and sentence, contending the trial court: (1) erred in denying his motion to quash his arrest and suppress certain evidence which he claims was illegally obtained; (2) deprived him of a fair trial by allowing in certain evidence concerning other crimes; (3) erred in allowing a Department of Corrections employee to testify regarding the details of defendant's prior felony conviction; and (4) abused its discretion in sentencing defendant to an extended-term sentence. We affirm.

The report of proceedings on defendant's motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence revealed that, on December 8, 1987, Illinois State Trooper Greg Neumann pulled over an automobile for traffic violations after he paced it travelling at an excessive rate of speed and watched it following another vehicle too closely. Neumann said he intended to write the driver a warning ticket for speeding. He obtained the licenses from both the driver and the passenger (defendant), as the driver indicated his passenger was the owner of the car. While waiting for the men to produce their licenses, Neumann observed flakes of a greenish-brown plantlike substance, possibly cannabis, scattered on the car's interior. He also noticed the car had a stale smoke smell emanating from it.

Neumann said he intended to search the car for cannabis but first returned to his squad car to write out a warning ticket and run a computer check on the two licenses he had obtained. The computer check revealed defendant had been arrested in 1986 for manufacturing heroin. Neumann also learned both men had prior felony convictions.

Troopers Gregory Beoletto and Michael Snyders subsequently arrived on the scene to assist Neumann. Beoletto overheard the information concerning defendant and the driver which had been transmitted over the radio. However, he said that, before a search of the vehicle ensued, he said he had no reason to believe defendant had committed or was committing a crime. During a conversation with the defendant, Beoletto twice asked him if he could search his vehicle for guns or drugs, and defendant twice refused.

Snyders said he then approached defendant and asked him if he could search various areas of his car for guns or drugs. He said defendant laughed and told him to "go ahead, take a look." Snyders said defendant stated to him he would not find anything anyway. Defendant testified he refused on three different occasions to allow the officers to search his car. He said a trooper then asked him to step out of the car, and he complied. Beoletto testified he did not hear the specific question which Snyders asked defendant; however, he said he thought he heard defendant say "okay" to Snyders and then watched defendant step out of the vehicle. Beoletto indicated during his testimony he was surprised Snyders had obtained defendant's consent for a search so easily since defendant had twice responded negatively to his own requests to search.

Snyders then conducted a search of the interior of the automobile during which he initially uncovered a red, .12 gauge shotgun shell under the passenger side of the front seat. Defendant did not possess a firearm owner's identification card, and both men had prior felony convictions, so the police placed both of them under arrest for the offense of possession of a firearm (ammunition) by a felon. Snyders asked defendant if he had a key to the car's glove box or the trunk, and he said defendant told him he did not have any keys for them. A canine unit was summoned to inspect the vehicle, and the vehicle was subsequently towed to a nearby station.

At the station, the troopers immediately began a complete search of the vehicle. Some troopers forced open the glove box, and they discovered it contained a .20 gauge Federal shotgun shell as well as a bag containing a white powdery substance which they believed to be cocaine. A loaded .41 magnum Smith & Wesson pistol was also found in the trunk.

Following the presentation of evidence at the hearing on defendant's motion, the trial court made the following findings in its order dated February 9, 1988: (1) the troopers "lawfully stopped" the automobile in which defendant was riding; (2) "defendant verbally consented to the search of the passenger compartment of the vehicle and exited the car to allow the officer to search"; (3) "defendant was arrested . . . for unlawful possession of the shotgun shell found during the interior search by the officer who knew . . . the defendant" had a prior felony conviction; and (4) with or without defendant's consent, the search of the car's glove box and trunk "was incident to his lawful arrest for ...

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