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06/30/89 the People of the State of v. Darnell Courtney

June 30, 1989

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

DARNELL COURTNEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SIXTH DIVISION

542 N.E.2d 116, 186 Ill. App. 3d 25, 134 Ill. Dec. 116 1989.IL.1048

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Daniel J. Kelley, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McNAMARA delivered the opinion of the court. EGAN, P.J., and QUINLAN, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCNAMARA

Defendant also contends that the court improperly denied his motion in limine to bar any mention of a prior conviction; that his statement to the police was improperly admitted where made during a custodial interrogation absent Miranda warnings; and that the State improperly shifted the burden of proof in rebuttal closing argument.

The trial court denied defendant's pretrial motions to preclude mention that defendant possessed the complainant's credit cards at the time of his arrest, and preclude mention of defendant's prior convictions for robbery and for Illinois Credit Card and Debit Card Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 17, par. 5901 et seq.) (Credit Card Act) violations.

John Sochacz testified for the State that on June 5, 1986, at 9 a.m., he reported the theft of his 1983 dark gray two-door Oldsmobile Toronado, with a light gray top and interior, and license plate number J559. The keys were in the ignition, and his wallet was in the car. He later identified the car recovered by the police, and noticed a new small scratch on the window in the driver's door, along with other body damage.

Officer Roy Van Smith testified that on June 9, 1986, at 4:45 p.m. he and his partner were in uniform and in a squad car when they received a radio assignment to proceed to an address in Chicago. There, they saw defendant sitting in a parked gray Oldsmobile Toronado which bore no license plates. They parked the squad car behind the Oldsmobile. A second squad car arrived from the other direction and parked in front of the Oldsmobile. Smith asked defendant to exit the car and asked who owned the car. Defendant replied that his attorney owned the car. The police determined over the radio that the car was stolen. They arrested defendant and informed him of his Miranda rights. The officers searched the car and in the trunk found license plates with the number J559. They also found seven identification and credit cards on defendant's person, all bearing the name of John Sochacz.

Stephanie Taylor testified for the State that on June 6, defendant gave her a ride home in a gray Oldsmobile Toronado with a gray interior. Defendant tested Taylor's diamond ring by scratching the upper right side of the window in the driver's door of the car.

Defendant testified that on June 9, 1986, he was struck by a 1983 Oldsmobile Toronado. The driver stopped and ran away. Defendant chased him on foot, then returned and drove the Oldsmobile several blocks, looking for the driver. The police then approached him, informed him the car was stolen, and arrested him. He carried credit cards which he found on the seat of the Oldsmobile. Defendant had given Taylor a ride home, but he was driving a light green 1975 Thunderbird and did not scratch a window with a diamond ring.

Defendant contends that he was denied a fair trial when the trial court denied his motions in limine to bar use of his prior convictions for robbery and for violation of the Illinois Credit Card Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 17, par. 5901 et seq.). Initially we note that the court properly cautioned the jury not to use the evidence except for the purpose of impeaching defendant's credibility. (See People v. Poole (1988), 167 Ill. App. 3d 7, 520 N.E.2d 1017.) Moreover, a reviewing court will not reverse a trial court's allowance or denial of a motion in limine unless the court manifestly abused its discretion. People v. McCoy (1987), 156 Ill. App. 3d 194, 509 N.E.2d 567; People v. Williams (1978), 60 Ill. App. 3d 529, 377 N.E.2d 367.

It is permissible to admit impeachment evidence of the conviction of a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than a year, or involving dishonesty or false statements, where less than 10 years have elapsed since the later date of release from prison or conviction. (People v. Pegram (1987), 152 Ill. App. 3d 656, 504 N.E.2d 958, aff'd (1988), 124 Ill. 2d 166, 529 N.E.2d 506.) In using a prior conviction to impeach a witness' credibility, the proof of past crimes must directly bear on testimonial deception. (People v. Montgomery (1971), 47 Ill. 2d 510, 268 N.E.2d 695; People v. Pruitt (1988), 165 Ill. App. 3d 947, 520 N.E.2d 867.) Even where the prior conviction bears upon the witness' credibility, the court must use its discretion to determine whether the prejudicial effect of impeachment far outweighs the probative relevance of the prior conviction to this issue of credibility. People v. McKibbins (1983), 96 Ill. 2d 176, 449 N.E.2d 821; People v. Montgomery (1971), 47 Ill. 2d 510, 268 N.E.2d 695; People v. Pruitt (1988), 165 Ill. App. 3d 947, 520 N.E.2d 867.

Factors to be considered in weighing the probative and prejudicial effect of the prior conviction evidence include the nature of the crime, nearness or remoteness, subsequent career of the person, and whether the crime was similar to the one charged. People v. Spates (1979), 77 Ill. 2d 193, 395 N.E.2d 563; People v. Montgomery (1971), 47 Ill. 2d 510, 268 N.E.2d 695; People v. Pruitt ...


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