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10/25/89 the People of the State of v. Romney Adams

October 25, 1989

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT

v.

ROMNEY ADAMS, APPELLEE



SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

546 N.E.2d 561, 131 Ill. 2d 387, 137 Ill. Dec. 616 1989.IL.1684

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County, the Hon. Robert R. Buchar, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the court.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CLARK

At issue in this appeal brought by the State is the threshold necessary to support a finding of probable cause sufficient for a warrantless arrest and subsequent search and seizure. Appellee, Romney Adams, was charged by indictment with delivery of a controlled substance in that he possessed and intended to deliver more than 30 grams of cocaine (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1401(a)(2)); armed violence in that he committed the felony of possession of a controlled substance while armed with a .38-caliber revolver (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 33A-2; ch. 56 1/2, par. 1402(b)); and unlawful use of a firearm by a felon in that he knowingly possessed on or about his person a .38-caliber revolver having previously been convicted of a felony (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 24-1.1(a)).

Prior to trial, Adams filed a motion to suppress, alleging that there was no probable cause to support the police stop of his automobile and the subsequent search of his vehicle. The trial court, following a hearing, denied the motion to suppress. A jury trial was held in the circuit court of Will County; Adams was found guilty of the three charges. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of 14, 10, and 4 years' imprisonment.

Adams appealed and his conviction was reversed. (169 Ill. App. 3d 284.) Though he raised four separate issues before the appellate court, that court addressed only one of the issues and reversed based on a finding that there was no probable cause for the arrest and search. (169 Ill. App. 3d at 285.) We allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal pursuant to our Supreme Court Rules 315(a) and 612(b) (107 Ill. 2d Rules 315(a), 612(b)). As explained below, we affirm the decision of the appellate court.

The State urges this court to reverse the appellate court based on its contention that the trial court's finding of probable cause sufficient to support the warrantless arrest of Adams and the subsequent search of his vehicle was not manifestly erroneous. Adams contends that the appellate court correctly decided the probable cause issue and, pursuant to our Supreme Court Rule 315(g) (107 Ill. 2d R. 315(g)), raises five additional issues for our review: (1) whether reversible error occurred when the prosecutor was allowed to elicit testimony that Officer Valera, based upon hearsay, had reason to believe Adams was armed where that evidence depicted Adams as a violent criminal and corroborated Cheryl Edwards' suspect testimony that Adams gave the gun to her shortly before the arrest; (2) whether the trial court deprived the defendant of a fair trial and violated his constitutional right of confrontation by unduly restricting defense counsel's cross-examination of prosecution witness Cheryl Edwards; (3) whether Adams was denied a fair jury determination of his innocence or guilt where the prosecutor improperly suggested to the jury that Adams had threatened witness Cheryl Edwards; (4) whether Adams was denied a fair trial by the improper comments of the prosecutor during closing arguments; and (5) whether Adams' three convictions violate the "one act -- one crime" principle.

Following a statement of the pertinent facts, we will discuss and rule on a motion to strike filed by Adams and then address the probable cause, arrest and subsequent search issue. Our Disposition of this single issue makes it unnecessary to address the additional issues raised by Adams in his cross-appeal.

On October 7, 1986, Adams and a passenger, Cheryl Edwards, were driving westbound on Interstate 80, near Interstate 57, in Will County when Adams noticed six police cars, three on each side of the westbound lanes of Interstate 80. As he drove past the police vehicles, Adams noticed that the vehicles entered the traffic lanes behind him and blocked all other traffic from behind. Shortly thereafter Adams passed a weigh station where he noticed that about 10 police vehicles were lined up; as Adams passed the weigh station, the vehicles proceeded out of the station and followed him. Shortly after he passed the crest of a hill, Adams noted that the interstate highway ahead of him was completely blocked off by police vehicles. Adams came to a stop, he testified, about 10 to 15 feet from the parked police vehicles blocking the two-lane highway. By this time police vehicles had come up on each side of his car; he was thus completely surrounded by police vehicles with all other traffic blocked off. Adams estimated that there were about 20 police vehicles in all. Uniformed police officers got out of their cars and came towards the Adams vehicle with guns drawn and pointed at Adams and Edwards, his passenger. The guns, Adams testified, were pointed through the front windshield and down through the open sunroof. Adams also noticed a non-uniformed gentleman -- later identified as Officer Phillip Valera -- get out of a maroon Cutlass and come towards his car. Adams testified that he had noticed this car following him for the past three hours. As the uniformed officers approached Adams' vehicle, the occupants were told to put their hands on top of their heads and to keep them there. Because the doors of the car were locked, Adams' passenger, Edwards, was instructed to unlock the doors. Police then instructed Cheryl Edwards to get out of the car. An officer immediately took her towards the back of the car and held her there. When Edwards was positioned behind the car, held by an officer, the police instructed Adams to slide across the front seat to the passenger side of the car and exit the car via the passenger door. Adams slowly slid across the bench seat of the car. There is some discrepancy in the testimony as to exactly what happened next. Adams testified that as he exited the car, Edwards' purse caught on his foot and, as he stood up outside the car, he stood on one foot and had the purse caught on the other while the police were handcuffing him. Officer Valera testified that as Adams exited the car the purse fell out of the car, fell to the ground open, and a gun fell out of the open purse. It was at this point, he testified, that the police grabbed Adams and handcuffed him. A further search of the purse revealed what appeared to be drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Officer Valera, a police officer with the city of Joliet on assignment with the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad , testified during the hearing on the motion to suppress. He testified that on the morning of October 7, 1986, he was conducting surveillance on Interstate 65 in Indiana. MANS agents had positioned themselves on other highways in addition to Interstate 65 looking for a black Chrysler New Yorker with Illinois registration and plates numbered MWN 354. The surveillance was being conducted in response to a tip which Valera had received.

Officer Valera testified that, on the evening of October 6, 1986, sometime after 7 p.m., he received a call from a confidential informant who told him that Romney Adams had left for Kentucky and would be driving back into Will County from Kentucky with some cocaine. The informant also told Valera that Adams would possibly be armed with a handgun. The informant had on an earlier occasion described Adams' automobile and given the license plate number of the car. In addition, the informant had previously told Valera that Adams would be getting the cocaine from a person known as Frank Collins. Valera testified that Collins was a person known by the MANS agents to be a cocaine distributor in the Joliet area.

Officer Valera contacted the State's Attorney's office in an effort to obtain a search warrant for the Adams vehicle based on the informant's information. However, the warrant was not issued; Valera was told that before a warrant could be issued he would have to corroborate that the vehicle was indeed traveling back from Kentucky. MANS agents therefore stationed themselves on highways in Indiana that might be used by a person returning from Kentucky; when Valera spotted Adams in Indiana on Interstate 65 just south of Gary, he believed that Adams ...


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