Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 91-CF-771. Honorable James K. Donovan, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rarick
JUSTICE RARICK delivered the opinion of the court:
Defendant, Thomas C. Oden, was charged in the circuit court of St. Clair County with unlawful use of weapons by a felon. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1990, ch. 38, par. 24-1.1.) The basis of the charge was that Oden was seen outside a nightclub holding an "Uzi-type" weapon. After a trial by jury, Oden was found guilty and sentenced to four years' imprisonment.
At trial, Sergeant Gregory Cox of the East St. Louis police department testified that on the night of June 23-24, 1991, he heard gunfire near the Bachelor's Lounge, a nightclub just down the street from Cox's residence. As he was leaving for work the following morning, he looked toward the Bachelor's Lounge, which he could see from his front porch. Cox saw defendant and defendant's brother John holding "Uzi-type" weapons, and he saw Jack Keel holding a sawed-off shotgun. All three were standing beside a parked car, between the car and the front door of the lounge.
Cox called in a report on his radio and told the dispatcher that he was "going in." As he ran to his car, the three men ran into the lounge. Cox sped to the front door of the lounge and radioed the dispatcher that he was going in without backup. As he got out of the car, the three came back out of the lounge. Cox drew his weapon and ordered all three to lie down. At this point, backup officers arrived. Defendant was handcuffed and taken inside. A subsequent search of the lounge produced two Uzis, a shotgun, and three pistols. Coxidentified the Uzis and the shotgun as the weapons he had seen the three men holding outside the lounge.
Horace Smith, a neighbor of Cox's, testified that on June 24, 1991, between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m., he was on his way to work when he saw defendant in the doorway of the Bachelor's Lounge holding "an Uzi or a shotgun." Defendant tried to wave Smith down, but Smith did not stop because of the gun. Smith stopped at the police station to report "problems in the neighborhood." Smith continued on to work, but after a short while he returned home because he was worried about his neighborhood. Upon arriving home, he saw Cox coming out of his house. Cox walked to the lounge, and Smith went to get a State trooper. By the time the trooper got to the lounge, backup had arrived.
Detective Marion Hubbard testified that on June 24, 1991, he responded to a dispatch to assist Cox at the Bachelor's Lounge. Upon arriving, he saw Cox with three suspects in custody. Hubbard entered the lounge, where he found a sawed-off shotgun behind a door. Later, Officer William McGlown called Hubbard over to the bar, where he found two Uzis hidden in a beer-cooler box behind the bar. In addition, three pistols were found during a search of the bar.
Officer McGlown testified that on June 24, 1991, he assisted in a search of the Bachelor's Lounge. During the search, he found two Uzis in a beer-cooler box behind the bar.
Carlton Davis, owner of the Bachelor's Lounge and defendant's stepfather, testified that he did not own the two Uzis or the shotgun, nor did he own any of the pistols found during the search. He stated that both defendant and Keel were employees and had keys to the bar.
Alzada Carr testified that around 8:00 a.m. on June 24, 1991, a nephew ran up to her at her house and told her something was happening on the corner where the Bachelor's Lounge was located. She went outside where she could see the front door of the lounge and saw defendant and John Oden sitting on a car in front of the lounge. After five or ten minutes the police arrived. Prior to their arrival, Carr saw no guns.
Fred Mason, the East St. Louis police department jailer, testified that between 6:40 and 6:45 a.m. on June 24, 1991, he was driving to work when he saw defendant, John Oden, and Jack Keel. He waved at defendant and defendant waved back. Mason saw no one with a gun.
Officer Alicia Bruce testified that on June 24, 1991, between midnight and 7:00 a.m., she was sent to the Bachelor's Lounge three or four times. At 12:55 a.m., she responded to a complaint from JohnOden and, upon arriving, discovered that he was injured. He stated that he had been shot, and he went to the hospital. At 2:58 a.m. defendant complained that shots had been fired at the Bachelor's Lounge. Upon responding, Bruce and her partner found defendant unarmed but saw fresh "bullet dents" in the rear quarter panel and window of a car parked in front of the lounge.
Officer James Jarrett testified that about 7:51 a.m. on June 24, 1991, he received a report of shots fired near the Bachelor's Lounge. He arrived around 8:00 a.m. and found two black males standing in front of the lounge. He asked them if any shots had been fired, and they indicated that ...