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05/25/94 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. DARREN JONES

May 25, 1994

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
DARREN JONES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable John D. Brady, Judge Presiding.

Rehearing Denied September 26, 1994.

Cerda, Tully, Greiman

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cerda

JUSTICE CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial, defendant, Darren Jones, was convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1401 (now codified as 720 ILCS 520/401 (West 1992))) and was sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant asserts that (1) the trial court erred by admitting prejudicial, irrelevant evidence of guns and money; (2) the trial court's cautionary instruction about his alleged friendship with a drug dealer did not cure the error; (3) the guns and cash were seized illegally; (4) his statements were improperly obtained after an illegal arrest; (5) he was denied effective assistance of counsel; (6) the trial court improperly admitted a police officer's interpretation that his "spot" meant that he sold drugs every day at a certain place on Harrison and Flournoy Streets; (7) evidence of his prior contacts with police officer Edward Mizera was prejudicial; and (8) cumulative errors were substantially prejudicial. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment.

Prior to trial, a hearing was held on defendant's motion to suppress evidence and statements. Terry Jones, defendant's brother, testified that on April 6, 1990, he went to his mother's two-flat building at 2915 West Harrison Street to celebrate his mother's birthday. When Terry arrived around 10 p.m., several people including his brother, Eddie Jones, were already there. An hour later, his mother answered a knock at the door. A police officer identified himself and asked whether defendant lived there.

According to Terry, the police searched the apartment and arrested everyone but his mother. Terry testified that he did not see a search warrant nor hear his mother consent to the search. Terry stated that he did not see defendant until later in the police station.

Defendant testified that on April 6, 1990, at 11:10 p.m., he was standing in front of 2917 West Harrison Street. He had been talking to Theodore Fox for 15 minutes when Officer Nowlin drove up and got out of his car. Nowlin told both men to get against the wall, then patted them down before Officer Mizera told Nowlin to bring defendant to 2915 West Harrison Street. Defendant was taken into his mother's apartment, where 10 to 12 people were sitting and eating at the table. According to defendant, he knew nothing about the cocaine or $35,000 recovered from his mother's basement.

Officer Mizera testified that on April 6, 1990, at 10:15 p.m., he received information from police officer Edward Kulbida that narcotics would be delivered from a light colored Chrysler in the 2900 block of West Harrison Street, to an individual known as 'Fats," which is defendant's nickname. Mizera stated that he knew defendant because he had arrested him several times in the past.

After receiving the information, Mizera went to a building about 150 feet north of 2915 West Harrison Street. From that position, he saw defendant and another person sitting in a blue Blazer parked four or five cars west of 2915 West Harrison Street. Mizera later learned that the other person was Eddie Jones, defendant's brother.

Mizera watched the Blazer for 25 to 30 minutes during which time he observed several people milling around the area. Some people walked over to the Blazer, spoke to its occupants, and then left. When a light gray Chrysler parked in front of 2915 West Harrison Street, the people milling around spread out to different corners as if they had pre-assigned areas to stand. Over the police radio, an officer told Mizera that the individual in the Chrysler was Donald Smoot.

As Smoot got out of the Chrysler, defendant and Eddie left the Blazer and met him at the rear of the Chrysler. Smoot opened the trunk and took out a large red plastic bag. From that bag, Smoot took out a large clear freezer bag filled with white powder and put it into the trunk. He then gave the red bag to defendant, who checked its contents. The bottom of the red bag was bulging, indicating that something was in it. Based on Mizera's experience, he believed a narcotics transaction had taken place, so he left his surveillance spot and ran toward the three men.

Smoot closed the trunk and quickly walked away. As defendant and Eddie headed for 2915 West Harrison Street, defendant handed the red bag to Eddie. Mizera yelled for defendant to stop. Defendant turned and looked at him, but continued to walk at a slower pace. Defendant followed Eddie into the building, but immediately returned to the front porch.

As Mizera reached the building, he told defendant to stay where he was, then went into the gangway alongside the building in case Eddie ran out the back door. After determining that Eddie was still in the building, Mizera returned to the front where Officer James Nowlin and defendant were standing. Mizera told Nowlin to detain defendant and then knocked on the building's front door.

A woman answered the inner door. Assuming that she was Mrs. Jones, Mizera identified himself and told her he needed to talk to her about her sons. When he asked who had just run into the building, she replied, "Nobody." Mizera testified that he saw Eddie run into the building, but not into the door that Mrs. Jones answered.

Mrs. Jones came to the outer door and let Mizera into the foyer. To the left was an open door leading into Mrs. Jones's first floor apartment, where Mizera could see Eddie and several other people. Behind Mizera was a door that led to the basement. Mizera looked down the stairs and saw the red plastic bag laying at the bottom. Mizera called for backup.

When Sergeant Owens came inside the building, he watched the people in the apartment while Mizera investigated the red plastic bag, which contained several wrapped "pony packs" containing white powder. Mizera also saw a milk crate at the bottom of the stairs. Above the crate, he saw the butt of a gun in the ceiling joist. Investigating further, he found four guns in the ceiling. Meanwhile, Officer Gomez came into the basement where ...


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