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06/15/94 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. LAMORRIS DENTON

June 15, 1994

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
LAMORRIS DENTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Mary M. Thomas, Judge Presiding.

Rehearing Denied August 10, 1994. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied December 6, 1994.

Tully, Rizzi, Cerda

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tully

PRESIDING JUSTICE TULLY delivered the opinion of the court:

After a jury trial, defendant LaMorris Denton was convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in violation of section 401(c)(2) of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1401(c)(2) (now codified as 720 ILCS 570/401(c)(2) (West 1992))) and sentenced to serve a term of 15 years' imprisonment. It is from the judgment of conviction that defendant now appeals to this court pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 603 (134 Ill. 2d R. 603).

On appeal, defendant argues that: (1) the State failed to prove him guilty of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in light of the voluntary admission of another person that the drugs were his and not defendant's; (2) he was denied a fair trial when the prosecution misled the jury; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him.

For the reasons which follow, we affirm.

These are the facts. On June 28, 1990, about a dozen Chicago police officers executed a search warrant for the premises at 8139 Paxton Avenue. Among the items seized were three plastic bags containing white powder. The contents of one of the bags was found to be 5.4 grams of cocaine. Although not present at the time of the search, both defendant and his wife, codefendant Pamela Denton (Pamela), were arrested and subsequently charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

At trial, Officer David Snethen of the Chicago police department was in charge of the search. Snethen testified that he and the other assigned officers went to the two-story house at 8139 South Paxton Avenue to serve a narcotics search warrant naming defendant on June 28, 1990. Snethen recounted that the officers knocked on the doors and were admitted by a 14-year-old resident, Buckley. Each officer had been assigned a specific area to search in the house with the understanding that any evidence found was to be removed by Snethen.

Snethen initially went to the basement but was then called to a bedroom located in the middle of the first floor by Officer John McMurray, who had discovered a loaded revolver under a bed mattress. Proof of defendant's residency, three plastics bags of white powder, six boxes of various types of handgun ammunition and $1,800 in an open safe were also found in the room. Snethen stated that the room's closet contained male and female clothing.

Approximately 10 feet from the middle first floor bedroom was the kitchen in which miscellaneous drug paraphernalia was found, viz., grinders, scales, gram weights, measuring spoons, wire strainers, razors blades and glass vials containing white powder residue. Additionally, police recovered other items used in processing narcotics for sale on the street, which were covered with white powder residue, and small bags used to package narcotics for that purpose. All of these items were taken and inventoried.

Later, defendant arrived at the station, was informed of his Miranda rights, and after the drug charges were explained he said that, "It wasn't nothing."

On cross-examination, Snethen testified that while the police inventory slip for the recovered items listed the address of recovery, it did not state the specific locale in the house where they were found. Snethen further testified that the search of the first and second floors was delegated to some officers and that different officers were responsible for the other bedrooms in the house. It was Snethen's responsibility to recover, itemize and inventory the recovered property. An inaccurate diagram of the residence, which had not been seen by Snethen until trial, had been prepared by supervising sergeant Larry Hargrove. The arrest report for Pamela incorrectly stated that white powder had been retrieved from the front upstairs bedroom. Snethen testified that he had no idea who had prepared that arrest report, which bore his incorrectly spelled name. The officers involved in the search had been authorized to sign Snethen's name to any report prepared pursuant thereto, and the reports contained only a summary of events.

Officer John McMurray testified that after entering the house, he began to secure it. McMurray found no one in the front bedroom. McMurray them forced open the padlocked door of the middle first floor bedroom and found it also empty. After the house was secured McMurray recounted that he searched the middle ...


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