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October 31, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable James D. Egan, Judge Presiding.

Buckley, Campbell, Manning*

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Buckley

JUSTICE BUCKLEY delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial, defendant Keith Williams was found guilty of possession with the intent to deliver more than 100 grams but less than 400 grams of a controlled substance containing cocaine. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 56 1/2, par. 401(a)(2)(B) (now 720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(B) (West 1992)).) The trial Judge sentenced defendant to 14 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On appeal, defendant contends: (1) that the State failed to prove that he knowingly possessed a controlled substance containing cocaine; (2) that the State failed to establish that he possessed more than 100 grams but less than 400 grams of a controlled substance containing cocaine; (3) that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel when his attorney failed to make a motion for a directed finding at the close of the State's case, failed to argue and cite relevant Illinois case law favorable to his client, and stipulated to inconclusive laboratory test results prejudicial to his client; and (4) that the trial Judge committed reversible error when, over defense objections, he admitted improper evidence of other crimes and acts and the Judge's comments indicated that he relied upon that evidence in convicting defendant.

At trial, the State called three witnesses: Charles Hawkins, a United Parcel Service ("U.P.S.") security investigator, Detective James Hennigan, a Chicago police officer, and Detective Raymond Schnoor, a Chicago police officer.

Testimony of Charles Hawkins, U.P.S. Security Investigator

On October 15, 1991, a U.P.S. driver attempted unsuccessfully to deliver a package sent from "K. Creesbo, 13500 Crenshaw Boulevard, Gardena, California" to "C.M. William, 1000 West 100th Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60649." When the package was returned to the U.P.S. facility, Hawkins made several attempts to locate the intended receiver of the package. There was no "C.M. William" listed in the phone book at the address on the package, however, and the person who answered at the "sender's" address in California stated that he knew no such person by the name of C.M. William. Hawkins then opened the package and discovered two pairs of pants. In the pockets of the pants, he found "three plastic bags containing a tan hard substance" which, in his experience, he recognized to be narcotics. He then closed the box and notified the narcotics division of the Chicago police department.

Several Chicago police officers arrived and tested the substance in the bags. While the officers were present, Hawkins received a telephone call from a person identifying himself as "C.M. William." This caller stated that he needed to pick the box up as soon as possible "because it was a birthday present." Hawkins told the caller he could come pick the box up and the police set up surveillance at the U.P.S. customer service counter.

Subsequently, defendant arrived at the U.P.S. facility and identified himself to Hawkins as "C.M. William." Defendant stated that he did not have his identification with him, but that the package was a gift for his father. He then signed for the package as "C.M. William." Hawkins denied telling defendant to sign the name which appeared on the package. Hawkins gave the package to defendant and defendant left the U.P.S. facility.

Testimony of Detective James Hennigan

Detective Hennigan was assigned to the Chicago police department's Organized Crime Division, Narcotics Section at the time of the incident and had been an officer for 12 years. On October 15, 1991, he and several other officers went to the U.P.S. facility and spoke with Hawkins concerning the package addressed to "C.M. William" which Hawkins had opened. He observed the opened package and noticed "a series of plastic bags, I believe two plastic bags with a number of smaller plastic bags, clear plastic bags inside them." Hennigan "field tested" a sample of the substance in the bags and it "tested positive for cocaine."

Hennigan then withdrew a portion of the substance for evidentiary purposes, left the remainder in the box and resealed the package in order to set up a controlled delivery of the package to whomever came to retrieve it. Hennigan stationed himself within the facility while other officers watched the front of the building. When defendant arrived, Hennigan observed him speak with Hawkins, saw him sign for the package, and then watched him leave the facility with the package. Hennigan followed defendant and notified the officers outside the facility that defendant was leaving. Defendant was arrested outside the U.P.S. facility and taken to the police station. Calvin Cross also was arrested outside the facility.

Prior to speaking with defendant at the police station, Hennigan discovered that there was no person by the name of "Creesbo" at the package's return address in California. He also discovered that Calvin Cross resided at the receiver's address in Chicago.

At the police station, defendant gave Hennigan his California driver's license which listed his address as 1612 West 109th Street in Los Angeles, California. He told Hennigan he was staying at 1000 West 100th Street and that he had a weapon at the address. Hennigan also interviewed Calvin Cross who signed a consent to search form for his residence.

Hennigan stated that the packages found inside the box were inventoried and sent to the crime lab. He described the packages as follows:

"There were two large plastic bags left in the box. Those bags, one contained three smaller clear plastic bags containing the suspect substance. And another contained four smaller clear plastic bags containing the substance. And we ...

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