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January 13, 1998


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 95--CF--347. Honorable Rosemary Collins, Judge, Presiding.

The Honorable Justice Hutchinson delivered the opinion of the court. Geiger, P.j., and McLAREN, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hutchinson

The Honorable Justice HUTCHINSON delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Shung Moore, appeals his conviction of possession with intent to deliver 1 to 15 grams of cocaine (720 ILCS 570/401 (West 1996)) and criminal fortification of a residence (720 ILCS 5/19--5 (West 1996)). Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence and erred in committing multiple instances of plain error. Defendant further argues that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of possession of 1 to 15 grams of cocaine. We affirm.

Through various witnesses, the State presented testimony that defendant was operating a crack house at 706 1/2 North Winnebago Street, Rockford, during early 1995. Arlene Lighthart, who lived in this apartment with her boyfriend and two children, testified that she had known defendant for several years. She permitted defendant to use the apartment to sell crack cocaine for a period of four weeks during January and February. Defendant paid Lighthart $400 per week for the use of the apartment, and the continual sale of narcotics from the apartment earned him approximately $3,000 per day. Defendant then asked to use the apartment for an additional week because his other locations had been recently raided by the police.

Lighthart testified that defendant prepared the apartment for the sale of crack cocaine. He fitted the front door of the apartment with brackets that would allow it to be barricaded from the inside with three 2 by 4s. The back door was also barricaded. A latch was attached to the outside of the front door for a padlock. A deadbolt was removed from the front door to allow the exchange of drugs and money through the hole. It was explained that this preparation was to prevent buyers from entering the apartment, sellers from leaving the apartment, and as a way of slowing a police raid long enough for the crack cocaine to be destroyed.

On February 13, 1995, defendant allegedly began to use a new seller at the property. Clarence Richardson, who was 16 years old on that date, testified that he had worked for defendant packaging crack cocaine for approximately one month. Defendant approached him about selling the crack and Richardson agreed. On February 13, defendant drove Richardson to the Winnebago Street apartment in his red Camaro. Defendant then gave him a "500 pack" of crack cocaine and gave him some basic instructions on how to sell the drugs.

Lighthart testified that defendant drove her, her boyfriend, and her children from the apartment. He took them to a hotel because Lighthart had complained of the number of people frequenting the home and the occasional police car that would drive past.

Members of the Rockford police department and the Winnebago County sheriff's metro narcotics unit observed the apartment for several hours on February 13. Two police informants had let the police know that a crack house was being operated at the location and that the operator of the house drove a red Camaro or Firebird with a black bra. The informants stated that buyers would go to the front door of the apartment through an inner staircase. The door would be padlocked from the outside and barricaded from within. A buyer would knock on the door, place money through a hole in the door, and receive crack cocaine in return. A controlled buy was made from the apartment in the early afternoon and police obtained a search warrant.

The officers observing the apartment noticed a red Camaro in front of the apartment on several occasions. They processed the license plate number and discovered that the car was registered to defendant. The officers were familiar with defendant. They saw him drive a man and a woman away from the apartment. Defendant later returned, honked the horn, and gave Richardson a brown paper bag.

The police raid of the apartment began at approximately 3 p.m. Officers saw defendant driving away from the apartment and detained him. Several officers approached the vehicle with guns drawn. Defendant turned the car off, threw the keys to the floorboard, and exited the car. Officers conducted a quick "pat down" and determined that defendant did not possess any weapons.

Meanwhile, the rest of the officers executed the search warrant on the apartment. They knocked on the door and loudly announced their presence and that they had a search warrant. Officers testified that they heard running from behind the door and used a battering ram to break through the barricade. Once through the door, the officers discovered Richardson alone in the apartment.

A plastic bag on a couch in the apartment contained 15 smaller baggies with suspected cocaine. Richardson's coat contained another bag with 41 baggies of suspected cocaine. Richardson had $193 in his pocket, another $170 was found on the couch, and an insurance check in the amount of $17 and addressed to defendant was found in the living room. The police also discovered several padlocks inside the apartment.

After defendant had been detained for approximately five minutes, an officer left the apartment and informed the officers with defendant of the discoveries in the apartment. The officers conducted a more thorough search of defendant and found a padlock key that was later matched to one of the padlocks found in the apartment. A narcotics dog was used to conduct a canine sniff test of defendant's automobile. The dog alerted the handler to the driver's door seam and inside behind the front passengers seat. The officer testified at trial ...

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