Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Robert W. Krop, judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Quinn delivered the opinion of the court:
Following a bench trial, defendant Renard Anderson was convicted of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and sentenced to six years' imprisonment. Defendant appeals contending that he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We reverse.
Velyne Zumm testified that on July 20, 1994, she owned a 1989 Trans Am automobile and during that evening it was stolen from her driveway. The car was in good condition at that time but when she saw the car next at the police auto pound on July 22, the passenger door lock was punched, the trunk lock was punched, the steering column was torn part, the car had to be started with a screwdriver and her stereo was missing. There was also meat in the back seat of the car.
Officer Anthony Bartolomei testified that at about 1:30 a.m. on July 22, 1994, he and Officer Alex Ramano were in plainclothes in an unmarked vehicle at 16th and Halsted Streets in Chicago Heights, when they observed a dark blue Pontiac Trams Am going eastbound. As the car passed in front of them, Bartolomei noticed that the driver looked like a man wanted in a shooting earlier in the evening. The officers activated their emergency equipment and followed the car, in which defendant was a passenger. Both occupants looked back when the officers put on the emergency lights. The driver of the Pontiac did not stop but accelerated, traveling about 60 miles per hour in a posted 25-mile-per-hour zone.
The officers followed the car, which traveled through a red light and almost hit a group of people standing outside a tavern. The car then went around a corner and almost hit a second group of people outside another tavern. After proceeding several more blocks, the car was driven onto the sidewalk where it collided with a planter. Both the driver and defendant got out of the car and ran, but they were apprehended. The officers learned the car was stolen and examined the car, which had the trunk lock and the passenger side door lock punched out. The steering column cover was ripped out on the driver's side of the column, and the radio was missing with damage to that area. There were no keys in the ignition and two screwdrivers were found in the car.
Officer Bartolomei spoke with defendant after his arrest, and defendant gave a statement which was reduced to writing. The statement recited:
"I was in Dolton at Fairway Foods. I went inside to boost some meat. I met up with a guy I recognized who was boosting also. I asked him if he had a car. He told me yeah, he did.
He asked me if I was going to boost anything. I said yeah I was. He told me when I come out that he would have the car running on the side of the store.
He walked out, waited for me to come out.
I left the store about five minutes later. He got into a blue Pontiac Grand Am that he was driving.
We drove to an unknown block around 127th Street in Chicago and sold the meat I took from the store.
We then drove to another area in Chicago and bought two bags of rock cocaine. We smoked the dope inside and we wanted more.
At this point the car dies out and I asked him where's your keys. He told me that he didn't need his keys because ...