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People v. West

July 14, 1998

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
KEITH WEST, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice McNULTY

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Honorable Thomas M. Davy, judge Presiding.

After a bench trial defendant Keith West was found guilty of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. He was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for possession of a stolen motor vehicle and four concurrent years for unlawful use of a weapon. Defendant appeals, claiming that: (1) he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon; (2) the trial court improperly prevented defendant from bringing in certain defense witnesses to testify at trial and trial counsel was ineffective in failing to produce these witnesses at trial; and (3) a per se conflict of interest existed since during trial defense counsel was in the midst of surrendering his license to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. We affirm.

Howard Melton testified that on January 13, 1996, he parked his four-door burgundy Cadillac, bearing license plate ELE 4, in front of his apartment on 72nd Street, in Chicago. The next 1morning, Melton discovered that his car was missing. He noticed broken glass on the ground where the car had been parked. He called the police to report that his Cadillac had been stolen. Melton testified that no one else had keys to the vehicle or permission to possess the Cadillac. He testified that on January 13, the car doors were locked and the car was not damaged.

Melton testified that on January 17, 1996, he recovered his Cadillac from the police impoundment lot. Melton observed that the Cadillac had been severely damaged since he last saw it on January 13, 1996. The right passenger side door had dent marks, the small driver's side window had been smashed, the glove compartment had been forced open and items were missing from it, the trunk had been forced open and two new tires were missing.

Officer Tom Shannon testified that on January 17, 1996, he was working in the area of 7900 South Exchange Street in Chicago with his partner, Officer Ratajack. At approximately 5 p.m. as Officer Shannon was driving northbound on Exchange, he observed an older model four-door Cadillac with high-beam headlights and a broken window going southbound on Exchange. Officer Shannon turned his car and started following the Cadillac southbound. Officer Shannon spotted the license plate on the rear of the Cadillac and called in to check the plate. After the dispatcher informed him that the Cadillac had been stolen, Officer Shannon activated his emergency lights and sirens and attempted to stop the vehicle.

Defendant, driving the vehicle, did not stop. Officer Shannon testified that he pursued the vehicle for approximately six blocks, remaining in radio communication with other police units, until defendant suddenly stopped in the vicinity of 7920 Burnham Street and fled from the Cadillac. Officer Shannon, a few feet behind the stopped Cadillac, observed defendant running away and began to chase him. As defendant ran westbound through some gangways, Officer Shannon noticed defendant had a handgun in his right hand. Officer Shannon radioed directions to other police units.

Defendant continued to flee, running through an alley and another set of gangways to Manistee Street, where he ultimately ran into a police unit waiting for him at that location. As Officer O'Callahan put defendant down on the car, the handgun was loosened from defendant's hand. Officer Shannon recovered the handgun.

During trial, Officer Shannon was shown and identified a Raven Arms semi-automatic .25-caliber handgun, its magazine, and six .25-caliber hollow-point bullets. Officer Shannon also testified that photographs shown marked as People's exhibit No. 1, depicting the vehicle with a broken opera window and a peeled steering column, showed the vehicle in the same condition as when he saw it on January 17. Officer Shannon also testified that there were no keys in the ignition of the vehicle when he saw it on January 17.

The State moved to admit into evidence a certified statement from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) for burglary case No. 94 R 556601, for Todd McGlynn, which the State claimed was defendant's alias. Attached to the certification was a photograph, a photocopy of the order of sentencing and commitment to the IDOC for Todd McGlynn and photocopies of fingerprints. Defendant objected on the basis that no link had been established between Todd McGlynn and defendant and because the IDOC records were not public records. The trial court allowed into evidence the mittimus from the circuit court of Cook County, the certified statements of conviction, the photograph and the fingerprints, subject to any other evidence the State might have to tie them to the conviction.

Mattie L. West, defendant's mother, testified that defendant was left-handed and she never saw him with a gun. West testified that on January 20, 1996, Monique Mahaffery stopped at her house to visit. Someone named Maurice waited in the car.

Defendant testified that at approximately 4:30 p.m. on January 17, 1996, Maurice Johnson came to visit him at his apartment at 7949 South Marquette in Chicago. Defendant stated that Maurice was driving a 1984 Cadillac Sedan DeVille. Defendant stated that he had known Maurice for about eight months, but had never seen this car in Maurice's possession prior to January 17, and he did not know whether Maurice actually owned the Cadillac. Defendant asked to borrow the Cadillac so that he could pick up his girlfriend, Michaelene Mahaffery, from the bus stop. Defendant testified that Maurice allowed defendant to borrow the car and gave him the keys. Defendant testified that the interior of the car was clean and the only damage was a cracked rear opera window. Defendant testified that the damage to the car, shown in People's exhibit No. 1, did not exist at the time that he was in the car.

Defendant testified that he drove northbound on Marquette and then proceeded southbound on Exchange. As he was driving southbound on Exchange, between 77th and 79th, he was unable to see the northbound lane because the train platform extended to the corner of 77th Street. Defendant further stated that he would be unable to turn his vehicle anywhere between 77th and 79th on Exchange because of the train platform. Defendant stated that he drove to the bus stop where he was supposed to pick up his girlfriend; however, she was not there, so he proceeded to go westbound on 79th Street and then made a left turn on Manistee Street to Burnham Street. Defendant went to his girlfriend's house at 7924 South Burnham.

Defendant testified that after he parked the car and started approaching the fence surrounding the apartment complex, he heard two voices behind and to the left of him. A male voice said, "Don't move," and a female voice said, "Nigger, I'll shoot you." Defendant stated that he never saw who was speaking, because he "took off, afraid for [his] life." Defendant ran until he encountered a police officer standing on Manistee Street. Defendant stated that he asked the officer for assistance, but, as the officer was helping him, a male and female officer approached them and stated, "That's him, that's him." Defendant testified that he was then slammed face down on the car, roughed ...


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