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People v. Maskell

April 14, 1999

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
PAUL B. MASKELL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 97--CF--1732 Honorable Ronald B. Mehling, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Inglis

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS

Following a bench trial, defendant, Paul B. Maskell, was convicted of burglary (720 ILCS 5/19--1(a) (West 1996)) and sentenced to a term of four years' incarceration. Defendant appeals and contends that his conviction must be reversed because the evidence showed that he committed residential burglary (720 ILCS 5/19--3(a) (West 1996)) and therefore he could not properly be convicted of burglary. We affirm.

The incident that gave rise to the charge against defendant occurred in an apartment building on August 15, 1997. An indictment was returned against defendant for one count of burglary. The indictment charged that defendant committed burglary when he "without authority, knowingly entered a building of Preston Thomas, located at [a certain address in Du Page County] with the intent to commit therein a theft."

At trial, the State called Travis Thomas (Travis) as a witness. Travis's testimony included the following. On August 15, 1997, he lived with his father, Preston Thomas, his mother, Mona Lisa Nelson, and his sister, Alicia Thomas, in an apartment in the building identified in the indictment (the building). The building had three floors and the family lived in apartment number five on the third floor of the building. There were no elevators in the building. In order to reach the front door of the family's apartment, a person had to climb four sets of stairs, two between the first and second floors, and two between the second and third floors.

Travis's testimony also included the following. On August 15, 1997, at about 5 p.m., Travis was in the family's apartment with his mother and father. At that time, the family's TV was in the living room of the apartment. The TV is about 50 to 60 inches high and about 30 inches wide. The front door of the apartment opens into the living room. The front door is metal and closes automatically. Sometime after 5 p.m., Travis left the building for a short time.

When Travis returned, he entered the building through its front door and began climbing the front stairs to the family's apartment. When he got to the part of the front stairs between the second and third floors, Travis saw defendant "pushing our television down the stairs." Travis asked defendant what he was doing. Travis testified that defendant told him that his father had asked defendant to repair the TV and that defendant was taking it back up the stairs. Travis observed that defendant was above the TV and that there were wires extending from the TV toward the apartment. Travis continued going up the stairs to the apartment. He noticed that the apartment door was open and that there was a note taped near the door. The note indicated that Travis's mother and father were next door visiting friends. Travis went into the apartment and saw that a lamp inside the apartment was broken.

Travis further testified that he then ran out of the apartment and down the front stairs of the building past defendant, who was still standing near the TV. Travis ran out of the building and into the building next door to get his father. Travis told his father that someone had broken into the family's apartment. Travis's father and the friend he was visiting, DuRay, then ran to the building in which the family lived. Travis waited outside. His father, DuRay, and defendant later came out the front door of the building together. His father and DuRay then went to the back of the building and talked to two men who were there. His father then returned to the front of the building and called defendant's name. However, defendant ran and jumped into a cab which quickly drove off. Travis did not give defendant or anyone else permission to enter the building or the family's apartment or to take the TV.

Preston Thomas (Preston) testified that he owned the TV that was in the family's apartment on August 15, 1997. Preston knew defendant from three visits that defendant made to the apartment prior to August 15, 1997. Defendant did not live in the building. Other than the three previous visits, Preston never gave defendant permission to enter the building. The building contained six apartments.

Preston further testified that on August 15, 1997, at around 5 p.m., he was in the family's apartment with his wife, Mona, and his son, Travis. Sometime before 6 p.m., Travis left the apartment. After Travis left, Preston and his wife also left the apartment and went to visit friends who lived in the building next door. Before leaving, Preston left a note on the front door of the apartment. The note stated that Preston and his wife would be next door. When Preston and his wife left, the TV was in the living room of the apartment and the front door was latched but was not locked. The front door of the apartment had an automatic door closer, and therefore a person could not push it open just by knocking.

Preston further testified that while he was next door his son Travis came running over and told him that someone had broken into the apartment. Preston and two friends immediately ran over to the building that contained the family's apartment. They met defendant coming down the front stairs of the building. Preston testified that defendant told him that some guys tried to break into the apartment, that he knew who they were, and that if Preston wanted to catch them they were outside. Preston went outside and confronted the individuals whom defendant had pointed out. Preston got into an argument with the individuals. Preston then looked for defendant but he was getting into a cab. Preston called out to defendant, but defendant quickly left in the cab.

The State also called Mona Lisa Nelson as a witness. She lived in the apartment on August 15, 1997. She testified that on that date she did not give anyone permission to take the TV from the apartment.

William Andrewski, a police officer for the village of Woodridge, testified that he was called to the building on August 15, 1997. At the building, Andrewski observed a large TV on the landing of the front stairs between the second and third floors. Andrewski described the TV as at "an angle as you would bring it down the stairs straight and then start on a turn."

The State called William Hoogland, a Woodridge police officer, as a witness. Hoogland's testimony included the following. Hoogland interviewed defendant on August 15, 1997. During the interview defendant made statements to Hoogland that included the following: on August 15, 1997, defendant went to the building to visit a "crack head"; defendant rang the buzzer near the downstairs front door of the building several times; no one answered the buzzer; however, defendant was able to pull the door open; defendant entered the building and went up to the third floor; on the third floor, defendant noticed that the door to apartment number five was open; because he was familiar with the people who lived in the apartment, defendant yelled inside; two black males then approached defendant from behind and asked defendant what he was doing; defendant got scared and began to leave the building; as he was leaving, defendant met Travis Thomas near the front door of the building; defendant told Travis that there were some guys upstairs who were trying to ...


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