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People v. Flowers

July 14, 1999


Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois No. 95--CF--6904 Honorable Gerald R. Kinney Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Homer


A jury convicted the defendant, Arthur J. Flowers, of burglary. 720 ILCS 5/19--1(a) (West 1996). He was sentence to four years imprisonment. In this appeal, the defendant raises three issues. First, he argues that the trial Judge violated the statute governing replacement of an impaneled juror (725 ILCS 5/115--4(g) (West 1996)). Second, he argues that the trial Judge violated the rule established in People v. Montgomery, 47 Ill. 2d 510, 268 N.E.2d 695 (1971) by: (1) allowing the State to impeach his credibility with evidence that he had a prior misdemeanor theft conviction; and (2) allowing the State to introduce a certified copy of the theft conviction. Third, he argues that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Following our careful review, we affirm.


The trial court selected the 12-member jury in panels of four. Immediately after the initial panel was selected and sworn, one of the panel members (juror Bennett) informed the Judge that the jury commissioner had excused her from service on the following day. The defendant expressed his desire to keep the panel intact and postpone the trial for one day to accommodate juror Bennett's absence. The Judge, however, offered to either break the panel and select another juror or pick an extra alternate juror. Rather than choose one of these options, the defendant repeated his desire to keep the panel intact. The Judge then discharged juror Bennett and replaced her with another juror.

Before the trial, the defendant, in limine, moved the court to bar the State from impeaching his credibility with evidence that he had prior convictions for aggravated battery in 1985 and misdemeanor theft in 1993. Ultimately, the Judge barred the State from using the aggravated battery conviction. However, he allowed the State to use the misdemeanor theft conviction (only for impeachment) and admitted a certified copy of the conviction into evidence.

During the trial, Richard Talarico and Officer Michael Kljaich testified for the State. The defendant testified on his own behalf. The relevant testimony was as follows:

Testimony of Richard Talarico

Richard Talarico owns a used car dealership in Joliet. He also owns a lot directly north of the dealership where he keeps an overflow inventory of cars. On November 25, 1995, he inspected the north lot at 9 a.m. and observed that the hoods were down on all the cars. Later that morning (approximately 11 a.m.) he heard some noise while walking to the north lot with a customer. He peeked around the corner of a building and saw someone on the north lot under the hood of a 1982 Oldsmobile Delta 88. The person was "wrenching" and removing parts from the car. His face was not visible, but he was wearing a tan jacket. The north lot was surrounded by a chain link fence with padlocked gates. The fence had no holes, and the property was marked with "No Trespassing" signs.

Talarico called the police department and an officer soon arrived. He unlocked a gate and let the officer onto the north lot. The officer then apprehended the man in the tan jacket. The radiator had been removed from the Delta 88 and was lying on the ground near the front fender. The hood of a 1959 Cadillac was also open. Talarico knew the radiator came from the Delta 88 because of a familiar leak in the top corner. He testified that removing a radiator would require a screwdriver, a ratchet or a wrench, and tools to undo or cut some small copper transmission lines. He identified the defendant as the man the officer apprehended on his north lot. He did not give the defendant permission to enter his property or take any items from his vehicles.

Testimony of Officer Michael Kljaich

Officer Michael Kljaich responded to Richard Talarico's call on November 25, 1995. When he arrived at the dealership, he noticed that the north lot was surrounded by a chain link fence with no apparent holes. He entered the lot and saw a man in a tan jacket working on the radiator of a 1959 Cadillac. The man ducked down, but Officer Kljaich apprehended him and asked what he was doing. He said he was trying to take the radiator from the car. Officer Kljaich arrested him and performed a pat search--finding a long screwdriver, a pair of wire cutter pliers, and a socket. Additionally, a pair of gloves and some screwdrivers were sitting on the car and a socket set was lying next to the car. The upper and lower hoses of the car's radiator had been disconnected. Officer Kljaich also inspected a 1982 Oldsmobile Delta 88 and noticed that its radiator was missing. He found a radiator lying on the ground nearby. He did not dust the radiator for fingerprints because it was covered with anti-freeze and he had already seen the defendant trying to remove the radiator from the Cadillac. He never saw the defendant under the hood of the Delta 88.

Testimony of the Defendant

The defendant went to a flea market near Richard Talarico's car dealership on November 25, 1995. While at the flea market, he noticed a friend in the parking lot with a broken-down car. He looked under the hood and discovered that the car needed a connector piece for the battery. He then walked to Talarico's north lot with a man named Clarence Ellis. They entered the lot by stepping over the fence in a spot where it was lying on the ground. The defendant thought he found the part his friend needed on a 1963 Cadillac. Ellis went back to get a wrench and tell the friend they found the part. A police officer then appeared ...

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