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People v. Gordon

January 28, 2000

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
V.
STEVE L. GORDON, A/K/A DERRICK WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 97--CF--2057 Honorable Henry C. Tonigan, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Inglis

Following a bench trial, defendant, Steve L. Gordon a/k/a Derrick Williams, was found guilty of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 1998)). Defendant timely appeals and asserts that the circuit court erred when it denied his motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence. Defendant contends that the trial court erred (1) by ruling that his arrest was valid if the police acted in good faith when they relied on an arrest warrant for someone else but mistakenly arrested defendant; and (2) by determining that the police acted in good faith. We affirm.

On August 6, 1997, defendant was arrested and charged with several offenses including unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 570/401(c)(2) (West 1998)). Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence. Following a hearing on the matter, the trial court denied the motion

The case went to trial on the charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. The trial court found defendant guilty of unlawful possession of a controlled substance but not guilty of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. The court initially imposed a 5-year sentence on defendant but reduced the sentence to 4½ years pursuant to defendant's motion to reconsider sentence. Defendant's timely appeal followed. On appeal, defendant raises issues related only to the trial court's denial of his motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence.

At the hearing on defendant's motion to quash his arrest, the parties stipulated to the following facts. At the time of defendant's arrest, there was an outstanding warrant for the arrest of a person named Darrick Williams whose date of birth was shown on the face of the warrant as December 21, 1967; the address shown on the warrant was 734 Broadway, apartment 1, North Chicago; the subject of the warrant was a black male; a North Chicago police officer would testify that the subject of the warrant was 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 220 pounds; it was later determined that defendant was not the subject of the warrant; and, at the time of defendant's arrest and search, there was no outstanding warrant for his arrest or for the search of his person.

Following the stipulations, the State called Waukegan police officer Andrew Hewett as a witness. Hewett testified that he was on duty at about 2:45 a.m. on August 6, 1997, when he was called to the Thriftlodge Motel in Waukegan. Hewett was accompanied by Officer Walles. When Hewitt arrived at the motel, he spoke to the night manager, Mr. Edmaiston. Edmaiston told Hewett that he had been told by some residents of the motel that the person registered in room 419 had offered to sell them drugs. Edmaiston identified the person registered in room 419 as Derrick Williams. Edmaiston wanted the police to remove Derrick Williams from the premises.

Hewett further testified that he, Edmaiston, and Walles then went to room 419. Edmaiston knocked on the door. Defendant opened the door and stood in the doorway while Hewett, Edmaiston, and Walles remained in the hall. Defendant told Hewett that his name was Derrick Williams. Defendant produced a State of Illinois identification card. Hewett testified that the name on the identification card was Derrick Williams, that the picture on the identification card was a picture of defendant, and that the date of birth on the card was December 21, 1968.

After defendant produced the identification card and identified himself as Derrick Williams, Hewett radioed police headquarters and asked the dispatcher to check for warrants on a subject. Hewett testified that he told the dispatcher that the subject's name was Derrick Williams, that the subject's date of birth was December 21, 1968, and that the subject was a black male. Hewett testified that the dispatcher stated that there was "an active warrant for a Derrick Williams with a date of birth of 12/21/1967, male black."

Hewett then advised defendant that there was an active warrant for his arrest. Hewett testified that defendant responded by stating that he had previously attempted to surrender himself to the Lake County sheriff's police for the warrant in question, but the police had determined that he was not the subject of the warrant. Hewett told defendant that he had no proof of this and would therefore place defendant in custody and "take him to the county jail and see if they had a photograph of him and we could determine for sure if he was the subject [of the warrant] or not."

Hewett testified that when the dispatcher gave him the information regarding the warrant he believed that defendant was the subject of the warrant. He believed this because "the name and birth date comparison was similar to indicate that he was the subject. The only difference was one year on the birth date."

Hewett testified that he began to reach for defendant to take him into custody and that defendant then attempted to close the door and run into the motel room. When defendant did that, Hewett pushed the door open, took defendant to the floor, and placed him in custody.

Hewett next placed handcuffs on defendant and searched him. Hewett testified that he reached into each front pocket of the jeans that defendant was wearing and in each pocket found a plastic bag that contained several smaller bags that contained a hard, rock-like substance. Hewett testified that in his search he also found a smaller bag containing cannabis and drug paraphernalia.

On cross-examination, Hewett initially answered that Edmaiston had told him that the person registered in room 419 was "Derrick P. Williams." Hewett later modified his answer and stated that he could not recall whether Edmaiston used the person's middle initial. Hewett acknowledged that the police report he filed stated that Edmaiston checked the registry and told him that the person registered in room 419 was named "Derrick P. Williams." Hewett also acknowledged that the identification card that defendant showed him bore the name of "Derrick P. Williams." Hewett could not recall whether the identification card contained an address of 3940 West 21st Street in Chicago or a social security number (SSN). Hewett conceded that he did not give the dispatcher the SSN shown on the identification card. Hewett did not recall whether he asked the dispatcher if the warrant contained an address. Hewett did not recall whether defendant told him that the warrant could not be for him because he had recently been released from a boot camp. Hewett conceded that his police report did not identify the specific location where he found contraband.

Defendant testified at the hearing on his motion to quash his arrest that his name is "Derrick Paul Williams." Defendant also testified that the identification card he gave Hewett contained the name "Derrick P. Williams," his SSN, and his address of 3940 West 21st Street in Chicago.

Defendant's further testimony included the following. After defendant gave Hewett the identification information, Hewett told defendant that he was under arrest for a domestic battery warrant. Defendant laughed at that and stated that he had just gotten out of a Department of Corrections boot camp and he therefore knew there was no warrant for him because he was on work release. Defendant denied telling Hewett that he had tried to turn himself in on the warrant.

Defendant testified that his height is approximately 5 feet 9 inches or 5 feet 10 inches and his weight is 185 pounds. His height and weight ...


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