Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County
Honorable Themis N. Karnezis, Judge Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE O'MARA FROSSARD delivered the opinion of the court:
Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and sentenced to a nine-year prison term. On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence and that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
On May 31, 1997, Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) police officers arrested defendant inside an apartment in the Robert Taylor Homes complex. They subsequently searched his vehicle parked nearby, recovered narcotics from the vehicle, and, based on this discovery, charged defendant with possession of more than 100 grams of cocaine with intent to deliver. Prior to trial defendant filed a motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence alleging that the officers had acted without a search or arrest warrant, or without probable cause in the absence of exigent circumstances.
At the hearing on that motion, CHA police officer Jesse Kuykendoll testified that on May 31, 1997, he and his two partners were on routine patrol in the Robert Taylor Homes complex on South State Street in Chicago. About 6:30 a.m., they were in their car at 51st and State when shots rang out from the vicinity of 5135 S. Federal Street. The officers drove into the parking lot of the building at 5135 S. Federal Street and chased several men inside the building, but lost them on the staircase.
After this unsuccessful pursuit, the officers, who were in uniform, returned to the parking lot to look for weapons or shell casings. As they were doing so, they noticed a white Jeep Cherokee parked in the parking lot of the 5100 S. State Street building. They approached the Jeep and when they arrived within 20 feet of the car, defendant exited the Jeep and ran. The officers chased defendant into the building at 5100 S. State and then into a third-floor apartment of that building. They arrested him inside the apartment. Officer Kuykendoll acknowledged that he had not seen defendant committing any crimes and did not have a warrant for his search or arrest. He testified that he "felt" that defendant was involved in the shooting. Officer Kuykendoll, with his two partners, brought defendant back to the parking lot.
At the parking lot, Officer Kuykendoll asked defendant if they could search the vehicle and look for weapons. Defendant said there were no weapons in the vehicle and that he had no problem with the officers going through it. Defendant gave his consent to the search and Kuykendoll recovered 138 grams of suspect crack cocaine from the arm rest of the car. Defendant was transported to the station where he gave a home address on the southwest side of Chicago.
Upon further examination by defense counsel, Officer Kuykendoll testified that defendant was not among the group he saw running toward the 5135 S. Federal Street building after the shots were fired and that he first noticed defendant in the Jeep in the parking lot at 5100 S. State about five minutes later. As Kuykendoll, who was in uniform, approached defendant, he began to run away. Kuykendoll yelled, "Stop, police," but defendant continued and was arrested inside the third-floor apartment. The officers then conducted a protective search of defendant and found no weapons or controlled substances on him. Inside the apartment, the officers handcuffed defendant and led him out of the apartment and out of the apartment building back to the parking lot, where defendant consented to the search of the vehicle resulting in the discovery of the cocaine.
The trial court denied defendant's motion and found the actions of the officers reasonable in light of the totality of the circumstances. The court found as follows:
"[The] court finds on the date in question the officers were in the vicinity of 51st and State slash Federal. They heard shots fired. They saw people running. They chased them. They did not apprehend them. They returned to the area. They observed Mr. Delaware who was then alighted, leaving the door open and running. We think- I think those are articulable facts at least sufficient to allow the officers to follow along, which they did. I think then what transpired therefore was reasonable in light of the totality of the circumstances. They returned to the vehicle. They received -[c]ould they have gone into the vehicle? I don't have to address that question because they were given consent. So even notwithstanding the fact that they did not have a search warrant, I think their actions were reasonable."
A bench trial ensued and the parties first stipulated to the testimony given by Kuykendoll on the pretrial motion. The officer then testified that he inventoried the bags of suspect cocaine that he recovered from the armrest of the Jeep. He acknowledged a mistake in his police report that indicated the narcotics were recovered from the defendant and not from the armrest of the Jeep. He testified the police report was incorrect.
The State concluded its case with a stipulation as to the results of the scientific testing of the recovered substance. This showed that the nine plastic bags contained 138.6 grams of cocaine. After the trial court denied defendant's motion for a directed finding, the defense rested without presenting any witnesses. The trial court then found defendant guilty of possession of over 100 ...