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People v. Boston

September 13, 2001


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 98--CF--0165 Honorable Philip L. DiMarzio, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Callum.


Following a jury trial, defendant, Jerry Boston, Jr., was convicted of armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18--2(a)(1) (West 2000)). The trial court adjudged defendant a habitual criminal and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Defendant appeals, arguing that (1) the court erred in admitting into evidence a knife found near the crime scene; and (2) the mandatory life sentence provisions of the Habitual Criminal Act (720 ILCS 5/33B--1 et seq. (West 2000)) are unconstitutional under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000). We affirm.


Following is a summary of the relevant testimony. On the morning of January 24, 1998, Judy Brownfield was working alone at the Reader's Haven bookstore in Elgin. A man came in and said he was looking for a book about trees. Brownfield led him to the reference area. When she turned her back on him to walk toward the front of the store, she felt something hard pressed against her back. The man grabbed her around the shoulders and then forced his arm against her throat. Out of the corner of her eye, Brownfield saw a knife. The man said, "don't move or I will kill you," and then placed the knife against Brownfield's throat. He asked where the money was kept, and Brownfield said that it was in the other room. The man led her to the front of the store.

Brownfield opened the register and then dropped to the ground. She heard the man at the register, and the man then dropped to the ground and asked where the rest of the money was. Brownfield mentioned her purse, and the man told her to take the money out. He held the knife on her while she took the money out. The man instructed Brownfield not to move and then left the store.

Brownfield stayed on the floor for a moment and then ran to the front door. She saw a police van parked at a stoplight. She told the officer in the van that she had been robbed. A short while later, a squad car arrived at the store. The officers had defendant with them, and Brownfield identified him as the perpetrator. Brownfield also identified defendant in court. According to Brownfield, approximately $80 had been taken from her purse and between $60 and $80 had been taken from the register. Her throat, neck, and shoulder were hurt during the robbery, and she received cuts on her hands. The knife caused the cuts.

During her testimony, Brownfield identified People's exhibit No. 12 as the knife used in the attack. She testified that the knife appeared to be in the same condition, although part of the blade had become discolored. On cross-examination, she acknowledged that she could not be positive that People's exhibit No. 12 was the knife used in the attack. Brownfield also identified a Post-It note with her handwriting on it as one that had been attached to money in the cash register. This Post-It note was recovered from defendant's pants pocket when he was apprehended.

Alice Kramer, an animal-control officer with the Elgin police department, testified that, at approximately 11:46 a.m. on January 24, 1998, her van was at a stoplight in front of Reader's Haven. She observed a black male come out of the store, look in her direction, and walk hurriedly up the street. A few seconds later, a woman ran out of the store and yelled that she had been robbed. Kramer asked her if she had been robbed by the man who had just left the store. The woman answered "yes," and Kramer radioed the information to the communications center.

Shortly thereafter, an Elgin police officer brought defendant to Reader's Haven, and Kramer identified him as the person she had seen exiting the store. Defendant's coat was different, but Kramer was sure that defendant was the same person she had seen earlier. Kramer identified defendant in the courtroom. A tan coat was found in a yard in the 800 block of South Liberty Street, and Kramer identified it as the one defendant had been wearing when he left the store. Kramer also identified People's exhibit No. 12 as a knife that was found near the crime scene.

Kenneth Miller testified that, shortly before noon on January 24, 1998, he pulled his car into the parking lot of Ray's Restaurant. He parked at the back of the lot, near Liberty Street. He found a knife in the parking lot and took it into the restaurant, thinking it might belong to the restaurant. He gave the knife to the restaurant owner. Miller identified People's exhibit No. 12 as the knife he found. Miller had also been at Ray's the previous day at 3:30 p.m., and the knife was not in the parking lot then. Faik Adili, the owner of Ray's Restaurant, testified that the knife did not belong to the restaurant.

Conan Fender, an Elgin patrol officer, testified that he heard a dispatch at 11:46 a.m. on January 24, 1998. He went to the area of Reader's Haven and saw defendant duck between houses near 640 Illinois Street. Fender could not catch up to defendant, but he saw him again in the backyards of houses on Liberty Street. Fender and defendant made eye contact, and defendant began running. Fender got out of his car and ran after defendant. Other officers arrived in the area and took defendant into custody. Fender then found a tan jacket in the front yard of 800 South Liberty.

Officer Dennis Hood of the Elgin police department also heard the dispatch at 11:46. He went to the area of St. Charles and Dwight Streets and eventually saw Fender chasing defendant. Hood pulled his car over near defendant, and defendant surrendered to him. After Hood placed defendant in his squad car, defendant kept asking what "the woman" said. Hood found $64.12 in defendant's right pants pocket and $41 in his left pants pocket. Defendant's left pocket also contained a yellow Post-It note with writing on it.

Defendant denied robbing the Reader's Haven bookstore or even being near it on the date in question. Defendant testified that he spent that morning looking for an apartment in Elgin. He spoke to an individual at an apartment complex near Gifford and Villa Streets. Defendant learned that an apartment might be available later that day. He went to 501 Arlington Street to see if his wife was there because he wanted her to give him a ride to Chicago. He jogged toward 501 Arlington Street. Upon arriving, he noticed that her car was not there. Defendant then jogged toward St. Charles Street. Shortly thereafter, the police stopped defendant and placed him in handcuffs. When asked why he had jogged instead of walked, defendant replied, "That was really no hurry, ...

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