Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit Will County, Illinois 00-CF-1872 Honorable Daniel J. Rozak, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Homer
The defendant, Cleavon Bailey, was found guilty by a jury of the aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (720 ILCS 5/24--1.6(a)(3)(A) (West 2000)) and sentenced to 30 months of probation and 64 days in jail. He appeals his conviction. Alternatively, he seeks a refund from the amount collected for costs and fines associated with his conviction. Following our careful review, we reverse.
In the early morning hours of November 4, 2000, Bailey was riding in the front passenger seat of a car driven by Gary McDonald. At 6:15 a.m. the vehicle was stopped by Joliet police officers Tim Powers and Darren Prochaska in the Joliet police station parking lot after the officers observed the vehicle enter and leave the parking lot several times.
The officers approached the vehicle and asked the occupants what they were doing. According to Officer Powers, Bailey looked groggy and stated that he did not know why they were there. McDonald told Officer Prochaska that he was there to bond someone out. Officer Powers observed an open bottle of beer on the floor of the vehicle and asked McDonald and Bailey to exit the car. The officers planned to have the car towed because of the presence of the open alcohol.
Before towing the vehicle, the officers conducted an inventory search of the vehicle. Officer Powers found a 9-millimeter Ruger under the front passenger seat during his search. The handgun was uncased and loaded. Officer Powers testified that he believed the gun was within Bailey's arm reach but that it was not visible until he looked under the seat. After the gun was discovered, both Bailey and McDonald were taken into custody. While in custody, Bailey stated that he did not know that the gun was in the vehicle.
Detective Dennis McWherter conducted an interview of Bailey at the police station. That interview was observed by detective Frank Miller. According to McWherter and Miller, Bailey said that McDonald showed him a gun while they were outside Bailey's house and that after Bailey looked at the gun, Bailey placed it on the kitchen table. When questioned further, Bailey said that McDonald showed him a gun inside the car and that after looking at it, Bailey gave it back to McDonald and exited the vehicle. Bailey also allegedly told McWherter that his fingerprints could possibly be found on the gun because he had handled it when McDonald showed it to him. McWherter never showed Bailey the gun found in the vehicle to determine if it was the same gun. Bailey consistently denied knowing that a gun was under the passenger seat in the car. Bailey did not give a written statement to Detective McWherter, and the interview was not taped.
Bailey was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in violation of section 24--1.6(a)(3)(A) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/24--1.6(a)(3)(A) (West 2000). At trial, Bailey testified that he had no knowledge of the weapon in the vehicle and denied making any statements to McWherter about McDonald showing him a gun.
The jury found Bailey guilty of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. Subsequently, Bailey filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied. Bailey was sentenced to 30 months of probation and 64 days in the county jail with credit for 64 days of time actually served. Bailey was ordered to pay court costs and a fine totaling $836.
Bailey appeals his conviction and argues, alternatively, that he is entitled to an additional refund of $320 for costs he paid associated with his conviction. Additional facts will be discussed as they become pertinent to our analysis.
In reviewing a defendant's insufficiency of evidence claim, the appellate court must examine the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution and determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found that the essential elements of the crime charged were proven beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Bell, 327 Ill. App. 3d 238, 240-42, 764 N.E.2d 551, 553 (2002).
The defendant was charged by indictment with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. 720 ILCS 5/24--1.6(a)(3)(A) (West 2000). The ...