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People v. Bustamante

October 08, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RUBEN R. BUSTAMANTE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 00--CF--1266 Honorable F. Keith Brown, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Callum

Released for publication October 11, 2002.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RUBEN R. BUSTAMANTE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 00--CF--1266 Honorable F. Keith Brown, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Callum

PUBLISH

Defendant, Ruben R. Bustamante, was indicted with one count of criminal damage to government-supported property, a Class 4 felony (count I) (720 ILCS 5/21--4(1)(a) (West 2000)), and one count of reckless conduct, a Class A misdemeanor (count II) (720 ILCS 5/12--5(a), (b) (West 2000)). The charges arose out of an incident in which defendant threw a beer bottle at a parked police car. The jury returned guilty verdicts on the two charges. Defendant filed a posttrial motion, arguing, inter alia, that the jury rendered legally inconsistent verdicts by finding that defendant simultaneously had mutually inconsistent culpable mental states. The trial court denied the motion. Defendant was subsequently sentenced to 24 months' probation conditioned on spending three weekends of confinement in the county jail, the completion of 40 hours of community service, and the payment of restitution and fines. Defendant timely appeals, arguing that the two verdicts are legally inconsistent and must be reversed and that the cause must be remanded for a new trial. We affirm.

At trial, Officer Donald Flowers of the Aurora police department testified that he was on duty on the evening of May 20, 2000, in the downtown area of the city. At 7:38 p.m., he was in his squad car parked on the north side of the street at 44 East Downer Place. He was checking the notes on his computer when the back window of the car shattered. Downer Place is a one-way street in a business district and has parking spaces on both sides of the street. There are two lanes of travel, each of which is eight feet wide. Flowers referred to a diagram to show the squad car's location. Down the street is a bridge and the Fox River. The river is approximately 30 feet from where his squad car had been parked. Flowers' squad car was parked directly in front of city hall at 44 East Downer Place. There were no public parking spaces immediately behind him, and Flowers did not remember any car parked behind him. There were some vehicles parked ahead of him a few spaces away.

As Flowers was checking his computer, he heard a loud crash, and glass hit him in the back of the head. He ducked down because he thought someone had shot at him. He rolled out of the vehicle and saw a gray Oldsmobile speeding away. There was not a lot of traffic in the area. Flowers got back into his car and pursued the Oldsmobile traveling west on Downer Place. Flowers followed it to Lake Street, where the vehicle turned left and he lost sight of it. Flowers went on to Woodlawn Avenue, where at the 200 block a citizen waved him down and stated that a gray vehicle had gone southbound on Woodlawn Avenue at a high rate of speed. Flowers continued southbound to the 300 block and found a gray vehicle matching the suspect's vehicle in the driveway of 312 Woodlawn Avenue. Flowers inspected the suspect's vehicle and found a 12-pack of Miller Genuine Draft beer in bottles on the floorboard behind the driver's seat. There were only 11 bottles in the pack. When Flowers inspected his squad car, he found pieces of a Miller Genuine Draft beer bottle on the floor behind the passenger's seat. The glass from the rear window was everywhere; there was some on his clothing, on his back, and on the dashboard. His clothing was sticky and smelled of beer.

Flowers then went to the One-Stop at the corner of Lake and Gale Streets. Sergeant Davis and another unit were there with defendant and his friends. Flowers also spoke with a person named Enrique Cacique at 317 Woodlawn Avenue.

Cacique testified that he lived at 317 Woodlawn Avenue, which was near 312 Woodlawn Avenue. He heard squealing tires and saw a big car speeding by. It turned into the driveway of the house across the street, and then he saw two people jump a fence. The police came behind this car within a few seconds.

Jim Coursey was a detective of the Aurora police department at the time of the incident. He testified that he interviewed defendant after defendant signed a waiver of his rights. Coursey recorded a statement by defendant, which was played in court. (The tape is not included in the record on appeal.) Coursey further testified on cross-examination that defendant offered to pay for the window. Defendant stated he did not see the squad car, and he was attempting to throw the bottle out of the car so he would not have an empty beer bottle in his vehicle. Defendant said he threw the bottle toward the river and got scared when he saw that he had hit a squad car and when he saw the officer. Defendant did not try to blame anyone else during the interview.

The parties stipulated that the squad car belonged to the Aurora police department and was purchased and maintained using state and/or federal funds administered through state agencies.

Defendant testified that, while driving around downtown, he was drinking beer. He was a passenger in the car. He drank a beer quickly so that only suds were left in the bottle. He had consumed one beer. He did not want it in the car, so he stuck his hand out of the window and threw the bottle toward the river. (The court noted that he gestured with his arm fully extended as if he were pitching a baseball.) He did not want any empty bottles in the car because he had his license taken away for having empty bottles in the car. It was not too dark ...


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