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People v. Sparks

November 27, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
KEVIN SPARKS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Stephenson County. No. 00-CF-388 Honorable Barry R. Anderson, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Hutchinson

UNPUBLISHED

Following a jury trial, defendant, Kevin Sparks, was convicted of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a church (720 ILCS 570/407(b)(2) (West 2000)) and sentenced to six years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant argues that (1) the State failed to lay an adequate foundation to support its measurements of the distance from the site of the drug transaction to the alleged church; and (2) he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

On November 9, 2000, defendant was charged by information with one count of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a church (720 ILCS 570/407(b)(2) (West 2000)). The charge alleged that on July 20, 2000, defendant delivered less than one gram of a substance containing cocaine to another person while defendant was within 1,000 feet of a Salvation Army chapel in Freeport.

At trial, defendant admitted that, on the date in question, he delivered less than one gram of cocaine to Gregory Dahm, who was working undercover for the Freeport police department. The delivery occurred at the intersection of State and Stephenson Streets in Freeport. In light of defendant's admission, the remaining evidence at trial focused on whether the Salvation Army chapel was a church and whether it was located within 1,000 feet of the site of the drug transaction.

David Bump testified that he was an ordained minister for the Salvation Army. Bump testified that he worked at the Salvation Army's building located at the intersection of Galena and Exchange Streets in Freeport. Bump testified that a chapel was located in the building where he conducted weekly religious services. The type of religious services Bump conducted in the chapel were similar to those held in Methodist churches. The Salvation Army's religious services featured sermons, Bible readings, singing, and Sunday school. Bump testified that the chapel was used exclusively for religious services. Bump also indicated that other parts of the Salvation Army's building were used for religious purposes, including Sunday school and Bible study. The Salvation Army's building also contained a board room, a soup kitchen, and a dining room. On cross-examination, Bump acknowledged that no religious services were being conducted at the time of defendant's drug transaction on July 20, 2000.

Freeport police officer Mark Otto testified that he had been certified to operate a measurement tool known as a "Light Detection and Ranging Device" (LIDAR). Officer Otto explained that a LIDAR contains a lens that emits an impulse of light that strikes the object being measured. The LIDAR calculates the distance to the object being measured based upon the amount of time that it takes the light to travel to the object and back again. Officer Otto testified that a LIDAR's accuracy should be periodically tested by using the device to measure a known distance.

Freeport police officer Andrew Schroeder testified that he was trained to use a LIDAR by Officer Otto. Officer Schroeder testified that he assisted Officer Thomas Dyra in measuring (1) the distance between the entrance to the Salvation Army chapel on Exchange Street and the intersection of Exchange and State Streets, and (2) the distance between the intersection of Exchange and State Streets and the intersection of State and Stephenson Streets where the drug transaction occurred. Officer Schroeder tested the LIDAR before using it and determined that it was working properly. In order to take the measurements, Officer Dyra acted as a fixed point of reference and stood at the far point of the distance to be measured, and Officer Schroeder aimed the LIDAR's light beam at Dyra. The officers measured the distance between the chapel on Exchange Street and the State-Exchange intersection at 836 feet and the distance between the State-Exchange intersection and the State-Stephenson intersection at 239 feet. Officer Schroeder testified that the angle formed by State and Exchange Streets was 90 degrees. On cross-examination, Officer Schroeder acknowledged that the angle may not have been precisely 90 degrees.

On redirect, Officer Schroeder was shown an aerial photograph of the area in question. Officer Schroeder testified that the angle between State and Exchange Streets looked like a right angle, as it was similar to the "corner of the chalkboard in the courtroom" and "the corners of the doors."

Officer Dyra testified that he took measurements with a "rotary wheel" along Exchange Street from the chapel to the intersection of Exchange and State Streets, and then from that intersection to the intersection of State and Stephenson Streets. A "rotary wheel" is a device used to measure distances that consists of a wheel attached to a handle. The handle contains a meter that measures the distance a person travels while rolling the wheel along the ground. The distances recorded by Officer Dyra using the rotary wheel were 844 and 236 feet respectively. Officer Dyra also testified that the corner of State and Exchange Streets formed a right angle. Officer Dyra determined that the intersection formed a right angle by placing a carpenter's square on an aerial photograph of the intersection. Officer Dyra then used the geometrical equation known as the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the direct distance between the chapel and the site of the drug transaction. Using the measurements recorded by the LIDAR, he calculated a direct distance of 869.5 feet; using the measurements recorded by the rotary wheel, he calculated a direct distance of 876.3 feet.

On cross-examination, Officer Dyra acknowledged that the wheel on the rotary wheel could have been worn. If the wheel was worn, he acknowledged, the distance measured by the circumference of the wheel could have been inaccurate.

Stephenson County chief assessor Ronald Kane testified that he maintained aerial photographs ("aerial maps") of the entire county, and that property boundaries were drawn upon the photographs for assessment purposes. Kane testified that these aerial maps were maintained as public records. He identified the book that contained all of the aerial maps of the county as well as the aerial maps of the area in question. The scale of the map was 1 inch for every 100 feet.

Laurie Heiden testified that she had worked in the assessor's office for more than five years. Heiden testified that she photocopied the relevant aerial maps and used a scaled ruler to measure the distance between the corner of the Salvation Army's lot and the northwest corner of State and Stephenson Streets. She measured the distance along a straight line between the two points and found that the distance was 795 feet. Heiden also measured the distance between the intersections of Exchange and Galena Streets and State and Stephenson Streets as 940 feet. Heiden testified that the chapel was not quite at the intersection of Exchange and Galena Streets and that the distance between the chapel and the drug transaction was more than 795 feet but less than 940 feet.

Following deliberations, the jury found defendant guilty of unlawful delivery of less than one gram of a substance containing cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced ...


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