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People v. Nelson

January 23, 2003

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DELRICO J. NELSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit, McDonough County, Illinois No. A0-CF-120 Honorable William D. Henderson, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Lytton

The defendant, Delrico J. Nelson, was charged with theft by receiving stolen property (720 ILCS 5/16--1(a)(4)(A) (West 2000)). The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant challenges section 16--1(a)(4)(A) of the theft statute as unconstitutionally vague. We affirm.

FACTS

At trial, Trevor Hiel testified that he worked in his parents' John Deere dealership in Macomb. On August 14, 2000, Trevor went into the dealership office at about 6:15 a.m. He noticed that a laptop computer and a digital camera were missing. The batteries for both items and the battery charger for the camera had not been taken. He saw that the back door was unlocked, and a rear window was broken. After the police came to their office, the Hiels called the store where they had purchased the camera and told the store manager that the camera had been stolen.

The store manager testified that on the morning of August 15, 2000, the defendant came into the store. The defendant inquired about how to connect a particular model of digital camera to a computer. The camera he asked about was the same model as the camera stolen from the Hiels' office.

The defendant called the store later that morning and ascertained that the store had a battery charger for the same model of camera. The defendant asked if he could bring the battery to the store to make sure it matched the charger. The manager replied that he could and then called the police.

The defendant's girlfriend, Megan Bennett, testified that she went to the camera store and purchased a battery charger for the camera at the defendant's request. A police officer stated that after the store manager called, he went to the camera store where he encountered Bennett.

Bennett told the officer that the digital camera and laptop computer were at the defendant's residence. Several officers then went to the defendant's home. One officer knocked on the door of the residence while other officers watched the sides and back of the house. After no one answered, one of the officers went across the street to the landlord's property to ask who lived in the house. Another officer then saw a man come out of the bedroom window, "hit the ground and crouch[] down and walk[] between the bushes and the house." The officer took the defendant into custody.

A police officer advised the defendant of his Miranda rights. He told the defendant that he had spoken to Bennett about a laptop and a camera stolen in a burglary, which the officer believed were in the house. The defendant led him to the room where the items were located.

At the police station, the defendant said that on the evening of August 13, 2000, he had gone to the Pace nightclub. The defendant told the police that after the Pace closed, he went to the home of someone named Mindy. He left Mindy's home at about 4 a.m. on August 14, 2000. As he was leaving, he heard Mark Woolam yell at him. Woolam asked the defendant if he wanted to buy a laptop computer and a digital camera.

The defendant purchased the items for a total of $380. Trevor testified that the value of the camera at the time it was stolen was between $400 and $499, and the value of the computer was about $900. The camera store manager said that the value of the camera was between $350 and $400. An expert testified that the value of the computer was between $900 and $1,100.

The defendant told the officers that Woolam said the items were not stolen. When the defendant asked Woolam for a receipt, Woolam refused, saying that he did not want to put his name on anything.

Both the charging instrument and the jury instructions stated that the defendant was accused of theft by knowingly obtaining control over property under such circumstances as would reasonably ...


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