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People v. Matthews

March 24, 2005

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
SHINARA MATTHEWS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit Will County, Illinois No. 03-CF-909 Honorable Carla Alessio Goode Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Holdridge

Modified Opinion Upon Denial of Rehearing June 2, 2005

Shinara Matthews, defendant, was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (720 ILCS 5/24--1.6 (West 2002)). She filed a motion to quash her arrest and suppress evidence that was seized during a traffic stop. In the motion, she alleged that the arresting officer unlawfully exceeded the original purpose of the traffic stop (burnt out license plate light) by questioning her about the contents of the car. The matter proceeded to an evidentiary hearing, and the judge ultimately granted defendant=s motion. The State filed this appeal. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Defendant testified that on July 1, 2003, between 12:50 a.m. and 1 a.m, she received a telephone call from Jeremiah Bell requesting a ride home. Using her sister=s car, defendant left her residence with Antonio Edwards and drove to 603 Elmwood Street (Joliet), where Bell was waiting. The trip took approximately 10 minutes. Bell entered the car and sat in the back seat on the passenger side. Edwards was in the front passenger seat. Defendant drove north toward Bell=s residence and stopped for a stop sign at the intersection of Miles and 4th Streets. She saw a police car across the intersection facing south. She made a left turn through the intersection and proceeded west on 4th Street. The police car made a sharp right turn and began following defendant almost immediately. About seven seconds later, the officer driving the police car activated his overhead lights. Defendant testified that she pulled over within two blocks after the lights were activated.

According to defendant, two police officers approached the car. Officer Voudrie, who held a flashlight in one hand and a weapon in the other hand, stated: AFreeze! Everyone put their hands in the air.* While the other officer spoke to Edwards, Voudrie spoke to defendant and immediately asked if there was anything illegal in the car. Defendant inquired whether Athis [was] a traffic stop,* and Voudrie said yes, explaining that he made the stop because her rear license plate light was out.

Voudrie asked for defendant=s driver=s license and proof of insurance. Defendant did not have a driver=s license or proof of insurance with her, but she did produce a Firearm Owner=s Identification (FOID) card. According to defendant, Voudrie pulled her out of the car and asked if there were any weapons inside. After about one minute of interrogation on the subject of weapons, defendant acknowledged that she had a gun in the car. Bell and Edwards were then removed from the car, and a dog was retrieved from a canine unit (which had arrived immediately after Voudrie effected the stop). The officers searched the car, found her gun, and arrested her. In her testimony, defendant acknowledged knowing that her gun was beneath the driver=s seat and that ammunition was in the center console. However, she denied knowledge of two other guns that were found in the car.

Bell testified that defendant picked him up at approximately 1 a.m. After entering the car, he lay down in the back passenger-side seat and fell half asleep. Later, defendant announced that a police car was behind them, and Bell sat up a little to see what was happening. Defendant drove a little further and then pulled over. Bell testified that two police officers approached the car, both holding a flashlight in one hand and a gun in the other hand, and both telling the occupants to put their hands in the air. Within seconds, defendant was ordered to exit the car. She complied and walked to the rear of the car, where she continued conversing with one of the officers while the other officer held his gun on Bell and Edwards. After about one minute, Bell and Edwards were told to exit the car. The officers brought in a dog and advised that the dog alerted to something in the car. The police eventually told Bell that they found other weapons in the car.

Bell testified that he leaned forward when he discovered the police lights behind the car. The he straightened up when the police told him to raise his hands. He was half asleep at the time. He never tried to reach under the seat, kick anything under the seat, or reach for the center console.

Edwards testified consistently with defendant about the events leading up to the stop. He said two police officers approached the car with flashlights and guns drawn, telling the occupants to put their hands up. A canine unit arrived within 15 seconds, and two additional units arrived within 10 more seconds. Defendant was asked for her driver=s license and proof of insurance, but she was only able to produce a State of Illinois identification card. Defendant was then asked to exit the car. She complied and walked to the rear of the car, where she had a conversation with one of the officers. Approximately 30 seconds later, Edwards was directed to exit the car and sit on a curb. After he and Bell exited the car, the officers brought a dog and conducted a search. They subsequently handcuffed Edwards, advising that he was under arrest for unlawful use of weapons. Edwards testified that he saw the officers retrieve a gun from beneath the driver=s seat and ammunition from the center console, but he did not see them retrieve a gun from beneath the passenger=s seat.

Officer Voudrie testified that he was working alone on July 1, 2003, at 2:58 a.m., when defendant=s car passed him with no rear registration light. The car was traveling from an area known for high drug activity. Voudrie activated his overhead lights to make a traffic stop, and defendant drove for three blocks before stopping, although she could have stopped sooner. Voudrie called in the stop and advised that the car had two occupants, which would have prompted dispatch to send backup. He approached the car with a flashlight and realized that a third person was in the rear passenger-side seat. The rear passenger was leaning forward and down toward the front passenger seat. He leaned back when Voudrie arrived but kept his hands somewhat between his knees. Uncertain of the situation, Voudrie asked the rear passenger to show his hands. The rear passenger complied by placing his hands on the front seat headrest. The two other occupants raised their hands as well, although Voudrie testified that he was not concerned with them at the time. He explained that his standard procedure during a traffic stop is to Aclear* the vehicle by working from the back to the front seat.

According to Voudrie, he immediately proceeded with the traffic stop and asked defendant for her driver=s license and proof of insurance. Defendant advised that she did not have insurance, and she produced a FOID card and a State of Illinois identification card instead of her driver=s license. Voudrie testified that defendant was visibly shaking at the time. He also said defendant continued looking for an insurance card despite her previous statement that she did not have insurance. Based on the actions of defendant and the rear passenger, Voudrie asked defendant to exit the car, which she did. Voudrie never touched defendant in the process. He asked why she was so nervous and whether there was anything in the car that was not supposed to be there. He also asked for permission to search the car. Defendant responded that the car did not contain anything illegal and that Voudrie could not search it. Voudrie then advised that, based on the conduct of defendant and the rear passenger, he was going to search the car anyway. During the evidentiary hearing, Voudrie was asked why he requested consent if he already had a basis for searching the car. He said he just wanted to see how defendant would react.

After the two passengers were removed from the car, a dog performed a walk-around and alerted on the driver=s door. Voudrie informed defendant of the alert, and she advised that a gun was under the driver=s seat and a loaded clip was in the center console. She said her possession of the gun was all right because she had a FOID card. Voudrie retrieved the gun and the clip. He testified that 10 to 15 minutes elapsed between the initial stop and the dog=s alert on the car. Another officer retrieved two additional loaded guns from the car (one under the passenger=s seat and one under the driver=s seat toward the rear). Voudrie denied ever pulling his service revolver during the stop. He issued two traffic citations to defendant: one for driving with no rear registration light, and one for failing to give proof of insurance. In his subsequent police report, he said he was suspicious and "believed there to be illegal narcotics in the vehicle."

Officer Olson (canine officer) testified that on July 1, 2003, at about 2:58 a.m., he heard a radio transmission about Voudrie stopping a car with occupants. Knowing that Voudrie was alone, Olson drove to the area and arrived within one to two minutes. Upon his arrival, Olson saw Voudrie talking to the driver of the car and another officer approaching the passenger side. None of the officers had their weapons drawn. Within 45 seconds of arriving at the scene, Olson had a conversation with Voudrie in which Voudrie requested a canine search. The occupants were removed from the car, and Olson performed a walk-around with the dog. The dog alerted on the driver=s door handle. Olson advised Voudrie that the alert was for narcotics and that a search should be preformed. Voudrie entered the car and retrieved a gun from beneath the driver=s seat. Then he asked Olson to perform an ...


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