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People v. Woods

April 19, 2007

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
SAMUEL E. WOODS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court OF ILLINOIS, of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois, No. 01--CF--1186 Honorable Jerelyn D. Maher, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Schmidt

In a bench trial, the defendant, Samuel E. Woods, was found guilty of aggravated robbery (720 ILCS 5/18--5(a) (West 2000)) and home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12--11(a)(2) (West 2000)). The trial court sentenced him to extended terms of 20 and 40 years of imprisonment for these offenses, respectively. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred by failing to remove his leg shackles during three court proceedings and by allowing one of his wrists to remain handcuffed during one of these proceedings. Additionally, he contends that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the offenses. We affirm.

I. FACTS

A. Leg Shackles and Handcuffs

The bench trial took place on July 23 and October 17, 2003, and February 18, 2004. At the July 23 proceeding, the following exchange took place among the court, defense counsel, and the court's deputy:

"[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: *** I would ask that Mr. Woods be unhandcuffed or in some fashion handcuffed differently so he can take notes during the trial, whatever methodology is appropriate on that.

THE COURT: Any problem with that, Officer?

THE DEPUTY: Usually we don't if they are in uniform, there is no jury trial, your Honor. But it's up to you.

THE COURT: Do you have an alternative?

THE DEPUTY: That's it.

THE COURT: That's it.

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: He is shackled, so it's not like--

THE COURT: What about legs? Is he shackled by his legs?

THE DEPUTY: Uh-huh.

THE COURT: All right, take his cuffs off then."

At the October 17 proceeding, the following exchange took place among the court, defense counsel, and the deputy:

"[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Judge, could we have Mr. Wood's [sic] hands in some way unsecured so he could take notes[?]

THE COURT: Does he have--is he shackled in some way?

THE COURT DEPUTY: Yes, Judge.

THE COURT: Okay. He can have his hands uncuffed."

At the February 18 proceeding, the following exchange took place between the court and defense counsel:

"[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: *** Judge, could I have one or both of his handcuffs removed for note-taking purpose[s] please?

THE COURT: You can have one."

B. Aggravated Robbery

The defendant was charged with having committed aggravated robbery and home invasion in Peoria on the evening of December 8, 2001. Lynda Beckwith testified that she was a cashier at a gas station in Peoria that evening. During the trial, the court viewed an audio-video tape of the incident, which was recorded by the gas station's security camera and microphone.

In the tape, the defendant asked Beckwith how much a bag of peanuts cost. After Beckwith replied, the defendant brought the peanuts to the counter. The defendant gave money to Beckwith. Beckwith opened the cash register, placed the defendant's money in the cash drawer, and got change out of the drawer. While Beckwith was occupied with the cash register, the defendant opened his jacket with his right hand. As Beckwith began to close the cash drawer, the defendant reached across the counter and placed his left hand on the drawer, preventing Beckwith from closing it. The defendant raised his right hand above the level of his shoulder with his right index finger extended. He then brought his right hand down to his waist and gestured to his waist with his right hand. After the defendant's gesture, Beckwith immediately stepped back from the area of the counter and cash register and placed her hands behind her back. Next, the defendant reached across the counter with his right hand and removed the paper currency from the cash drawer. The defendant then exited the building through its front door.

Beckwith testified that after the defendant opened his jacket, she saw "something wooden" in the defendant's waistband and "presumed it was a gun." She said, "So, I just stepped back and *** let him take the money." Beckwith later identified the defendant as the robber both in an ...


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