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The People of the State of Illinois v. Macon County Abby G. Mcquown

February 16, 2011

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MACON COUNTY ABBY G. MCQUOWN,
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from Circuit Court of No. 09CF1255 Honorable Timothy J. Steadman, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Turner

Opinion

JUSTICE TURNER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Presiding Justice Knecht and Justice Pope concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

In August 2009, the State charged defendant, Abby G. McQuown, with the offenses of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, and unlawful possession of cannabis. In October 2009, defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence, which the trial court granted.

On appeal, the State argues the trial court erred in granting the motion to suppress. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

In August 2009, the State charged defendant with three drug-related offenses. In count I, the State charged her with the offense of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(B) (West 2008)), alleging she knowingly and unlawfully possessed with intent to deliver 100 grams or more but less than 400 grams of a substance containing cocaine. In count II, the State charged her with the offense of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/402(a)(2)(B) (West 2008)), alleging she knowingly and unlawfully had in her possession 100 grams or more but less than 400 grams of a substance containing cocaine. In count III, the State charged her with the offense of unlawful possession of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/4(b) (West 2008)), alleging she knowingly and unlawfully had in her possession more than 2.5 grams but less than 10 grams of a substance containing cannabis. Defendant pleaded not guilty.

In October 2009, defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence. Defendant alleged she was pulled over on Interstate 72 for having an obstructed view. After issuing her a written warning, Officer Chad Larner continued questioning her. Defendant declined the officer's request to consent, and the officer told her she would have to wait for the canine unit to arrive. Defendant claimed her arrest was unlawful and the contraband found in her vehicle should be suppressed.

In March 2010, the trial court conducted a hearing on the motion to suppress. Defendant testified she was pulled over on Interstate 72 at approximately 3 p.m. on August 10, 2009. The police officer approached from the passenger side and asked for her driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. The officer indicated defendant had been stopped for having an obstructed windshield based on air fresheners hanging on the rearview mirror. After taking her documents, the officer asked her to step out of her car. He then gave her a warning citation, which indicated it was completed at 3:12 p.m. Thereafter, the officer asked for permission to search the vehicle "quite a few times," but defendant declined. Defendant stated a second officer arrived "probably 30 minutes later." She also stated a canine unit arrived 15 to 20 minutes later. She estimated the traffic stop had taken "at least 45 minutes" before the canine unit arrived.

On cross-examination, defendant testified she had three air fresheners hanging from the rearview mirror. She also had a spray air freshener in the car.

Decatur police officer Chad Larner testified he was conducting patrol operations on Interstate 72 in Macon County on August 10, 2009. Larner initiated a traffic stop for an obstructed windshield and asked defendant for her driver's license and proof of insurance. He then issued her a written warning citation, which indicated the arrival time as being 3:01 p.m. and the time of completion as 3:12 p.m. After giving defendant a copy of the warning, Larner requested permission to search the car. Defendant refused. At approximately 3:25 p.m., Larner requested other officers to come to the scene. Larner testified the canine unit arrived on the scene less than 30 minutes after the stop occurred.

On cross-examination, Officer Larner testified he initially decided to follow defendant's car after noticing the obstructed windshield caused by objects suspended from the rearview mirror. Thereafter, defendant made "an exaggerated lane change" without using a turn signal. When Larner pulled up alongside her, defendant's car "quickly decreased" its speed down to approximately 43 miles per hour, "which is a couple of miles below the posted minimum speed." Larner stated he could see defendant "staring" at him in her rearview mirror. When he pulled up alongside her, "she refused to make eye contact" with him. He found this behavior inconsistent "with the general motoring public." Larner also said defendant "ran her fingers through her hair pretty frequently," which he characterized as a "grooming gesture" that could be an indicator of nervous behavior.

After stopping defendant's car, Officer Larner approached the passenger side. When defendant rolled down the window, Larner stated he was "greeted with the overwhelming smell of an artificial air freshener." He stated the scent was vanilla. He noticed at least three air fresheners hanging down from the rearview mirror. Larner also saw air fresheners "suspended from the turn signal" and clipped to the air vents. A large spray bottle of air freshener rested on the front passenger seat. Larner stated drug traffickers often ...


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