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The People of the State v. Neil Mcclanahan

August 23, 2011

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
NEIL MCCLANAHAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court OF ILLINOIS, of the 21st Judicial Circuit, Iroquois County, Illinois, Circuit No. 07--CF--109 Honorable James B. Kinzer, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Schmidt

JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Justice McDade dissented, with opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 After a bench trial, the defendant, Neil McClanahan, was convicted of escape (720 ILCS 5/31--6(c) (West 2008)) and sentenced to seven years in the Department of Corrections. The defendant claims that his conviction was an error because he was never in "lawful custody" under the escape statute. 720 ILCS 5/31--6(c) (West 2008). We affirm.

¶ 2 FACTS

¶ 3 The record reveals that on June 25, 2007, Robert Lang, a member of the village council, encountered defendant at the City of Thawville's water department building. Lang was there to turn on the water to a property in Thawville. When the defendant saw Lang, he used some foul language and said that he wanted the water turned on at "Wendy['s]" trailer. The defendant grabbed a wrench, and the two men struggled over it. Lang eventually let go of the wrench and called 911. The wrench was recovered from the bushes near the defendant's trailer.

¶ 4 The next day, Lang received permission from the mayor to turn Wendy's water back on. Lang and another employee, Janet Monk, went to the trailer, but they were unsuccessful in turning the water back on. Lang and Monk decided to go to dinner and, on their way, they saw defendant sitting in Lang's truck going through some papers. Lang called the police and told Monk to go to the fire department. The police arrived between 20 and 30 minutes later, but the defendant had left during that time.

¶ 5 Sergeant David Cook arrived on the scene and he spoke with Lang and Monk. The defendant returned and began yelling at Lang about the water situation. At that point, Cook advised the defendant that he was under arrest. Cook grabbed the defendant and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, defendant was forced onto the hood of a car. When Cook reached for his handcuffs, the defendant managed to slip away. Lang stated that "when the officer went to get his handcuffs out [the defendant] seemed to know what was going to happen." Cook described the struggle, stating that defendant "was wrestling trying to get away from me. He was hard to hold onto. He had no shirt on, he was sweaty and slippery. And I believe that we were somewhere around in front of my squad car at that time and I got him down on the car to pull his hand back." While the defendant was not in "a dead run" he nonetheless "took off running."

¶ 6 Defendant testified that he was not told that he was under arrest until he was later apprehended. He said that Cook told him to "get out of here," so he left the premises.

¶ 7 The defendant was tried for criminal damage to property and escape. He was found not guilty of criminal damage to property, but convicted of escape. He appealed.

¶ 8 ANALYSIS

¶ 9 On appeal, the defendant argues that his conviction should be reversed because he was never in lawful custody. In essence, he argues that Cook failed to acquire sufficient control over his person to put him into custody.

¶ 10 First, we must decide the appropriate standard of review. Ordinarily, when a defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction, the relevant inquiry is whether, when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. De Filippo, 235 Ill. 2d 377 (2009). However, the defendant argues that we should review this ...


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