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The People of the State v. William Spears

February 1, 2012


Appeal from the Circuit Court OF ILLINOIS, of Winnebago County. Honorable Ronald J. White, Judge, Presiding. No. 08--CF--1191

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'malley

Filed: 11-30-09

JUSTICE O'MALLEY delivered the opinion of the court: William Spears appeals his conviction of possession of 15 grams or more but less than 100 grams of a substance containing cocaine with the intent to deliver (720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(A) (West 2008)). He contends that the trial court erred when it granted the State's motion to extend the speedy-trial deadline in order to complete DNA testing under section 103--5(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (the speedy-trial statute) (725 ILCS 5/103--5(c) (West 2008)), resulting in his not being brought to trial within 120 days as required by section 103--5(a) of the speedy-trial statute (725 ILCS 5/103--5(a) (West 2008)). The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that the State exercised due diligence. Accordingly, we affirm.


Spears was taken into custody on April 3, 2008. On May 2, 2008, trial was set for June 9, 2008. During that time, the crime lab was examining bags of narcotics that were found at the crime scene.

On June 6, 2008, trial was continued over Spears' objection until June 23, 2008, because crime lab reports had not been completed. On June 16, 2008, the State again asked to continue trial, because the lab analysis was still not complete. The trial court asked if the State had any idea when the tests would be completed, and the State responded that it would inform the lab of the next court date and ask that the tests be done ahead of that date. The court set July 1, 2008, as the date for the reports to be completed and set trial for July 14, 2008.

On June 27, 2008, the State prepared a discovery response, referring to lab reports dated June 19 and 20, 2008. On July 7, 2008, a stand-in prosecutor requested a continuance for additional time to prepare for trial and was unable to address whether all discovery had been completed. Trial was reset for July 28, 2008. On July 22, 2008, the State provided a supplemental discovery response, referring to another lab report, prepared by Keia Brown and dated July 8, 2008.

On July 23, 2008, the State moved to compel Spears to submit to withdrawal of saliva, because the lab had requested a DNA standard in order to conduct a confirmatory test against swabs taken from the bags of narcotics. The State also sought authorization to test, because the sample from the swabs might be consumed. The court inquired about the late reception of the July 8 report from Brown. The assistant State's Attorney responded that she had been on vacation until July 14 and had received the report after her return. The report was included in a discovery response that she asked a staff member to prepare on July 16. She then did not see that discovery response right away because it was under papers on her desk. In regard to the additional testing, she said that she would speak to the lab, ask about the time frame, and request that the testing be expedited. The State expressed its belief that the lab was proceeding as quickly as possible and that it needed the additional samples in order to complete its analysis. Spears' counsel and the court each expressed concerns about delays in the testing.

On July 24, 2008, the State moved to delay trial by 120 days under section 103--5(c), alleging that evidence suitable for DNA analysis had been sent for testing and that, on July 8, 2008, the lab requested a sample from Spears for comparison and sought authorization to test because of possible consumption of the swabs. The State then added: "the Crime Lab indicated that for a case with a small sample size where the sample may be consumed in testing, the testing does take longer and may need to be sent to a different crime lab for more sensitive chemistry testing." At a hearing that same day, the State told the court that the lab reported that it would need 120 days to complete the testing. The State also said that it had informed the lab that it would let the lab know when a trial date was set and that the lab would have to "move along on that." The court continued the trial over Spears' objection, stating that there had been due diligence. Trial was then set for October 14, 2008.

Between July 24 and October 14, 2008, there were various continuances that are not relevant to determining this appeal. On October 14, 2008, Spears moved to dismiss because he was not brought to trial within 120 days as required by section 103--5(a), and a hearing was held. At the hearing, Brown testified about reasons for delays in the testing before July 2008, indicating that she had been unable to examine the items until chemistry and fingerprint testing had been done by other analysts. She stated that during that time she had not been contacted by the assistant State's Attorney to request that testing be expedited. Brown was not able to begin the actual testing until August 4, 2008, and later found that there was no DNA suitable for comparison. The court denied the motion, finding that based on the evidence as of July 23, 2008, when the trial was continued under section 103--5(c), the State had exercised due diligence.

Spears was convicted. A presentence report stated that, at the time of that report, the Department of Corrections had a hold on Spears. The trial court's docket sheet also stated, in an entry dated April 4, 2008, "DOC Hold," but there is no written speedy-trial demand in the record. Spears' motion for a new trial was denied. He appeals.


Spears contends that the trial court erred when it found that the State had exercised due diligence and allowed a continuance under section 103--5(c). The State responds that it had exercised due diligence. In the alternative, the State argues that Spears failed to comply with section 3--8--10 of the Unified Code of Corrections (the intrastate detainers statute) (730 ILCS 5/3--8--10 (West 2008)). There is no dispute that, if the State acted with due diligence so that the court's grant of an additional 120 days under section 103--5(c) was proper, Spears was brought to trial within the speedy-trial period.

"The right to a speedy trial is guaranteed by the Federal and Illinois Constitutions (U.S. Const., amends. VI, XIV; Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §8)." People v. Staten, 159 Ill. 2d 419, 426 (1994). A criminal defendant in Illinois also has a statutory right to a speedy trial. 725 ILCS 5/103--5 (West 2008). The speedy-trial statute enforces the constitutional right to a speedy trial, and its protections are to be liberally construed in favor of the defendant. People v. Buford, 374 Ill. App. 3d 369, 372 (2007). "[T]he statutory right to a speedy trial is not the precise equivalent of the constitutional right." Staten, 159 Ill. 2d at 426. "Proof of a violation of the statutory right ...

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