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The People of the State of Illinois v. Jeffrey L. Scott

February 10, 2012

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JEFFREY L. SCOTT,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Jersey County No. 09CF131 Honorable Eric S. Pistorius, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cook

JUSTICE COOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Steigmann and Appleton concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 In February 2010, a jury found defendant, Jeffrey L. Scott, guilty of possession of methamphetamine and not guilty of aggravated participation in methamphetamine production. In March 2010, the trial court sentenced defendant to 10 years' imprisonment. Defendant appeals, arguing he was not proved guilty of possession of methamphetamine beyond a reasonable doubt and his sentence was impermissibly disparate with respect to that of his co-defendant, Amy E. Rives. We disagree with defendant and affirm.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 On August 7, 2009, while defendant was on "parole," or what is currently known as mandatory supervised release (MSR), in rural Jersey County, agents from the Illinois State Police Meth Response Team searched an apartment defendant had registered with his parole officer as his permanent residence. The agents intended to conduct an MSR-compliance check because pharmacy records showed defendant had made several purchases of pseudoephedrine in previous months at a local Walgreens. The Walgreens logs did not show defendant purchased an unlawful quantity of pseudoephedrine in any 30-day period, but defendant's name also appeared on logs from other pharmacies and his activities raised a suspicion that he was involved in methamphetamine production or use.

¶ 4 After agents knocked on the door of the residence for approximately 5 to 10 minutes, defendant answered. Co-defendant Rives, who was also on MSR, was in the bathroom. In the course of the ensuing search, agents found items associated with the production and use of methamphetamine. These included hypodermic needles found behind the refrigerator; "foilees" (paraphernalia related to methamphetamine use) concealed behind a picture hung on the wall; a razor blade stored in the corner of a picture frame that appeared wet; wet coffee filters suspected to have been used in methamphetamine production; and a wet, burnt pseudoephedrine blister pack and box. Outside the residence, in defendant's truck, agents found a cut piece of a garden hose that they suspected was used for procuring anhydrous ammonia. Some of these materials were deemed hazardous and were destroyed. Others were preserved as evidence. Tests on one of the foilees revealed it contained 0.1 grams of methamphetamine, a trace amount.

¶ 5 Later on August 7, 2009, defendant and Rives were each charged with one count of possession of less than five grams of methamphetamine (720 ILCS 646/60(a) (West 2008)), a Class 3 felony (720 ILCS 646/60(b)(1) (West 2008)), and one count of aggravated participation in methamphetamine production (720 ILCS 646/15(b)(1)(A) (West 2008)), a Class X felony (720 ILCS 646/15(b)(2) (West 2008)). Rives later pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine.

Pursuant to the terms of her plea bargain, Rives was sentenced to two years' imprisonment and the State dropped the charge of aggravated participation in methamphetamine production.

¶ 6 In February 2010, defendant proceeded to a two-day jury trial on both charges. Witnesses for the State testified to the events as described above. They also testified regarding the execution of the search and the relevance of items found in the residence that were seized or destroyed. Meth Response Team special agents Greg Cowell and Mike Fisher testified agents suspected that evidence was being destroyed or concealed during the 5 to 10 minutes before defendant answered the door. In particular, Agent Cowell testified no more than 10 minutes would have been needed to flush other items associated with methamphetamine production down a toilet; Agent Fisher testified, "Five to seven to ten minutes is [an] extraordinary amount of time to hide things." The agents testified they suspected the pseudoephedrine box and blister pack were likely burned in an effort to destroy evidence and the coffee filters were rinsed to eliminate any trace amounts of methamphetamine. No methamphetamine was detected except in the foilee that was tested; however, none was expected to be found anywhere else due to the condition of the items when they were found. Agent Fisher testified that no more than trace amounts of methamphetamine were found because, he suspected, defendant and Rives used the rest. Based on his experience and the materials recovered during the search, Agent Fisher testified he believed the residence was used for some stage of methamphetamine production.

¶ 7 The defense included testimony by Rives and by defendant's daughter, Jacqueline Scott. Their testimony showed defendant had lived in the residence for some time before he moved in with Rives about 1 or 1 1/2 months before August 7, 2009. Defendant left the apartment to remove himself from the continual recreational drug use by Jacqueline and others that occurred there. On July 13, 2009, after defendant had moved, Jacqueline was arrested on drug charges. The apartment was searched, and officers found cocaine, cannabis, and related paraphernalia. Jacqueline observed that search but did not see any officer search behind the pictures hung on the walls or in the kitchen trash bag. Defendant's remaining possessions at the apartment, which he had packed in a box he left under the bed, were searched, but no contraband was discovered with them.

¶ 8 Although, due to her arrest, Jacqueline was not present at the apartment between July 13 and August 7, 2009, Jacqueline testified the apartment was accessible to nonresidents. A key had been stolen by an unknown person. The lock on the front door was easily jimmied with a driver's license. Once, Jacqueline had returned home to find that someone had entered while she was gone; she found items she associated with manufacturing methamphetamine, including disassembled batteries and empty Sudafed packaging.

¶ 9 Regarding the materials seized on August 7, 2009, Jacqueline testified the coffee filters had been in the trash can since before she was arrested. She testified the razor blade found in the picture frame was hers; she used it when she lived in the apartment to cut lines of drugs. Jacqueline's testimony regarding the prior presence of the picture frames, coffee filters, and razor blade was refuted by Jersey County sheriff's deputy Michael Ringhausen, who conducted the July 13, 2009, search.

ΒΆ 10 Rives testified neither she nor defendant knew methamphetamine was present in the apartment when it was searched on August 7, 2009. She testified defendant had returned to live in the apartment only a day or two earlier, when she had asked defendant to move out of her residence, and she was at the apartment that morning to ask defendant for a ride to work. She explained that she was using the restroom and defendant was getting dressed when the agents arrived. Rives testified she did not possess the methamphetamine that was found during the search ...


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