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The People of the State of Illinois v. Bryant U. Smith

March 28, 2013


Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 06CF1998 Honorable Heidi N. Ladd, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Harris

Carla Bender 4th District Appellate Court, IL

JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Pope and Turner concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 Defendant, Bryant U. Smith, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Champaign County dismissing his second and third successive petitions for relief under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Act) (725 ILCS 5/122-1 to 122-7 (West 2010)). We affirm.


¶ 3 In December 2006, the State charged defendant with unlawful possession with intent to deliver 400 grams or more but less than 900 grams of a substance containing cocaine (720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(C) (West 2006)) and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 2006)).

¶ 4 At defendant's jury trial, the evidence showed the following. With respect to the execution of a search warrant, Champaign police officer Thomas Walker testified that around 7:13 p.m. on November 30, 2006, he assisted law-enforcement officials in securing an apartment located at 2403 North Neil Street in Champaign. No individual was present in the apartment. The east bedroom appeared to belong to adults. The room contained men's and women's clothing. Inside a nightstand drawer, Walker found a small amount of cannabis, a cell phone, various receipts, handwritten notes, and mail addressed to defendant.

¶ 5 Walker assisted another law-enforcement official in searching the bedroom closet. Walker pulled down several shoe boxes from the top shelf. Walker found a handgun in one of the shoe boxes. The shoe box was stamped "size 13." There were seven rounds of ammunition sitting next to the gun. Several of the rounds were in a magazine. Several other rounds were loose.

¶ 6 Deputy Eric Shumate testified he assisted in the search of the bedroom closet. He located a black plastic bag on the top shelf of the closet with a second plastic bag inside the black plastic bag, and a small cooler inside the second plastic bag. Inside the cooler, Shumate found a plastic bag containing white powder. The substance later tested positive for cocaine. Shumate also found a plastic bag with a substance that later tested positive for cannabis, a razor, and a cutting agent. The big plastic bag was a gallon-sized Ziplock bag with a large amount of white powder that later tested positive for cocaine. Shumate testified that the shoes defendant wore when he was arrested were size 13 red and white sneakers. Shumate testified, based upon his training and experience, the cocaine was intended for sale given the "packaging items, the cutting agents, the scale, and the razor."

¶ 7 During the execution of the search warrant, Deputy Chad Beasley found a piece of mail addressed to defendant and Christina Estergard, the other resident of the apartment. The mail, a bank transaction notice, was addressed to the apartment the law-enforcement officials were searching.

¶ 8 Roderick Adams testified for defendant that he helped defendant move to Sherwood Court in July 2006. Defendant moved into Rochelle Humphrey's house. Humphrey testified for defendant that defendant had been living with her at 10 Sherwood Court in Champaign beginning in approximately May 2006. Adams and Humphrey testified that defendant and Estergard were friends.

¶ 9 Defendant testified that he did not live in an apartment at 2403 North Neil Street and did not know anything about the drugs and firearm in the apartment. Defendant admitted that he kept clothing and other personal effects in the apartment and he wore size 13 shoes. Defendant admitted he shared a bank account with Estergard and provided the bank the North Neil Street address.

ΒΆ 10 The jury convicted defendant on both charges. On May 31, 2007, defendant filed a motion for new trial arguing the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the motion. The court sentenced defendant to 30 years in prison on the unlawful-possession-with-intent-to-deliver conviction and 7 years in prison on the ...

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