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People v. Woods

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

August 28, 2013

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JOHNATHAN NORMEL WOODS, Defendant-Appellant.

Held [*]

The trial court properly denied defendant’s motion to suppress the cocaine discovered in defendant’s pocket following a “consensual encounter” when an officer questioned defendant and his companion, who were sitting in a parked car in a public housing project, since the officer could verify defendant’s right to be on the project’s grounds, he did nothing to convey to defendant that he had been seized, and even though the officer had grounds for a Terry patdown, he asked for and received defendant’s consent to pat him down before he found the cocaine.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of McLean County, No. 11-CF-403; Review Hon. Robert L. Freitag, Judge, presiding.

Michael J. Pelletier, Karen Munoz, and Kelly M. Weston, all of State Appellate Defender’s Office, of Springfield, for appellant.

Jason Chambers, State’s Attorney, of Bloomington (Patrick Delfino, Robert J. Biderman, and Luke McNeill, all of State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, of counsel), for the People.

Panel PRESIDING JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Appleton and Turner concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

STEIGMANN, PRESIDING JUSTICE

¶ 1 In May 2011, the State charged defendant, Johnathan Normel Woods, with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (less than 15 grams of a substance containing cocaine) (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 2010)). Shortly thereafter, defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the police violated his fourth-amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Following a July 2011 hearing, the trial court denied defendant's motion to suppress.

¶ 2 In November 2011, following a stipulated bench trial, the trial court convicted defendant of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (less than 15 grams of a substance containing cocaine) (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 2010)). In February 2012, the court sentenced defendant to five years in prison.

¶ 3 Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress. We disagree and affirm.

¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 5 In May 2011, the State charged defendant with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (less than 15 grams of a substance containing cocaine) (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 2010)). Shortly thereafter, defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the police violated his fourth-amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. In July 2011, the trial court conducted a hearing on defendant's motion, at which the parties presented the following evidence.

¶ 6 A. The Evidence Presented at the July 2011 Hearing on Defendant's Motion To Suppress

ΒΆ 7 In May 2011, defendant and his girlfriend, Qyanna Jackson, were sitting in a parked vehicle in front of Jackson's apartment, which was in the Sunnyside Housing Complex. (The Sunnyside Housing Complex is part of the Bloomington Housing Authority.) Officer Elias Mendiola, who was on routine patrol, stopped his squad car in an adjacent parking spot and approached the vehicle. Mendiola found defendant sitting in the driver's seat and Jackson sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Mendiola began questioning the couple from the driver's window to make sure they were ...


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