Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division
Filed January 27, 2014
The eyewitness testimony of police officers that defendant made eight transactions that involved going to a vacant lot to retrieve an item and then returning to a street to deliver the item to an individual in exchange for cash and then, after delivering the cash to another man following the transactions, defendant was arrested and found to be in possession of several capsules of heroin, was sufficient to sustain his conviction for the unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, notwithstanding his contention that the State failed to prove he intended to deliver heroin, especially when he did not possess a large amount of drugs or cash or any weapons or distribution-related equipment, since a trier of fact reasonably could infer that defendant was engaging in heroin sales and that he intended to deliver the drugs in his possession.
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 10-CR-15831; the Hon. William Hooks, Judge, presiding.
Michael J. Pelletier and Christofer R. Bendik, both of State Appellate Defender’s Office, of Chicago, for appellant.
Anita M. Alvarez, State’s Attorney, of Chicago (Noah Montague, Assistant State’s Attorney, of counsel), for the People.
PRESIDING JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Neville and Mason concurred in the judgment and opinion.
HYMAN PRESIDING JUSTICE
¶ 1 A jury convicted defendant Earnest Branch of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver under section 401(c)(1) of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act (720 ILCS 570/401(c)(1) (West 2010)). He was sentenced to six years in prison. On appeal, Branch contends that the State failed to prove that he intended to deliver the narcotics found in his possession. We affirm. The evidence sufficiently supports Branch's conviction for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
¶ 2 Background
¶ 3 Branch was charged by information with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in that he "unlawfully and knowingly possessed with intent to deliver 1 gram or more but less than 15 grams of a substance containing a certain controlled substance, to wit: heroin."
¶ 4 At trial, Chicago police officer Kathleen McCann testified that at about 12:30 p.m. On August 11, 2010, she and five other officers were working undercover surveillance near the intersection of Augusta Boulevard and Long Avenue. As she was stopped in traffic heading westbound, she saw Branch walking eastbound on the south side of the street. McCann observed Branch cut into the backyard of a vacant residence, reach down and remove an item and then walk back toward the corner of Augusta and Long Avenue. She pulled her car over and observed Branch make a suspected hand-to-hand narcotics transaction with an unidentified individual, exchanging the item for an unknown amount of money. She observed Branch engage in "at least eight" transactions. McCann then radioed Officer Myron Kuykendall and Officer Reginald Dukes, who were working as enforcement officers.
¶ 5 Officer Edward Daniels, who was also working as a surveillance officer, testified that he was parked 10 to 15 feet from Branch when he observed Branch engage in 8 suspected narcotics transactions over a period of 45 minutes. He was not able to see the amount of money that was being exchanged during each transaction or the item that was being tendered. Branch began walking southbound after the transactions, and Daniels, through his rear-view mirror, saw Branch give an unknown amount of cash to a man on a bicycle before going westbound down an alley.
¶ 6 Officer Kuykendall testified that he and Officer Dukes received radio communication regarding Branch's suspected narcotics transactions and drove westbound into the alley between Augusta Boulevard and Iowa Street. Kuykendall exited the car and told Branch and the man on the bicycle to stop. Branch looked in Kuykendall's direction and dropped an object from his hand. Kuykendall recovered the item and arrested him. The man on the bicycle fled and ...