Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 11 CR 7117. Honorable John T. Doody, Jr., Judge Presiding.
Reversed and remanded.
Defendant's conviction for unlawful possession of cocaine was reversed and the cause was remanded for a new trial where the trial court erred in admitting the prior consistent statements of an arresting officer to bolster the officer's testimony, since the statements did not disprove, explain or qualify any inconsistency between those statements and the officer's trial testimony and there was no suggestion that the officer was motivated to testify falsely or that his testimony was a recent fabrication that needed rehabilitation.
For APPELLANT: Michael J. Pelletier, Alan D. Goldberg, S. Amanda Ingram, Of Counsel, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Chicago, IL.
For APPELLEE: Anita Alvarez, Alan J. Spellberg, Douglas P. Harvath, Tasha-Marie Kelly, Of Counsel, Cook County State's Attorney, Chicago, IL.
JUSTICE MASON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Hyman and Justice Pucinski concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Following a 2011 jury trial, defendant Willie Randolph was convicted of possession of a controlled substance (less than 15 grams of cocaine) and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. Defendant contends on appeal that the court erred in admitting into evidence a witness's prior consistent statement when there was no allegation of recent fabrication or motivation to lie.
[¶2] Defendant was charged with possession of a controlled substance in that he allegedly possessed less than 15 grams of a substance containing cocaine on April 11, 2011.
[¶3] At trial, police officer Steve Hefel testified that he and Officer Michael Laurie were patrolling in a police car (unmarked but with municipal or police license plates) at about 7:10 p.m. on April 11, 2011. They were driving slowly, going the wrong way on a one-way street, when Officer Hefel saw defendant standing by himself in the street; that is, in the roadway rather than on the sidewalk. Upon seeing the police car, defendant, according Officer Hefel, appeared startled; " his eyes got real big" and he began fidgeting. Officer Hefel suggested that they stop defendant, and Officer Laurie stopped their car about two feet from defendant, within arm's reach, as defendant was in the street. Defendant then thrust his right hand into his pocket, turned around, and walked away " at a fast pace." Officer Hefel told defendant to stop as he exited the car, but defendant continued on. Officer Hefel followed defendant and saw him pull his right hand out of his pocket and drop a small object to the ground about three feet behind the police vehicle. Officer Hefel saw that there was no debris on the ground around the object and left it for Officer Laurie to pick up; Officer Hefel caught up with and detained defendant a few seconds later.
[¶4] On cross-examination, Officer Hefel testified that defendant was not doing anything suspicious when Officer Hefel first saw him, and his postarrest search found no drugs. Later that day, Officer Hefel prepared reports of the incident and of defendant's arrest. Hefel admitted that there was no reference in his reports to defendant's eyes " getting big" and him becoming " fidgety" on seeing the officers. Officer Hefel explained that he and Officer Laurie acted because defendant was in an area known for narcotics sales, reacted to the officers with his eyes and fidgeting, then put his hand in his pocket and walked away quickly. When pressed, Officer Hefel also admitted that his reports did not recite that defendant put his hand in his pocket or walked away quickly. As to the timing of defendant dropping the item on the ground, Officer Hefel admitted that his reports indicated that the officers stopped their vehicle when defendant looked in their direction and immediately crossed the street while dropping the item, but in his direct testimony Officer Hefel stated that he observed defendant dropping the item ...