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Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 21st Judicial Circuit, Kankakee County, Illinois, Circuit No. 12-CF-134. Honorable Clark E. Erickson, Judge, Presiding.
Defendant's conviction for cannabis trafficking was affirmed, notwithstanding his contentions that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew a package delivered to the home of defendant's stepmother contained cannabis and that the State's closing argument constituted plain error, where defendant picked up a package delivered by FedEx to another person's home, he took possession of the package even though it did not show his name or address, he gave the police different explanations for the situation, and reasonable inferences in favor of the prosecution's contention that defendant knew the package contained cannabis were allowable.
Sean Conley, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Ottawa, for appellant.
Jamie J. Boyd, State's Attorney, of Kankakee (Justin A. Nicolosi, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.
JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Carter and O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] A Kankakee County jury found defendant, Antwan L. Jones, guilty of cannabis trafficking (720 ILCS 550/5.1(a) (West 2012)) and possession of cannabis with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 550/5(f) (West 2012)). Those charges stemmed from a March 8, 2012, incident in which the Kankakee Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group (KAMEG) performed a controlled delivery of a Federal Express (FedEx) package known to contain a quantity of cannabis. KAMEG agents arrested defendant shortly after he picked up and began to transport the package. The counts merged; the trial court sentenced defendant to a term of nine years' imprisonment on the trafficking count. Defendant appeals, arguing that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had knowledge that the package contained cannabis. Defendant also contends that certain statements made by the State in closing arguments constituted plain error. We affirm.
[¶3] The State charged defendant with unlawful cannabis trafficking (720 ILCS 550/5.1(a) (West 2012)) and unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 550/5(f) (West 2012)). The matter proceeded to a jury trial on July 23, 2012.
[¶4] A security specialist for FedEx testified that the package in question met several criteria, causing FedEx to identify the package as suspicious. The criteria included the facts that the package was shipped from a southern state, paid for by cash, no signature was required, and the " ship from" phone number was the same as the " ship to" phone number. FedEx notified KAMEG and apprised it of this information. Agents of KAMEG arrived at the local FedEx facility the following day and identified the suspicious package. In addition to the factors set out by FedEx, officers noted that all of the seams on the
package were taped. The officers conducted a dog sniff. After the dog alerted, agents procured a warrant to open the package. Agent Joseph Bertrand opened the package and observed what appeared to be cannabis. A field test confirmed this observation. The contents were placed back into the package along with a tracking device, and the package was resealed.
[¶5] Agent Willie Berry delivered the package to the address listed on the package, 552 South Myrtle Avenue in Kankakee. Berry knocked on the front door and rang the doorbell at approximately 10:30 a.m. When no one answered the door, Berry put the package down and left the scene. Two minutes later, Bertrand, who was participating in the surveillance of the controlled delivery, observed a white female open the door and retrieve the package. About 13 minutes later, Bertrand saw a green and tan Buick turn down an alley adjacent to Myrtle Avenue. Two minutes after that, a black male appeared from the north side of the residence, walked up to the porch, and entered the residence.
[¶6] Two to three minutes later, Bertrand observed the subject leaving the residence and walking in the direction of the Buick and eventually out of Bertrand's view. Other KAMEG agents were parked a few blocks away from the residence. Upon receiving a report of a green and tan Buick, the KAMEG agents followed the Buick as it left the area. The Buick turned north onto Lincoln Avenue, traveled three blocks east on Bourbonnais Street, and then turned south onto Osborn Avenue, where the agents commenced a traffic stop.
[¶7] Defendant rode in the front passenger seat, while Latifah Starks drove. Defendant held the unopened package. When agents ordered defendant and Starks to exit the vehicle, defendant threw the package into the backseat. Agent Joseph English estimated the time between the report of the Buick's description and the traffic stop was less than two minutes. Agent Jeffrey Martin testified that the time period was " [m]aybe a minute or less." Agent Chris Kidwell testified that he initiated the traffic stop because he did not want to lose such a large amount of cannabis into the community. He estimated that the street value of the package would be approximately $38,000.
[¶8] Agent Clayt Wolfe testified that at the time of defendant's arrest, defendant was carrying $509 in cash. Wolfe interviewed defendant following the arrest. The video recordings of that interview were entered into evidence and played in court. In the interview, defendant initially stated that he was taking the package to the post office. Later, defendant said he was taking the package to FedEx. Additionally, defendant first told police that his stepmother, Katherine Kemp, who lived at the Myrtle Avenue address, called him on the morning of March 8, informing him that a package had been delivered and that it was not for her. She asked defendant to return the package to FedEx for her. Later in the interview, defendant stated that his stepmother had called to tell him that his shoes had been delivered, but that when he arrived to retrieve the package, he noticed that it was not addressed to him. It was at this point that his stepmother suggested he bring the package back to FedEx. Wolfe testified that the Buick's direction of travel was inconsistent with defendant's claim that he was on the way to FedEx when stopped.
[¶9] Defendant also told police that he was talking with Starks about FedEx earlier on March 8 because he was expecting a pair of shoes to be delivered. He did not want packages delivered to his own house ...