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People v. Simpson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division

March 11, 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARCUS SIMPSON, Defendant-Appellant

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Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 09 CR 10487-01. The Honorable Colleen Ann Hyland, Judge, presiding.

FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE: Alan J. Spellberg, Mary P. Needham, Jocelyn M. Schieve, Office of the State's Attorney, County of Cook, Chicago, IL.

FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Andrew S. Gable, Chicago, IL.

JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Lavin and Mason concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 550

HYMAN, JUSTICE.

[¶1] After a bench trial, Marcus Simpson and his codefendant Andrew Dortch were convicted on four counts of home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(3) (West 2008)) with guns, while the residents were in the house. Simpson received a sentence of 30 years in prison. He appeals, arguing the trial court erred in denying his pretrial motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence. Simpson also argues the State failed to lay the proper foundation for the testimony of its shoeprint expert witness and failed to prove defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

[¶2] We affirm. The trial court did not err in finding that the police acted reasonably under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968), in stopping defendants' vehicle, which matched the description provided by the victims and was in the vicinity of the crime, and that the police properly conducted a limited protective search of defendants' clothing under People v. Johnson, 387 Ill.App.3d 780, 901 N.E.2d 455, 327 Ill.Dec. 127 (2009), because the perpetrators were believed to be armed. Further, the trial court properly admitted testimony from the shoeprint expert, and her testimony along with the State's other evidence was sufficient to prove Simpson guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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[¶3] BACKGROUND

[¶4] At 3:15 a.m. on May 15, 2009, Nicholas Voutiritsas arrived from work to find two armed men in his Palos Hills home. The men wore dark clothes and black masks. After one of the men scuffled with Voutiritsas and the other man tried to restrain Voutiritsas's son, both men ran out of the house, got into a car, and drove away. Voutiritsas called 911 and described for the dispatcher the men's clothes, their car, and the direction they were driving. Palos Hills police officer Steven Vaccaro was responding to the dispatch about the home invasion when he saw a car matching the description and followed it. After seeing that the car's headlights had been turned off, Officer Vaccaro activated his siren. The car then made a turn, without signaling, before the driver pulled into a residential driveway and turned off the car engine. When backup arrived, Officer Vaccaro approached the car and apprehended Dortch, who was in the driver's seat, and Simpson, who was in the passenger seat. While patting down both men, Officer Vaccaro found a partial roll of duct tape in Dortch's pocket. Officer Vaccaro looked into the car and saw a black mask on the front passenger side floor. A later search uncovered two pairs of black gloves, a black mask, a black knit hat, one roll of duct tape, and two semiautomatic weapons in a gym bag in the back. Both men were arrested and charged with four counts of home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(3) (West 2008)).

[¶5] Before trial, Simpson and Dortch moved to quash their arrests and suppress evidence, alleging insufficient probable cause for the stop, and thus, that any evidence found after their arrests should be suppressed. At a hearing on the motion, Officer Vaccaro testified that on May 15, 2009, he received a dispatch at about 3:20 a.m. that a home invasion was in progress. On his way to the address, a second dispatch informed him that the suspects had fled the scene. The dispatcher said the suspects were two black males, wearing black clothing and black masks, armed with guns, and driving a late-model black car heading southbound on Roberts Road. Officer Vaccaro saw a car matching that description and driving in that direction on Roberts Road but could not see who was in the car. Officer Vaccaro said there were no other cars on the road and that he did not see the car commit any traffic violations.

[¶6] Officer Vaccaro followed as the car made a left-hand turn onto 111th Street. After about 75 feet, the car's lights went off, and Officer Vaccaro activated his siren to attempt to stop the car. Officer Vaccaro said that the car traveled about 100 yards with its lights off and then, without signaling, made a right-hand turn onto Westwood Drive, pulled into the first residential driveway, and turned off the engine. Officer Vaccaro waited for backup and when Officer Brad Fletcher arrived, both officers approached the car with their guns drawn. Officer Vaccaro saw two black men in the front seat wearing black clothes. Simpson and Dortch were placed in handcuffs. Officer Vaccaro performed a pat down on both men and found half a roll of duct tape in Dortch's pocket but did not find any weapons. Officer Vaccaro placed Simpson and Dortch in different squad cars. Officer Vaccaro did not search but looked inside the men's car and saw a black mask on the passenger side floorboard. Officer Vaccaro testified that after he found the duct tape and black mask, Simpson and Dortch were placed under arrest for investigation into home burglary. The car was towed to a secure lot, and after obtaining a signed release from its owner, police searched the car and recovered

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evidence in the trunk that they intended to use a trial.

[¶7] The trial court denied the motion to quash the arrests and suppress evidence. Relying on Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968) and People v. Johnson, 387 Ill.App.3d 780, 901 N.E.2d 455, 327 Ill.Dec. 127 (2009), the court found that Officer Vaccaro acted properly because " an officer may make a proper, investigatory stop and may conduct a limited protective search of the individual's outer clothing for weapons if the officer reasonably believes the individual is armed and presently dangerous to the officer or others." The court concluded that Officer Vaccaro, who knew a home invasion had been reported in the vicinity, made a proper Terry stop of a car matching the suspects' car and properly conducted a pat down search for his own safety because he knew the suspects were armed. The duct tape Officer Vaccaro found in Dortch's pocket and the mask on the passenger side floor indicated that Simpson and Dortch may have been involved in a crime and led to a proper arrest.

[¶8] The case proceeded to a joint, two-day bench trial on October 4 and 18, 2012. Nicholas Voutiritsas testified that on May 15, 2009, he arrived home from work at about 3:15 a.m., parked in the driveway, and went to the front door. As he entered, a man came up behind him, told him to be quiet, pushed him inside, and hit him in the back of the head with a gun. Once inside, Voutiritsas turned around and saw a man dressed in black, holding a gun, and wearing a mask and black gloves. He also saw a second man walking through the entryway into the kitchen. Voutiritsas fought with the man holding the gun. He pulled up his mask halfway to his nose and punched him in the face three or four times. Voutiritsas saw that the man was black.

[¶9] Voutiritsas's 21-year-old son, James, was upstairs in his bedroom watching television when he heard a commotion downstairs. He opened his bedroom door, went into the hallway, and saw a masked man dressed in black coming up the stairs. Seeing that the man was holding a gun, James put his hands up, and the man told him to turn around and pushed him back into his room, pointing the gun at his back. He made James lie facedown on the floor and pointed the gun at the back of his head. James heard what sounded like duct tape and thought the man was trying to tape his hands behind his back, because he felt something sticky on his wrists. The man then tore off the tape ...


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