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People v. Maldonado

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

June 30, 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LOUIS MALDONADO, Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 11 CR 13472. Honorable Michael Brown, Judge Presiding.

FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE: Alan Spellberg, Bianca R. Pucci, Assistant State's Attorneys, Chicago, Illinois.

FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Kieran M. Wiberg, Assistant Appellate Defender, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Chicago, Illinois.

JUSTICE PIERCE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Neville and Liu concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

PIERCE, JUSTICE.

[¶1] Following a bench trial, defendant Louis Maldonado was convicted of three counts of unlawful use or possession of ammunition by a felon (UUWF) (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1 (West 2010)) and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver 1 gram or more but less than 15 grams of heroin (720 ILCS 570/401(c)(1) (West 2010)). Defendant was sentenced to three years of intensive drug probation. On appeal, defendant argues that the State failed to prove him guilty of UUWF and possession of heroin with intent to deliver beyond a reasonable doubt; the trial court erred when it denied defendant's motion to disclose the identity of the State's informant; multiple errors by the trial court prevented important evidence from being presented that caused defendant to be convicted on evidence that did not exist; and, he was erroneously assessed a $750 controlled substance emergency response fine that must be vacated. For the following reasons, we reverse.

[¶2] BACKGROUND

[¶3] Acting on a tip from an unnamed informant, the Chicago police department obtained and executed a search warrant for the premises located at 4459 West Washington Boulevard on July 13, 2011. No one was home before, during or after the search was conducted. Police searched the two-story, three-bedroom home and found several boxes of ammunition, a small amount of heroin hidden in a statue and a box containing a scale and $1,500 cash.

[¶4] Officer Angelo Monaco testified that he participated in the execution of the search warrant at the premises located at 4459 West Washington Boulevard, a single-family, two-story home with bedrooms on the second floor and a living room and kitchen on the first floor. He searched the south bedroom on the second floor. Next to the bed, on a nightstand, he found a small statue that was closed. Inside the statue was a plastic bag containing suspected heroin. Under the bed he also found a box containing some money and an electronic scale. Officer Monaco testified that scales are sometimes used for weighing narcotics. There was no cross-examination.

[¶5] Officer Chad Behrend testified that he also participated in the execution of a search warrant at 4459 West Washington Boulevard. The officers determined no one was in the home at the time of the search. On top of a dresser in the second-floor middle bedroom he found a white box containing two boxes of ammunition. One box contained .38-special ammunition and the other contained 9 millimeter ammunition. Also on top of the dresser were women's wigs and other women's items like lotion and perfume. He did not find any men's items or men's clothing on the dresser.

[¶6] Sergeant Reina testified that he was the supervisor during the search of 4459 West Washington Boulevard. He searched the kitchen and found a box of .22-caliber ammunition in a drawer in the center island. He also counted the money that Officer Monaco found under the bed and concluded that it was $1,500. There was no cross-examination.

[¶7] Officer Wayne Franco testified to the inventory process for the items found on the premises. The parties stipulated that Officer Cilio recovered " three pieces of proof of residency" from the premises: two pieces of mail and a delivery receipt. All three pieces bore the defendant's name and were addressed to 4459 West Washington Boulevard. One unopened envelope was addressed: Louis Maldonado, 4459 W. Washington. This envelope appeared to be " some kind of mass marketing material." The second unopened envelope was addressed: Louis Maldonado, Wilner Jackson, 4459 W. Washington. This envelope appeared to be sent by ABC Bank. The delivery receipt showed the issuing merchant as Mister Discount General Merchandise. Next to the word " name" was the hand-printed name Louis Maldonado and next to the word " address" was hand-printed 4459 West Washington. In the area marked " received" was a signature " Wilner Maldonado" with the hand-written date of July 12, 2013.

[¶8] The Illinois State Police crime lab tested the recovered narcotics. The narcotics tested positive for heroin and totaled 4.3 grams. The State offered defendant's 1987 conviction for possession of a stolen motor vehicle in No. 86 CR 02215 to establish his prior felony conviction.

[¶9] Defendant moved for a directed finding of not guilty, arguing insufficient proof of defendant's dominion or control over the premises. Defendant argued that the contraband was found in the midst of women's clothing and women's wigs and there were no admissions of residency. The court denied defendant's motion. The State rested.

[¶10] Defendant's wife, Wilner Maldonado, testified for the defense. She owned the residence at 4459 West Washington Boulevard in July 2011. Defendant was her sixth husband, and two of her previous husbands lived at that residence prior to defendant. Wilner's ex-boyfriend, goddaughter and half-sister also lived at the residence prior to July 2011. Wilner's ex-boyfriend, Joe Dunning, left in 2010 after Wilner " put him out." Defendant moved into the house in March 2011.

[¶11] When defense counsel attempted to elicit testimony from Wilner regarding Dunning's drug problems, the State objected. The objection was sustained. Defense counsel then asked Wilner if, to her knowledge, Dunning had ever used drugs. The State's objection was sustained. Defense counsel then asked Wilner if she ever saw Dunning with drugs. The State made a relevancy objection and the court instructed defense counsel to lay a foundation. Defense counsel argued that he ...


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