Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 12-CR-158002; the
Hon. Thomas J. Byrne, Judge, presiding.
Michael J. Pelletier, Patricia Mysza, and Chan Woo Yoon, all
of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for
M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J.
Spellberg, John E. Nowak, and Kathryn F. Sodetz, Assistant
State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.
JUSTICE MASON delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Fitzgerald Smith and Lavin concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 On July 26, 2012, Terry Tates was arrested after approximately
10 officers executed a search warrant at 505 West 62nd Street
in Chicago, Illinois. Tates was jointly charged with Walter
Tates (Walter) and Robert Green, who were also arrested
during the execution of the warrant. At a joint jury trial
with Green,  Tates was convicted of possession with
intent to deliver heroin, cocaine, and cannabis and simple
possession of less than five grams of methamphetamines. He
was acquitted of an armed violence charge. The jury acquitted
Green of all charges. Tates was sentenced to 12 years in
prison on the heroin and cocaine charges, 5 years on the
cannabis charge, and 4 years on the methamphetamine charge,
all to run concurrently.
2 On appeal, among other arguments, Tates contends that the
State failed to meet its burden to prove guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt because the evidence of Tates's
possession of the narcotics located at the premises was
insufficient. We agree and, therefore, reverse.
4 Around 4:45 p.m. on July 26, 2012, Officer Raymond Wilke
and approximately 10 other officers approached a single
family residence at 505 West 62nd Street to execute a search
warrant. The warrant named Walter as the subject and did not
reference either Tates or Green. Police announced their
presence outside the residence by knocking on the front door
and verbally identifying themselves. After receiving no
response for several seconds, the officers then forced entry
into the residence using a battering ram.
5 Officers spread both upstairs and into the living room,
dining room, and kitchen, moving systematically to secure the
building and locate any residents inside. Wilke, as the
search lead, moved into the living room and then the dining
room, where he saw Tates and Walter near the dining room
table that held clumps of suspect narcotics and packaging
materials. Wilke testified that (i) Walter was sitting at the
dining room table, (ii) both Walter and Tates were sitting at
the table, and (iii) all three individuals were in "the
dining table area." The arrest report did not state that
Tates was sitting at the dining room table upon entry.
According to Wilke, all three individuals immediately ran
from the room. There is no evidence that when police entered,
Tates was touching or otherwise handling any of the materials
on or around the dining room table. Tates and Walter were
detained by perimeter officers outside the building, while
Green was detained in the kitchen area; all of them were
eventually secured in the kitchen while the police searched
6 It is disputed whether Green was present in the dining room
at the time of the officers' entry. Wilke was unable to
identify Green at trial and had difficulty recalling where
Green was when police entered. Green's own testimony
placed him and Tates outside the residence during the
execution of the warrant.
7 In the residence, as noted, clumps of suspect cannabis were
openly visible on the dining room table, along with bagged
suspect cannabis, and paraphernalia for weighing and cutting
narcotics. Plastic bags containing larger "ounce
bags" of suspect cannabis were found inside various
boxes, bags, and express mail containers on the floor of the
dining room, along with packaging and mailing materials. A
loaded Taurus .40-caliber handgun and a 9-millimeter magazine
were found inside a closed credenza in the dining room.
Although the magazine was not the appropriate ammunition for
the loaded handgun found in the credenza, officers did not
find another gun using 9-millimeter ammunition.
8 Other locations in the house also yielded various
quantities of suspect drugs, both in plain view and hidden.
In the kitchen, officers recovered heroin from the
refrigerator; baking soda and a strainer containing white
residue later found to be drug residue from the kitchen sink;
and suspect crack cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines from
a compartment in the kitchen water cooler. Officer Donnell
Crenshaw, the officer responsible for inventorying the
recovered evidence, testified that approximately 700 bags of
cannabis in various amounts were recovered. Several of the
baggies of suspect cannabis were marked with a Nike-style
swoosh symbol, which officers later explained connoted