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People v. Tates

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division

August 3, 2016

TERRY TATES, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal 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 appellant.

          Anita 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[1] 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)[2] and Robert Green, who were also arrested during the execution of the warrant. At a joint jury trial with Green, [3] 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.

         ¶ 3 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 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 the residence.

         ¶ 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 ...

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