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People v. Fellers

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

August 4, 2016

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KARL J. FELLERS, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from Circuit Court of Livingston County Nos. 13DT2 13CM25 Honorable Mark A. Fellheimer, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE TURNER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Harris and Pope concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          TURNER JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In February 2014, the trial court found defendant, Karl J. Fellers, guilty of four counts of driving under the influence (DUI) and one count of unlawful possession of cannabis. In May 2014, the court sentenced him to 24 months' probation and 180 days in jail for the DUI convictions and 30 days in jail for the cannabis conviction.

         ¶ 2 On appeal, defendant argues he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel at trial. We affirm in part and remand with directions.

         ¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 A. Case No. 13-DT-2

         ¶ 5 In January 2013, defendant was charged via a citation and complaint in case No. 13-DT-2 with two counts of DUI (counts I and II) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(1), (a)(2) (West 2012)). In September 2013, the State filed a supplemental complaint, charging defendant with two counts of driving with cannabis (count III) and heroin (count IV) in his blood, breath, or urine (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(6) (West 2012)).

         ¶ 6 B. Case No. 13-CM-25

         ¶ 7 In January 2013, the State charged defendant in case No. 13-CM-25 with one count of obstructing a peace officer (720 ILCS 5/31-1(a) (West 2012)), alleging he knowingly obstructed the performance of Pontiac police officer Markus Armstrong while performing an authorized act within his official capacity and knowing him to be a peace officer engaged in the execution of his official duties in that he refused to obey commands to stop and ran from the police. The State also charged defendant with one count of unlawful possession of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/4(a) (West 2012)), alleging he knowingly possessed not more than 2.5 grams of a substance containing cannabis.

         ¶ 8 C. Bench Trial

         ¶ 9 In November 2013, the trial court conducted a bench trial in both cases. Jesse Sechrest testified he was driving home from work in his silver Jeep at approximately 12:30 a.m. on December 29, 2012. He observed a Chevrolet Malibu in front of him that "was swerving back and forth." Sechrest called the police.

         ¶ 10 Lalena Heidenreich testified she lived in a house with two apartments on December 29, 2012. At approximately 12:30 or 1 a.m., she "heard somebody go running up the front stairs." She also heard "some shouting" and saw police officers outside the house.

         ¶ 11 Pontiac police officer Marcus Armstrong testified he was in his marked squad car in the early morning hours of December 29, 2012. He observed a Chevrolet Malibu followed by a silver Jeep. Armstrong turned around and "attempted to catch up to the vehicle." The vehicle proceeded on Howard Street, turned onto Chicago Street, then turned west on another street before ultimately ending up at 804 North Main Street. Armstrong stated the vehicle "stopped very abruptly, " such that it "was skidding through the gravel when it came to a stop." Armstrong saw a white male with dark hair wearing blue jeans and a black T-shirt over a gray long-sleeved shirt. The person looked back at Armstrong, reached into the vehicle, grabbed a duffel bag ...


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