Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 13-CR-14983; the
Hon. James M. Obbish, Judge, presiding
Michael J. Pelletier, Patricia Mysza, and Christopher L.
Gehrke, all of State Appellate Defender's Office, of
Chicago, for appellant.
M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J.
Spellberg, Miles J. Keleher, and Michael J. Czopkiewicz,
Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.
CUNNINGHAM PRESIDING JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the
court, with opinion. Justices Connors and Harris concurred in
the judgment and opinion.
CUNNINGHAM PRESIDING JUSTICE
1 Following a bench trial, defendant Terrell Frazier was
convicted of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and
sentenced, as a Class X offender, to 6½ years'
imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contests the sufficiency
of the evidence supporting his conviction, arguing that the
evidence failed to show that the motor scooter he possessed
qualified as a motor vehicle, that it was stolen, and that he
knew it was stolen. We affirm the judgment of the circuit
court of Cook County.
2 At trial, Conrad Hard testified that he owned a 2011 Lingyu
13L150 motor scooter, which was started with a key. He bought
the motor scooter from the "Tool Store" in
Forestview and registered it with the State of Illinois. The
registration form for the scooter, which was entered into
evidence, indicated the vehicle identification number (VIN)
of the scooter.
3 On July 22, 2013, Hard parked his motor scooter across the
street from his apartment at the corner of North Kedzie
Avenue and West Warren Boulevard in Chicago. The following
day, he observed that the motor scooter was not where he had
parked it and the lock to the motor scooter and its cover
were inside his apartment building at the front door. Hard
called the police and reported that his motor scooter had
been stolen. Hard went to the police station on July 25 and
was directed to the motor scooter. The motor scooter appeared
different as it was broken and items were missing, including
the ignition. He specifically stated that the space where the
ignition was supposed to be was "just busted straight
down the middle with a big hole where I used to put the key
for the ignition." Hard had the key from the stolen
motor scooter with him at the police station and used it to
open the storage compartment under the seat. Hard did not
know defendant and did not give him, or anyone else,
permission to take the motor scooter between the last time he
saw it on July 22 and when he saw it again at the police
station on July 25. Hard stated that the police returned the
motor scooter to him, and he was able to drive it home by
connecting the wires in such a way that he only needed to
press the start button. At the time of trial, Hard still
owned and drove the motor scooter.
4 Officer Sean Flynn testified that he saw defendant talking
to another person while sitting on a motorized scooter that
had its engine running and was parked on the sidewalk at
approximately 1002 North Hamlin Avenue in Chicago on July 25,
2013. Flynn and his partner exited their squad car, noticed
that the motorized scooter did not contain a license plate,
and asked defendant for his driver's license. Defendant
did not have a license, and Flynn detained him. Flynn
discovered that defendant's license had been suspended,
and when he ran the VIN on the motorized scooter, it came
back as stolen. He subsequently learned that the motorized
scooter was registered to Conrad Hard. Upon defendant's
detention, Flynn noticed that the cylinder for the ignition
had been removed and no key was inside as there was no
ignition to put it into. Flynn stated that he had seen
hundreds of motorized scooters similar to the subject motor
scooter and that scooters in good condition are operated with
a key. He denied ever seeing a scooter that could be operated
by a "push start." No pictures were taken of the
5 After the State rested, defendant made a motion for
directed finding, arguing that the State failed to prove that
he knew the motor scooter was stolen. In denying the motion,
the trial court found that the type of damage the motor
scooter sustained showed that defendant knew it was stolen.
6 Defendant, who was on probation for possession of a
controlled substance and had previous felony convictions,
testified that he was having a conversation with his friend,
Raymond Thompson, about Thompson's motor scooter on July
25, 2013. Thompson started the motor scooter by holding the
brake and pushing a button. Defendant got on top of the motor
scooter and asked Thompson if he could take it on a test
drive because he was considering buying it from him.
Defendant believed that his driver's license was valid
and indicated that he knew he needed a driver's license
to operate the motor scooter. The police arrested defendant
before he had the chance to drive the motor scooter. Thompson
did not tell defendant that the motor scooter was stolen, nor
did he see any evidence that it was stolen, particularly
where he believed the scooter was a "push start"
that did not require a key.
7 During cross-examination, defendant indicated that the
motor scooter could be driven on the street and could reach
approximately 40 miles per hour. He did not see the empty
space in the motor scooter where a key would have gone and
stated that he previously owned a "push start"
motor scooter. Defendant denied ever going to school to
become a mechanic and never told the police that he went to
mechanic school or that he thought the motor scooter was a
"push start" based on his auto mechanic training.
8 Following closing arguments, the trial court found
defendant guilty of possession of a stolen motor vehicle. In
doing so, the court found that defendant's testimony
lacked credibility where he did not inform the police that
Thompson owned the motor scooter, and there was no real
distinction between this case, where there was a hole where
the ignition should have been, and a case where an individual
is caught riding in a motor vehicle with a peeled steering
column. The court noted that ...