Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 12-CR-9685; the
Hon. Colleen Ann Hyland, Judge, presiding.
L. Garvey and Patrick W. Blegen, both of Blegen & Garvey,
of Chicago, for appellant.
M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J.
Spellberg, Christine Cook, and Gina DiVito, Assistant
State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.
JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Neville and Simon concurred in the judgment
1 In April 2012, Kenneth Spencer and his codefendant, Jorge
Morales, traveled to Arizona with another man, Jacob Force,
to purchase cocaine and bring it back to Illinois. On the
return trip, Force, who was carrying the cocaine, was driving
in a separate car from Spencer and Morales when both cars
were stopped by police and searched. Spencer was convicted of
possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver
and sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment.
2 We find that there was sufficient evidence to support
Spencer's conviction because Spencer and Morales
constructively possessed the drugs, though the drugs were in
a different car, and Spencer was accountable for
Morales's and Force's actions. The trial court did
not err in admitting coconspirator statements through
Force's testimony, and any error in admitting a piece of
metal seized from one of the cars was harmless. Spencer's
sentence was not excessive in light of his extensive criminal
history, particularly compared to his codefendants. Finally,
we decline to rule on Spencer's ineffective assistance of
counsel claim, as that claim would be better raised in a
4 Spencer was charged with possession of a controlled
substance (900 grams or more of cocaine) with the intent to
deliver. His two codefendants, Jacob Force and Jorge Morales,
were also charged. Under a plea deal with the State, Force
testified against Spencer and Morales at their joint trial.
5 Force testified that in March 2012, he met Morales in
Chicago through Force's associate, Jose Retteguin, for
whom Force had dealt drugs. During that conversation,
Retteguin asked if Force would travel to California to pick
up some cocaine and bring it to Chicago. Force agreed; the
destination was later changed to Arizona. On April 16, 2012,
Retteguin brought Force to Chicago from Peoria, and they met
with Morales and another man nicknamed "Lilo." Lilo
gave Force a cell phone and told him to program it with the
number of Lilo, Retteguin, and Morales but not to use the
phone to speak to anyone else. Lilo gave Force money to rent
a room for the night.
6 The next day Morales took Force to meet Spencer. Morales
told Force that Spencer would be traveling with them, and
they would be using Spencer's car, an Audi A4. Morales
said that Force would drive the Audi. Morales and Force then
went to Midway airport, where Morales rented from Hertz a
maroon Mazda for the trip.
7 On April 18, Force and Morales again met with Spencer.
Spencer gave Force the Audi to drive. The Audi had an
aftermarket hidden compartment (referred to as a
"trap") behind the driver's seat. They met Lilo
at a parking lot; Spencer had money for the drugs but could
not fit the money into the trap. Spencer, Force, and Morales
went to a restaurant while Lilo repackaged the money so it
would fit in the trap.
8 After the money was placed in the trap, Spencer, Force, and
Morales left for Tucson. Force drove Spencer's Audi,
while Spencer and Morales drove in the Mazda behind him. When
they reached New Mexico, Force felt tired because he had been
driving for over 24 hours; he called Morales on the cell
phone he had been given, and the three men stopped at a
hotel. Morales gave Force cash for the hotel, but the hotel
required a credit card, so Spencer used his credit card to
pay for hotel rooms. At trial, Force identified a
surveillance video from the hotel, showing himself, Morales,
and Spencer in the lobby.
9 The next morning, the three continued on their way.
Generally, the cars traveled close together and would only be
out of each other's sight briefly. They arrived in Tucson