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People v. Garcia

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division

March 6, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
EDWIN GARCIA, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. 13 CR 3129, Honorable Nicholas Ford, Judge Presiding.

          CONNORS PRESIDING JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Harris and Simon concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          CONNORS PRESIDING JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Edwin Garcia, who was under 18 years of age at the time of his arrest, was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and firearm ammunition (720 ILCS 5/24-3.1(a)(1) (West 2012)) after police made a warrantless entry into his home and subsequently performed a search of his person, which produced a gun. Officers had gone to defendant's home to arrest him on an unrelated misdemeanor complaint. Prior to trial, defendant's counsel filed a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, arguing that the gun seized from defendant was obtained through a warrantless entry into his home after the police entered without permission. The trial court denied the motion, finding that although defendant's constitutional rights had been violated, suppression was not warranted where the evidence was seized outside the home. After a bench trial, defendant was found guilty and subsequently sentenced to two years of intensive probation. Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in denying the motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, because the evidence was obtained through exploitation of the officers' illegal warrantless arrest within defendant's home and was subject to the exclusionary rule. Alternatively, defendant argues that his counsel was ineffective for failing to impeach one of the officers regarding his testimony that he received permission to enter defendant's home. For the following reasons, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Defendant was arrested on January 27, 2013, and charged by information with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm in violation of section 24.-3.1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 2012 based on his possession of a firearm while under 18 years of age. 720 ILCS 5/24-3.1(a)(1) (West 2012).

         ¶ 4 Motion to Quash Arrest and Suppress Evidence

         ¶ 5 On July 22, 2013, Defendant filed a pretrial motion to quash arrest and suppress the gun seized from him on the grounds that it was obtained through a warrantless entry into his home. The court held a hearing on defendant's motion on May 6, 2014. At the hearing, defendant presented the testimony of his brother Ruben Garcia Jr. and his mother, Bonita Garcia.

         ¶ 6 Ruben testified that on January 27, 2013, he was at his then home, located at 4151 West 78th Place in Chicago, where he lived with his parents and brothers, one of whom is defendant. At the time the police arrived around 7 or 8 p.m., Ruben was watching TV in the living room with his mother, one of his brothers (not defendant), and his brother's friend. Ruben stated that he then heard knocking on the front door, which was right next to the TV. His mother then got up to answer the door and opened it about 10 inches to see who it was. Ruben testified that "when they asked [ ] for Edwin only, she just turned to call his name, but the thing is they barged in without any authorization." Ruben stated that the people on the other side of the door merely asked for Edwin and did not say anything else. He further testified that the people who came in were not in uniform and "dressed casual." Ruben called for defendant to come out of his room, where he was with his girlfriend, and at that point, he did not know the people who had entered the house were police. According to Ruben, after defendant came out of his room, the officers said they were going to ask defendant some questions; then the officers grabbed defendant and handcuffed him behind his back in the living room. Ruben stated that neither of the two officers ever showed him a warrant, left a search warrant at the house, or told him they had a search warrant. After defendant was handcuffed, Ruben testified that the officers took defendant outside to their vehicle.

         ¶ 7 On cross-examination, Ruben testified that he was not the one who answered the door and allowed officers inside. Ruben also stated that he was unaware that defendant was a named offender in an armed robbery.

         ¶ 8 Bonita testified that on the evening of January 27, 2013, she was home with her children watching TV. When she heard the knock on the front door, she opened the door slightly and saw two people who then asked for defendant. She testified that they asked for Edwin before she opened the door. She, like Ruben, testified that when she turned to call for defendant, the officers came inside the house. Bonita testified that neither of the officers asked permission to come in the house and neither told her they were police before they entered. She testified that she "thought they were Edwin's friend. When my son went to call Edwin, then they said they were police officers and that they were going to ask him some questions, but at that moment they grabbed him, pulled him, and handcuffed him and they took him." Bonita stated that Edwin was handcuffed in the living room, the police searched him, and then they said they were taking him for questioning. Bonita also testified that neither of the men showed her a search warrant, told her they had a search warrant, or left any papers at her house.

         ¶ 9 On cross-examination, Bonita stated that although she was testifying with the help of an interpreter, she spoke some English and could understand what the English-speaking officers were saying that day. Bonita also testified that the officers searched defendant inside the home but that nothing was taken from him then. Bonita stated that she did not know that defendant was a named offender in an armed robbery. She also did not know whether the officers searched defendant after they took him outside the house.

         ¶ 10 The State presented the testimony of officer Jeffrey Brouder, who testified that on January 27, 2013, at approximately 7:15 p.m., he was working "plain clothes tact" when he and his partner, officer Silder, were assigned to an armed robbery investigation in which defendant had already been identified as a suspect. Officer Brouder testified that in furtherance of the investigation, he and officer Silder went to defendant's home address. He further testified that when they arrived at defendant's home, "We knocked on the door and we were greeted by a family member. We asked if Edwin was home, he said yes." Officer Brouder stated that the "he" he was referring to was a younger male to whom he identified himself as a police officer and that defendant's mother did not come to the door with this younger male, who Officer Brouder learned was defendant's brother. Officer Brouder stated that he told defendant's brother that they needed to speak to defendant and that "He invited us in and went and got his brother." Specifically, officer Brouder testified that they asked if they could come in and defendant's brother said yes. The officer further stated that there were approximately six other people in the home, including defendant's mother and some friends. Officer Brouder stated that defendant was placed in custody in the front room in the presence of the other family members but they did not search defendant or ask him any questions on scene. Officer Brouder further stated that after defendant was placed in handcuffs, he was escorted to the officers' vehicle "where a custodial search was conducted before we put him in the back of the car." The officer testified that the search revealed a handgun.

         ¶ 11 On cross-examination, officer Brouder stated that neither of the reports he prepared in this case made any reference to who answered the door. Officer Brouder also stated that they were acting on signed criminal complaints but did not have a search warrant or arrest warrant. He also stated that he never saw the complaints. Officer Brouder testified that, "the victim [of the armed robbery] stated that he did not want to proceed with felony complaints for the robbery and signed for a misdemeanor battery and a theft."

         ¶ 12 The parties then argued the motion. The State conceded that this was a warrantless entry into a home but argued that the officers had probable cause to arrest this defendant because "he was a named offender in an armed robbery." The State recognized that the testimony conflicted regarding who answered the door and whether permission to enter was given but contended that the police were more credible because the family was biased. Thus, the State asserted that the recovered handgun should not be suppressed because the exclusionary rule does not apply for warrantless entries into homes where probable cause exists and where the evidence is obtained outside the home. The defense argued that because the officer had never seen the complaints and they were not present in court, it ...


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