Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 13 CR 20680
Honorable James B. Linn, Judge, presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court,
with opinion. Justices Neville and Mason concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 After a bench trial, defendant Keywani Evans was convicted
of one count of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon
(720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 2012)) and sentenced to four
years' imprisonment. Evans appeals his conviction,
arguing that he was denied a fair trial when the trial court
asked the State to present more evidence after it had rested
both its case-in-chief and its rebuttal case. In affirming
the judgment of the trial court, we hold that the trial court
did not abandon its role as neutral arbiter and assume the
role of prosecutor by requesting to see evidence that the
State did not produce in its case-in-chief.
3 Evans was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of
a weapon by a felon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 2012)) and
two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (720 ILCS
5/24-1.6 (a)(1), (a)(2) (West Supp. 2013)). Evans waived a
4 Officer Ron Bialata testified that, on September 10, 2013,
he and his partner, Officer Dennis O'Brien, were
patrolling the area of 82nd Street and South Coles Avenue in
response to a homicide that occurred the day before. (The
record reflects different spellings of "Bialata.")
While driving through the area, Bialata saw a man, whom he
identified as Evans, walking in the street while looking at
his cell phone. The man was wearing a "white track
jacket." Bialata drove past Evans but reversed so he and
his partner could approach Evans. When O'Brien got out,
Evans fled through a vacant lot. Bialata was able to see
Evans for "a few seconds" before he ran off.
O'Brien went after Evans on foot. Bialata initially tried
to track Evans in the police cruiser but eventually left the
cruiser and continued on foot. During the chase, Evans jumped
over a fence and dropped his cell phone. He then scaled a
second fence, at the top of which his white jacket got stuck.
Evans jumped down to the other side, leaving his jacket
snagged on the fence.
5 The officers were not able to catch Evans. But they
recovered the jacket from the fence. When handling the
jacket, Bialata felt a hard object in the right pocket. There
he recovered a .32-caliber handgun, containing four live
rounds of ammunition. From the left pocket, Bialata recovered
a wallet. In the wallet was a state identification card
bearing Evans's name and picture, a Link card, and $24.
The officers issued an investigative alert for Evans. On
September 16, 2013, Bialata learned that Evans had been
arrested and identified him as the person he saw jump the
fence. On cross-examination, Bialata testified that he was
able to view Evans for a few seconds before he ran from the
6 Officer Christopher Maraffino testified that on October 16,
2013, he was assigned to respond to the area of 7555 South
Langley Avenue to follow up on an active investigative alert
for Evans. Maraffino and his partner conducted surveillance
of the address and eventually saw Evans walking on the east
side of South Langley. When the officers approached Evans and
announced themselves, he ran into the building. Officers
apprehended Evans and transported him to a police station.
7 The State entered into evidence a certified copy of
Evans's 2009 felony conviction for robbery and a
self-authenticating document indicating that Evans did not
have a Firearm Owner's Identification (FOID) card. The
State then closed its case-in-chief.
8 Evans moved for a directed finding, arguing that the
identification of Evans was not reliable, as the officer
viewed the individual only for a few seconds and the
identification was not corroborated by physical evidence. The
trial court denied the motion.
9 Evans testified that on the night of September 10, 2013, he
was elsewhere than around South Coles Avenue. And on
cross-examination, he stated that the white jacket, wallet,
and his state identification card were not left at that
location by him and the gun was not his.
10 After Evans rested his case, ...