from Circuit Court of Piatt County Nos. 16CF24, 16CF29
Honorable Gary A. Webber, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Turner and Justice Holder White
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 The State charged defendants, James A. Ross and Ryan A.
Schriefer, with unlawful possession with intent to deliver
cannabis while within 1000 feet of a school (720 ILCS
550/5.2, 5(e) (West 2014)) and the unauthorized production or
possession of cannabis sativa plants (720 ILCS 550/8(d) (West
2014)). The charges against both defendants arose out of the
same underlying set of facts. Both defendants filed motions
seeking to suppress evidence they argued was improperly
obtained as the result of a defective search warrant. The
trial court granted defendants' motions. The State
appealed in each case, and its appeals were consolidated. We
reverse the trial court's grant of defendants'
motions and its suppression of evidence and remand for
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 On April 13, 2016, law enforcement officers searched a
structure on property located at the northeastern corner of
Greely and Chestnut Streets in Monticello, Illinois, pursuant
to a search warrant issued earlier the same day. The record
reflects the property at issue was a single lot with two
buildings-a tan, two-story house and a blue, barn-shaped
building that, at some point, had been used as a residence.
The search at issue was of the tan house, which had a front
door that faced Chestnut Street and the numbers 1002
displayed on the front of the home. The barn was associated
with a street address of 817 North Greely Street in
Monticello and was located north of the tan house. The search
warrant set forth the street address of the property to be
searched as 817 North Greely Street and further described it
as follows: "A single family, tan, two[-]story dwelling
located on the east side of North Greely Street with the
number 817 displayed on the front, a detached barn to the
north of the residence[.]"
4 During the search, law enforcement officers discovered
cannabis and cannabis production materials. Thereafter, the
State charged both defendants-Ross in case No. 16-CF-24 and
Schriefer in case No. 16-CF-29-with unlawful possession with
intent to deliver cannabis while within 1000 feet of a school
(720 ILCS 550/5.2, 5(e) (West 2014)) and the unauthorized
production or possession of cannabis sativa plants (720 ILCS
550/8(d) (West 2014)).
5 On July 28, 2016, defendant Schriefer filed a motion to
suppress evidence. He argued the structure searched-the tan
house-was a residence located at 1002 East Chestnut Street
and that the search was unconstitutional because no search
warrant was issued for that specific address. Rather, the
search warrant referenced only a residence at the location of
817 North Greely Street in Monticello, Illinois.
Additionally, Schriefer argued the facts that established
probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant
pertained to the residence at 817 North Greely and not the
residence located at 1002 East Chestnut.
6 Defendant Ross also sought to suppress evidence obtained as
a result of the search warrant. Specifically, on August 11,
2016, he filed a motion to quash search warrant and suppress
evidence. Similar to Schriefer, Ross alleged the search
warrant was defective because it set forth an address
different than the one that was searched. Additionally, he
alleged that allegations of fact contained in the complaint
for the search warrant were insufficient to establish
probable cause that a crime was being committed.
7 On November 15, 2016, the trial court conducted a
consolidated hearing on the motions to suppress, and
defendants presented the testimony of three law enforcement
officers. Piatt County Sheriff David Hunt testified he was
involved with the investigation of a residence located at 817
North Greely and/or 1002 East Chestnut. He stated Greely
Street and Chestnut Street intersected, with Greely Street
running north and south and Chestnut Street running east and
west. The residence at issue was located northeast of the
intersection, and Hunt agreed it was a tan building. When
asked to described the buildings or homes "on that
block, " Hunt testified as follows:
"I don't know all the buildings on that block.
There's the vacant residence that's in question,
whether it's at 817 [North Greely] or 1002 [East]
Chestnut. Then to the east is the Pittman residence, Donna
and Leonard Pittman which I know, and then there's a
residence to the north which is Mrs. Hislope. She's an
elderly woman and I went to school with her son. So
there's only three residences on that property-I'm
sorry, in that block, that you would consider houses."
8 Hunt testified he received a report of suspicious activity
at the residence from Donna Pittman, his high school friend
and a neighbor "of that residence." Specifically,
Pittman reported that "people were coming and going from
that residence." Initially, she believed they were
remodeling the residence, but the activity went on for almost
a year with no apparent construction taking place. Pittman
also noticed that windows to the residence were covered with
a black material, and she observed people "bringing in
pipes, buckets, tubing[, ] and things like that."
9 Following Pittman's report, Hunt briefed his deputies
on the information. He stated Sheriff's Deputy Justin
Ernst reported driving north on Greely Street and smelling an
odor of canna-bis as he drove by the residence. Following
Ernst's report, Hunt also drove by the property. He
stated he rolled down the windows in his patrol vehicle,
slowly drove north on Greely Street, and smelled an odor of
cannabis. Hunt testified he was "just north of Chestnut
Street" and had "just crossed the intersection when
[he] could smell it." He stated he determined the wind
was blowing out of the northeast and toward either the west
or southwest. Hunt acknowledged that he did not travel east
on Chestnut to determine if he could detect a smell of
cannabis, noting all of the information he obtained from
Pittman centered on the residence at the corner of Greely and
Chestnut. Additionally, Hunt asserted that there was
"nothing but a corn field to the east. There's
railroad tracks and a corn field, just an open field."
10 Hunt stated he did not "actually go check the
numbers" that were affixed to the front of the target
residence. In particular, he testified that, at no point
prior to the execution of the search warrant, did he observe
the digits 1002 on the front of the residence. Hunt testified
that, after driving north on Greely and smelling cannabis, he
met up with Ernst. He and Ernst then drove south on Greely
"and could smell [cannabis] once again."
Thereafter, Hunt and his deputies secured the area and
monitored the residence. He directed Sergeant John Russell to
draft a search warrant and stated he "left it up to ***
Russell to do the search warrant." Hunt testified
Russell had done many search warrants and "would do a
check on the residence." He relied on Russell to make
sure that the contents of the search warrant were correct.
11 Hunt further testified that he was involved in the
execution of the search warrant and believed he was the first
law enforcement officer in the house. He stated he drove into
the driveway at the back of the residence and went to the
back door, believing it to be "the door that was being
used to enter and exit the residence." Hunt testified
law enforcement officers knocked and announced and then
entered the residence. He stated he was aware that Russell
was at the front of the residence "to watch the front
door in case somebody was coming out."
12 On both direct and cross-examination, Hunt was shown
photographs from which he identified the residence that was
the target of the law enforcement investigation,
i.e., the tan, two-story house. He also identified
the Pittman residence and a "building *** behind the
target residence, " i.e., the blue barn.
13 Ernst testified he was involved in the investigation of a
home located at the intersection of Greely and Chestnut
Streets. He drove by the residence after Hunt advised him
that there was "suspicious activity." Ernst stated
he traveled north on Greely Street and, when he was just
north of Chestnut Street, he smelled the odor of cannabis. At
no point did he observe the street address affixed to the
target residence. Further, Ernst testified he was involved in
the execution of the search warrant. Specifically, he stated
he made entry into the home with other officers and
identified the "north door" at the rear of the
residence as the officers' point of entry.
14 Ernst testified he did not know who made the decision to
enter the residence through the north door. He stated there
was also "a front door" that faced Chestnut Street,
but he did not see anyone using that door. Ernst
acknowledged, however, that he had never been to the
residence before and did not know whether the front door
opened and closed. He also never saw anyone using the rear
door, but he did see a vehicle "parked back there."
15 Russell testified he had been with the Piatt County
sheriff's office for 25 years and was familiar with an
investigation of a residence located at the corner of Greely
and Chestnut Streets. Specifically, he received information
from Hunt about a report of unusual activity at the residence
and then passed that information to the deputies so they
could drive by the location. Russell testified he also
researched the address and stated his "research
indicated that the residence was underneath one address, 817
16 Russell testified he drafted a search warrant based on the
officers' observations of the location. He did not
personally visit the address in question prior to preparing
the complaint for a search warrant. Russell identified copies
of the complaint for a search warrant he prepared and the
search warrant that was issued, both of which identified the
target residence as being located at "817 N. Greely
Street" in Monticello.
17 Russell stated that, during the execution of the search
warrant, his "function was security on the Chestnut side
of the residence." He stated he was facing the south
side of the house "where the front door faces."
Russell identified photographs of the target residence
showing the number 1002 displayed on a front pillar of the
house. The following colloquy occurred between defendant
Ross's counsel and Russell:
"Q. And as you were stationed out on the Chestnut side
of the street, at what point did you observe that the address
A. When we arrived, *** we got out, we secured the front side
while they made their entry at the back, and when I looked at
the front of the residence, I saw the numbers 1002.
Q. And what, if any[thing], did you do at that time?
A. There was nothing to do. They already made contact at the
rear of the residence. We were at the front of the residence.
* * *
Q. So again, I'm going to be back to the moment that you
realized that the number 1002 was located at the front of the
residence. You testified that at that time there was nothing
left to do ...