from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 15-CF-757
Honorable Ronald J. White, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE JORGENSEN delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Schostok and Spence concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Defendant, Charles Adrian Scott, appeals from his
conviction of a single count of possession with intent to
deliver at least 100, but less than 400, grams of a substance
containing cocaine (720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(B) (West 2014)).
He contends that the State's evidence was insufficient to
sustain the conviction in that it failed to show that he knew
that a parcel that he accepted contained cocaine. We hold
that the State's evidence was sufficient, especially
considering the implausibility of defendant's testimony,
which we hold we may consider when we evaluate the
sufficiency of the evidence as a whole. We therefore affirm.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 Defendant had a jury trial on the one count of which he was
later convicted. The State's evidence showed that, on
March 31, 2015, Alexander Lupiani, a postal inspector at
O'Hare Airport, noticed that a parcel addressed to
"Jameka Simms" at 1104 Cedar Street in Rockford,
from "Tamika Simms" in Tempe, Arizona, had what he
deemed to be "excessive tape, " a characteristic
that he associated with the mailing of narcotics. He further
noted that the return address included a nonexistent house
number and that Arizona was "one of several states that
is a source for narcotics." Lupiani arranged for a
narcotics dog from the customs service to sniff the parcel.
The dog alerted to the parcel, so Lupiani obtained a warrant
to open it. Inspectors found that it contained a total of
about 2300 grams of a "white powdery substance"
formed into two bricks. These bricks were under a bag of toys
that was contained in a separate box inside the parcel.
4 The postal inspectors decided to remove all but about 150
grams of the substance and make a "controlled
delivery" of the parcel. They replaced the missing
powder with baby wipes, fitted the parcel with a GPS unit and
a beacon to broadcast an alarm when the parcel was opened,
brushed on a fine powder that is visible under ultraviolet
light, and resealed the parcel. On April 1, 2015, the postal
inspectors, in cooperation with the Rockford police,
established surveillance positions around 1104 Cedar Street,
which was a two-story single-family house. William Scott
(William), a postal inspector, dressed as a mail carrier to
make the delivery and carried a cell phone set up to act as a
one-way radio link. The State introduced into evidence a
recording of the transmission over that link. William arrived
at the door somewhat before noon. Defendant answered the
door. William asked defendant if he knew a Tamika Simms.
Defendant said that he was unfamiliar with that name. William
offered to leave a postal delivery slip for defendant to
leave for the parcel's proper recipient. After noting
that his girlfriend was at work, defendant agreed to sign for
and accept the parcel. On the recording, defendant seems to
say that the parcel might have something to do with his
"old lady." William told him that, if the parcel
"was not for anybody at the address[, he should] just
return [it] to the post office." Defendant signed for
the delivery as "Charles Scott, " using his real
name. After making the delivery, William used the cell phone
link to give the other officers a detailed description of
5 According to Mark Jimenez, a detective with the Rockford
police who assisted the postal inspectors, William delivered
the parcel at 11:42 a.m. At 11:45 a.m., defendant and another
male (his nephew, Antonio Williams) exited the house through
the back. Jimenez recognized defendant as the person whom
William had described. Defendant stayed on the back deck
briefly while talking on the phone. He and Williams then got
into a red pickup truck. They stayed in the stationary truck
from 11:45 a.m. to "probably" 12:08 p.m. and then
drove away in it, returning two minutes later. Jimenez
testified that he was close enough to the truck to hear its
engine, but he did not hear the engine being cranked until
just before it was driven away. Jimenez saw defendant and
Williams leave a second time and return after about 10
minutes. Just before a postal inspector announced that the
beacon in the parcel had been triggered, Jimenez saw Williams
leave the house alone and walk north on the sidewalk. Jimenez
arrested Williams "further down the block on Cedar
Street to the west" while most of the other officers
were raiding the house.
6 According to other testimony, the beacon went into alarm
mode at about 1:15 p.m. Defendant was then inside; Williams
was in the backyard. The officers surrounded the house, with
one group going to the front door. At about 1:18 p.m., they
announced themselves as police and demanded entry. About 20
seconds later, just as the officers were about to open the
door by force, defendant opened the door to them.
7 The officers searched the house and found no one but
defendant inside. They found the parcel upstairs on a bed
with both the outer and inner boxes opened. A few items in
the bag of toys were displaced, but the package that held the
baby wipes and the remaining cocaine was not exposed. The
officers found a loaded handgun at the side of the bed in
another bedroom and additional ammunition in the closet. They
found another handgun concealed in the living room couch.
(Both guns had been purchased by defendant's girlfriend,
Betsy Caviness, who had a valid FOID card, but the officers
did not learn that until later.) Clothing that the officers
found in the bedrooms suggested occupancy by multiple people,
both male and female. Some of the clothing was
defendant's. When the officers searched the kitchen, they
found a digital cooking scale in its box, latex gloves, nine
boxes of small plastic bags, and a heat sealer. On testing,
the scale proved to have a cocaine-containing "powder
residue *** under the glass weighing area and also on the
number[ ] keys."
8 Defendant spoke to officers at the scene. He told them that
he and Williams were downstairs when he opened the parcel and
that he had opened it about half an hour before the officers
arrived. After this brief interview at the house, officers
took defendant to the Rockford Police Department. In a longer
interview there, he told them that his permanent residence
was with his sister on Blinn Street but that he often spent
nights at 1104 Cedar with Caviness. He kept most of his
possessions at the Cedar Street house because his
sister's boyfriend was a thief; he also sometimes
received mail there. The heat sealer was a gift from his
mother, but everything else the police discovered belonged to
others. He had not known that there was cocaine in the
parcel. He had previously received parcels at the house that
were addressed to people unknown to him. The last such parcel
he had taken to "a mailbox store" and
"delivered it to return to sender." This time, he
opened the package, but only because "[h]e was curious
to see what was inside."
9 Robert Reffett, a Rockford narcotics detective, testified
that cocaine users would rarely possess more than a gram of
cocaine at a time. The approximately 150 grams of cocaine
delivered to defendant was "a large quantity of cocaine,
" with a street value of "right around $14,
800." The presence of firearms, multiple boxes of
sandwich baggies, a heat sealer, latex gloves, and a digital
scale were all consistent with the business of breaking up
large quantities of cocaine for sale in smaller lots.
10 Defendant was the sole defense witness. He testified that
he "live[d] with Betsy Caviness [on Cedar Street], but
[his] personal address [was] at [his] sister's
house." "That's the address I am back and forth
in between. That address is my girlfriend's, and my
address with-you know, with my belongings there." His
daughter, son, and grandson also lived with Caviness. He was
the only resident at home late on the morning of April 1,
2015, but "Tony" (Williams) was also present after
about 11:10 a.m. He and Williams were close and often spent
11 Defendant thought that the parcel had been delivered at
"11:30, 11:40. Give or take a few minutes." As far
as he could tell, the person who delivered it was an ordinary
mail carrier. The supposed mail carrier asked him if "
'Jawanna' Sims [sic]" lived there, and
defendant responded, "[N]obody by that name live
here." He knew neither a " 'Jawanna' Sims
[sic]" nor a "Tamika Sims
[sic]." He was not expecting a parcel that day
and had not known what was in it.
12 Defense counsel asked defendant why he signed for the
parcel if he did not know the addressee. Defendant responded,
"The mail carrier said *** you can take this card and
have somebody pick it up or either you can take the package
right now. I say, 'Well, what do you think?' He says,
'Well, you want to take the package?' I say, 'I
don't, but I will.' " Defense counsel asked him
if he said anything to the mail carrier about Caviness.
Defendant responded, "I told him that she might know the
person who the package was going to, I didn't, and I told
him that if he wanted to leave it, you know, I will take
13 Defendant took the parcel and put it on a chair in the
downstairs den. He and Williams then discussed a car nearby
that Williams thought was for sale, which was of interest to
the two of them because they sometimes fixed up cars and
resold them. Defense counsel asked defendant to describe the
departures and arrivals from the house. The following
"Q. What did you and your nephew do?
A. We got in my sister's truck. We drove down the street
because the car was just about a block down the street by the
corner. We looked. There was no for sale sign on the car. He
said there was. Nobody in the car. We went back down Preston,
back down Tate, back down Cedar Street, and pulled back into
Q. That was the first time that you left the house; is that
Q. After you went and looked at this car, what did you and
your nephew do?
A. Okay. We went back into the house. We come back out. My
sister's truck have problem starting. So it wouldn't
start for a couple minutes. So we sit in the truck. When we
got the truck started, we was headed over towards my
mom's house, but my daughter had called me while we was
headed that way and said somebody had hit my mom or did
something to my mom.
Q. Okay. It was based on that conversation that you and
[your] nephew were then headed towards your mom's?
Q. You had mentioned-we heard testimony from Detective
Jimenez that at one point you and your nephew were seen
seated in the truck for a couple minutes.
A. That's when it wouldn't start.
Q. Ultimately were you able to get the truck to start?
A. Yeah, her truck do that. When you first crank it up in the
morning and you drive it, it cuts off, and then it won't
start for a while.
Q. So based on your conversation with your sister or your