from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Tazewell
County, Illinois, Appeal No. 3-15-0594 Circuit No. 13-CF-487
Honorable Paul P. Gilfillan, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE CARTER delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Lytton and O'Brien concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Defendant, Steve W. Gill, appeals following his conviction
for aggravated arson. He argues on appeal that the evidence
presented at trial was insufficient to prove him guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendant also argues that the
circuit court erred in failing to suppress certain pieces of
evidence at trial. Further, defendant urges that he was
denied a fair trial. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and
remand for further proceedings.
3 The State charged defendant by indictment on September 25,
2014, with aggravated arson (720 ILCS 5/20-1.1(a)(1) (West
2012)) and residential arson (id. § 20-1(b)).
The indictment alleged that defendant knowingly damaged the
house of Timothy Rayner by fire on June 19, 2012, when he
knew or should have known that one or more persons were
present within the house.
4 Defense counsel filed a motion to quash the seizure of
defendant's clothing from the Pekin hospital and suppress
the clothing as evidence, arguing that the seizure did not
meet any exceptions to the warrant requirement. In a separate
motion, defendant sought to quash the seizure of his truck
from a parking lot in North Pekin on the same grounds.
Defendant also filed motions arguing that the seized evidence
should be excluded on the grounds that the seizures were
executed by East Peoria law enforcement officials, who were
without authority to execute those actions in those
5 The circuit court held a suppression hearing on March 13,
2015. At the hearing, Detective David Catton of the East
Peoria Police Department testified that he came on duty at 8
a.m. on June 19, 2012. Catton soon thereafter received a
phone call from Sergeant Brian Despines, informing him that
there had been a house fire at approximately 3:30 that
morning. Despines notified Catton that defendant was a
suspect, and that he had been transported to the hospital
from the Denny's restaurant in North Pekin. Catton first
went to Denny's, then, at approximately 10 a.m., to the
scene of the fire. He testified that the inside of the burned
house smelled of gasoline. He also noticed that a Jeep parked
in the driveway of the house smelled of gasoline. Inside the
Jeep, Catton noticed a gas can and white rags "similar
to the rags that I found in the truck at Denny's."
6 Catton testified that he went to the Pekin hospital at
approximately 2:15 p.m. on June 19, 2012, to speak with
defendant. At the hospital, Catton was accompanied by
Assistant Chief John Knapp of the East Peoria Fire
Department, East Peoria arson investigator Eric Duckworth,
and State Fire Marshal's arson investigator Shane Arndt.
7 Upon arriving at the hospital, Catton and the other
investigators met with Jeffrey Lickiss, who was the nurse
attending to defendant. Lickiss told Catton that upon intake
defendant had smelled of gasoline. Lickiss escorted the
investigators to what Catton described as a common area on
the seventh floor of the hospital. Lickiss retrieved
defendant's clothing for them. Catton initially testified
that Lickiss retrieved the clothing from "behind the
counter on that floor." Catton also testified:
"[T]he nurse got the clothing that was behind the
counter of [defendant]." Later, Catton agreed to defense
counsel's assertion that Lickiss had retrieved the
clothing "from behind the counter."
8 Catton testified that Lickiss had retrieved the clothing at
the investigators' request, but he did not remember which
specific investigator asked for the clothing. The clothing
was then laid out upon the floor so that Arndt's canine
could perform a free air sniff. After Arndt told Catton that
the canine had alerted, Arndt took the clothing into custody.
9 After the canine free air sniff, Catton and Arndt went to
speak with defendant. Catton testified that defendant's
room was "right where we were standing" and the
door was open. Lickiss indicated which room was
defendant's room, and Catton, who was familiar with
defendant, could see him through the open door. Catton
described defendant's room as a single occupancy,
agreeing when counsel referred to it as a "private
10 Lickiss testified that he first saw defendant on the day
in question when other hospital personnel needed assistance
removing his clothing and establishing IVs. Defendant was
lying on a bed in a private room. When Lickiss first entered
the room, he asked if defendant had been in an automobile
accident, noting the odor of gasoline. Lickiss assisted in
the removal of defendant's clothing, and temporarily
placed them on the floor in the corner of the room.
11 A nurse told Lickiss that the police wanted to speak to
him. Lickiss assumed that the nurse had told police of his
observation of the odor of gasoline. Lickiss then left the
room and went to the nurses' station, where he told a
police officer that he had smelled gasoline. Lickiss then
testified: "He wanted the clothing, so we went back into
the room and bagged up the clothing. And I think there was a
brief discussion as to whether it should be put into plastic
or should be put in paper because the personal belonging bags
we have are plastic." The following colloquy ensued
between defense counsel and Lickiss:
"Q. And so was any of the clothing taken from behind a
A. I believe that we took the clothing from the room, put it
in bags and took it to the nursing station.
Q. Why did you do that?
A. To get it out of the room and then to put it in a
centralized secure area.
Q. And did you remove them from the nurse's station after
A. I gave them to the police officer from the nurse's
testified that he did not seek defendant's consent to
turn over the clothing because he was unintelligible and not
in a state to give consent.
12 Lickiss further testified that all of the events in
question occurred on the first floor of the hospital, in the
emergency room (ER). He testified that he had been involved
in two recent cases involving the securing of clothing, one
of which occurred in the ER, and one of which occurred on the
seventh floor. Lickiss recalled that the incident on the
seventh floor involved an arson investigator. The ER
incident, which Lickiss was testifying to, occurred around 5
a.m. Lickiss did not recall the clothing being laid out on
13 Arndt testified that he was an arson investigator for the
Illinois State Fire Marshal's arson division. He was
notified around 3:30 a.m. on June 19, 2012, of a fire in East
Peoria. The course of his investigation led him to the Pekin
hospital around 2:30 p.m. He went to the hospital with
Catton, Knapp, and Duckworth. Upon arrival, Arndt went to
"a nurse's station next to a room." He did not
recall which floor they were on, but did remember later that
he "went down" to retrieve his canine. He noted
that it was "just a hospital room, " and not the
ER. He described the nurses' station as a large counter
with several rooms adjacent to it.
14 From the nurses' station, Arndt observed defendant
lying on a bed, alone in the room. Arndt did not enter the
room at that time. Someone-though not Arndt himself-then
requested the clothing. Arndt retrieved his canine. Arndt
recalled that the clothing was brought to the front of the
nurses' station in a single plastic bag; he could smell
gasoline when the clothing was first removed from the bag.
The canine performed a free air sniff of the clothing. This
occurred on the floor in front of the nurses' station.
Arndt testified that the canine alerted to the front pocket
and leg area of a pair of jeans, but not anywhere else that
he recalled. Arndt removed all the clothing from the
hospital, with the exception of a pair of boots.
15 The circuit court denied defendant's motion to
suppress. In so ruling, the court commented:
"I think that issue has been addressed quite clearly in
the cases cited with regard to people's clothes in
hospitals. To me there's no distinction between an [ER]
and a nurse's station on a particular floor. This
decision might even be the same even if it was in the
defendant's hospital room, but we're not dealing with
that situation today."
16 At a later court date, the circuit court entertained the
parties' arguments relating to the jurisdiction of
authorities to seize defendant's clothing from the
hospital in Pekin and his truck from North Pekin. The court
agreed that East Peoria does not adjoin either of those
towns, as it is separated from both by the village of Creve
Coeur. Nevertheless, the court found that officers retain
authority or jurisdiction to investigate offenses and conduct
seizures in nonadjoining municipalities.
17 On May 28, 2015, the circuit court conducted a hearing on
defendant's motion to suppress the seizure of his truck.
At that hearing, defendant testified that on June 19, 2012,
he was at a Denny's restaurant between 4 and 5 a.m. He
had driven his 1994 Dodge truck to the restaurant and parked
it in the lot. Defendant testified that at some point while
eating his breakfast, he "became unconscious." The
next thing he remembered was waking up in a private room at
the Pekin hospital. Defendant testified that he was released
from the hospital around 6 p.m., at which point his brother
drove him back to Denny's to retrieve his truck. When he
arrived, his truck was no longer in the parking lot.
18 The State did not call any witnesses at the hearing,
arguing that the burden was on defendant. The State argued
that "there [was] sufficient evidence from Detective
Catton's previous testimony that he had probable cause to
seize the Defendant's vehicle."
19 On May 29, 2015, the State filed a document titled
"People's Supplemental Attachment to Response to
Motion to Quash Seizure of Motor Vehicle Without Probable
Cause." Attached was a copy of Catton's complaint
for a search warrant for defendant's truck. The complaint
alleged that at approximately 8 a.m. on June 19, 2012, he
located defendant's truck. Catton swore in the complaint:
"I observed a gas can and several items of clothing in
the back of the truck in plain view, as well as rags which
were similar in appearance to those found in [the]
Jeep." Catton also swore that the truck resembled the
one he later saw in surveillance footage. The truck was towed
to the East Peoria Police Department at 9:34 a.m. The
complaint for search warrant was dated July 9, 2014.
20 The same day, May 29, 2015, the circuit court issued a
written order denying defendant's motion. Specifically,
the court found that Catton had probable cause to seize the
21 On June 3, 2015, defendant filed a motion to reconsider
and an objection to the State's supplemental attachment
of the search warrant complaint. Defendant argued: "The
State chose to not call the Detective Catton [sic]
to the stand to avoid his cross-examination, but are
attempting to use his written words as a substitute."
Defendant objected to the warrant complaint being used as
evidence at the hearing.
22 The circuit court agreed that if it considered as evidence
the information provided via Catton's search warrant
complaint, defendant should be afforded an opportunity to
cross-examine Catton. The court ordered Catton to appear for
23 Upon testifying a second time, Catton elaborated on his
conversation with Despines when he first came on duty. In
addition to the previously provided details, Catton testified
that Despines told him a Jeep parked in the driveway of the
burned house smelled of gasoline and contained a gas can that
did not belong to the occupants of the house. Defendant was a
suspect, due to an altercation between him and an occupant of
the house earlier that morning. Despines told Catton that
defendant's truck was in the Denny's parking lot and
had a gas can in the back. Catton drove to Denny's, where
he noticed defendant's truck in the parking lot, with a
gas can in the truck bed.
24 Catton admitted there had not been a determination that
the fire was arson until after Catton had defendant's
truck towed. Catton did not learn that information until
approximately 10 a.m., when he spoke to the arson
investigator. Catton could not make any connection between
the gas can in the Jeep and the gas can he observed in the
bed of defendant's truck.
25 The circuit court denied defendant's motion to
reconsider, finding Catton had probable cause to seize the
26 At trial, Tim Rayner testified that on June 19, 2012, he
lived at 118 West Bluff Street in East Peoria. At the time,
Rayner was living with Star Ashley, who was dating one of
Rayner's friends. Rayner and Ashley were watching movies
in the house around 10 p.m. on June 18, 2012, when a man in a
truck arrived, looking for Ashley. The man and Ashley had an
argument outside the house about money.
27 When the argument eventually ended, the man left in his
truck. Later, after receiving a phone call, Ashley asked
Rayner to drive her to the Creve Coeur police station. Rayner
drove her to the police station in his Jeep and waited
outside. Ashley returned to the Jeep approximately 45 minutes
later, and they returned to the house on Bluff Street. Rayner
parked his Jeep in the driveway. He fell asleep on the couch
around 3 a.m.
28 Rayner was awakened later by the sound of his smoke alarm.
When Rayner awoke, he felt "[a] lot of intense
heat" and saw heavy black smoke. He noted: "The
kitchen was blazing pretty good." He woke Ashley up, and
they left the house. As they left the house, Rayner noticed
that one of the kitchen windows "had a hole in it."
29 Rayner was shown a series of photographs of his Jeep. The
photographs showed a gas can on the front passenger-side
floorboard and a rag on the front driver-side floorboard. He
testified that neither of those objects was in the Jeep when
he parked it upon returning from the police station. Rayner
also testified that after the fire, his Jeep emitted a strong
odor of gasoline.
30 Mark Ehlke, an officer with the Creve Coeur Police
Department on June 18, 2012, testified that he was on patrol
that night when he responded to a theft call at the Ragon
motel. The individual who made the theft complaint was
defendant. Defendant told Ehlke that Ashley had taken $310
from his pocket while he slept earlier that day. Ehlke
testified that, while he was speaking with defendant,
defendant did not emit any particular odors. Ehlke called
Ashley, who met him at the police station. He did not arrest
Ashley, and allowed her to leave the station around 11:18
31 Duckworth testified that he was an arson investigator with
the East Peoria Fire Department. He testified that he arrived
at the scene of the fire at 5:05 a.m. In his investigation,
he noticed that the Jeep parked in the driveway of the house
smelled of gasoline and had a small gas can on the front
passenger-side floorboard. Inside the house, Duckworth
determined that the fire had originated in the kitchen,
against an exterior wall.
32 Duckworth also noticed physical evidence in the front yard
of 112 West Bluff Street, two houses from Rayner's house,
in the direction of Meadow Avenue. Duckworth testified that
he "found some debris that had been burned that had
burned in two different spots. Also, next to one of the
debris marks, I found a Bic lighter."
33 Duckworth testified that, as part of his investigation, he
interviewed neighbors living directly across the street from
Rayner's house. The neighbors turned over surveillance
footage from their home security system. The surveillance
video was played in court. At the 4:48:53 mark in the video,
a dark figure can be seen moving about the vicinity of the
house across the street. Twenty-one seconds later, that house
erupts into fire. An individual carrying a burning object
runs into the street from the area of the house and runs down
the street, to the right from the perspective of the camera.
After running down the street for about 12 seconds, the
individual throws the burning object from his person and
continues running off screen. A small fire where the
discarded fiery object was thrown remains on screen.
Emergency vehicles can be seen arriving approximately eight
34 Duckworth explained that the street seen in the video is
Bluff Street, and that the burning house is Rayner's.
Duckworth further explained that the individual in the video
was running away in the direction of Meadow Avenue and that
the area in which the individual discarded the fiery object
corresponded with the yard in which Duckworth found burnt
debris. He also testified that the time stamp in the video
was one hour and 26 minutes fast, meaning the dark figure
moving around Rayner's house is first seen at 3:22 a.m.
Based on the surveillance footage, the odor of gasoline in
the home, and laboratory results indicating the presence of
gasoline, Duckworth concluded that the fire had been
35 The next day, Duckworth went to Go-T's tavern, which
was at the corner of Bluff Street and Meadow Avenue, seeking
to review its surveillance footage. After viewing the
surveillance footage, Duckworth returned to the tavern the
next day, June 21, 2012. In a grassy area next to the
building, Duckworth found a gray hooded sweatshirt with burn
marks on one of the sleeves. Inside a pocket of the
sweatshirt was a Bic lighter. Duckworth did not note the size
of the sweatshirt.
36 Catton testified that he came on duty at 8 a.m. on June
19, 2012. Around that time, he received a phone call from
Despines, informing him that there had been a
"suspicious" fire in the overnight hours, that
there was unexplained gasoline and a gas can in a Jeep, that
defendant was a suspect, and that defendant's vehicle was
at Denny's in North Pekin. Catton testified that he found
defendant's vehicle, a 1994 Dodge truck, in the
Denny's parking lot. In the bed of the truck, Catton
observed a blanket, a spare tire, a gas can, bar and chain
oil, and a tow strap. Catton arranged for defendant's
truck to be towed. Catton accompanied the truck to the tow
yard and took photographs. The photographs show a large white
blanket in the section of the truck bed closer to the cab, as
well as fading paint in a jagged or zigzag pattern on the
truck's hood. At a later date, Catton obtained a search
warrant for defendant's truck. The search revealed a Bic
lighter under the truck's front seat.
37 Catton went to the scene of the fire around 10:30 a.m.
Catton observed an odor of gasoline emanating from the Jeep
parked in the driveway, as well as a gas can and a white rag
on the front floorboards. He testified that the Jeep was
open-that is, it likely had a canvas top, but the top was not
attached. Catton noted that the rag was similar to those he
saw in the bed of defendant's truck.
38 Catton also viewed the surveillance footage from
Go-T's tavern collected by Duckworth. Footage from two
different camera angles was played in court. Catton provided
extensive testimony throughout the viewing of the
surveillance footage. Defense counsel objected, arguing that
Catton was interpreting the video, and that the video should
instead speak for itself. The court overruled the objection.
39 The first camera angle shows a street, with a building
across that street next to a streetlight. A truck makes a
right turn off the road toward the camera at 3:06 a.m. After
making the turn, the truck pulls out of sight in the upper
left area of the screen. Approximately 12 minutes later, a
dark figure can be seen emerging from the general area in
which the truck turned out of sight, and walking across the
street. Catton explained that the street in view is Meadow
Avenue and that the area under the streetlight to which the
dark figure walked is the intersection of Meadow Avenue and
Bluff Street. Five and a half minutes later, a figure crosses
the street in the opposite direction. About two minutes
later, a vehicle-of which only a slight portion can be
seen-emerges from the lower right portion of the screen and
turns right onto the road.
40 The second camera angle is fixed on a door to a building,
which Catton explained was the back door to Go-T's
tavern. Just after 3:06 a.m., a dark-colored truck pulls
between the door and the camera, then slowly drives off
screen to the right. At 3:09 a.m., the truck backs up in the
opposite direction. There are contents in the bed of the
truck, including a large white area toward the cab-end of the
bed, but nothing can be discerned in great detail. Just
before 3:25 a.m., the truck's headlights come on, and it
turns right as it approaches the door. When slowed, the video
seems to show a zigzag pattern on a portion of the
41 Catton testified that there were several indentifying
characteristics on the truck in the surveillance footage that
matched defendant's truck. He testified that the zigzag
pattern on the hood of the truck in the video matched the
pattern of paint fade on the hood of defendant's truck.
Catton also testified that the taillights on the truck in the
video were recognizable as those of a Dodge Ram truck. He
also observed a white blanket and a tire in the back of the
truck in the video, matching the contents of defendant's
42 Catton testified that defendant called him three days
after the fire, enquiring about his truck. Catton asked
defendant to come to the police station. Defendant never came
to the station, and Catton was not able to locate him. After
a search warrant was issued, Catton retrieved defendant from
Louisiana, Missouri, in June 2014.
43 At trial, Lickiss testified that around 6 a.m. on June 19,
2012, he received a request from the ER at the Pekin hospital
to assist with a patient. Lickiss identified that patient as
defendant. Lickiss assisted in removing defendant's
clothing and dressing him in a hospital gown. When Lickiss
first walked into the room, he noticed the odor of gasoline.
After removing defendant's clothing, Lickiss placed the
clothing in the corner of the room.
44 Lickiss testified that he got off duty around 7 that
morning. Lickiss returned to the hospital for his next shift
around 2 p.m. the same day. At that point, defendant was in
room 707 of the intensive care unit (ICU). Lickiss recalled