Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. No. 15 CR
13839 01 Honorable James B. Linn, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE MASON delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Pucinski and Hyman concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Following a 2016 bench trial, defendant Anterius Beck was
convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm by a street
gang member and 10 counts of aggravated unlawful use of a
weapon (AUUW), for which he was sentenced to five years'
imprisonment. On appeal, Beck argues that (i) the State
failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that the
Black P. Stonesare a street gang as defined by the
Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act (Act)
(740 ILCS 147/10) (West 2014)); (ii) section 24-1.8 (a)(1),
(b) of the Criminal Code of 2012 (720 ILCS 5/24-1.8(a)(1),
(b) (West 2014)), under which he was convicted, is
unconstitutional because it impermissibly criminalizes a
defendant's status in violation of the eighth amendment;
and (iii) the admission of a "certification" by the
State to prove that he did not have a Concealed Carry License
and Firearm Owner's Identification Card violated his
sixth amendment right to confrontation. For the reasons that
follow, we reverse Beck's conviction for unlawful
possession of a firearm by a street gang member, affirm his
convictions of AUUW, and remand for sentencing on the AUUW
3 Beck was charged with 1 count of unlawful possession of a
firearm by a street gang member and 10 counts of aggravated
unlawful use of a weapon after a police officer, during a
foot chase on August 7, 2015, recovered a gun that Beck
tossed to the ground.
4 At trial, three police officers from the Chicago Police
Department gang investigation unit-Officers Albert Wyroba,
Paul Heyden, and Apacible-testified to the events of that day. At
approximately 8 p.m. on August 7, Apacible and Wyroba were
performing surveillance on the 700 block of North Lorel
Avenue in Chicago, while Heyden was working as an enforcement
officer in the same location. Apacible received information
regarding a black male wearing a blue sweatshirt, white
T-shirt, and red pants, who was seen in the area armed with a
gun. Wyroba observed a man matching that description,
identified in court as Beck, place a handgun into his front
right pocket while standing among a crowd of approximately 20
other individuals. Wyroba alerted enforcement officers.
5 Heyden received the alert to detain Beck and exited his
unmarked Chicago police vehicle, at which point Beck saw the
officer and began running.
6 Heyden and Wyroba, who also saw Beck flee, immediately gave
chase. As Beck headed west through a gangway, Apacible joined
the pursuit. At this point, Beck took the gun out of his
right pocket and threw it to the ground. Heyden recovered the
gun while Apacible and Wyroba continued to give chase. Beck
was ultimately detained at an elementary school by Apacible
7 Heyden stood over the gun until another officer secured it,
at which point it was unloaded, placed into a bag, and
inventoried. The firearm was a 9-millimeter Ruger handgun
with two rounds in the magazine. Beck was arrested and
transported to the police station.
8 After Beck waived his Miranda rights, he spoke to
two of the officers. Beck told the officers that he had been
a member of the Black P. Stones for five years and he held
the position as the "chief of the shorties" of the
"L Town Black P. Stones" and that he had been
blessed in by their chief.
9 Officer Wyroba testified based on his eight years'
experience as a gang officer that to be "blessed"
meant to become an active member of the Black P. Stones.
Officer Wyroba further testified that the Black P. Stones are
a street gang that controls the narcotics and weapons trade
in an area on the west side of Chicago. That area included
Kinzie to Iowa Streets, and Laramie to Central Avenues.
Officer Wyroba testified that Beck had a tattoo on one of his
forearms depicting the street signs of Lorel and Huron, which
signified the Black P. Stones' control of the area. The
State introduced into evidence a photograph depicting
Beck's forearm tattoos.
10 The State also introduced into evidence a certified letter
from the Illinois State Police Division of Administration
stating that Beck had neither a Firearm Owner's
Identification Card (FOID card) nor Concealed Carry License
(CCL). Finally, the State offered into evidence a certified
copy of Beck's adjudication of delinquency for robbery in
case number 14 JD 03937. Beck did not object to the admission
of either document.
11 After the State rested, the trial court denied Beck's
motion for a directed finding. Beck rested without presenting
12 The trial court found Beck guilty on all counts. The court
merged the convictions and sentenced Beck to five years in
the Illinois Department of Corrections, which he has fully
served. This appeal follows.
14 Initially, we address Beck's challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence to convict him of unlawful
possession of a weapon by a street gang member. A challenge
to the sufficiency of the evidence requires us to view the
trial evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution
and inquire whether any rational trier of fact could have
found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319
(1979); People v. Smith, 185 Ill.2d 532, 541 (1999).
A criminal conviction will not be reversed "unless the
evidence is so improbable or unsatisfactory that it creates a
reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt."
People v. Graham, 392 Ill.App.3d 1001, 1009 (2009).
It is ...