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People v. Starks

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

June 28, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KEITH L. STARKS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 15-CF-307 Honorable Linda S. Abrahamson, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Jorgenson and Spence concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          MCLAREN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Following a jury trial, defendant, Keith L. Starks, was convicted of one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver within 1000 feet of a church (720 ILCS 570/407(b)(1) (West 2014)) and one count of driving while his license was revoked (625 ILCS 5/6-303(a) (West 2014)). Following a simultaneous bench trial, defendant was also convicted of one count of aggravated unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 2014)). The trial court sentenced defendant to eight years' imprisonment on the drug conviction and five years' imprisonment on the weapon conviction, to be served concurrently. Defendant argues that his drug conviction should be reduced to simple possession, because the evidence did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt defendant's intent to deliver. Defendant also argues that his weapon conviction should be reversed because a baton does not qualify as a "bludgeon" within the meaning of the statute. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On May 6, 2016, defendant was charged in a four-count indictment relating to actions alleged to have occurred on February 24, 2015. Count I alleged unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver within 1000 feet of a church, in that, "while within 1000 feet of a Church, Elgin Community Church, [defendant] knowingly and unlawfully possessed with the intent to deliver to another, one or more grams, but less than 15 grams of a substance containing cocaine [(a Class X felony)]." Count II alleged aggravated unlawful possession of a weapon, in that defendant, "who has been convicted of a felony[, ] knowingly possessed a bludgeon, being a metal expandable baton [(a Class 3 felony)]." Count III alleged unlawful possession of a controlled substance, in that defendant "knowingly and unlawfully possessed less than 15 grams of a substance containing cocaine [(a Class 4 felony)]." Count IV alleged that defendant "operated a motor vehicle at a time when [defendant's] driver's license was suspended or revoked [(a Class A misdemeanor)]."

         ¶ 4 On April 6, 2016, a "reindictment" was issued. Counts I, III, and IV were realleged as in the original indictment, but count II was elevated to a Class 2 felony, based on defendant's prior Class-2-or-greater drug conviction.

         ¶ 5 On April 8, 2016, the trial court granted defendant's motion to sever count II. Defendant waived a jury trial on count II, and the State nol-prossed count III.

         ¶ 6 On April 11, 2016, a bench trial was held on count II, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and a jury trial was held on counts I and IV, alleging unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver within 1000 feet of a church and driving while his license was revoked, respectively.

         ¶ 7 Detective Tom Wolek of the Elgin Police Department testified as follows. Wolek had worked for the department for 20 years and was a detective with the "special investigations division." On February 24, 2015, Wolek conducted in a narcotics investigation with Officer Shaun Schroeder, Detective Gorcowski, and Sergeant Bianchi. Wolek drove an unmarked sport-utility squad vehicle and the others rode along as passengers. Wolek wore a bulletproof vest with police markings on the front and back. Wolek drove to the area of Mark Avenue and Mildred Avenue and began following a Honda Civic. The Civic turned onto Mildred Avenue and then proceeded to McLean Boulevard. The driver of the Civic did not activate the car's turn signal at least 100 feet before turning onto McLean. Wolek continued to follow the Civic and then attempted to conduct a traffic stop by activating his vehicle's flashing lights. But the Civic did not pull over; instead it continued on McLean and turned into Hooper's Sports Bar's parking lot. "Basically, [the Civic] drove around the entire bar, the front, the side and the back and then came back out to the front." When the Civic was near the back of the bar, Wolek activated his vehicle's spotlight and siren. But the Civic did not stop. Instead, it returned to the area in front of the bar, started heading back toward McLean, and then stopped.

         ¶ 8 Wolek approached the driver's window of the Civic with his gun out of its holster for "safety," because it was suspicious that the vehicle had not stopped immediately. Wolek ordered the driver, defendant, to exit the vehicle. Wolek handcuffed defendant because Wolek knew that defendant's driver's license had been revoked. Gilberto Feliciano was in the front passenger seat of the Civic. After Wolek and Officer Jordan Rapacz handcuffed defendant, they searched him and found "a box of plastic [sandwich] baggies [and] several loose plastic baggies." Defendant was then taken to the Elgin Police Department.

         ¶ 9 When Wolek searched the Civic, he found a large Ziploc sandwich bag on the driver's-side floorboard and a sandwich bag "containing suspect[ed] drugs [appearing] white in color" on the passenger's-side floorboard. Wolek also recovered a dark-colored jacket on the driver's seat, near the center console. Inside the jacket, Wolek found a metal, expandable baton. The baton was similar to batons issued to police officers "for use of force [and] protection." All the items Wolek found were given to Officer Schroeder.

         ¶ 10 At the police station, Wolek advised defendant of his Miranda rights and defendant signed a Miranda waiver form, which the trial court admitted into evidence. Wolek testified that defendant told him that he had been with Feliciano at a relative's house shortly before the traffic stop. Defendant told Wolek that he was driving Feliciano's car because Feliciano was experiencing a medical issue that prevented Feliciano from driving. Defendant also told Wolek that he did not immediately stop the car because he was scared and that the drugs were not his. But defendant admitted to Wolek that the plastic bags found on his person belonged to him, as well as the jacket and the baton.

         ¶ 11 On April 5, 2016, Wolek and Detective Craig Tucker, a narcotics investigator, went back to the parking lot where the traffic stop had occurred and they measured the distance between the location of defendant's Civic and the nearby Elgin Community Church, using a measuring wheel. The distance measured was less than 1000 feet.

         ¶ 12 The police video of the traffic stop was played in court. The trial court admitted into evidence all the items found at the scene of the traffic stop and a certified copy of defendant's driver's abstract, which showed that defendant's license was revoked at the time of his arrest.

         ¶ 13 Schroeder testified as follows. Schroeder assisted Wolek with the traffic stop of defendant. Schroeder approached the passenger side of defendant's car, had Feliciano exit the car, and, upon searching him, discovered five "fake" $20 bills in Feliciano's possession. After Schroeder completed his search of Feliciano, Feliciano started to shake and convulse. Feliciano told Schroeder that he had epilepsy and ...


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