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People v. Johnson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

December 5, 2019

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Darren JOHNSON, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 108

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Whiteside County, No. 14-CF-254; the Hon. John L. Hauptman, Judge, presiding.

          Michael J. Pelletier, Patricia Mysza, and Gilbert C. Lenz of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

          Terry Costello, State's Attorney, of Morrison ( Patrick Delfino, Lawrence M. Bauer, and Dawn Duffy, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

         Panel PRESIDING JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Carter and Holdridge concurred in the judgment and opinion.

         OPINION

         SCHMIDT, PRESIDING JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 On July 22, 2014, Rock Falls police arrested defendant, Darren Johnson, for shoplifting $76.91 worth of clothing from a local Wal-Mart. The State charged defendant with retail theft and burglary. After his first trial resulted in a hung jury, a second jury acquitted defendant of retail theft but convicted him of burglary. The Whiteside County circuit court sentenced defendant to eight years in prison. We reverse and remand for a new trial.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 The State charged defendant by information with burglary and retail theft on July 23, 2014. Defendant waived his right to counsel on August 26. His first trial resulted in a hung jury on October 22. His second trial began on November 18. Before opening statements, the trial court prohibited the jury from taking notes. The judge told the jury: "I do not allow note taking * * *. I am a firm believer * * * in the collective memory of the jury. * * * [A]nd I do not want you to be distracted by note taking."

         ¶ 4 During the State's case, Amanda Peppers testified that she saw defendant and another man inside the Rock Falls Wal-Mart on July 22, 2014, while she was shopping with her nephew. The two men "were kind of walking around with a bunch of stuff in their hands," and "they would kind of veer off in other directions" when Peppers approached them. As she left the store and walked to her car, Peppers saw the two men retrieve backpacks from behind vending machines outside the store's entrance. The men removed stolen items that they concealed in their clothes and placed them in the backpacks. Peppers called the police.

         ¶ 5 Before police arrived, Peppers saw the men walk toward a Coinstar machine in the store's vestibule. After the men briefly reentered the store without their backpacks, Peppers saw defendant exit the store, retrieve his backpack, and walk toward the parking lot.

         ¶ 6 Officer James Hollaway of the Rock Falls Police Department testified that he responded to Peppers's call with Sergeant John Worcester and Officer Jarrett Ludwig at 7:16 p.m. While Worcester and Ludwig walked toward the store's entrance, Hollaway sat in the parking lot and observed defendant retrieve his backpack from atop the Coinstar machine before he walked toward the parking lot. Hollaway stopped defendant to ask him if he took items from the store without paying for them; defendant lowered his head and answered "yes."

         ¶ 7 Ludwig testified that he escorted defendant to the manager's office inside the store. He read defendant his Miranda rights with Worcester and ...


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