from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit,
Whiteside County, Illinois. Appeal No. 3-15-0352 Circuit No.
14-CF-254 Honorable John L. Hauptman, Judge, Presiding.
SCHMIDT, PRESIDING JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the
court, with opinion. Justices Carter and Holdridge concurred
in the judgment and 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
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
7 Ludwig testified that he escorted defendant to the
manager's office inside the store. He read defendant his
Miranda rights with Worcester and Donna Courtney,
the Wal-Mart manager, present. Ludwig searched defendant and
found 14 items of girls' clothing in his backpack and on
8 Courtney testified that defendant told her he took the
clothes because his ex-girlfriend prohibited him from seeing
their daughter unless he bought her school clothes. Courtney
described defendant as "very distraught." He
offered to clean the windows, clean the floor, or provide
whatever labor necessary to repay the store for the stolen
clothes. Courtney processed a receipt showing the stolen
items' retail value totaled $76.91.
9 She also copied footage from six surveillance cameras onto
a digital versatile disc (DVD). None of the cameras covered
the girls' clothing section. The State played portions of
the DVD that contained footage from four of the six cameras.
In relevant part, the video showed defendant entering the
vestibule area, placing a backpack on the Coinstar machine,
and retrieving his backpack when he left the store. Defendant
elected not to testify on his own behalf.
10 During the first day of deliberations, the jury sent the
court four notes. The first note requested to see
Peppers's written police statement (which the State did
not admit into evidence) and to review Courtney's DVD.
With the parties' consent, the court declined the
jury's requests. The second note requested Ludwig's
police report. The court declined the jury's request
without objection. The third note reported that the jury
reached a verdict on one charge but remained split on the
11 The jury's final note reported that the jury reached
an impasse; the jury again requested to review Courtney's
DVD to help resolve the deadlock. Without objection, the
court again declined the jury's request to review the
DVD. The court also issued a Prim instruction (see
People v. ...