People v. Gharrett

Decision Date27 April 2016
Docket NumberNo. 4–14–0315.,4–14–0315.
Citation403 Ill.Dec. 278,53 N.E.3d 332
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Lucas N. GHARRETT, Defendant–Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Michael J. Pelletier, Jacqueline L. Bullard, and Ryan R. Wilson (argued), all of State Appellate Defender's Office, Springfield, for appellant.

Karle Koritz, State's Attorney, Clinton (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and Luke McNeill (argued), all of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

OPINION

Justice STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 In October 2013, the State charged defendant with burglary and contributing to the criminal delinquency of a minor after defendant allegedly enlisted the help of his wife's two-year-old daughter to steal cash and checks from an office within the Secretary of State (SOS) building in Clinton. After a February 2014 trial, the jury found defendant guilty of both counts. The court later sentenced defendant to 12 years in prison for contributing to the criminal delinquency of a minor and an extended-term sentence of 12 years for burglary.

¶ 2 Defendant appeals, arguing that (1) the evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of contributing to the criminal delinquency of a minor, (2) the evidence was sufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of burglary, (3) the trial court erred by allowing witness testimony narrating a surveillance video, and (4) the court erred by imposing an extended-term sentence on the burglary conviction. Because we agree only with defendant's first argument, we (1) reverse defendant's conviction for contributing to the criminal delinquency of a minor and (2) affirm his conviction and sentence for burglary.

¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND
¶ 4 A. The Charges Against Defendant

¶ 5 In October 2013, the State charged defendant with contributing to the criminal delinquency of a minor (720 ILCS 5/12C–30(b) (West 2012)) and burglary (720 ILCS 5/19–1 (West 2012) ). The burglary count alleged that defendant did the following:

[Defendant] knowingly without authority entered or remained within a building or any part thereof, specifically a private office within the Illinois Secretary of State Driver's Facility in Clinton, with the intent to commit therein a felony or theft.”

Before trial, the State amended the charge to remove the “ or remained within” language.

¶ 6 B. Defendant's Jury Trial

¶ 7 The following evidence was presented at defendant's February 2014 jury trial.

¶ 8 Kim Gharrett was newly married to defendant. On September 17, 2013, Kim, defendant (who was 25 years old at the time), and Kim's two-year-old daughter, N.J., went to the SOS facility in Clinton to change Kim's last name.

¶ 9 The State introduced a compact disc containing video recorded by several surveillance cameras within the SOS building. The video was shown to the jury, and multiple witnesses testified about what the video depicted.

¶ 10 The video from the various camera angles showed the layout of the SOS building. The main door of the building opened into a large waiting room. The back wall was lined with chairs, which faced forward toward a long front counter. Employees stood behind the counter and assisted patrons. On one side of the counter was a room where driver's license pictures were taken. On the other side of the counter was a short hallway that led to restrooms and an office. Video from a camera in the office showed a desk with a computer, along with tables on which sat various pieces of office equipment. The camera's view of the desk was partially obscured by a potted plant. The door to the office was open.

¶ 11 The video showed defendant, Kim, and N.J. enter the SOS building and sit in the waiting room. N.J. began wandering around the waiting room. She eventually walked toward the hallway containing the restrooms and the office. When defendant followed her, N.J. ran down the hallway and into the office. Defendant followed her and retrieved her from the office. As N.J. walked out of the office, defendant leaned over and reached toward the desk with his right hand. The potted plant obscured the view of what defendant was doing with his hand. Defendant and N.J. then returned to the waiting room.

¶ 12 Shortly thereafter, defendant, N.J., and Kim were standing at the counter, when defendant bent over toward N.J. for a few seconds. When defendant stood upright, N.J. immediately ran down the hallway. She stopped at the restroom door and tried to open it. Defendant followed N.J., grabbed her hand, and led her into the office. As defendant entered the office, he had nothing in his right hand. The camera in the office showed defendant reach with his right hand toward the desk. Because the potted plant obscured the view, the video does not show what defendant did with his hand at the desk. As defendant left the office, he was holding something in his right hand. Defendant and N.J. returned to the counter in the waiting room.

¶ 13 Amy Sessions testified that she was working behind the counter on September 17, 2013, when defendant, Kim, and N.J. entered. Sessions handled the name-changing process for Kim. Sessions noted that N.J. was “very rambunctious, running around through the office, behind the counter. Loud.” Sessions explained that the office near the restrooms was not open to the public. She stated further that the door to the office was generally left open, and there was no sign explicitly identifying that the office was not open to the public. In the 10 years that Sessions had worked at the facility, she was unaware of any member of the public entering the office.

¶ 14 Paula Maddox testified that she worked at the SOS building and was responsible for removing and counting cash and checks from the registers at various times throughout the day, a process known as a “ recap.” On September 17, 2013, Maddox conducted a recap and bundled $303 in cash with some checks. She placed the cash on top of the checks, wrapped a rubber band around the bundle, and placed it in a desk drawer in the office. Later that day, she noticed that the bundle was missing.

¶ 15 The State showed Maddox some snippets of the surveillance video and asked her to describe what the video depicted. Maddox identified herself in the office, counting cash for the recap. She then identified herself placing the bundle from the recap in a desk drawer, the video of which was obscured by the potted plant. The State then showed Maddox the video of defendant entering and leaving the office. When the video showed defendant leaving the office for the second time, Maddox identified the object in defendant's right hand as the bundle of cash and checks from the recap. Maddox testified further that the office was not open to the public but that there was no sign so stating.

¶ 16 SOS investigator Joseph Foster testified that on September 20, 2013, he was dispatched to investigate the missing cash and checks from the SOS facility in Clinton. The State showed Foster part of the video. Foster identified defendant in the video and testified that the video showed defendant entering the office without anything in his right hand but exiting with “something in his right hand.” Foster testified further that the office was “not a room for civilians or the general population to go into.”

¶ 17 The jury found defendant guilty on both counts. After an April 2014 sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced defendant to 12 years in prison for contributing to the criminal delinquency of a minor. In addition, the court imposed a concurrent, extended-term sentence of 12 years in prison for burglary because defendant had been convicted of another Class 2 felony within the previous 10 years.

¶ 18 This appeal followed.

¶ 19 II. ANALYSIS

¶ 20 Defendant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of contributing to the criminal delinquency of a minor, (2) the evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of burglary, (3) the trial court erred by allowing witness testimony narrating the surveillance video, and (4) the court erred by imposing an extended-term sentence on the burglary conviction. We address defendant's claims in turn.

¶ 21 A. The Evidence Was Insufficient To Prove Defendant Guilty of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

¶ 22 Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of contributing to the criminal delinquency of a minor. We agree.

¶ 23 1. Statutory Language and Standard of Review

¶ 24 A person 21 years of age or older commits the offense of contributing to the criminal delinquency of a minor when he does the following:

“with the intent to promote or facilitate the commission of an offense solicits, compels or directs a minor in the commission of the offense that is * * * a felony when the minor is under the age of 17 years * * *.” 720 ILCS 5/12C–30(b)(i) (West 2012).

¶ 25 When reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court asks whether, considering the evidence in a light most favorable to the State, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Wheeler, 226 Ill.2d 92, 114, 313 Ill.Dec. 1, 871 N.E.2d 728, 740 (2007). We will not retry a defendant on appeal. Id. The trier of fact is in the best position to judge the credibility of witnesses, “and due consideration must be given to the fact that it was the trial court and jury that saw and heard the witnesses.” Id. at 114–15, 313 Ill.Dec. 1, 871 N.E.2d at 740. A reviewing court must allow all reasonable inferences from the record in favor of the prosecution. People v. Cunningham, 212 Ill.2d 274, 280, 288 Ill.Dec. 616, 818 N.E.2d 304, 308 (2004). A conviction will be reversed only when the evidence is “so unreasonable, improbable, or unsatisfactory that it...

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12 cases
  • State v. Holley
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • January 12, 2018
    ...reviewed a video may offer a narration, pointing out particulars that a casual observer might not see"); People v. Gharrett , 403 Ill.Dec. 278, 53 N.E.3d 332, 344 (Ill. App.) (The court concluded that a clerk had properly testified about her perception of an object, namely a bundle of cash ......
  • People v. Hampton
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 8, 2021
    ...apply to testimony identifying an object in a video recording. People v. Gharrett , 2016 IL App (4th) 140315, ¶¶ 75-76, 403 Ill.Dec. 278, 53 N.E.3d 332. ¶ 85 A witness can also testify concerning other aspects of the events depicted in the video if the witness is in a better position than t......
  • People v. Guerrero
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • June 26, 2018
    ...position to consider P.G.'s testimony and accompanying hand gesture. See People v. Gharrett , 2016 IL App (4th) 140315, ¶ 25, 403 Ill.Dec. 278, 53 N.E.3d 332. However, we cannot overlook that the prosecutor misled the jury during closing arguments. ¶ 56 First, the prosecutor characterized P......
  • People v. Burlington
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 20, 2018
    ...the intent to commit theft constitutes an entry "without authority." See People v. Gharrett , 2016 IL App (4th) 140315, ¶ 53, 403 Ill.Dec. 278, 53 N.E.3d 332 (collecting cases). One such case with facts similar to those before us is People v. Rudd , 2012 IL App (5th) 100528, ¶ 13, 361 Ill.D......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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