People v. Murphy, 1-14-2092

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation77 N.E.3d 96,2017 IL App (1st) 142092
Docket NumberNo. 1-14-2092,1-14-2092
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Darnell MURPHY, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date14 March 2017

2017 IL App (1st) 142092
77 N.E.3d 96

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Darnell MURPHY, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 1-14-2092

Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, SECOND DIVISION.

March 14, 2017
Modified upon denial of rehearing April 11, 2017


Michael J. Pelletier, Patricia Mysza, and Christofer R. Bendik, of State Appellate Defender's Office, for appellant.

Anita M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg and Mari R. Hatzenbuehler, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

OPINION

JUSTICE MASON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 Following a bench trial, defendant, Darnell Murphy, was found guilty of burglary.

77 N.E.3d 98

He was sentenced, because of his criminal background, to a Class X sentence of eight years in prison. On appeal, Murphy contends that he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because the State failed to establish that he did not have permission to be inside the building or that he intended to commit a theft. He also contests the imposition of certain fines and fees. We affirm and correct the fines and fees order.

¶ 2 Lakisha Wilson is an employee of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and works in the telephone operating department located at 1140 S. Paulina. The building houses the university's telecommunications equipment and is accessible only by university employees using either a key card or a key; students cannot walk through the building.

¶ 3 On Sunday, April 15, 2012, Wilson arrived at work around 6:00 a.m. Only two other UIC employees were in the building that day. Wilson used her key card to gain access and went to her office in the basement. From her desk, Wilson could see a video security monitor that displayed activity in other areas of the building. Around 7:45 a.m., Wilson looked up and saw, on the monitor, an individual later identified as Murphy in the basement hallway of the building. Wilson could tell that Murphy was not a UIC employee. The monitor showed Murphy holding a pole in his hand, "grabbing on the doorknobs trying to see if they were open," and "looking in the equipment in our department." Wilson observed Murphy looking in boxes in the hallway and moving boxes.

¶ 4 Wilson, who was nervous and "couldn't get [her] words correct," asked a coworker to call the UIC police while Wilson kept her "eye on the monitor to watch" Murphy. Murphy eventually disappeared from view on the monitor, and a few minutes later, Wilson saw Murphy "some inches" from her, on the other side of a divider in the cubicle area. Wilson told Murphy to leave and asked him what he was "doing down here." Murphy responded that he was "just looking."

¶ 5 Other video surveillance depicted Murphy in the garage area of the building looking into the windows of vehicles parked there.

¶ 6 UIC police officer Bryan Muhammad responded to a call of a suspicious person. He used his key card to enter the building and walked to the basement. There, he saw Murphy, who was "[c]learly" not a UIC employee. As Murphy walked toward him, Muhammad told him to stop and then took him into custody. When Muhammad asked Murphy why he was in the basement, he responded, "it's cool, bro, I'm just looking for something." Muhammad recovered a white box containing "cable wire" that was located near an elevator that Wilson had observed Murphy moving.

¶ 7 In finding Murphy guilty of burglary, the trial court stated that

"the most persuasive of the evidence is that actual video, observing the actions of Mr. Murphy. There is absolutely nothing in the video that suggests he was lost or he was looking for a way to get out.

What is clear is this was a building not for students but for workers and that you need a key card to get in the building. There is nothing in the evidence that can tell me how he got into the building, but it's clear from what is observed on the video that he was looking for stuff."

The court then sentenced Murphy, because of his criminal background, to a Class X sentence of eight years in prison.

¶ 8 On appeal, Murphy contends that he was not proven guilty of burglary beyond a reasonable doubt because the State failed

77 N.E.3d 99

to prove that he lacked authority to enter the 1140 S. Paulina building and that he intended to commit a theft inside the building.

¶ 9 When reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, the relevant question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the 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. Brown , 2013 IL 114196, ¶ 48, 377 Ill.Dec. 1, 1 N.E.3d 888. It is the responsibility of the trier of fact to resolve conflicts in the testimony, weigh the evidence, and draw reasonable inferences from the facts. People v. Bradford , 2016 IL 118674, ¶ 12, 401 Ill.Dec. 630, 50 N.E.3d 1112 ; People v. Valladares , 2013 IL App (1st) 112010, ¶ 112, 374 Ill.Dec. 1, 994 N.E.2d 938 ("As the trier of fact, the trial court is in a superior position to assess the credibility of witnesses, resolve any inconsistencies, determine the weight to be given the testimony, as well as any reasonable inferences that can be drawn."). Accordingly, a reviewing court will not substitute its judgment for that of the fact finder on questions involving the weight of the evidence or the credibility of the witnesses. Id . This court will reverse a defendant's conviction only where the evidence is so unreasonable, improbable, or unsatisfactory that a reasonable doubt regarding defendant's guilt remains. Id .

¶ 10 To sustain a conviction for burglary, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant, without authority, knowingly entered or remained within a building with intent to commit therein a felony or theft. 720 ILCS 5/19-1(a) (West 2010). Burglary is accomplished the moment an unauthorized entry with the requisite intent occurs regardless of whether a subsequent felony or theft was actually committed. People v. Poe , 385 Ill.App.3d 763, 766, 324 Ill.Dec. 667, 896 N.E.2d 453 (2008). Absent direct evidence, intent must be proven circumstantially, and a conviction may be sustained on circumstantial evidence alone. People v. Johnson , 28 Ill.2d 441, 443, 192 N.E.2d 864 (1963). Intent is usually proven through circumstantial evidence, that is, inferences based upon defendant's conduct. People v. Ybarra , 156 Ill.App.3d 996, 1002-03, 109 Ill.Dec. 501, 510 N.E.2d 122 (1987). "Like other inferences, this one is grounded in human experience, which justifies the assumption that the unlawful entry was not purposeless, and, in the absence of other proof, indicates theft as the most likely purpose." Johnson , 28 Ill.2d at 443, 192 N.E.2d 864.

¶ 11 Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, as we must (Brown , 2013 IL 114196, ¶ 48, 377 Ill.Dec. 1, 1 N.E.3d 888 ), there was sufficient evidence to find Murphy guilty of burglary beyond a reasonable doubt when the evidence at trial established that (1) entry into the 1140 S. Paulina building was controlled by a key or key card and limited to UIC employees, (2) two UIC employees testified that Murphy was not employed by UIC, (3) Murphy was in the building on a Sunday morning when only three employees were in the building, and (4) Murphy was observed moving boxes and attempting to open doors. The trial court's inference that Murphy's entry into the building on a Sunday morning showed his intent to commit a theft therein is completely rational. See Johnson , 28 Ill.2d at 443, 192 N.E.2d 864. A trier of fact is not required to disregard the inferences that normally flow from the evidence or to seek out all possible explanations consistent with a defendant's innocence and elevate them to reasonable doubt. See In re Jonathon C.B. , 2011 IL 107750, ¶ 60, 354 Ill.Dec. 484, 958 N.E.2d 227 ;

77 N.E.3d 100

People v. Moore , 2014 IL App (1st) 112592, ¶ 33

("[T]he fact finder need not disregard inferences that flow normally from the evidence or seek all possible explanations consistent with innocence and elevate them to reasonable doubt."). Ultimately, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, we find that the circumstantial evidence presented at trial was sufficient to find Murphy guilty of burglary. Brown , 2013 IL 114196, ¶ 48, 377 Ill.Dec. 1, 1 N.E.3d 888.

¶ 12 But Murphy contends that the fact that the "owner/manager" of the building did not testify at trial that Murphy did not have authority to enter the building means that the State failed to establish that he "lacked authority" to enter the building. However, two UIC employees testified that the building was restricted to UIC employees, that entry to the building was via key card or key, and that Murphy was not a UIC employee. Further, Wilson's coworker, another of the employees present that morning, called the UIC police at Wilson's request, so it is safe to assume that coworker did not give Murphy permission to enter the building. Murphy does not cite any authority that requires the State to positively disprove the existence of any other person who could possibly have permitted Murphy to enter the premises. Indeed, Murphy's very presence in a building that was inaccessible to the public and limited to UIC employees with key cards or keys is sufficient to support the reasonable inference that he entered the building without authority. It was for the trial court, as the trier of fact, to determine what inferences to draw from the facts presented at trial; this court will not substitute its judgment for that of the trial court on this issue. See Bradford , 2016 IL 118674, ¶ 12, 401 Ill.Dec. 630, 50 N.E.3d 1112.

¶ 13 To the extent that Murphy contends that the State failed to establish that he had the intent to commit a theft because he did not try to conceal his presence, did not "exhibit a guilty conscience" when approached by a UIC policeman, and did not actually take anything, we...

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