People v. Stamps

Decision Date23 July 1982
Docket NumberNos. 81-40,81-41,s. 81-40
Citation63 Ill.Dec. 919,438 N.E.2d 1282,108 Ill.App.3d 280
Parties, 63 Ill.Dec. 919 PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Billy STAMPS and Hilmon Stamps, Defendants-Appellants.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Sam Adam and Richard Stopka, Chicago, for defendants-appellants.

Richard M. Daley, Chicago, for plaintiff-appellee; Michael E. Shabat and David L. King, Chicago, of counsel.

SULLIVAN, Presiding Justice:

In a jury trial, defendant Hilmon Stamps (Hilmon) was convicted of illegal possession and delivery of more than 30 grams of cocaine, a controlled substance, and defendant Billy Stamps (Billy) was convicted of illegal possession and delivery of more than 30 grams of a substance containing cocaine and of more than 30 grams of a substance containing heroin. 1 (Ill.Rev.Stat.1977, ch. 56 1/2, pars. 1401(a)(1), (2), 1402(a)(1), (2).) Merging the convictions for possession into the convictions for delivery, the trial court sentenced Hilmon to 12 years imprisonment and Billy to concurrent terms of 15 years for delivery of cocaine and delivery of heroin.

On appeal, defendants contend that (1) the seizure of the narcotics was improper; (2) Billy was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (3) the trial court erred (a) in permitting a bank trust officer to give explanatory and opinion testimony as to a land trust agreement involving Billy, which purported error was compounded by the prosecutors' remarks in closing argument, (b) in barring the defense from cross-examining the arresting police officers as to bias and motive, and (c) in denying them the right to present a defense; (4) the jury (a) was not instructed on Billy's theory of defense, and (b) was improperly instructed that defendants could be convicted of illegal possession if they controlled the "area" where the substances were found; and (6) the trial court abused its discretion by sua sponte modifying the instruction defining possession.

Investigator Zito testified that in the early morning hours of November 21, 1977, he and Investigators Mokstead and DeSimone drove to a building located at 4654 West Madison Street after being informed that a large narcotics transaction would take place; that when their squad car was about 100 feet from the building, he observed three people standing at the doorway, and when they were 40 to 60 feet away he saw one of the individuals--identified as Carl Branch--with his arm outstretched holding a plastic bag which he was giving to the others; that when the squad car was 25 to 30 feet away, Branch dropped the container and ran into the building while the other two individuals fled east on the street; that Zito picked up the plastic container of white powder and put it into his pocket, and getting no response to a request to open the door he forced it open with a pry bar and sledgehammer; that he entered the building--a furniture warehouse--and followed an individual to the top of a stairway where he saw Branch and another man--identified by Zito in court as Hilmon--who was carrying a brown leather case with a strap; that Branch went into an office section, and he followed Hilmon into a lavatory where on a wastebasket under the sink he saw the leather case in which he found several plastic containers of white powder similar to the one recovered on the sidewalk; that he turned Hilmon and the case over to Mokstead and, when there was no reply to his demand to open the office door, he forced it open with the sledgehammer; that upon entering, he saw Branch throwing plastic bags of white powder against the wall and Billy crouching down and running to the right of Zito; that when Billy refused his order to stop, Zito threw the sledgehammer and reached for his revolver; that when the lights went on, he observed Billy on the floor holding his head; that he (Zito) had no intention of hitting Billy with the sledgehammer; that there was white powder on Branch's hands and clothing and on the floor immediately in front of him and on the wall; that on a desk in the room there were two plastic bags containing white powder, a scale, and several weapons; and that on another desk there were a number of plastic bags containing white powder.

Investigator Mokstead testified that at the request of Ruby Fay Thomas he obtained a wet wash cloth for Billy's face and then searched the office and secured the items which were lying on the desks, which included a mixer; that he searched a hole in the ceiling and recovered a brown paper bag containing three plastic bags of brown powder; and that, after Billy made a telephone call, his brother-in-law Paul Jackson arrived and was given a set of keys by Billy.

It was stipulated that the bag of powder recovered on the sidewalk contained 19.74 grams of cocaine; that the bags in the leather case contained 282 grams of cocaine; that the two plastic bags recovered from one of the office desks contained 49.29 grams of cocaine; and that the bags of brown powder recovered from the ceiling contained 45.13 grams of heroin. There was also testimony that telephone, gas, and electric company records listed Stamps Brothers Furniture at 4654 West Madison Street as a customer; that the telephone and gas service was billed to "Johnny Stamps" and the electricity billed to "W. Stamps doing business as Stamps Brothers Furniture"; and that no one in the Stamps family had a first name beginning with "W" aside from Billy.

Asserting that he was merely present at the warehouse at the time in question, Billy testified that he was a licensed trainer of horses, having sold a trucking business he had previously owned; that he had no interest in the building in question and had never obtained telephone, gas, water, or electrical service for it; that at the time in question (November 21, 1977), he was with Hilmon, Ruby Thomas, and Edna Jackson (his sister) in her bar next door to the warehouse; that Hilmon and Ruby left and went to the warehouse while he remained in the lounge to borrow $150 from Edna, who told him that while she was getting the money he was to wait for her at the warehouse; that since he had no keys, he knocked and Paul Jackson let him in; that Ruby and Hilmon were there along with two men whom he later learned were Carl Branch and George Washington; that he was on the second floor when he heard a door slam and a loud noise, as though someone was trying to break in; that Hilmon left the room, and Branch came in carrying a leather bag from which he pulled "stuff" out and threw it "every which way"; that Zito then entered and ordered him to "get upside the wall"; that when Billy asked what he had done, Zito shouted a profanity and again ordered him against the wall, this time striking him above the right eye with the sledgehammer and rendering him unconscious; that he was first taken to a hospital where he received treatment and then to the police station; and that, while Zito had originally intended to charge him with "disorderly," after Billy threatened to sue Zito he was charged with illegal possession.


We first consider the legality of the police conduct during the seizure of the narcotics. Defendants contend that the police illegally entered the warehouse and arrested Hilmon Stamps without probable cause and that the warrantless seizure of the leather case and of the items in the office area was illegal. Based on the record before us, however, we conclude that the trial court properly denied defendants' motion to suppress the evidence.

In Mancusi v. DeForte (1968), 392 U.S. 364, 367, 88 S.Ct. 2120, 2123, 20 L.Ed.2d 1154, 1158-59, it was stated:

"This Court has held that the word 'houses' as it appears in the [Fourth] Amendment, is not to be taken literally, and that the protection of the Amendment may extend to commercial premises. * * * [C]apacity to claim the protection of the Amendment depends not upon a property right in the invaded place but upon whether the area was one in which there was a reasonable expectation of freedom from government intrusion."

With respect to the warrantless searches of commercial or business premises, the court further stated that except in certain carefully defined classes of cases, a nonconsensual search of private property can only be made on the authority of a search warrant. (392 U.S. 370, 88 S.Ct. 2125, 20 L.Ed.2d 1161.) Consistent with Mancusi, the courts of this state have recognized that the protection of the fourth amendment may extend to places other than private residences. In People v. Davis (1980), 86 Ill.App.3d 557, 41 Ill.Dec. 611, 407 N.E.2d 1109, it was held that the police acted illegally in entering the premises of a grinding company without a warrant. The court found that those premises did not permit general public access and that the arrest of defendant, who was a part-time employee, was without probable and sufficient exigent circumstances. Similarly, in People v. Clark Memorial Home (1969), 114 Ill.App.2d 249, 252 N.E.2d 546, the court required suppression of evidence seized in a nonconsensual and nonexigent entry of law enforcement officials into an American Legion Post occupied by a veterans' organization open only to members and guests and found not to be public in nature. By contrast, in People v. Boyle (1977), 51 Ill.App.3d 320, 9 Ill.Dec. 343, 366 N.E.2d 600, police entry upon Chicago Transit Authority premises, over which accused had no legal control, did not require suppression of evidence seized without a warrant. The accused allegedly conducted gambling operations in a CTA building in potential view of employees and others using the facility, and the officer had previously been on the premises, implying CTA approval of his presence. Likewise, in People v. Johnson (1974), 21 Ill.App.3d 769, 315 N.E.2d 579 (abstract), the court held that no warrant was required for police entry into a pool hall open to the public (also see People v. Learch (1966), 77...

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    ...of the presence of the narcotics and that the narcotics were in his immediate and exclusive control. (People v. Stamps (1982), 108 Ill.App.3d 280, 63 Ill.Dec. 919, 438 N.E.2d 1282, appeal denied, 92 Ill.2d 571, citing People v. Nettles (1961), 23 Ill.2d 306, 178 N.E.2d 361, cert. denied (19......
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