People v. Church, 2017 IL App (5th) 140575 (June). Episode 374 (Duration 7:55)
Defendant used facebook and text message to help a lady get drugs; she ends up overdosing.
After a stipulated bench trial in the circuit court of Effingham County, defendant, was convicted of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance (heroin) (720 ILCS 570/401(d)(i)) under an accountability theory and sentenced to three years and six months in the Department of Corrections.
Jessica James, age 29, died as the result of a heroin overdose.
Defendant’s roommate sold her the drugs.
Defendant was involved in arranging the heroin purchase between the victim and his roommate.
Defendant admitted that his roommate, Jay, supplied heroin to James.
The state admitted facebook conversations between the victim and defendant where she was asking him for drugs. He said he could get her some.
There were also text messages between the two.
Many of the texts were from the victim, informing defendant that he was her only hope for obtaining drugs. Eventually, defendant puts her in contact with his roommate as the source for her to score her drugs. The roommate eventually found a ride to Decatur where he purchased the drugs that he sold to the victim.
The only point of contention during the stipulated trial was whether defendant was accountable for Jay’s delivery of the heroin to James.
Defendant contends the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he aided, abetted, solicited, agreed, or attempt to aid another in the commission of the crime.
He further contends the State failed to prove he possessed the concurrent, specific intent to promote or facilitate the commission of the offense.
In the instant case, defendant was tried under the theory that he was accountable for the actions of Jay, who sold James the heroin that ultimately killed her.
In order for a defendant to be convicted under an accountability theory, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she (1) solicited, aided, abetted, agreed, or attempted to aid another person in the planning or the commission of the offense; (2) did so before or during the commission of the offense; and (3) did so with the concurrent, specific intent to promote or facilitate the commission of the offense.
A defendant may be found guilty on an accountability theory if the State establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant shared the criminal intent of the principal or that there was a common design or scheme.
Accountability focuses on the degree of culpability of the offender and seeks to deter persons from intentionally aiding or encouraging the commission of offenses.
It’s un-rebutted and stipulated for this transaction that Defendant received no money. It’s also not in dispute that the Defendant never touched the heroin.
The trial court said that had the Defendant simply told Miss James my friend has heroin, go talk to him. That may not have been enough to make him accountable.
That is not the case here.
The Defendant told Miss James that Jay Miller frequently had heroin and, in fact, called Jay Miller to tell him to expect Miss James’s call.
The reviewing court agreed that this was just enough for accountability to attach. Here, the victim began asking defendant to help her procure drugs, including heroin. Defendant told James about his friend who frequently drives to Decatur for drugs. Defendant gave James his new phone number and asked James to text her phone number to his new cell number. James complied. Then defendant sent the victim a text explaining she needed to pay for the drugs first because his roommate did not have any money. He then gives her his roommates number and instructs her to call him.
The court said when all the evidence is considered in the light most favorable to the State, it shows that the drug transaction that ended up costing the victim her life could not have occurred without defendant’s involvement.
Defendant talked to both Jay and James and arranged for James to call Jay.
If defendant had not supplied James with Jay’s phone number, the drug transaction would not have occurred.
Contrary to defendant’s assertions, his involvement goes beyond the courtesy of informing his roommate that he had given his telephone number to someone with whom he was not acquainted, and she might be calling.
Under these circumstances, there was sufficient evidence for any rational trier of fact to find defendant guilty.