Is Mixing Substances Together (Found on a Crime Scene) Considered Tampering With Evidence ?

In People v. Coleman, 391 Ill. App. 3d 963, 909 N.E.2d 952, 330 Ill. Dec. 930 (2009), a police detective recovered 15 bags of suspected cocaine. He weighed the bags at the scene and each bag weighed either 63 or 64 grams. He also field-tested one of the bags and it tested positive for cocaine. The detective then emptied all 15 bags into a larger evidence bag, which was sealed and sent for chemical testing. At trial, the State offered a stipulation that the chemist received the sealed evidence bag and the results of the testing showed that the bag contained 926 grams of cocaine. Coleman, 391 Ill. App. 3d at 967-68. On appeal, the defendant argued that the detective altered or tampered with the suspected narcotics when he emptied all 15 bags into one evidence bag. The Coleman court pointed out that under the statutes, "it should be apparent that a police officer's mixing substances together at the crime scene is not necessarily a matter of indifference to the defendant. The greater the amount of illegal substance the defendant possesses, the greater the crime-and, for that reason, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the weight of the substance containing the drug." Coleman, 391 Ill. App. 3d at 971. After discussing the decisions in Jones and Kaludis, the court concluded that separate containers of white powder is even less distinctive than white rocks. Coleman, 391 Ill. App. 3d at 972.