Judge Holds Off on Whether to Toss Search Warrant That Led DEA to Raid Shorewood Woman's House

The judge said he needed more time to decide whether to effectively kill a misdemeanor marijuana case that sprang from a federal drug investigation.

Angela Kirking of Shorewood and her attorney, Jeff Tomczak. Credit: Joseph Hosey
Angela Kirking of Shorewood and her attorney, Jeff Tomczak. Credit: Joseph Hosey
A Will County judge needs more time to decide whether federal agents and Shorewood cops had the right to raid a 46-year-old face-painter's home in the early morning and search the place for drugs.

The police said they found some—nine grams of marijauna, enough to hit Shorewood resident Angela Kirking with a misdemeanor marijuana charge.

A member of a Drug Enforcement Agency task force started the probe of Kirking when he saw her shopping at a Crest Hill indoor gardening center he had been staking out.

The agent tailed Kirking from Midwest Hydroganics back to her place in Shorewood and later got his hands on her electric bills from February 2013 through September. Compared to two of her neighbors, the bills were "consistently higher," according to a complaint for a search warrant.

Three weeks later, at 4:15 in the morning, two DEA agents "conducted an investigative garbage pull" at Kirking's residence, the complaint said. After going through her trash, the agents reportedly found "multiple green plant stems" that smelled strongly of "green cannabis."

Three days after that, Kirking said, four DEA agents and five Shorewood cops rousted her and her pet terrier from bed and demanded to know whether she was up to no good.

"They had a gun pointed at me when they said, 'Are there any illegal substances in your house?'" Kirking recalled.

Kirking's attorney, Jeff Tomczak, challenged the legality of the search warrant during an April 4 hearing. Will County Judge Bennett Braun took the matter under advisement and said he would hand down his decision Tuesday. On Tuesday he said he needed to give the matter more thought.

"I'm not ready to give a decision on this today," Braun said. The judge said he would issue a written decision and scheduled a date in June for the case to resume. He said Kirking need not attend.

Braun also said he consulted with another judge about the matter because he "had a question about the case law." That judge, Edward Burmila, happened to have issued the search warrant, Braun said.

Judge Braun said he wanted attorneys involved in the case to be aware of his conversation with Burmila. Neither Tomczak nor prosecutor John Rickmon had a problem with it.

Braun also gave Kirking permission to leave the state so she can go to festivals and fairs in order ply her trade as a face-painter.

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