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People v. Holmes

SEPTEMBER 10, 1973.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JOHN HOLMES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Macon County; the Hon. DONALD W. MORTHLAND, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SIMKINS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On May 3, 1971, the grand jury returned an indictment charging the defendant-appellant John Holmes with the offense of cruelty to children (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 23, sec. 2368). Count II of the indictment charged aggravated battery committed upon the same child, Timothy Lee Holmes, his three-year-old stepson. The issues were tried to a jury, which returned verdicts of guilty on both counts of the indictment. The trial judge imposed identical sentences of 2 to 5 years on each conviction, the sentences to run concurrently.

The defendant first argues that the child abuse statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 23, sec. 2368) is constitutionally infirm in that it is "* * * violative of due process in that it is so vague and indefinite that it fails to provide adequate notice of the conduct it proscribes." We find it unnecessary to reach this question since, for reasons hereinafter set forth, we reverse defendant's conviction on this charge.

Defendant also urges that the trial judge erred in refusing an instruction which read:

"A step parent may exercise reasonable discipline over his stepchildren. He is held to the same standard as a natural parent."

This instruction was offered in connection with the charge under the child abuse statute, and in view of our disposition of that charge we decline to consider this assertion of error.

Defendant argues that the trial judge erred in restricting his voir dire examination of jurors as to "* * * whether they understood and would apply * * *" the presumption of innocence. The portion of the record which gives rise to this contention is as follows:

"Q: You have two children?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Have you ever whipped your children?

A: Once or twice when they needed it.

Q: As you sit there now do you believe that the defendant is innocent of the charges against him?

A: I could not tell you, sir. I have not heard ...


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