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People v. Bouska

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 7, 1983.

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

v.

EUGENE BOUSKA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Francis W. Glowacki, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE WILSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Following a jury trial, defendant Eugene Bouska was found guilty of aggravated battery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 12-4) and was fined $1,000 for severely beating his girlfriend, Susan Forsberg. On appeal, he contends that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a new trial because the State's failure to disclose that it had a letter from Mrs. Forsberg which stated that the charges against defendant were not true violated the rules of discovery; (2) the trial court erred in granting the State's motion in limine which prohibited defendant from introducing evidence of the continued relationship between defendant and Mrs. Forsberg after the alleged crime; and (3) defendant was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

Defendant met Mrs. Forsberg in November 1978 when he was head of the flight instruction group at the Schaumburg airport. Mrs. Forsberg enrolled in the flight school to take lessons. Eventually she and defendant became close friends and they began seeing each other romantically. Mrs. Forsberg would stay in defendant's apartment for long periods of time, although she would leave early in the morning and would never spend the night. Defendant resided at the airport because he also had night watchman duties.

The couple began to take trips together, including extended plane trips to Florida. Defendant would allow Mrs. Forsberg to sit in the left hand seat of the aircraft to enable her to gain flight experience. On August 1, 1980, they flew to Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin, spent the night at a lodge and then flew to Oshkosh. The trip lasted six days. Defendant testified that he enjoyed the excursion and that Mrs. Fursberg told him that "it was the ultimate of her life." He also said that before the trip she advised that he be very cautious because she did not want her mother or father to know that she was traveling with him. She feared they would tell her husband and if he knew he would kill her. Mr. Forsberg had threatened defendant several times before the trip. He was unaware, however, that his wife and defendant had been planning their rendezvous for three months.

The events which precipitated this action began when defendant and Mrs. Forsberg attended a fund-raising party in Highland Park, Illinois, on August 9, 1980. Mrs. Forsberg testified that while she was there a man who she did not know began a conversation with her, commented favorably on her appearance and then reached for her and touched her arm. Mrs. Forsberg was standing near the edge of an asphalt floor and when she recoiled from the man's approach she inadvertently stepped back into the mud. Defendant, who was nearby, came over to her, helped her out of the mud and asked whether Mrs. Forsberg knew who the man was. Defendant escorted her to his car to continue their conversation. Forsberg testified that inside the car, defendant forcibly grabbed her hair and hit her head against the window. She said that defendant hit her face with his fists and caused her mouth to bleed. They left the park shortly afterwards and defendant drove to his apartment. Forsberg testified further that they continued to argue in the apartment and that defendant struck her again and accused her of being interested in another man. While she was lying on the bed, defendant allegedly jumped on her with his feet.

Defendant testified that Mrs. Forsberg's injuries were caused after they arrived in his apartment. He stated that they took a shower together, but because they had both been drinking they lost their balance and fell out of the bathtub. Mrs. Forsberg hit her head on a formica vanity top and the middle of her body fell over an open toilet seat. Defendant carried Mrs. Forsberg to the bed and offered to take her to the hospital but she refused. Mrs. Forsberg allegedly became despondent, complained about having so many problems with her home and marriage and, according to defendant, she became hysterical. When she reached for a revolver that he kept under the bed, they began to wrestle. Defendant admitted that he jumped on Mrs. Forsberg's abdomen but explained that he did this in order to prevent her from picking up the gun. He said he did not intentionally injure her ribs, strike her or jump on her pelvis.

Defendant eventually drove Mrs. Forsberg to her home and then left. When her husband saw her physical condition he took his wife to the police station where she filed a complaint. Mrs. Forsberg then checked into a hospital. She remained there for 2 1/2 days. An examination revealed bruises on her face and a black and blue mark over her left eye. There was tenderness over her pelvic area. X rays revealed fractured ribs. A urinalysis disclosed that there was blood in Mrs. Forsberg's urine. Dr. Lawrence Gluskin, who examined Mrs. Forsberg in the emergency room, testified that blood in the urine of a woman who is not menstruating caused him to worry about a possible laceration to the kidney.

Mrs. Forsberg's babysitter, Diane Carbone, testified that when Mrs. Forsberg returned home from her date with defendant her eyes were swollen and she had a bruised face. Carbone stated that although Mrs. Forsberg was not staggering, her walk was stiff and less than normal. After closing arguments by counsel for both sides, defendant was found guilty of aggravated battery.

Two months after trial, on July 22, 1981, defendant filed a post-trial motion for a new trial alleging that the State had failed to reveal in its answer to his motion for discovery that it had received a letter from Mrs. Forsberg in which she stated that the charges against defendant were untrue and that she did not wish to prosecute. The letter in question was addressed to William J. Kunkle, Jr., an assistant State's Attorney. It read as follows:

"October 6, 1980

Please be advised that I am the complaining witness in the case entitled People of the State of Illinois -vs- Eugene Bouska. At the time the complaints were signed, I had just completed a lengthy [sic] hospital stay and it is my opinion that the allegations and facts as charged are untrue. It is my desire not to continue in the prosecution of this matter. I have previously made these statements to ASA Edward Ozog as well as other prosecutors. I feel that it is necessary that I make this request in writing to formalize my position. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely, [signed] Suzanne M. Forsberg

cc: Bernard Carey Ed Ozog William A. Swano."

In rebuttal to defendant's motion the State argued that it could not be charged with suppressing this evidence because the notation at the bottom of the letter "cc: Bernard Carey [State's Attorney of Cook County]; Ed Ozog [assistant State's Attorney]; and William A. Swano [defendant's attorney of record]" indicated that Swano had received a copy of the letter. ...


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