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03/23/94 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. BARBARA WILKENSON

March 23, 1994

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
BARBARA WILKENSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable William P. O'Malley, Judge Presiding.

As Corrected June 14, 1994. Released for Publication July 14, 1994. Second Corrected August 3, 1994.

Cerda, Tully, Greiman

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cerda

JUSTICE CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a bench trial, defendant, Barbara Wilkenson, was found guilty of violating section 4 of the Wrongs to Children Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 23, par. 2354, now codified as 720 ILCS 150/4 (West 1992)), commonly known as the child endangerment statute. She was sentenced to one year probation.

On appeal, defendant asserts that (1) her motion to dismiss the complaint at the close of the State's case should have been granted; (2) her motion for a directed finding should have been granted; (3) she was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; and (4) the child endangerment statute is unconstitutional. We affirm.

On September 3, 1991, defendant was arrested in the backyard of her home at 1846 North Lincoln Park West in Chicago. Chicago police officer Thomas Fuller testified that he received a radio call around 11:40 p.m. of a woman screaming for help. After arriving at the scene, Fuller saw defendant standing naked in the backyard of a condominium building. She was holding a butter knife to the throat of a baby. The knife had a three to four inch blade.

Fuller stated that he ordered defendant, who was screaming the Lord's prayer and "I have to kill this baby," to throw down the knife, but she continued to hold the knife and scream. After being ordered numerous times to drop the knife, defendant finally dropped the knife. At that point, Fuller and police officer Debra Maurer grabbed defendant and another police officer grabbed the baby. When the baby was taken, a steel vice grip and a wooden stick with metal studs fell from defendant's arms.

On cross-examination, Fuller admitted that his arrest report did not state that defendant said that she had to kill the baby. Instead, Fuller's report stated that defendant was reciting parts of the Lord's Prayer and yelling "help me;" threw the knife down when she was told to do so; and threw other objects into the alley.

Officer Maurer testified that she responded to a radio call about a woman screaming in an alley sometime after 11 p.m. on September 3, 1991. When Maurer arrived at 1846 North Lincoln Park West, she saw defendant, who was naked, holding a knife to the neck of a baby. As defendant was screaming the Lord's Prayer, "Jesus Christ," and "Dan, I am doing this for you" over and over, Maurer told her to put down the knife. When Maurer's partner grabbed defendant and another police officer grabbed the baby, Maurer pulled defendant's hand down to handcuff her. At that time, defendant dropped the knife.

As defendant was being subdued, she was "still ranting and raving and saying the Lord's Prayer and using her legs to get back and fighting the whole time." According to Maurer, defendant was also yelling about killing the baby. Maurer testified that she did not notice any injuries to the child.

Chicago police sergeant Curtis Mayo testified that he arrived at the scene after 11:30 p.m. on September 3, 1991. He saw Officer Maurer attempting to subdue a naked woman. Defendant was irrational, screaming, hollering the Lord's Prayer, asking for help, and saying, "Dan, I'm doing this for you." After examining the baby, who was seven months old at the time of the incident, Sergeant Mayo observed that the child had not been bruised.

After the State rested, the trial court denied defendant's motions to dismiss the complaint and for a directed finding.

Defendant then testified that she was at home with her daughter, Estelle Wilkenson, during the evening of September 3, 1991. As she was preparing a bath for herself and her daughter, who was seven months old at the time, defendant heard noises. Thinking that someone was trying to break into her apartment, she grabbed ...


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