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May 24, 1996



The Honorable Justice Cousins delivered the opinion of the court: Gordon and Hourihane, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cousins

The Honorable Justice COUSINS delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial, defendant Stevey Adams (Adams) was convicted of two counts of aggravated battery and one count of armed violence. The trial court sentenced Adams to 10 years' imprisonment for armed violence and five years' concurrent imprisonment for two counts of aggravated battery. On appeal, Adams argues that: (1) the trial court abused its discretion by allowing into evidence for impeachment purposes Adams' prior convictions for aggravated battery; (2) the prosecution's closing argument denied Adams' a fair trial; (3) the trial court erred by not specifying in the jury instructions which form of aggravated battery was serving as the predicate offense for armed violence; and (4) Adams' two aggravated battery convictions must be vacated because the convictions were based on the same act constituting the basis for his armed violence conviction, violating one act-one crime principles.


On October 23, 1992, John Lighthall (Lighthall) was injured in a fight at the Play House nightclub in Forest Park, Illinois. Adams was charged by information with one count of attempted first degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery and one count of armed violence. Prior to trial, Adams' counsel made a motion in limine to prevent the State from using Adams' prior convictions for aggravated battery and possession of a controlled substance as impeachment against him. The trial court denied the motion.

At trial, Lighthall testified that on October 23, 1992, he was working as a bouncer at the Play House nightclub. When Lighthall began working that evening, he was stationed at the front door. He began floating around the bar at approximately 12:45 a.m., when he received complaints from women that they were being harassed while going into the washroom. Lighthall then went to the women's washroom, where he observed Adams and his brother, Frank, blocking the women's washroom, harassing and touching the women going into the washroom. Lighthall approached Stevey and Frank and asked them to leave the area of the women's washroom and sit elsewhere. Frank then stated, "Punk, don't you know you can get killed messing with us tonight. Don't mess with me tonight." Lighthall grabbed Frank's hand and escorted him through the crowd to the front door. While walking away, Lighthall heard Stevey yell "ready." Lighthall turned around and Stevey punched him directly in the left eye. Stevey and Frank began to beat Lighthall with their fists, pitchers and beer bottles. After the fight, Lighthall was transported to Loyola University Medial Center emergency room for treatment.

On cross-examination, Lighthall testified that he thought Stevey had hit him with two beer bottles and Frank also hit him with two beer bottles. He admitted, however, that he testified at the preliminary hearing that Frank hit him with four bottles. He admitted that he was dividing up the four bottles between Stevey and Frank for the first time at trial.

Officer Anthony Thomas testified that he was off duty at the Play House nightclub on the day of the incident. He observed the fight between Lighthall, Frank and Stevey from approximately 50 to 75 feet away. Officer Thomas observed Stevey and Frank standing over Lighthall, hitting him and grabbing bottles and pitchers from the table and hitting him with those objects two or three times. Lighthall's shirt was pulled up to his shoulder blades. He was slouched over and face down. Officer Thomas saw Stevey pick up a beer pitcher from the table and break the pitcher over Lighthall's head. Stevey then cut Lighthall with the broken pitcher in the shoulder area. Frank and Stevey then pushed their way through the crowd and out the door. Officer Thomas stated that he assisted Lighthall, who was lying on the ground with a severe cut to the left side of his shoulder. When the police arrived, Officer Thomas gave them a general description of Stevey and Frank.

On cross-examination, Officer Thomas testified that he knew Stevey because he had arrested him before. He stated that he did not see the whole fight, but he did observe Stevey pulling Lighthall's shirt over his body and he saw Stevey hitting Lighthall with a pitcher two times. On redirect, Officer Thomas testified that there was nothing obstructing his view while he observed the fight.

Officer Karl Watson testified that he responded to a radio call of a fight in progress at the Play House nightclub. When he arrived, he obtained Frank's and Stevey's names from Officer Thomas. He communicated this information to the Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park police departments. Officer Daniel Dhooghe testified that, on the night in question, he was in an unmarked car and dressed in plain clothes. At approximately 12:50 a.m., he received a radio broadcast reporting an occurrence of an aggravated battery at the nightclub. The broadcast provided Officer Dhooghe with Frank's and Stevey's names and gave their descriptions. While on patrol, Officer Dhooghe observed a vehicle without headlights being driven away from the area of the Play House nightclub. Officer Dhooghe pulled the vehicle over. When Officer Dhooghe asked Stevey for a driver's license, Stevey stated that he did not have one. Stevey told Officer Dhooghe his name, and Officer Dhooghe noticed Frank was bleeding from his hand. The officer took Stevey and Frank Adams into custody.

Dr. Robert Johnson testified that he was employed at Loyola University Medical Center. He stated that Lighthall had a stab wound in his left shoulder approximately nine inches long and one inch deep. Lighthall also suffered a black eye, two superficial lacerations to the head and one superficial laceration to the right forearm.

The defendant then made a motion for a directed verdict on the attempted first degree murder charge and the aggravated battery charges, which the trial court denied. The defense then presented its case in chief.

Stevey testified on his own behalf. He stated that on October 23, 1992, he and Frank were in the Play House nightclub. At approximately 12:45 a.m., they were talking with some male and female friends near the washrooms. He denied that they touched or harassed any of the women going into the washroom. Stevey testified that Lighthall told Frank to get away from the washroom and grabbed Frank by the throat. Frank knocked Lighthall's hand down with his hand, and Stevey walked over to Lighthall and said "John, we ain't here to start no trouble or anything like that, you know. We are just here to have a good time." Stevey put his arm around Lighthall and assured him that there were no problems. After talking to Stevey, Lighthall ran back over to Frank and grabbed him by the neck again. Stevey tried to break up the fight. Lighthall pushed Stevey and punched him in his ear. Stevey stated that while he and Lighthall were fighting, Frank came from behind and hit Lighthall over the head with a beer bottle. When the bottle broke, Frank cut Lighthall across his back. Frank cut his own hand while he was hitting Lighthall with the shattered beer bottle. While Frank hit Lighthall with the ...

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