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02/23/98 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. MATSUO M.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MATSUO M. NAKAJIMA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of McLean County No. 95CF1107 Honorable Michael G. Prall, judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Garman delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a bench trial in February 1997, defendant, Matsuo Nakajima, was convicted of one count of stalking. 720 ILCS 5/12-7.3 (West 1994). In June 1997, the trial court entered Judgement and ordered defendant to serve 180 days in jail, with 60 days served immediately and the balance stayed pending further review by the court. In addition, defendant was placed on 30 months' probation and directed to pay a $500 fine and seek psychological counseling. Defendant appeals, arguing (1) the stalking statute, as amended, is unconstitutional, and (2) the evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty of stalking beyond a reasonable doubt. For the following reasons, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

In December 1995, a McLean County grand jury issued an indictment against defendant charging him with the stalking of Jennifer Zanardi. The indictment alleged that, on October 25, 1995, and November 18, 1995, defendant knowingly and without lawful justification followed Jennifer in his vehicle and surveilled her outside her place of employment. The indictment further alleged defendant's conduct placed Jennifer in "reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, or restraint."

At trial, Jennifer testified she first became acquainted with defendant, a Japanese national, in the fall of 1995. At that time, Jennifer lived with her parents in Normal, Illinois, and attended Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. As part of her studies, she taught at Northpoint Elementary Grade School (Northpoint). She also worked part-time at Best Buy, an electronics store located in Bloomington.

Jennifer stated she had seen defendant six or seven times in Best Buy prior to October 24, 1995, and had assisted him on one or two of those occasions. She specifically recalled an instance when she assisted defendant with the purchase of an item. According to Jennifer, defendant had paid for the item with his credit card and, as she returned his card to him, he grabbed her hand. Jennifer stated this incident "scared" her because "nobody ha ever touched hand or done anything like that previously." She further described how defendant followed her throughout the store on several subsequent occasions. Based on the above events, Jennifer was "frightened" of defendant and became "concerned" with his behavior.

Jennifer testified that, on October 24, 1995, defendant followed her during her drive home from Northpoint. As Jennifer waited at the intersection of College Avenue and Veterans Parkway, she noticed defendant, alone, in a vehicle directly behind her. Jennifer proceeded through the intersection on College and defendant followed. According to Jennifer, defendant's vehicle was following "fairly closely" and remained directly behind her even when she made several lane changes. Jennifer turned off College onto a residential side street, and defendant continued to follow. She made several other turns and eventually lost sight of defendant. Jennifer stated that, although she was frightened when defendant was driving behind her, she was not overly concerned because she assumed he lived in the area.

Jennifer described a similar encounter as she drove home from Northpoint the following day, October 25. She again recognized defendant's vehicle directly behind her as she waited at the intersection of College and Veterans. When Jennifer recognized defendant, she became scared. Jennifer drove on College and defendant proceeded behind her. She turned on Blair Street, while defendant turned down Orr, the street immediately before Blair. Jennifer stated she became relieved when defendant did not follow and again assumed he lived in the area. However, as Jennifer approached the intersection of Blair and Spear Streets, she again saw defendant's vehicle. She proceeded down several different streets while defendant followed. Jennifer described how defendant cut across traffic to stay behind her when she turned and remained no more than two car lengths behind her vehicle. She estimated this incident lasted 15 to 20 minutes and stated that, during certain intervals, both vehicles were traveling about 60 miles per hour.

Jennifer testified she was "absolutely terrified" of defendant during the above incident. She did not know what defendant intended or why he was following her. According to Jennifer, she "wanted to get to a safe place" and did not stop "because didn't know if he would try to harm in any way." Jennifer believed defendant intended to cause her bodily harm.

After eluding defendant, Jennifer stopped briefly at home and then went to work at Best Buy. Jennifer telephoned her father, Michael Zanardi, upon arriving at the store and described the incident involving defendant. She additionally asked Michael if he would meet her at the store after closing. Jennifer finished work about 10 p.m. and met Michael immediately outside the store's entrance shortly thereafter. Upon exiting, Jennifer noticed defendant's vehicle parked in the store's parking lot. Jennifer identified the vehicle to Michael and walked to her vehicle with store security.

Jennifer next saw defendant on November 4, 1995. About 2 p.m. that afternoon, Jennifer was driving to a friend's house and noticed her parents and defendant at the intersection of Vernon and Grandview. This intersection is about a half mile from the Zanardi residence. Jennifer stated she stopped and saw Michael and defendant talking outside their vehicles. Jennifer remained in her car throughout the duration of her father's conversation with defendant.

Jennifer saw defendant again on November 18, 1995. At 10 p.m., Jennifer went to Best Buy with a friend to pick up her car and saw defendant driving his vehicle up and down the aisles of the parking lot. She estimated defendant drove in this manner for one or two minutes and then parked a few spots from where her vehicle was located. Jennifer entered Best Buy and telephoned the police. She filed a complaint with the police later that night.

Michael testified that, prior to October 25, 1995, Jennifer was concerned with a Japanese man who was a frequent customer at Best Buy. Michael additionally testified concerning the events of October 25 and November 4. He stated that, on October 25, Jennifer telephoned him and described the incidents that occurred as she drove home from Northpoint. Michael described Jennifer as "very agitated, very upset, very frightened" during the telephone call. Michael met Jennifer later that night at Best Buy. Upon Michael's arrival at the store, Jennifer pointed out defendant's vehicle. Michael drove beside the vehicle and talked with defendant. According to Michael, he asked defendant why he was in the parking lot, and defendant stated he was waiting for an individual who was in one of the stores. Michael asked defendant which store because, at that time, all the stores were closed. Michael identified himself as Jennifer's father and discussed the incidents of October 24 and 25, as well as Jennifer's concerns that had developed over the previous month. He told defendant to stay away from Jennifer and informed him the police would be notified if his conduct continued. Michael maintained defendant stated he intended no harm and apologized several times for his behavior.

Michael further testified that, on November 4, 1995, he saw defendant's vehicle parked at the intersection of Vernon and Blair. He related that other family members previously had seen defendant's vehicle at this location. The intersection at Vernon and Blair is about eight residential lots from the Zanardi residence. Michael described that, as he approached the intersection, defendant drove off on Vernon at a "rather rapid rate." Michael followed and ultimately cut in front of defendant's vehicle, forcing it to the side of the road. Michael exited his vehicle and talked to defendant. He asked defendant why he continued to harass his family. He further told defendant that the police and State's Attorney's office had been informed of his ...


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