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People v. Oakley

October 20, 1998

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
LENNETT OAKLEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Bowman

IN THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS SECOND DISTRICT

Nos. 96--CF--2514, 96--CF--2515

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County.

Frederick J. Kapala, Judge, Presiding.

Following a trial in the circuit court of Winnebago County, a jury found defendant, Lennett Oakley, guilty of home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12--11(a)(1) (West 1996)) and aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/ 12--4(b)(1) (West 1996)). The trial court sentenced defendant to terms of imprisonment of six years for home invasion and two years for aggravated battery.

Defendant filed a timely notice of appeal. On appeal, the only issue that defendant raises is whether his conviction of home invasion was improper and must be reversed. Defendant asserts that his conviction of home invasion was improper and should be reversed because the State failed to establish one of the elements of the offense. Defendant claims the State failed to establish that he entered "the dwelling place of another," when he engaged in the purportedly criminal conduct. 720 ILCS 5/12--11(a) (West 1996).

The events that gave rise to the charges against defendant may be briefly summarized. Around 4 a.m. on September 20, 1996, without authority, defendant knowingly entered a house in Rockford, Illinois, that was the dwelling place of his former spouse, Beverly Johnson. Defendant had reason to know that one or more persons were present in the house because shortly before he entered the house, defendant had telephoned and spoken to Johnson, who was in the house at the time.

Defendant entered the house by breaking a basement window with a sledgehammer and then crawling into the basement through the broken window. Defendant brought the sledgehammer with him into the house. There, defendant encountered Johnson's boyfriend, Kenneth Reaves, and struck Reaves with the sledgehammer. A struggle between defendant and Reaves ensued. Johnson called the police, who quickly responded and arrested defendant. Evidence was presented at trial suggesting that defendant also had a knife with him when he entered the house.

At trial, Johnson's testimony included the following. The house that defendant entered was the former marital residence of Johnson and defendant. When defendant called Johnson at the house on the morning of September 20, 1996, he told her, "You need to get your company out of my house. I'll give you 5 to 10 minutes, or I will call the police." Johnson was stunned by the call from defendant because she and defendant had not lived together in the house since December 1992. Johnson testified that her divorce from defendant had been finalized and that the divorce decree gave her possession of the house. Johnson acknowledged that defendant's name was still on the title to the house and on the mortgage papers for the house. Johnson testified that she was in the process of having defendant's name removed from the title to the house.

Defendant's testimony included the following. Although the divorce decree gave Johnson possession of the house, defendant went to the house nearly every day since he had stopped living in the house with Johnson. He went to the house to visit his daughters, ages 12 and 16 at the time, who lived in the house with Johnson. On the days when he went to the house, defendant arrived around 7 a.m. after Johnson left for work. After visiting his daughters, defendant slept in the house until it was time for him to go to work. Defendant usually started work about 2:30 p.m. According to defendant, he entered the house through a back door that was always unlocked.

Defendant acknowledged that he did not have Johnson's permission to be in the house during the day. However, defendant felt that he did not need Johnson's permission to be in the house when she was not there. Defendant also acknowledged that on at least one occasion Johnson discovered him in the house and told him to "get out of my house." On that occasion, defendant left because he did not want to cause trouble. However, defendant felt he had the right to be in the house.

Defendant further testified that his purpose in going to the house at 4 a.m. on the morning of September 20, 1996, was to get information about one of his daughters. He claimed that he had recently learned that the daughter had been raped, but that Johnson had not told him anything about it. Johnson testified that the incident involving the daughter had occurred about a year earlier. Defendant testified that he did not go to the house with the intention of hurting anyone.

On cross-examination, defendant acknowledged that the order finalizing his divorce from Johnson had been entered about six months prior to September 20, 1996. Defendant also acknowledged that the divorce decree gave Johnson exclusive possession of the house, all the equity in the house, and responsibility for all the debts related to the house. Nonetheless, defendant maintained that the house was his dwelling place "during the day" when Johnson was not there and when he was there to visit his daughters and to sleep.

On appeal, defendant contests only his conviction of home invasion. Defendant does not contest his conviction of aggravated battery. Defendant asserts that the home invasion conviction was improper because when he entered the house on September 20, 1996, he did not enter "the dwelling place of ...


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