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People v. Kyles

December 29, 1998


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Gordon

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Joseph G. Kazmierski, Judge Presiding.

The defendant, Timothy Kyles, was charged by information with two counts of aggravated battery of two correctional officers (720 ILCS 5/12-4(b)(6) (West 1994)) and attempt aggravated arson (720 ILCS 5/8-4, 20-1.1(a)(1) (West 1994)). After a bench trial, he was found guilty of the two counts of aggravated battery and one count of criminal damage to property less than $300. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of ten years' imprisonment for each count of aggravated battery and 364 days' imprisonment for criminal damage to property to run consecutive to the term of 55 years' imprisonment for defendant's conviction on an earlier unrelated charge.

On appeal, the defendant argues that his conviction for criminal damage to property must be reversed because he was not charged with that offense and because the court did not identify the subsection of the criminal statute upon which that conviction was based. The defendant also argues that his conviction for aggravated battery must be reversed because he was not proven guilty of that offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Finally, the defendant argues that the ten-year sentence for each of the aggravated battery convictions was excessive and inconsistent with the seriousness of those offenses. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

The defendant was convicted of aggravated battery on August 19, 1995 of two Cook County jail correctional officers, Alex Cruz and John Shury. Both officers were assigned to the Special Incarceration Unit of the jail. That unit holds high risk inmates, inmates who have committed crimes within the jail system. In that location of the jail, inmates spend 23 hours in their cells and one hour outside of their cells. Cell doors are not opened unless a supervisor is present.

The evidence at trial showed that at approximately 10:00 a.m. on August 19, 1995 the defendant, who was being held in the Incarceration Unit of the jail, asked to be let out of his cell so that he could speak with a supervisor. Cruz and Shury told Kyles they could not open his cell door and that he would see a supervisor when one arrived. The defendant made several more requests, threatened to shoot Cruz and Shury once he was released from prison, and then threatened "to burn the place down." Later, the officers noticed smoke coming from the bottom of defendant's steel cell door. They called Captain Hatcher, the supervisor on duty, and Lieutenant Howell, the shift commander.

Hatcher arrived about two minutes later. He ordered the opening of Kyles' cell door and the removal of Kyles from his cell. Lieutenant Howell opened the cell door. Defendant's mattress, sheets, blankets, toilet paper, and other paper were placed together in a pile near the door and were in flames. Kyles was ordered several times to come out of his cell but at those times either made no response or verbally refused to come out, telling the officers to "come in and get me." Captain Hatcher ordered Cruz, Shury, and Howell to go into Kyles' cell and to remove him.

Officer Cruz testified that when he and Shury entered defendant's cell, Kyles attacked them. He stated that he was punched and kicked in his face, chest, arms and legs. Kyles punched and threw Shury to the ground and then threw him (Cruz) to the ground. Cruz stated that eventually he and Shury gained control over Kyles, grabbing and dragging him from his cell. They then placed Kyles in handcuffs, searched him and put out the fire. Cruz stated that everything in Kyles' cell was burnt: the bedding and blankets were destroyed, and the cement floor and walls were charred black.

With respect to his injuries, Cruz testified his hand was swollen, causing him a great deal of pain, and he suffered abrasions to his legs, face and chest. Cruz stated that he obtained medical attention for his injuries at Cermak Hospital. He stated that x-rays were taken, his arm and wrist were wrapped, and he was given pain killers. He was told to visit his physician. On cross-examination, Cruz admitted that the only injuries he reported in the disciplinary report he signed regarding the August 19, 1995 incident were injuries to his right hand and arm. He also stated that his report indicated that during the struggle, Kyles fell backwards, injuring the rear of his head, and received medical treatment for possible smoke inhalation and injuries sustained during the physical confrontation. Cruz stated that he did not know how Kyles sustained three broken fingers, a broken ankle, and two skull fractures. He viewed pictures of Kyles, defendant's exhibit numbers 2 through 7, showing those injuries and testified that he did not notice those injuries on August 19, 1995.

With respect to the injuries sustained by Shury on August 19, 1995, Shury testified that the defendant kicked and punched him and struck him in the hand. Shury fell to the ground after tripping over the mattress. Shury sustained a swollen left hand and a laceration at the base of his left thumb. On cross-examination, Shury testified Kyles did not throw him to the ground but did throw Cruz to the ground. Shury viewed defendant's exhibit number 2 and indicated that he did not know how Kyles sustained the injuries depicted in that picture.

Lieutenant Raymond Howell testified that he entered Kyles' cell with officers Cruz and Shury. Howell testified that he was hit by Kyles and knocked to the floor but received no injuries. Howell testified that he viewed the damage to Kyles' cell, which he stated included black ash to the walls and ceiling, water on the floor, and destruction of the mattress and blankets. Howell stated that this damage was in excess of $150.

The defendant called Robert Rosol, the paramedic at the jail who examined Kyles on the night of August 18, 1995 and the morning of August 19, 1995. Rosol stated that Kyles was treated for a laceration on his left index finger on August 18, 1995 and on August 19, 1995, in addition to having that laceration, Kyles had some blunt head trauma and a scratch or a cut. Rosol told the officers that Kyles would have to be taken to Cermak Hospital. Rosol did not treat the officers but did give one of the officers a bandage for his hand or wrist. He stated that one of the officers did complain of injuries and asked for assistance. Rosol examined defendant's exhibit numbers 2 through 7, which showed, among other things, defendant's broken ankle and skull fractures. Rosol testified that when he examined Kyles on August 19, 1995, Kyles' left arm was not disfigured nor had Kyles suffered a broken ankle or the two head injuries in the photographic exhibits.

Defendant Kyles testified that he was transferred to the Special Incarceration Unit on August 18, 1995 for having possession of two mobile telephones and a battery. He stated that on August 19, 1995, while on that unit, he was questioned by officers Cruz and Shury. Later that morning, he again was questioned by Cruz and Shury as well as by Lieutenant Howell and Captain Hatcher. Kyles testified that they inquired as to the identity of the officer who brought the telephones to Kyles. Kyles further testified that when he refused to identify the individual the officers beat him, causing the head trauma and finger laceration observed by Rosol. Kyles stated that he was taken to Cermak Hospital, after being shackled and handcuffed. He remembered walking over to the hospital with the correctional officers and later waking up at the hospital with a broken thumb, two head injuries, a fractured ankle and a middle finger that "was completely cut off and sewed back on." Kyles denied setting a fire in his cell and denied assaulting the correctional officers.

On cross-examination, Kyles testified that he was questioned in his cell by Cruz, Shury, Howell, Hatcher and two investigators regarding the identity of the officer who gave him the mobile telephones. He testified that when he refused to answer their questions, they left. Cruz, Shury, Howell and Hatcher returned later and all four of them beat him. They used handcuffs and a flashlight, and Shury hit him over the head with a radio. Kyles denied pushing, kicking or punching any of the officers.

Lieutenant Howell was called by the State as a rebuttal witness. He testified that he first entered Kyles' cell at approximately 10:00 a.m. on August 19, 1995 in the company of officers Cruz and Shury. He stated that the cell was filled with smoke and flames and that Kyles was found holding a wet, white towel wrapped over his face. Howell further stated that he did not strike or punch Kyles and never saw anyone else punch or strike Kyles with handcuffs or a radio.

Based upon this testimony, the trial court found the defendant guilty of criminal damage to property, less than $500, and two counts of aggravated battery. At the sentencing hearing, at the request of the assistant state's attorney, the court amended the presentence report to indicate that the ...

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