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People v. Ranstrom

March 31, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Burke

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Honorable Bertina Lampkin, Judge Presiding.

Following a jury trial, defendant Phillip Ranstrom was convicted of attempted murder, armed robbery, home invasion, residential burglary, aggravated battery, and aggravated stalking and was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment for attempted murder, armed robbery, and home invasion, 15 years for residential burglary, and 5 years for aggravated battery and aggravated stalking, the sentences to run concurrently. On appeal, defendant contends that: (1) his alleged admissions to his therapist were improperly disclosed and erroneously admitted at trial; (2) he was denied a fair trial because he was subjected to a mini-trial on other crimes by the State; (3) he was denied his constitutional right to confront witnesses against him because his defense counsel was prohibited from exposing biases and a motive to lie on the part of his therapist; and (4) his conviction for residential burglary must be reversed because the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he entered the victim's apartment with the intent to commit a theft. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

On June 8, 1994, Brian Page was attacked in his apartment by an intruder. Defendant was subsequently arrested on October 28, 1994, and keys to Leann Murphy's apartment were recovered from him. Thereafter, defendant was charged by indictment with attempted first degree murder, armed robbery, home invasion, residential burglary, aggravated battery, and aggravated stalking.

Prior to trial, defendant's counsel filed a motion in limine to preclude the testimony of Alan Jacobs, defendant's therapist. Defendant's counsel argued that because Jacobs held himself out as a therapist and defendant reasonably believed that Jacobs was a therapist, the psychotherapist-patient privilege of confidentiality under the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act ((Confidentiality Act) 740 ILCS 110/1 et seq. (West 1996)) precluded Jacobs from testifying, since his communications to Jacobs "simply constituted admissions to past conduct" protected under the Act.

In response, the State argued that because Jacobs believed that Page and Murphy were in imminent danger of being harmed and possibly murdered, the exception to nondisclosure provided in section 11 of the Confidentiality Act was applicable to allow Jacobs to testify and disclose the information communicated to him by defendant.

At the hearing on defendant's motion, defendant's counsel suggested to the trial court that an evidentiary hearing be held to examine Jacobs' notes, that were subpoenaed pursuant to discovery, to determine whether a clear or imminent risk of injury or death existed that would have allowed Jacobs to warn Murphy and Page pursuant to section 11 of the Confidentiality Act. 740 ILCS 110/11 (West 1996). At a subsequent hearing, defendant's counsel stated that he was in agreement with the State that if Jacobs reasonably believed there was some type of imminent harm to Murphy and Page, the psychotherapist-patient privilege ceases to exist. Defendant's counsel argued, however, that there was no fear of imminent harm based on a transcript and tape recording from Jacobs' Discussion with the police and on Jacobs' notes that he took during his sessions with defendant.

On September 14, 1995, the trial court denied defendant's motion to preclude Jacobs' testimony. The court stated that it had reviewed Jacobs' notes and a transcript of a tape recording Jacobs made when he went to the police, and determined that "based on what [Jacobs] had over the course of his conversations with [defendant] was more than a reasonable belief that [defendant] was going to hurt someone." The trial court then read portions from Jacobs' notes and stated, "Good faith is the standard, if he reasonably believes this man is threatening he would be a fool after hearing this not to reasonably believe he was a threat to [Murphy] and especially to [Page]." Thereafter, defendant filed a motion to reconsider the court's decision, arguing that there was no evidence in Jacobs' notes that defendant made any threat against Murphy and Page or another person that would permit Jacobs to violate the confidential psychotherapist-patient privilege. The trial court denied the motion.

The State also filed a motion to introduce "other crimes" evidence at defendant's trial, specifically evidence of defendant stalking Murphy and violating an order of protection Murphy had issued against defendant that resulted in defendant subsequently being charged with the aggravated stalking of Murphy. The State argued that the evidence was probative of defendant's motive or intent to murder Page. Defendant's counsel moved to preclude the State from introducing evidence that defendant had also been charged with the stalking of Murphy, arguing that the evidence would be prejudicial. Counsel argued that since the trial court denied the State's motion to consolidate the two cases and ruled that the aggravated stalking case of Murphy was separate enough from the case involving Page, the offense of aggravated stalking of Murphy was not relevant to any incident of any facts before the trial court in the case. The trial court ruled that the State could use the fact that defendant was arrested and charged for the offense against Murphy. In granting the State's motion, the trial court ruled that the evidence was admissible because "the probative value certainly outweighs the prejudicial value" and the evidence showed that defendant had a motive to attack Page because defendant was "obsessed" with Murphy.

At defendant's jury trial in February 1996, Brian Page testified that he worked as a registrar in the emergency room at the Ravenswood Hospital and had a private telephone number. On June 8, 1994, he and Murphy planned to meet at Facets Cinema to see a movie, where Murphy worked as a volunteer. Page drove to the cinema and, while parking his car, saw defendant, whom he recognized from a photograph Murphy had previously shown him, sitting in a Walgreen's parking lot in a brown Saab across the street from the cinema where Page was to meet Murphy. After the movie, Page and Murphy decided to get a drink in Murphy's neighborhood, but before doing so, Murphy wanted to leave her car at her apartment building. Page and Murphy drove back to Murphy's neighborhood; Page followed Murphy in his car to her apartment. While en route, Page saw defendant following Murphy in his brown Saab.

Page further testified that Murphy left her car at her apartment, she got into his car, they went to have a drink, he dropped Murphy off at her apartment, and then he drove home to his apartment. Upon entering his apartment, Page saw a movement or heard a noise in the apartment that caught his attention. He then was hit over the head several times and he passed out. When he later awakened, he made his way out of his apartment to a neighbor's apartment, an ambulance was called and he was taken to the Ravenswood Hospital. Page remained in the hospital for six days, had lacerations on his head, fractures on both orbits of his eyes, multiple bruises, received more than 200 sutures on his head, and needed plastic surgery on his forehead and under one eye. Page believed he had been hit with a hammer. Page also stated he subsequently discovered that stereo equipment had been taken from his apartment. On September 10, 1994, Page saw defendant standing in an ally outside his apartment building looking toward his bathroom window. Page called 911, then went into the kitchen and noticed that defendant was standing outside his kitchen window. Page yelled at defendant and he ran away. Page also testified that he saw defendant at Ravinia after attending a concert with Murphy.

Steven Alvertos, the supervisor of admitting at Ravenswood Hospital and Page's supervisor, testified that on June 6, 1994, he received a telephone call from a male caller on Page's private telephone line who asked if he was Page and if he had reached Page's residence. Alvertos further stated that two days after Page's attack, while Page was still in the hospital, a man called Page's private work telephone number at the hospital and identified himself as George, Page's brother. Alvertos also stated that later that same day, a man called the hospital asking to speak with Page, claiming to be his friend John. The man called a couple more times asking for Page, so Alvertos placed an alert in the hospital's computer system so that no information about Page would be given out. Alvertos also testified that he listened to a tape that Murphy had of defendant's voice and recognized the voice as the man who called the hospital for Page.

Vanessa Kelly, a volunteer worker, testified that a man claiming to be Page's brother came to the hospital to visit Page and she discovered that an alert was placed on Page's file. Before Kelly could alert the authorities, the man ran out and drove away in a brown Saab. Kelly identified defendant as the man who came to the hospital to visit Page.

Leann Murphy testified that she met defendant in late March 1993, and began dating him shortly thereafter. In November, Murphy told defendant that she did not want to see him anymore, she was going to date other men, and she wanted her house keys back. Murphy also stated that on June 3, 1994, she met Page at a party and she wrote down Page's private work telephone number, his home telephone number and his home address on a calendar that she kept by her telephone. On June 4, Murphy and Page went on a day trip together to Indianapolis for a vintage clothing show. When Murphy returned home, she was told by a friend that he had received two telephone calls that had originated from her apartment. Murphy subsequently requested a copy of her telephone bill from the telephone company and confirmed that five telephone calls were placed from her telephone the day she was out of town. Murphy further stated that she changed the locks on her doors on June 7 because she believed defendant had made a copy of ...

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