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People v. Knight

December 23, 1999

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
V.
EARL KNIGHT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from the Circuit Court of De Kalb County. No. 97--CF--284 Honorable Douglas R. Engel, Judge, Presiding.

Geiger and Rapp, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McLAREN

The defendant, Earl Knight, appeals his conviction and sentence after a jury found him guilty of two counts of domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12--3.2(a)(1), 12--3.2(a)(2) (West 1996)), and the trial court sentenced him to an extended term of four years' imprisonment. We reverse and remand.

The following facts are taken from the record. On September 17, 1997, the State charged the defendant by a three-count indictment. Count I alleged that the defendant committed aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12--14(a)(2) (West 1996)) in that the defendant, by the use of force, placed his penis into the vagina of K.T., a household member. Counts II and III alleged that the defendant committed domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12--3.2(a)(1) (West 1996)) in that the defendant caused bodily harm to K.T., a household member (720 ILCS 5/12--3.2(a)(2) (West 1996)), and the defendant made physical contact of a provoking nature with K.T., a household member. The indictment alleged that the defendant committed these acts on or about September 16, 1997. At the trial, K.T. testified that at the time of the alleged incident she lived with the defendant along with her 2-year-old son, Trevor, and the defendant's 10-year-old daughter, Angela. K.T. testified that on the afternoon of September 15, 1997, she picked the defendant up from work and they drove to a friend's, Jerry Setser's, house. K.T. and the defendant left Setser's house, returned home, and continued to consume alcohol and cocaine. The two then began to argue about sex. At about 2:30 a.m. on September 16, 1997, K.T. told the defendant that she could not have oral sex with her previous boyfriend because her mouth was not large enough. The defendant then became enraged and began beating her. According to K.T. the defendant grabbed the front of her shirt, threw her across the living room, banged her head on the floor, kicked and punched her, and pulled her up the stairs by her hands and wrists. The defendant then pulled K.T. into the bedroom and onto the bed, forcibly removed her clothes, and then forcibly had sexual intercourse with her. Afterwards, the defendant got K.T. an ice pack, woke Angela and Trevor, and carried K.T. to the defendant's car. The defendant then drove K.T. and the children to Setser's house, where Setser's live-in girlfriend drove K.T. to the hospital.

K.T. also testified, over defense counsel's objection, that on November 2, 1997, more than six weeks after the incident, the defendant confronted K.T. while she was sitting in her automobile. K.T. testified as follows: "[The defendant] walked up to my car and told me that if I ever slept with one of his friends again, he would break my legs and kill me, and he had already busted his legs."

On cross-examination, K.T. admitted that she had consumed alcohol on September 16, 1997, and had been consuming cocaine for "days on end." K.T. also stated that she had been taking the prescription drug Prozac. Further, K.T. told the police that she had been battered, but she did not tell them that she had been sexually assaulted.

David Warner, the emergency room doctor who examined K.T., testified that K.T. told him that she had been battered by the defendant and forced into having sexual intercourse with him, but she also stated that she had not been raped. Dr. Warner also stated that he observed bruising on K.T.'s thighs and arms. According to Dr. Warner, K.T. had been taking Prozac, which had been prescribed to her previously. Prozac is a psychotropic drug prescribed for depression and other mental illnesses.

The defendant's testimony varied greatly from K.T.'s. The defendant testified that on the morning of September 15, 1997, he and K.T. argued about the defendant's daughter, Angela. K.T. told the defendant that she wanted Angela to be returned to her mother. They also argued that morning about finances. The defendant stated that he threatened to end his relationship with K.T. because she had spent money on drugs which was needed to pay a bill. After the defendant returned from work later that day, he took a bath. K.T. joined him, and they had consensual sexual intercourse. Later, between 9:30 and 10 p.m., K.T. left the house alone and did not return until 3:30 or 4 a.m. the next morning. When K.T. returned, she woke the defendant and told him that she needed help. The defendant stated that K.T. appeared pale and was shaking. The defendant carried K.T. to the car and drove her to Setser's house, where Setser's girlfriend drove K.T. to the hospital. The defendant denied that he beat K.T. or forced her to have sexual intercourse.

Bradley Smith, the defendant's friend, testified that, on the night of the incident, he saw K.T. in her car at 10:30 or 11. K.T. and two other people sat in K.T.'s car waiting for a stop light to change.

Frank Beierlotzer, a De Kalb County sheriff's deputy, testified that he spoke with the defendant on the morning of September 16, 1997, at the hospital. The defendant told Beierlotzer that he went to Setser's house to see K.T. but was told that K.T. was in the hospital. Beierlotzer also spoke with K.T., who stated that the defendant had battered her at about 3 a.m. that morning.

The jury found the defendant not guilty of aggravated sexual assault and the lesser included offense of sexual assault, but guilty of both counts of domestic battery. The trial court found the defendant eligible for an extended sentence based on the defendant's prior conviction and sentenced the defendant to four years' imprisonment. The trial court denied the defendant's posttrial motion and motion to reconsider sentence. The defendant filed this timely appeal.

On appeal, the defendant first contends that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence the defendant's alleged statement to K.T. that he would break K.T.'s legs and kill her if she slept with another of the defendant's friends. The trial court granted the State's motion to present this evidence to show the defendant's "consciousness of guilt." After the evidence was admitted, the trial court denied the defendant's motion for a mistrial. The defendant argues that the admission of this testimony was not relevant for any permissible purpose. The State contends that the testimony was properly admitted to show the defendant's intent to abuse K.T., his attitude toward K.T., a pattern of jealous behavior followed by violence, and his consciousness of guilt. We agree with the defendant.

Evidence of other crimes, threats, or bad acts is not admissible to show the defendant's character or propensity to commit crime or wrongful acts. People v. Williams, 274 Ill. App. 3d 598, 607 (1995). However, such evidence is admissible if it is relevant for any other purpose. Williams, 274 Ill. App. 3d 598, 607. Therefore, such evidence is admissible if it is relevant to show the defendant's state of mind, motive, or criminal intent. Williams, 274 Ill. App. 3d at 607. It is also admissible to show the pattern of criminal behavior, or modus operandi, so distinct that separate crimes are recognized as the work of the same person. People v. Rose, 198 Ill. App. 3d 1, 6-7 (1990).

We do not agree with the State's argument that the evidence at issue was properly admitted to show the defendant's intent to abuse K.T.. The defendant's state of mind was not in controversy. At trial, the defendant did not argue that he injured K.T. by mistake or that he lacked the requisite intent to commit the crime; rather, he testified that he was not present when K.T. was beaten. Further, the defendant's alleged November 2 acts did not show the defendant's consciousness of guilt. The statement referred to acts in the future, constituting the threat of an assault in the ...


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