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People v. Dillard

March 06, 2001

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
STACY R. DILLARD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 99CF175 Honorable Thomas J. Difanis, Judge Presiding.

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

In August 1999, a jury convicted defendant, Stacy R. Dillard, of aggravated battery in a place of public accommodation (720 ILCS 5/12- 4(b)(8) (West 1998)). In November 1999, the trial court sentenced him to an extended term of nine years in prison, based on his prior convictions (730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.2(b)(1) (West 1998)).

Defendant appeals, arguing that (1) the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not act in self-defense; and (2) the extended-term sentencing provision set forth in section 5-5- 3.2(b)(1) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Unified Code) (730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.2(b)(1) (West 1998)) is unconstitutional pursuant to Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. ___, ___, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 455, 120 S. Ct. 2348, 2362-63 (2000). We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

At defendant's trial, Thomas Blondell testified that around 10 p.m. on January 30, 1999, he went to the Big Foot gas station and convenience store in Urbana (hereinafter the store) to purchase gas. When Blondell went inside the store to pay, he noticed defendant engaged in a "heated exchange" with Tim McDaniel, who was standing in the food section with his nine-year-old son. McDaniel and his son, who appeared frightened, began walking toward Blondell. When Blondell heard defendant screaming at McDaniel, Blondell told defendant to calm down and leave the store if he could not behave properly. Defendant left the store, and Blondell told the store manager to call the police and lock the doors. After the store manager responded that he was speaking with the police, defendant came back in the store and hit Blondell, knocking his glasses off. Blondell grabbed defendant's shirt or arms and pushed him out of the store and onto the hood of a car parked in front of the store. Blondell held defendant down on the hood of the car for a short time and then told defendant that he was going to let him get up and "just go get out of here." After Blondell let go of defendant and turned to walk back inside the store, defendant hit him on the side of his face, causing profuse bleeding. Blondell then went back inside the store, where he and McDaniel tried to stop the bleeding.

Blondell denied grabbing defendant around the neck when he pushed him out of the store. He also denied hitting defendant during the incident.

McDaniel testified that on the evening of January 30, 1999, he and his son were standing inside the store when defendant, whom McDaniel did not know, approached them and "made small talk." After a few minutes, defendant asked McDaniel for a ride. McDaniel refused, and defendant became verbally abusive to both McDaniel and his son. McDaniel complained to one of the store's employees, and defendant yelled, "[W]hat's wrong with you, man, I didn't do anything to you." Defendant then approached McDaniel and his son and continued yelling at them. At that point, Blondell entered the store and told defendant to "back off." Defendant turned his attention toward Blondell, and defendant and Blondell began yelling at each other. After about 30 seconds of yelling, defendant knocked Blondell's glasses off his face.

At that point, Blondell grabbed defendant and pushed him out of the store and onto a nearby car. According to McDaniel, it "looked like [Blondell] was trying to talk [defendant] down" as he held him on the hood of the car. McDaniel also testified as follows regarding the incident: "Blondell got up and started heading back into the store, and--and then [defendant] came at him and I think just hit him from behind, like towards the face." Blondell then came back into the store, and McDaniel noticed that he was bleeding. After McDaniel helped Blondell into the bathroom, defendant came back into the store and said to McDaniel, "[Y]ou want some of this, you want some of this." McDaniel also stated that he did not see Blondell hit defendant during the incident.

Sean Douglas Campbell testified that, on the evening of the incident, he entered the store to purchase milk. As he stood in the checkout line, he heard defendant yelling at customers and asking them if they wanted to fight. At one point during the incident, Blondell, who Campbell estimated was 6 feet tall and weighed 200 pounds, told defendant to leave the store. After defendant left the store and came back in, defendant "smacked [Blondell] in the face and knocked his glasses off." Blondell then grabbed defendant by his shirt and pushed him out of the store and onto the hood of Campbell's car. Campbell went outside and told them to get off his car. Blondell and defendant got off of the car, and Blondell turned to go back inside the store. Defendant, who had fallen to the ground, got up and "sucker punched" Blondell at least once and "tried to hit him at least two other times." Campbell also stated that he did not see Blondell hit defendant during the incident.

Urbana police officer Kary Keleher testified that, when he arrived on the scene, he saw defendant walking through the store's parking lot. Keleher stopped defendant and asked him if he had been inside the store. Defendant responded, "I didn't do shit, that guy just punched me in the eye." After speaking with a witness, Keleher directed two other officers to arrest defendant. Keleher also identified a photograph as depicting Blondell's bandaged face and bloody shirt on the night of the incident.

Defendant testified that, on the night of the incident, he went into the store to buy cigarettes. Defendant stated that he was talking to McDaniel when Blondell, who was taller than defendant, came in, stood over him, and pointed a finger in his face. Defendant tried to knock Blondell's hand away, and Blondell grabbed him around the neck, pushed him out of the store, "body slammed" him on top of a car, and hit his head against the hood of the car several times. Defendant initially denied making any physical contact with Blondell prior to being pushed out of the store. However, he later acknowledged that he might have accidentally knocked Blondell's glasses off of his face. Defendant also stated that (1) Blondell punched him "numerous times," (2) he was afraid of Blondell, and (3) he was trying to protect himself when he hit Blondell. The trial court permitted the State to impeach defendant with his prior convictions of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and robbery.

On this evidence, the jury found defendant guilty of aggravated battery in a place of public accommodation. The trial court later sentenced defendant as stated. This appeal followed.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Sufficiency of the ...


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