Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Rock Island County, Illinois No. 99--CF--429 Honorable John O'Shea, Judge, Presiding
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Holdridge
The defendant, Lafayette Crump, was charged with two counts of domestic battery. 720 ILCS 5/12--3.2(a)(1) (West Supp. 1999). After a jury trial, he was found guilty on one of the counts. He was sentenced to an extended term of four years' imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by (1) admitting in evidence the investigating police officer's statement that he believed the defendant committed the offense, (2) admitting a hearsay statement in evidence as a spontaneous declaration, (3) answering one of the jury's questions with its own instruction, and (4) sentencing the defendant to an extended term of four years' imprisonment. We reverse and remand for a new trial.
The events in question took place in Rock Island, Illinois, on May 30, 1999. The defendant and his girlfriend, Chandra Lewis, argued at Gloria Gibson's house during a Memorial Day barbeque. During the argument, Lewis attacked the defendant with a kitchen knife. Several people at Gibson's house attempted to restrain Lewis' arm. During the struggle, the defendant was cut on the left wrist by the knife. Gibson told the defendant that she was going to call the police. The defendant walked out of Gibson's house.
Gibson's mother, Mary Marbry, lived across the street from Gibson. At trial, Marbry testified that as she was sitting on her front porch, she heard a loud commotion coming from her daughter's house. She saw the defendant walking from behind Gibson's house. Gibson and Lewis were following the defendant, yelling at him.
The defendant crossed the street and got into his car. Marbry testified that Lewis continued to follow the defendant, yelling and screaming. The defendant testified that Lewis pulled a beer bottle from her pocket and attempted to hit the back window of his car.
He exited the car and pursued Lewis back toward Gibson's house. Marbry testified that she saw the defendant push Lewis from behind causing her to fall on the sidewalk. Lewis testified that all she remembered was that the defendant made contact with her as they were running and they both fell. The defendant testified that he tripped on Lewis' feet causing both Lewis and the defendant to fall. The defendant then walked to his car and drove away.
Marbry testified that her granddaughter (presumably Gibson's daughter) called the police. Marbry ran across the street and helped Lewis into Gibson's house. Marbry could smell alcohol on Lewis. Marbry testified that Lewis had abrasions on her elbows, knees, and chest.
Rock Island police officer Jeff Collins responded to a call that a man and woman were fighting with a butcher knife at Gibson's address. Because the call concerned a knife fight, the officer arrived at Gibson's house within a minute of the call.
Collins testified that upon his arrival, he entered Gibson's house and attempted to find Lewis. Collins said that Lewis came out of a bathroom covered in dirt. Her elbows and knees were bloody. He testified that her left cheek was red with what appeared to be a hand print. He described Lewis as hysterical.
At trial, Collins testified that without being questioned by him, Lewis immediately said, "You gotta get him. He just beat my ass." He testified that he asked her who did it.
After the officer asked Lewis to calm down, she said the defendant had done it. He asked her where it had occurred. Collins and Lewis walked out the back door where she told him that the defendant hit her twice on the face. She said that she ran in the house, the defendant kicked in the door, she ran outside, and the defendant pushed or struck her from behind. She did not know how it happened, but the defendant made contact with her and she fell.
During the trial, the following exchange took place among the prosecutor, Collins, defense counsel, and the judge.
"Q: Through the course of your investigation, Officer, did you have reason to believe that the defendant in ...