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People v. Bell

May 24, 2001

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,
v.
TERRELL W. BELL, JR., APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McMORROW

Docket No. 89520-Agenda 9-January 2001.

In this appeal, we determine the proper test for ascertaining whether offenses arise from an unrelated course of conduct for purposes of imposing extended-term sentences under section 5-8-2(a) of the Unified Code of Corrections. 730 ILCS 5/5-8-2(a) (West 1998).

BACKGROUND

Evidence produced at trial established the following facts. On August 20, 1996, defendant and two friends, Ronald Smith and Andre Anderson, visited Chuck and Charlie's Tavern in Quincy, Illinois. Terry Powell, an acquaintance of defendant, was also present at the tavern. When Powell left the tavern, defendant, Smith, and Anderson followed him into an alley and attacked him. The men hit and kicked Powell, and defendant struck him several times with a pool cue stick or a mop handle. At some point during the beating, defendant took money from Powell's trousers. The men then continued to hit and kick Powell. The entire beating lasted approximately 15 minutes.

Defendant was subsequently apprehended and charged with armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-2(a) (West 1998)), robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-1(a) (West 1998)) and two counts of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-4(a), (b)(1) (West 1998)). *fn1 On January 14, 1998, a jury in the circuit court of Adams County convicted defendant of one count of armed robbery, one count of robbery and two counts of aggravated battery. At defendant's sentencing hearing on February 20, 1998, the State sought a total sentence of 30 to 50 years' imprisonment. Defendant requested leniency, due to his age of 24 years and his rehabilitative potential. The circuit court sentenced defendant to a term of 20 years' imprisonment for the armed robbery conviction. The circuit court also imposed an extended- term sentence of 10 years' imprisonment pursuant to section 5-8-2(a) of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-8-2(a) (West 1998)) for the aggravated battery conviction. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently pursuant to section 5-8-4(a) of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-8-4(a) (West 1998)) because the court found that the armed robbery and aggravated battery were the result of a "single course of conduct."

Defendant appealed. On appeal, defendant argued that: (1) the trial court's sentences were an abuse of discretion in light of defendant's rehabilitative potential; and (2) the trial court erred in imposing an extended-term sentence for defendant's aggravated battery conviction. With respect to his second argument, defendant contended that, because his convictions arose from a single course of conduct, he was eligible to receive an extended-term sentence only on the more serious class offense of armed robbery.

The appellate court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when sentencing defendant. 313 Ill. App. 3d 280, 283. The appellate court also rejected defendant's argument that he was ineligible to receive an extended-term sentence for the aggravated battery conviction. 313 Ill. App. 3d at 286. The appellate court stated that, according to this court's decision in People v. Jordan, 103 Ill. 2d 192 (1984), a defendant convicted of multiple offenses may be sentenced to an extended-term sentence, pursuant to section 5-8-2(a), only on those offenses within the most serious class. 313 Ill. App. 3d at 283. The appellate court further noted, however, that under section 5-8-2(a), extended-term sentences may be imposed on differing class offenses that arise from "unrelated courses of conduct." 313 Ill. App. 3d at 283, citing People v. Coleman, 166 Ill. 2d 247, 257 (1995). In this case, the appellate court determined that defendant's armed robbery and aggravated battery convictions arose from an "unrelated course of conduct," and, therefore, he was eligible to receive an extended-term sentence for the aggravated battery conviction pursuant to section 5-8-2(a). 313 Ill. App. 3d at 286.

In holding that defendant was eligible to receive an extended-term sentence, the appellate court reasoned that there were two possible tests for determining if a defendant's offenses arise from an "unrelated course of conduct." 313 Ill. App. 3d at 285. One test is derived from section 5-8-4(a) of the Code (730 ILCS 5/5-8-4(a) (West 1998)), which controls the imposition of consecutive sentences for multiple convictions. Section 5-8-4(a) states:

"The court shall not impose consecutive sentences for offenses which were committed as part of a single course of conduct during which there was no substantial change in the nature of the criminal objective, unless, one of the offenses for which defendant was convicted was a Class X or Class 1 felony and the defendant inflicted severe bodily injury, or where the defendant was convicted of a violation of Section 12-13, 12-14, or 12-14.1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 ***." 730 ILCS 5/5-8-4(a) (West 1998).

Therefore, generally, under section 5-8-4(a) consecutive sentences will not be imposed where a defendant commits offenses that were part of a "single course of conduct during which there was no substantial change in the nature of the criminal objective." 730 ILCS 5/5-8-4(a) (West 1998). This test is frequently referred to as the "independent motivation" test. See, e.g., People v. Kagan, 283 Ill. App. 3d 212, 220 (1996); People v. Fritz, 225 Ill. App. 3d 624, 629 (1992); People v. Harris, 220 Ill. App. 3d 31, 32 (1991); People v. Ingram, 84 Ill. App. 3d 495, 498 (1980); People v. Siglar, 18 Ill. App. 3d 381, 383 (1974).

The second test considered by the appellate court was the "multiple acts test" (313 Ill. App. 3d at 285), which was originally discussed in the context of extended-term sentences in a special concurrence by Justice Cook in People v. Keene, 296 Ill. App. 3d 183, 191 (1998) (Cook, J., specially concurring). *fn2 Under the "multiple acts test," offenses arise from an "unrelated course of conduct" when the offenses are supported by more than one physical act, unless one offense is an included offense. 313 Ill. App. 3d at 284-85.

Examining the two tests, the appellate court concluded that the section 5-8-4(a) test-whether there was a "substantial change in the nature of [a defendant's] criminal objective"-"has potential for confusion and gives less guidance to trial courts." 313 Ill. App. 3d at 285. The court rejected that test and, instead, adopted the multiple acts test for the purpose of determining whether multiple offenses arise from an "unrelated course of conduct" under section 5-8-2(a).

Applying the multiple acts test to the case at bar, the appellate court held that defendant's offenses of armed robbery and aggravated battery were supported by more than one physical act and, therefore, were part of an "unrelated course of conduct." 313 Ill. App. 3d at 285. The court noted that the evidence showed defendant struck and kicked Powell before reaching into his trousers and taking money. Defendant then struck and kicked Powell again. Based on these facts, the court found that "[d]efendant's act of armed robbery, taking money from Powell's pants while armed with a dangerous weapon, was a separate and distinct act from defendant's act of striking and kicking [the victim]. The act of reaching into Powell's pants and taking his money was a separate act from the act of striking and kicking [the victim]." 313 Ill. App. 3d at 285-86. The court held that, although the "acts had some connection to each other, *** [defendant] committed two ...


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