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People v. Hope

December 28, 2001


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 99-CF-207 Honorable Kathryn E. Creswell, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Byrne


Following a jury trial, defendant, Darrol K. Hope, was convicted of one count each of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12--4(b)(1) (West 2000)) and battery (720 ILCS 5/12--3(a) (West 2000)). The trial court sentenced him to six years' imprisonment for aggravated battery and 364 days in jail for battery. Defendant appeals his convictions, arguing that (1) he was prejudiced when the prosecutor mentioned during closing argument that defendant was attempting to trick the jury by introducing a lesser-included offense instruction, (2) the court erroneously denied defendant's request to proceed pro se, and (3) the six-year sentence for aggravated battery violates Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000). We affirm defendant's convictions, but we vacate his sentence for aggravated battery and remand the cause for resentencing on that conviction.


Defendant was charged with the aggravated battery of his sister, Vivian McDonald, and her husband, David McDonald. Assistant public defender Jameson Kunz was appointed to represent defendant, and Kunz informed the court that Dr. Syed Ali had found defendant unfit to stand trial. The State then enlisted Dr. Lyle Rossiter to examine defendant. Defendant told Dr. Rossiter that he would not speak with him until Kunz was removed from the case. Another assistant public defender accompanied Dr. Rossiter to examine defendant, and the court subsequently scheduled a fitness hearing.

At the hearing, defendant again asked Kunz to withdraw because he allegedly failed to contact several witnesses. Kunz responded that defendant would not disclose the names of the witnesses he wished to call. Dr. Rossiter testified that defendant was fit to stand trial because defendant understood the charges against him, the potential penalties if convicted, the nature of the court proceedings, and the roles of the judge, prosecutor, and defense counsel. Dr. Rossiter also stated that defendant could recall the events at issue and assist his attorney at trial. Dr. Rossiter did not believe that defendant was schizophrenic.

Dr. Ali testified that defendant probably suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Defendant had told Dr. Ali that defendant's sister, Vivian, often played mind games with him and read his mind in an effort to turn him into a "faggot." A jury found defendant fit to stand trial, and the court permitted Kunz to withdraw from the case.

Assistant public defender John Elias was appointed, and he informed the court that defendant had complained that Elias had needlessly delayed the case and had incorrectly changed defendant's plea to "temporary insanity." Elias stated that there was still a legitimate doubt as to defendant's fitness and that defendant wanted a new attorney. Defendant announced that he wished to represent himself and that he wanted to hire his own attorney. The court ruled that no changes to defendant's representation could occur until his renewed unfitness claim was decided. The court subsequently accepted another expert's finding that defendant was fit.

Elias later stated that he wished to withdraw because defendant would not communicate with him. The court told defendant that his only alternative was self-representation. Defendant responded that he could not read or write very well and that he did not know the law. The court stated, "Well, if you are telling me you don't have any idea what you're doing, I am going to deny the [public defender's] motion to withdraw." Defendant was admonished that his failure to cooperate with counsel would hinder his defense.

Assistant public defenders John Elias and Tara Howard represented defendant at trial. Defendant's sister, Vivian, testified that she occasionally permitted defendant to sleep in her home because he was homeless. Defendant was allowed to enter the home only after 9 p.m., but he could not enter the bedroom, and he was to leave each morning before Vivian left for work.

On January 29, 1999, the night of the incident, Vivian was home with David and defendant. Vivian and David left to buy dinner, and when they returned, Vivian saw defendant walk out of the bedroom. Vivian and David watched a movie and ate in the bedroom. When David carried the dishes to the kitchen, Vivian heard him ask defendant why he had been in the bedroom. David and defendant argued, and Vivian suggested to defendant that he might have merely been sleepwalking. Defendant grabbed Vivian's neck, beat her, and bit her over her left eye. As she broke free and ran toward the front door, she saw defendant enter the kitchen and she heard a drawer open. Vivian tried to call the police but the phone was broken. David and defendant fought in the bathroom, and she heard David say, "Why did you stick me with that knife?" Vivian called the police from a neighbor's home.

David testified that he saw defendant choking and biting Vivian. David grabbed defendant and, as they fought, David was forced into the bathroom. Defendant stabbed David twice with a knife and bit off part of his ear. Shortly thereafter, the police arrived and restrained defendant.

Defendant testified that Vivian and David had argued for three weeks before the incident. During one of the arguments, defendant saw Vivian retrieve a knife and David beat her head. On the night of the incident, defendant went to sleep on the couch, but David woke him in the bedroom. Defendant told Vivian that he did know how he had arrived there, and the two began to argue. When the argument escalated, David struck defendant with a shiny object that defendant believed was a gun. Vivian and David struck defendant, and defendant grabbed a nearby knife and began swinging it. David and defendant wrestled in the bathroom, and David struck him with a mirror before the police arrived.

Carol Stream police officer Tom Eby testified that he saw David strike defendant in the head with a silver object. At the time he was handcuffed, defendant was very ...

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