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People v. Milligan

February 06, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DANIEL E. MILLIGAN II, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Ford County No. 99CF64 Honorable Stephen R. Pacey, Judge Presiding.

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

PUBLISHED

Following a January 18, 2000, jury trial in the circuit court of Ford County, defendant, Daniel Milligan, was convicted of one count of home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(2) (West 1998)) and one count of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-4(a) (West 1998) (as amended by Pub. Act 91-357, §237, eff. July 29, 1999)). The trial court sentenced defendant to 25 years' imprisonment and 3 years' imprisonment, respectively, the sentences to be served concurrently. On appeal, defendant claims (1) the evidence of great bodily harm to the victim was not sufficient to support the aggravated battery conviction; (2) the court erred by failing to conduct a Montgomery balancing test before admitting evidence of 5 prior felony convictions (see People v. Montgomery, 47 Ill. 2d 510, 268 N.E.2d 695 (1971)); and (3) the 25-year sentence imposed for his home invasion conviction was excessive. We affirm.

The events leading to the charges in this case took place on September 5, 1999. The victim was Melancholy Granger. In any event, defendant and Granger had been drinking and visiting various other people in Ford County on September 5. Granger had been driving, and an argument ensued because she did not want defendant to drive after he had been drinking. Granger left defendant at the side of the road and returned home. Defendant later returned to Granger's. As he came running up, she shut and locked her door. In spite of the fact that defendant testified that he had keys for the garage and back doors of Granger's residence, defendant proceeded to kick in the front door. He beat Granger with his fists, an answering machine, and a telephone. He struck her in the head, back, and arms; grabbed her throat and choked her; threatened to make her hang herself; and broke a chair over her legs. Granger's parents arrived and called the police. Defendant fled and was later arrested.

Defendant argues that the victim's injuries are insufficient to support the finding of great bodily harm necessary to his aggravated battery conviction. Relying on People v. Figures, 216 Ill. App. 3d 398, 401, 576 N.E.2d 1089, 1092 (1991), he argues that if the offense of "simple" battery is to have any import at all, the amount of damage necessary for a finding of great bodily harm must be more severe than simple bruises and abrasions.

When considering a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence in an appeal from a criminal conviction, the reviewing court does not retry the defendant. Instead, this court determines whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proved beyond a reasonable doubt. This court will not reverse the conviction unless the evidence is so unreasonable, improbable, or unsatisfactory as to justify a reasonable doubt of defendant's guilt. People v. Smith, 185 Ill. 2d 532, 542, 708 N.E.2d 365, 370 (1999).

"Whether the victim's injuries rise to the level of great bodily harm is a question for the trier of fact. People v. Figures, 216 Ill. App. 3d 398, 401, 576 N.E.2d 1089, 1092 (1991). In making that determination, the relevant inquiry is 'not what the victim did or did not do to treat the injury but what injuries the victim in fact received.' People v. Edwards, 304 Ill. App. 3d 250, 254, 710 N.E.2d 507, 509 (1999); see also Figures, 216 Ill. App. 3d at 401, 576 N.E.2d at 1092 (whether the victim's injuries constitute great bodily harm is 'neither dependent upon hospitalization of the victim, nor the permanency of his disability or disfigurement')." People v. Garry, 323 Ill. App. 3d 292, 297, 752 N.E.2d 1244, 1248 (2001), appeal denied, 196 Ill. 2d 552, ___ N.E.2d ___ (2001).

We have examined the photographs of Granger's injuries taken by City of Paxton police officer Salvatory Maacaluso and the parties' stipulation of the testimony of the victim's treating physician, Dr. Napolean B. Knight. The photographs depict Granger with bruises under her eyes, on her back, and on one arm. They also show scratches or cuts on her throat and on one leg. Knight diagnosed Granger as having multiple contusions, a closed head injury, and leg abrasions. Given the closed head injury and the extent of Granger's abrasions and bruising, we find that the evidence as presented was sufficient to find defendant guilty of aggravated battery beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defendant next argues that the trial court improperly allowed evidence of his four prior burglary convictions and a prior attempt (burglary) conviction without conducting a balancing test under the familiar standards of Montgomery. We must review the issue as plain error, if at all, for Defendant failed to properly preserve the claim in the trial court. See 134 Ill. 2d R. 615(a). We find no error, plain or otherwise.

In the present case, the following colloquy was had at the close of the State's evidence:

"THE COURT: We are still out of the presence of the jury, Mr. Welch, after the recess, you are now indicating that Mr. Milligan is going to testify?

MR. WELCH [(defense attorney)]: Yes.

THE COURT: All right. And there is a matter of some prior felony convictions, is that correct?

MR. WELCH: Yes.

THE COURT: And the State and the defense are in agreement about how many there are and what they are?

MR. WELCH: Yes.

THE COURT: And?

MR. WELCH: Well, we misspoke earlier off the record. It is--it's four burglary convictions and an attempt. I think we said three and an ...


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