Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People v. Palmer

March 12, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ANNETTE M. PALMER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 00-CF-114 Honorable Barbara C. Gilleran-Johnson Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Byrne

Released for publication March 14, 2002.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ANNETTE M. PALMER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 00-CF-114 Honorable Barbara C. Gilleran-Johnson Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Byrne

PUBLISHED

 As the result of a partially negotiated guilty plea, defendant, Annette M. Palmer, pleaded guilty to the offense of armed violence premised on aggravated battery. The January 28, 2000, information alleged in pertinent part that defendant, "while armed with a dangerous weapon, a bludgeon, *** intentionally and without legal justification cut Pastor Escamilla about the body thereby causing great bodily harm [to him]." See 720 ILCS 5/12--4(a), 33A--2 (West 1998). This offense is a Class 2 felony (720 ILCS 5/33A--1(c)(3), 33A--3(b) (West 1998)) having a normal sentencing range of three to seven years' imprisonment (730 ILCS 5/5--8--1(a)(5) (West 1998)). Under certain provisions of the Unified Code of Corrections (Code), an extended sentence of 7 to 14 years' imprisonment may be imposed (730 ILCS 5/5--8--2(a)(4) (West 1998)) if the court finds certain aggravating factors ("facts") were applicable such as where the offense was accompanied by exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty (wanton cruelty) (730 ILCS 5/5--5--3.2(b)(2) (West 1998)), or the victim was a person 60 years of age or older at the time of the offense (age) (730 ILCS 5/5--5--3.2(b)(4)(ii) (West 1998)). There was no agreement as to the sentence. It appears that the trial court imposed an extended sentence of 10 years' imprisonment based on its consideration at the sentencing hearing of two factors or "facts"--wanton cruelty and age.

On June 2, 2000, following the denial of defendant's motion to reconsider the sentence, defendant timely appealed. Defendant argues that her extended sentence must be reduced to a nonextended sentence because, in violation of her right to due process, the enhancing or aggravating factors (wanton cruelty and age) were not charged, submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt. In support of her position she relies on Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000) (Apprendi). For the reasons that we shall explain, we agree with defendant. We vacate the sentence and remand the cause for resentencing consistent with the principles enunciated in Apprendi and with the views expressed herein.

The record further reveals that on January 28, 2000, defendant pleaded guilty to the armed violence charge and, as part of the plea agreement, the State nol-prossed the charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery, and aggravated battery of a senior citizen. It appears that part of the consideration for the plea was that the Class 2 felony was a probationable offense. The court read the armed violence charge to defendant. The trial court informed defendant, among other things, that the offense was "technically probationable" and that the sentencing range for the offense was three to seven years' imprisonment. The court also stated that defendant could receive a term of 7 to 14 years' imprisonment "if you have a previous conviction within the last 10 years *** or if *** there is aggravation that qualifies you for that category." The court later added that it did not know whether defendant qualified for an extended term due to a previous felony conviction or "if the injuries are severe enough for this court to consider an extended term sentence. It's possible. But I underline the word possible." The court explained generally the various rights that defendant would give up by pleading guilty.

The State presented a factual basis for the plea, which is briefly summarized here. The victim, Escamilla, was drinking with defendant. Escamilla fell asleep. When he woke up, defendant was stabbing him. No weapon was found, but defendant claimed she used a garden tool (bludgeon) to attack Escamilla. Defendant went to the hospital with blood on her body. In her statement, she claimed that she had been sexually assaulted. The victim later arrived at the hospital and had 57 stab wounds. (The record shows that there is a slight discrepancy in the exact number of stab wounds.) The State characterized the wounds as "great bodily harm." The wounds required stitches, sutures, and surgery. A police investigation determined that defendant did the stabbing. The State asserted that the sexual assault claim was unfounded. Defense counsel added that it was defendant who called the police initially, and the police transported her to the hospital where she remained for about five hours. When defendant saw Escamilla at the hospital, she called the police a second time. She later went voluntarily to the police department. She stayed in the lockup for about three days before she was charged. The trial court accepted the factual basis and the waiver of defendant's right to a trial and set the matter for sentencing.

The sentencing hearing began on February 29, 2000. The State presented evidence in aggravation. The complaining witness read the victim impact statement expressing his fears since the commission of the offense. An employee testified regarding a fight between defendant and another inmate in December 1999. With the aid of photographs that were admitted into evidence, Sean Hilbert, an investigator for the North Chicago police department, testified regarding the wounds the victim sustained and the conditions found at the scene of the crime. Hilbert stated at one point that the victim had 52 wounds. Hilbert also testified that defendant claimed the victim had sexually assaulted her. On cross-examination, the investigator admitted that the incident happened at midnight and that Escamilla did not arrive at the hospital for medical treatment until the following morning, almost 12 hours later.

Brian Gorcowske, an Elgin police detective, testified regarding his investigation of a June 19, 1999, incident in which defendant's boyfriend, Kevin Childress, suffered a fatal stab wound during the course of a domestic dispute. Gorcowske determined that defendant inflicted the stab wound. Defendant had claimed alternatively that she acted in self-defense or the fatal wound was an accident. The State sought to charge defendant with second-degree murder, but the grand jury returned a "no true bill." Gorcowske admitted that on a prior occasion Childress had been arrested and charged for punching defendant in the eye. That charge was subsequently dropped because defendant did not choose to have him prosecuted.

In mitigation, defendant's father testified regarding the positive aspects of his relationship with defendant. Defendant had been in abusive relationships. He believed she needed counseling, and he believed he could be of assistance to her.

The State argued that there were aggravating factors present. Among other things, the State argued that defendant should be given an extended sentence because of the age of the victim and because the offense was accompanied by brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty. The State emphasized that there were 54 wounds.

Defense counsel argued that there were mitigating circumstances and that defendant had been in situations where she had been abused or battered. He claimed the wounds were not indicative of wanton cruelty and characterized them as slashes rather than stabs. He asked the court to consider defendant's need for social services and substance abuse counseling and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.