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People v. Henderson

February 13, 2003


Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit, McDonough County, Illinois No. 99-DT-61 Honorable William D. Henderson, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Holdridge


A jury found the defendant, Thomas C. Henderson, guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), which is a Class A misdemeanor (625 ILCS 5/11--501(a)(2), (c) (West 1998)). He was sentenced to 30 days' incarceration in the county jail. The sentencing order also stated that he was to pay a $2,500 public defender fee (725 ILCS 5/113--3.1(b) (West 2000)). Under section 113--3.1(b), an order imposing a public defender fee may not exceed (1) $500 for a defendant charged with a misdemeanor; or (2) $2,500 if the defendant is appealing the conviction of any class offense. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred by (1) admitting doctor-ordered blood test results in evidence where the State failed to establish the blood sample's chain of custody; and (2) imposing a $2,500 rather than a $500 public defender fee. We affirm.


At trial, Deputy Sheriff Justin R. Lundgren testified that at approximately 11:25 p.m. on March 12, 1999, he was called to the scene of a one-car accident on U.S. highway 67, just outside the town of Industry. A car driven by the defendant had left the road at "Windmill Curve" and had "landed out in a field" more than 100 feet from the road. When Lundgren arrived at the accident scene, emergency personnel were working to extract the defendant from the vehicle where he was "somewhat trapped." Lundgren spoke with the defendant, who "smelled of alcoholic beverage" and slurred his speech.

Eric Starbuck testified that on the night of the accident, he was a paramedic for the McDonough District Hospital (MDH) in Macomb. Starbuck said that after he arrived at the crash site, he began to treat the defendant. He detected "an odor of alcohol" coming from the defendant. Starbuck said that he drew a blood sample from the defendant in the ambulance under a standing order from the hospital's emergency room doctor. He testified that the ambulance arrived at the hospital with the defendant at 12:02 a.m. on March 13, 1999.

Starbuck stated that it is standard procedure for a patient's blood sample drawn in the field to accompany the patient in the ambulance. Once at the hospital, the blood sample is given to hospital staff, who label the sample to identify that it was collected from the patient. The sample is then taken by a staff member to the hospital laboratory.

Lundgren testified that he followed the ambulance to the hospital. While at the hospital, the defendant told Lundgren that "he had been drinking alcohol." Lundgren opined that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol. Lundgren asked the defendant if he would consent to have a blood sample taken. The defendant agreed. However, shortly thereafter, the hospital staff told Lundgren that the defendant needed to be transferred to another hospital because of a spinal injury. Lundgren did not know whether the hospital staff drew the sample that Lundgren had requested before the defendant was transported to the other hospital.

Dr. Arthur Thrasher testified that he was the emergency room doctor who treated the defendant at MDH. He stated that under his standing orders, four tubes of blood are drawn from a patient prior to the patient's arrival at the emergency room. Among other tests, the patient's blood sample is tested at the hospital lab for the presence of alcohol. The results of the blood tests then are printed on a lab report. The defendant's lab report was generated in the regular course of the hospital's business. The defendant's lab report, which was admitted in evidence over the defendant's objection, shows that the defendant's blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.19.

The hospital's lab report indicates that the patient's name was "HENDERSON, THOMAS C" and that the emergency room doctor was "THRASHER, ARTHUR." The report states that the blood sample used for the "ALCOHOL BLOOD" test was collected at 12:45 a.m. on March 13, 1999. The report shows that a sample used for a "CHEM 7" test also was collected at 12:45 a.m. The report states that a sample was collected for a "CBC" test at 8:37 a.m. The form authorizing the defendant's transfer to another hospital, however, indicates that he was transferred at 2:50 a.m. Thrasher could not explain how the blood sample for the "CBC" test could have been collected after the defendant was transferred to another hospital.

The defendant previously had filed a motion in limine to bar the State from introducing in evidence the hospital's lab report concerning the defendant's BAC. In the motion, the defendant argued that the blood sample was requested by Lundgren (under 625 ILCS 5/11--501.2 (West 1998)) rather than ordered by a doctor (under 625 ILCS 5/11--501.4 (West 1998)). At the hearing on the motion, the defendant contended that the blood sample must have been requested by Lundgren at the hospital and could not have been the blood sample drawn by Starbuck before the defendant arrived at the hospital. The defendant based this contention on the fact that the blood sample was collected at 12:45 a.m., which was after the defendant arrived at the hospital at 12:02 a.m.

At the hearing, Thrasher testified that the collection time on the lab report could have been either when the blood sample was drawn from the defendant's body or when the sample was drawn from the tube at the laboratory. He stated that the blood sample was ordered by him rather than requested by Lundgren because it was tested by the hospital's lab rather than being given to Lundgren and tested by a crime lab. The court denied the defendant's motion in limine, ruling that the lab report was not a result of Lundgren's request under section 11--501.2.

At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found the defendant guilty. The court imposed a 30-day jail sentence. The sentencing order, dated November 27, 2001, states that the defendant is to pay a $2,500 public defender fee. The record does not contain a transcript of the sentencing hearing or any other proceeding in which the trial judge determined the ...

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