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People v. Davis

March 12, 2003


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Thomas R. Sumner, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wolfson


Following a bench trial, defendant Robert Davis was convicted of six counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, one count of aggravated kidnaping, one count of aggravated battery, one count of armed violence, and one count of unlawful restraint. He was sentenced to 54 years' imprisonment.

On appeal, defendant contends: (1) the trial court erred in applying the Illinois "rape shield" statute to preclude defense counsel from cross-examining the victim about a previous sexual assault complaint; (2) he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (3) the trial court erred in failing to investigate sua sponte defense counsel's alleged neglect and incompetence; and (4) the trial court erred in allowing a witness to testify to hearsay statements made by the victim to medical personnel. We affirm.


Before trial, defense counsel made a motion in limine, asking the court for permission to cross-examine the victim, Lakita H., about a prior sexual assault complaint on September 5, 1998. Defense counsel argued the fact pattern in the prior incident was similar to the instant case and took place exactly one month before. In the September 5 incident, Lakita alleged that she met two men. She had a discussion with one of the men and later met the other man. They went to a residence and had drinks. Lakita left the residence. When she returned, she was sexually assaulted by one of the men. Lakita went to the hospital and participated in the completion of a Vitullo kit. The police aggressively pursued the matter until March 1999. The police then closed the case because their attempts to contact Lakita at her address were unsuccessful.

Defense counsel contended the prior incident was relevant because it showed a lack of credibility and a prior fabrication by Lakita. The State responded that the facts were not similar, and the rape shield statute prevented the defense from questioning Lakita about the prior incident. The court denied defendant's motion, holding the rape shield statute applied to preclude defense counsel from questioning Lakita about the prior incident.

At trial, Lakita testified on October 4, 1998, she had finished her work as a tow-truck driver at about 6:30 or 7 p.m. On her way home she stopped to buy chicken, then went to a liquor store at 51st Street and Michigan Avenue to buy beer. As she was walking into the store, a man approached and tried to speak to her, but she ignored him. The man was light-skinned and had braids in his hair; Lakita identified him as defendant. When she left the store, defendant tried to speak to her again, but she ignored him and drove home.

At about 8 p.m. that evening, Lakita returned to the same store to buy cigarettes. When she left the store, she saw defendant and co-defendant James Walker. They approached her and said something about going to a party with them. She ignored them and drove home in her tow truck. She parked across the street from her building, turned off the radios and secured her money in a steel folder in the truck. As she was locking the truck, both defendants approached her. Defendant poked her in her side with an object she believed to be a gun and said they were going to a party. Walker said "come on" and grabbed her arm. They walked through a construction site, and defendant shook a bag containing urine onto her.

The defendants pulled Lakita's hood down over her face and tied it tightly. They then crossed the street and went into a building. She could hear defendants talking to other males. Defendants pushed her into an elevator, and they went up. They shoved her into an abandoned apartment and pushed her onto a mattress in a bedroom. Defendant told Lakita it was Walker's birthday, and Lakita was his birthday gift. Lakita tried to stand up a couple of times, but defendants shoved her back down. Throughout the night, both defendants and a third man repeatedly sexually assaulted her--orally, rectally, and vaginally. They also beat her with a baseball bat and their fists and submerged her body in scalding water. At one point, she got up and tried to jump out the window, but she realized they were on a high floor of the building.

After a period of time, Lakita lost track of who was doing what to her, and she "blacked in and out." She heard them say she was dead. Defendants talked about wrapping her body in carpet and putting it on the railroad tracks or throwing it down the incinerator. One of the defendants kicked her and she moved. She started pleading with them to let her go and told them she would not tell anyone. Defendants threw Lakita's clothes at her and said she had two minutes to get dressed or they would throw her out the window. She got dressed and they put the hood over her head again. As they were leaving, she was able to see the apartment number on the door was "15 something."

When Lakita went outside, she realized for the first time it was daylight, the next morning. Defendants threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the incident. She started to walk home but realized she was being followed by another, unidentified, man. She saw her neighbor and told him to call the police. J.B. Brown, Lakita's co-worker, was sitting in his tow truck behind her truck. She told him a man was following her. Lakita got into her truck, and she and J.B. started driving around to look for the man. Lakita called the police and other tow truck drivers on her truck radio. She then spotted defendants walking on 49th Street. At 51st Street, she backed into a car to get the attention of the police. Several police cars and tow trucks came to the scene, and Lakita was put in an ambulance. She saw defendants through the window, and she became scared and screamed.

On cross-examination, Lakita testified defendants offered her drugs at the apartment, but she refused. She did not know what kind of drugs they were. Defendants also offered her alcohol, and she drank it. She denied using illegal drugs before the incident but said she takes several prescription drugs. She did not remember telling the detectives after the incident that she left her house for the store at 12:15 or 12:45 a.m. Lakita testified she was very hysterical at the hospital and did not remember what she told anyone. She remembered a condom was used at one time during the incident.

Regina Mathews, a registered nurse, testified she worked in the emergency room at Provident Hospital on October 5, 1998. She assessed Lakita, who told her she had been raped. She noticed Lakita had swelling on her face, and bruising and swelling on her shoulder, arm, hand, thigh, and hip. She described them as large areas of redness, swelling, and welts. Lakita started moaning every time she moved.

Lakita told Mathews she had gone out to get cigarettes that night and was approached by a light-skinned man who followed her back to her residence without her knowledge. When she got out of her truck, she saw the man with a dark-skinned man. The dark-skinned man got forceful and told her they were going somewhere, and she followed. He had a hand in his pocket, and she wasn't sure if he had a weapon. They took her to a project building and went up in an elevator to a vacant apartment. There was a third person there. They asked her if she wanted to do drugs, and she refused. She smoked a cigarette that was offered to her.

Lakita told Mathews the men grabbed her and started pulling her clothes off. All three individuals began sexually penetrating her with their penises--vaginally, orally, and rectally. They took her to the bathroom, and the same acts occurred there. She tried to escape, and she was beaten all over with fists and a bat. She was repeatedly sexually assaulted. She drank some alcoholic beverages. The offenders eventually let her go at about 8 a.m. the next morning. Lakita notified her neighbor who called the police.

Mathews conducted a rape kit test on Lakita, and a doctor performed a vaginal and rectal exam. Mathews sealed the rape kit, which remained in her presence until she gave it to police. Lakita told Mathews she was not sure if the men used condoms. She indicated she had smoked marijuana in the past. Lakita also told her she had left her home to go to the store around midnight.

Chicago police officer Lisa Locke testified that on October 5, 1998, at approximately 8:40 a.m., she was on patrol and received a flash message indicating an assault and a person being followed. She went to 51st Street and King Drive and saw Lakita in a tow truck. According to Officer Locke, Lakita was "hysterical," "screaming," and "crying." She was saying, "'I caused an accident to alert the police to get the police to the scene.'" After receiving information from other officers, Officer Locke proceeded to 4950 South State Street, Apartment 1504, with Officer John Gregwar. She recovered a baseball bat behind the bedroom door and five condoms inside a garbage bag. The items were inventoried.

Officer Vickie Dodd testified she spoke with Lakita in the ambulance. According to Officer Dodd, Lakita was "very hysterical" and "trembling" and "was blurting out she had been raped." When Lakita saw the two offenders through the window, she started yelling and screaming and said "that is them." In her general offense case report, Officer Dodd indicated Lakita had been drinking. She recorded the time of the offense as from 12:30 a.m. until 8:00 a.m.

Charles Neal, Lakita's boss at the time of the incident, testified he received a communication from Lakita on his truck radio on October 5, 1998. She sounded distraught and panicked, and it took him a while to figure out her location. When Neal arrived at 51st Street and King Drive, Lakita was very distraught and distressed. Her face was ...

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