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People v. Crawford

October 08, 2003


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 99 CR 9374 Honorable Ronald A. Himel Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hall


Following a bench trial, defendant Cecil D. Crawford, also known as Dowell, was found guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault. On October 12, 2000, he was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment. Defendant filed his timely notice of appeal on October 17, 2000.

On appeal, defendant contends that: (1) his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel was violated by the trial court's repeated interruptions of defense counsel's closing argument; (2) the trial court's repeated interruptions of defense counsel's closing argument revealed that the court was biased against him so as to deny him a fair trial; (3) he was denied a fair trial by the trial judge's inaccurate memory regarding the examining doctor's testimony pertaining to a vaginal abrasion; (4) the trial court failed to conduct an adequate inquiry into his pro se posttrial allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel; and (5) his mittimus should be corrected. Defendant also raises two issues regarding his sentence.

Based upon our decision as to defendant's second issue, we need not address the rest of the issues raised by defendant. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.


I.R., the alleged victim, was 18 years old at the time of the incident; defendant was 55 years old. I.R. testified that she had known defendant since she was a small child and that her aunt was married to defendant's brother. I.R. testified that on the night of March 29, 1999, defendant picked her up from the apartment she shared with her mother, uncle and his wife and daughter, and she and defendant traveled to "Ricky's" apartment. They arrived at the apartment at about midnight. No one was in the apartment. I.R. testified that defendant briefly left her in the apartment and went out to purchase some beers. When defendant returned to the apartment, I.R. and defendant sat down to drink the beers and I.R. took out some marijuana to smoke. At about 3 a.m., I.R. testified that she realized it was getting late, so she asked if she could call a cab.

I.R. testified that when she asked to call a cab defendant told her to take off her clothes. She testified that when she refused the request, defendant grabbed her by the neck, pulled her into the bedroom and pulled her pants down. I.R. testified that once her pants were pulled down, defendant inserted his penis into her vagina for a couple of minutes as she attempted to fight him off. She testified that when she pulled back from defendant, he began choking her and threatening her life.

I.R. testified that defendant then told her to perform oral sex on him. She testified that she complied because she was scared. I.R. testified that defendant continued choking her until she jumped off the bed. She then asked to use the bathroom. She testified that she took a cigarette defendant offered her and went into the bathroom. Once in the bathroom, I.R. began throwing objects out of the bathroom window in an attempt to get someone's attention.

I.R. testified that as she was exiting the bathroom, defendant walked in to use the bathroom. She told defendant that she was going to call a cab. She testified that defendant replied, "well, hurry up because I'm not through with you." I.R. testified that instead of calling a cab, she called 911 and told the operator that she had just been raped and to send help. She testified that she hung up the phone when she thought she heard defendant leaving the bathroom. She then dialed a random telephone number so that defendant could not press redial and discover that she had called the police.

I.R. testified that she unlocked the front door to the apartment while defendant was still in the bathroom. When defendant exited the bathroom, he told her to "come on." She testified that she told defendant to wait because she needed some air since he had choked her. She then stood by the window. I.R. testified then when she saw the police arrive, she called out the window for help. She testified that when defendant discovered that she was calling for help, he grabbed her by the neck and threatened to kill her. I.R. testified that the police soon arrived in the apartment and took defendant into custody. She was transported to St. Mary's Hospital for examination.

Detective Terrence Hart testified that he arrived at the scene after responding to a radio call and saw I.R. at a second-floor window yelling for help. As the detective ascended the stairs toward the second floor, he heard a woman scream, and then the scream abruptly stopped.

Detective Hart testified that when he entered the apartment he saw defendant choking I.R. The detective pulled his service revolver, pointed it at defendant, and ordered defendant to take his hands off of I.R. Defendant complied. I.R. then ran to the detective, gasping and crying. She told Detective Hart that she had been raped by the defendant. Defendant was arrested and taken into custody. The detective testified that he observed redness or bruising near I.R.'s eye and redness and scrapes around her neck.

Doctor Jose Yanong testified that on March 30, 1999, at approximately 4 a.m., he examined I.R. at St. Mary's Hospital's emergency room. The doctor testified that I.R. had bruising on her face. The doctor testified that he performed a pelvic examination on I.R. which revealed redness and a small abrasion on the labia or lips of her vagina. He testified that his diagnosis was alleged sexual assault.

On cross-examination, Dr. Yanong testified that there were many causes for redness and abrasion in a woman's vaginal area, some of which do not involve any type of sexual penetration or conduct. The doctor also confirmed that his diagnosis was alleged sexual assault rather than sexual assault.

Dino Lucchesi and Charles Crawford testified on defendant's behalf. Lucchesi testified that he had known defendant for about 20 years and had known I.R. all of her life. Lucchesi owned a neighborhood bar called Dino's Tap Bar. Defendant had worked at the bar. Lucchesi testified that I.R. frequently called the bar asking to speak to defendant.

Charles Crawford, defendant's brother, testified that he had known I.R. all of her life. He testified that two or three months before the incident occurred, he had seen defendant and I.R. together on two occasions. On one occasion, he went to the apartment I.R. shared with her mother and saw I.R. and defendant lying in bed together watching ...

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