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People v. Engle

July 15, 2004


[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois, Nos. 02-CF-115 & 99-CF-1619. Honorable Barbara Badger, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Slater

[8]  Defendant Clint A. Engle pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance (psicosyn) (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 1998)) in circuit court case No. 99--CF--1619 and was sentenced to probation. His probation was subsequently revoked. While awaiting resentencing for the drug offense, defendant was charged with home invasion and aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12--11(a)(2); 12--3, 12--4(a) (West 2002)) in circuit court case No. 02--CF--115. A jury found defendant guilty of both charges. Following a consolidated sentencing hearing, the court imposed consecutive prison sentences of 2, 14 and 2 years, respectively, for the three offenses.

[9]  In this consolidated appeal, defendant contends that (1) the trial court improperly allowed the State to present rebuttal evidence; (2) an improper comment made during the prosecutor's closing argument deprived him of a fair trial; (3) his conviction of aggravated battery must be vacated; and (4) consecutive sentencing does not apply to the drug conviction. We vacate defendant's conviction and sentence for aggravated battery and otherwise affirm the trial court's judgment.

[10]   FACTS

[11]   In case No. 99--CF--1619, defendant entered a negotiated guilty plea to unlawful possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 24 months' probation and ordered to attend substance abuse counseling. Defendant subsequently admitted violating the terms of his probation, and on December 12, 2001, the court accepted the admission and granted the State's petition to revoke probation. Defendant remained free on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond until January 17, 2002, when he was taken into custody in case No. 02--CF--115. Resentencing in case No. 99--CF--1619 was subsequently delayed pending the trial in case No. 02--CF--115.

[12]   The State's evidence in the trial of case No. 02--CF--115 established that defendant lived with Nicole Dodd and her father, John Theres, at Dodd's marital home in Joliet for about six months pending Dodd's divorce. In December 2001, Dodd began dating another man, Ron Faust, and Theres ordered defendant to move out of the house. Dodd rented an apartment in nearby Crest Hill and was there with Faust the night of January 11, 2002. Around midnight, defendant broke into the apartment. He fought with Faust and punched Dodd. Dodd described the car defendant drove as a light blue Ford Taurus with a bashed-in fender.

[13]   Theres testified that he was alone and fell asleep on the living room couch of the Joliet residence around 11 p.m. on January 11. He was wakened a couple of hours later by a sharp blow to the side of his head. Theres believed he was being attacked with a golf club. He could not see his attacker and was trying to fend off further blows when he heard defendant say, "You are going to die tonight, m_____f_____, for not letting me see your daughter." Theres said he definitely recognized defendant's voice, and he was aware of only one person other than himself in the room.

[14]   To save his life, Theres stopped moving and absorbed more blows. When the beating stopped, Theres watched the assailant leave the room and proceed down a hallway toward the bedrooms. Despite the darkness, Theres could discern that the person was a male and built like defendant. Later, Theres peeked out the front window and saw a man drive off in a light blue Ford Taurus which he recognized as defendant's by the damaged front fender. Theres then discovered that the telephone line had been cut, so he drove himself to the emergency room of the hospital where wounds to his head were closed with staples.

[15]   On cross-examination, defense counsel asked Theres whether he had spoken with a Joliet police officer at the emergency room. Theres said he had. However, he said he had been given "stuff" when he entered the hospital and was unable to recall whether the policeman was named "Ponce," or whether he had told the officer that defendant repeatedly said, "Die, you son-of-a-bitch," during the beating. Counsel also asked whether Theres had told Joliet police detective Brian Lewis on January 15, 2002, that he recognized defendant as his attacker by his voice and his car. Theres said he had provided this information during the interview. He acknowledged, however, that he may not have told Lewis that he recognized defendant by his silhouette as he walked down the hall.

[16]   Following the State's case-in-chief, defendant called Officer Tom Ponce to the witness stand. Ponce testified that he visited Theres in the emergency room of the hospital in the early morning of January 12, 2002. At that time, Theres identified defendant as his assailant; however, he did not state that he recognized him by his voice. Ponce also stated that Theres told him defendant owned a blue Ford Taurus with a damaged front fender, but Ponce could not recall that Theres told him he saw defendant drive away in the vehicle after the assault.

[17]   Over defendant's objection, the State was permitted to introduce Detective Lewis in rebuttal. Lewis testified that on January 15, Theres stated that he recognized defendant's voice during the assault and that he saw him leave the premises in the damaged blue Ford Taurus.

[18]   Following closing arguments and instructions, the jury found defendant guilty, as charged.

[19]   At a consolidated sentencing hearing on July 23, 2002, the court resentenced defendant to a two-year prison term for the drug conviction in case No. 99--CF--1619. The court also imposed consecutive prison sentences of 14 and 2 years, respectively, for home invasion and aggravated battery in No. 02--CF--115 and ordered that those sentences be served consecutively to the sentence in No. 99--CF--1619. ...

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