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People v. Robinson

June 29, 2007

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
WILLIAM ROBINSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 01 CR 12422, The Honorable Preston L. Bowie, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Garcia

On May 17, 2001, the State charged the defendant, William Robinson, with first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2000)) and unlawful use of a weapon (720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(7)(ii) (West 2000)). The trial court found the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter and unlawful use of a weapon. At sentencing, the court found that because the defendant and victim were in a dating relationship, the victim was a "household member" as defined by section 112A-3(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/112A-3(3) (West 2000)). The "household member" finding elevated the offense from a Class 3 to a Class 2. The court sentenced the defendant to a 12-year prison term for involuntary manslaughter and a concurrent 5-year term for unlawful use of a weapon. The court later denied the defendant's motions to reconsider his sentence and for a new trial, and his motion in arrest of judgment. The defendant appeals, arguing: (1) his due process rights were violated when he was convicted of the uncharged offense of involuntary manslaughter of a household member; (2) the State failed to comply with section 111-3(c-5) of the Code because it did not give the defendant notice that it would seek an enhanced sentence for involuntary manslaughter; (3) section 9-3(f) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Criminal Code) (720 ILCS 5/9-3(f) (West 2000)), which provides for the sentence enhancement, is unconstitutional; and (4) the compulsory extraction of his blood and storage of his DNA violated his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

In May 2001, the defendant was charged by indictment with six counts of first degree murder for the murder of Joi Jefferson and one count of felony unlawful use of a weapon. None of the first degree murder counts alleged that Jefferson was the defendant's girlfriend or that she was a member of the defendant's household. Before trial, the State nol-prossed five of the first degree murder counts and proceeded on one count of first degree murder and felony unlawful use of a weapon. The defendant's trial began as a jury trial, but prior to closing arguments, the defendant waived his right to a jury trial and the case was decided by the trial court.

The evidence at trial showed that on April 13, 2001, the victim, Joi Jefferson, called the defendant and asked him to accompany her home from work because she cashed a check and did not want to ride the bus home alone. The defendant testified that Jefferson was his girlfriend and that they had dated off and on for three years. After he picked her up from work, they went to his apartment, where they engaged in sexual intercourse. They were interrupted by two phone calls, the first from the defendant's mother. The second from Angel Jordan, a woman the defendant was also dating.

While the defendant spoke with Jordan, Jefferson became upset. After the defendant brushed Jefferson off and told her to go home, she took a sawed-off shotgun from the defendant's counter and pointed it at him. The defendant testified that the gun was loaded and sitting on the counter. He indicated that he placed it on the counter two days earlier after he was threatened by his sister's boyfriend.

Jefferson took the gun into the bathroom and closed the door. When the defendant finished his conversation with Jordan, he went to the bathroom to see what Jefferson was doing. The defendant knocked on the bathroom door and Jefferson told him to leave her alone. The defendant continued to antagonize Jefferson because he knew it would bother her.

After a few minutes, the defendant forced the bathroom door open. Jefferson was sitting on the toilet with the gun across her lap and pointed away from the defendant. The defendant asked Jefferson what was wrong with her and told her to give him the gun. He tried to grab the gun, but she moved it out of his reach. He reached for the gun again. This time he grabbed it, stepped back, and fired the gun.

The defendant shot Jefferson in the face. After she was shot, she fell between the toilet and the bathtub. The defendant tried to move her back onto the toilet and admitted positioning her arm so that it was in contact with the gun. The defendant testified that he was in shock. He called his mother and told her that a friend had been shot; he then called 911. When the paramedics arrived, Jefferson was pronounced dead. At the scene, the defendant told police officers that Jefferson shot herself.

The defendant was taken to Area 2 police station for questioning. After being confronted with evidence that Jefferson could not have shot herself, the defendant told Assistant State's Attorney Megan Goldish that when he went into the bathroom, he and Jefferson struggled over the gun and the gun went off. This conversation was not memorialized. In a videotaped interview played for the jury, the defendant indicated that Jefferson was his girlfriend and that they had been dating on and off for three years. He stated that after Jefferson took the gun, he got angry and antagonized her by banging on the bathroom door. He then forced the door open and took the gun from her lap. He called her a bitch, pointed the gun, and pulled the trigger. The defendant testified that he shot the gun, but he did not remember squeezing the trigger and he did not intend to do so.

After the parties rested, the defendant executed a jury waiver and the trial court decided the case. During closing argument, both the State and the defendant's attorney referred to Jefferson as the defendant's girlfriend. The defendant also asked the court to find him guilty of involuntary manslaughter rather than first degree murder. The court found the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

At sentencing, the State asked the trial court to make a finding that the defendant and Jefferson were in a dating relationship and that she was a "household member" for purposes of a sentence enhancement under section 9-3(f) of the Criminal Code. The State then urged the court to sentence the defendant to the maximum prison term of 14 years. The defendant argued that Jefferson was not a household member based on her and the defendant's on-and-off-again relationship.

The trial court found that Jefferson was a "household member" and that the defendant was eligible to be sentenced under the section 9-3(f) enhancement. The court sentenced the defendant to a term of 12 years for involuntary manslaughter and a concurrent term of 5 years for felony unlawful use of a weapon.

The defendant filed a motion to reconsider his sentence, arguing that his sentence violated his due process and equal protection rights because the victim's status was not included in the indictment and involuntary manslaughter of a household member was not a lesser-included offense of first degree murder. The court denied the motion, finding that the State was not obligated to include the nature of the relationship between the defendant and Jefferson in the charge of first degree murder, and that the evidence was overwhelming that Jefferson was a "household member." The defendant filed a motion for new trial and a motion in arrest of judgment, which alleged the charging instrument was insufficient because it failed to allege the fact that Jefferson was a household member. The court denied the motions. This appeal followed.

ANALYSIS

As his principal argument, the defendant maintains that he was wrongly convicted of the uncharged offense of involuntary manslaughter of a household member. He maintains that this offense is a separate and distinct offense from "simple" involuntary manslaughter. And, because it requires proof of an "element" that the offense of first degree murder does not --that the victim was a household member -- it is not a lesser-included offense of first degree murder. Thus, the issue at the heart of this appeal is whether the victim's status as a household member is an "element," as that term is used in included-offense analysis, of the offense of involuntary manslaughter of which the defendant was convicted and sentenced, or whether it is merely a factor that enhances a defendant's sentence that must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

I. Lesser-Included Offense

An included offense "means an offense which *** [i]s established by proof of the same or less than all of the facts or a less culpable mental state (or both), than that which is required to establish the commission of the offense charged[.]" 720 ILCS 5/2-9(a) (West 2000). There is no doubt that "simple" involuntary manslaughter is a lesser-included offense of first degree murder based on a less culpable mental state (People v. Givens, 364 Ill. App. 3d 37, 44, 846 N.E.2d 951 (2005)), and the defendant does not claim otherwise. The defendant maintains, however, that because the involuntary manslaughter charge upon which he was sentenced contains the added "element" of the status of the victim as a household member, it is a distinct offense from "simple" involuntary manslaughter. In other words, because involuntary manslaughter involving a household member requires proof of more facts than that which is required to establish the commission of first degree murder, the offense with which the defendant was charged, it is not an included offense.

Generally, involuntary manslaughter is a Class 3 felony. However, when the victim is a household member, the offense is classified a Class 2 felony. ...


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