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People v. DeBerry

August 13, 2007

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DEMETRIC L. DEBERRY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Macon County No. 05CF1371 Honorable Timothy J. Steadman, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McCULLOUGH

Published opinion

In December 2005, a jury convicted defendant, Demetric L. DeBerry, of robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-1 (West 2004)). The trial court later sentenced him to five years in prison.

Defendant appeals, arguing that (1) the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and (2) the trial court erred in not ruling on his motion in limine, prior to his testimony, as to whether his prior convictions could be used to impeach him. We affirm.

In October 2005, the State charged defendant with robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-1 (West 2004)), alleging that on August 18, 2005, he knowingly took property from Steven McDonald by use of force. Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion in limine to bar the State from impeaching him with "certain of [his] prior convictions." The trial court reserved ruling on the motion "until or unless the defendant testifies and [the] State then seeks to introduce the two convictions by way of rebuttal."

At trial, Steven McDonald testified that on August 18, 2005, he walked from his girlfriend's house to a friend's house. While walking, McDonald stopped and spoke with defendant, whom he knew only as "Mi Mi." Another individual approached and grabbed McDonald's front pocket. McDonald "swung" at the individual but defendant grabbed McDonald from behind and the other individual lifted McDonald's legs and the two men threw McDonald to the ground. One of the individuals kicked McDonald. McDonald observed the two men run from the area.

Tyrell Woods testified that he pleaded guilty to robbing McDonald. He and defendant were no longer best friends because defendant "told on" Woods. According to Woods, he and defendant agreed to "basically [']roll['] [McDonald]."

Decatur police officer Kara Diskey testified that on August 18, 2005, she was dispatched to 143 East Marietta Street in Decatur. Diskey spoke with McDonald and McDonald provided descriptions of the two men involved. McDonald knew one of the individuals as "Mi Mi."

Decatur police officer Jeremy Welker testified that on August 23, 2005, he met with McDonald and conducted a photographic lineup. McDonald "immediately" identified defendant and Woods as the individuals who robbed him on August 18, 2005.

The State then rested, and the trial court denied defendant's motion for directed verdict. Defendant renewed his motion in limine, arguing the outcome of the motion would impact his decision on whether to testify. The trial court refused to rule on the motion in advance of defendant testifying, stating the motion was premature.

Defendant then testified as the only defense witness, admitting that he spoke with McDonald on August 18, 2005, but stating he did not know McDonald. Defendant testified that McDonald asked whether there were "some nice cars around for sale." According to defendant, during this conversation, "Woods came from out of nowhere." Defendant and Woods were friends. Defendant testified that McDonald took a swing at Woods because he did not know what Woods was trying to do to him. Defendant testified that after McDonald swung at Woods, defendant grabbed McDonald because he "didn't want him to try to harm anybody that I had knew." Defendant testified that he let McDonald go "immediately" and observed Woods take a cell phone and money from McDonald's pocket. After this incident, defendant gave Woods a ride home.

Following arguments, the trial court denied the motion in limine and the State offered the certified convictions of defendant for theft and aggravated battery. The jury convicted defendant of robbery and the court later sentenced him to five years in prison.

This appeal followed.

Defendant first argues that the State's evidence failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Specifically, he contends that he was convicted "on the ...


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