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People v. Buckner

August 29, 2007

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
VINCENT BUCKNER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 04CR1493 The Honorable Dennis J. Porter, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Greiman

Published opinion

Following a jury trial, defendant Vincent Buckner was found guilty of predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual assault and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred in granting the State's motion in limine to bar defendant from cross-examining the State's DNA analyst witness regarding the fact that she had pled guilty to theft of unearned overtime pay and, at the time of trial, was serving an 18- month term of supervision. Defendant further contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion for new trial which alleged that his due process and fair trial rights were violated when the State failed to disclose to defendant that the DNA analyst had collected one hour of unearned overtime pay on the day she tested the DNA at issue in this case. We affirm.

Prior to trial, defendant indicated to the court that he did not want the public defender to represent him. Defendant was permitted to proceed pro se.

In a supplemental answer to a discovery request by defendant, the State indicated that Amy Rehnstrom, the DNA analyst who had profiled the relevant DNA in this case, had been indicted for felony theft of unearned overtime pay, had pled guilty to misdemeanor theft on October 8, 2004, and had been sentenced to 18 months of misdemeanor supervision and was ordered to make restitution, resign from her position and perform community service.

Rehnstrom's indictment, which supplements the record on appeal, indicated that on September 24, 2004, she was charged with felony theft for a period that commenced on May 3, 2004, and continued through June 3, 2004.

At trial, the victim, L.D., testified that in the summer of 2001, when she was 11 years old, defendant, a friend of her mother's, took L.D. and her brothers to a carnival and then to his house to spend the night. That night, defendant sat on the couch next to L.D. and touched her chest and "private area." A few weeks later, defendant took L.D. to a party and then back to his house, where he had sexual intercourse with her. In November 2001, L.D. went to the store defendant owned. Defendant had sexual intercourse with L.D. in the back room of the store. In February 2002, L.D. was baby-sitting for defendant and his girlfriend's child. Defendant put an adult movie on the television and had sexual intercourse with his girlfriend while L.D. lay next to them on the bed and then had sexual intercourse with L.D.

In May 2002, L.D. went to the doctor and was told that she was pregnant. She gave birth to a son on August 16, 2002. She was 12 years old.

Defendant testified on his own behalf that in 2001, L.D.'s mother invited him to dinner. At dinner he had "too much to drink" and fell asleep on the couch. When he woke the next morning, defendant saw L.D. in the bathroom. L.D. told defendant that "I got me some last night" and that "I got me some from you last night." A few months later, defendant learned that L.D. was pregnant. Defendant denied that the sexual encounters L.D. had testified to had ever occurred. Defendant's friend testified that he had seen defendant drunk and passed out.

Buccal swabs were taken from L.D., her son and defendant. The swabs were sent for DNA testing.

Prior to offering Rehnstrom's testimony, the State moved in limine to bar defendant from cross-examining her concerning her theft indictment, plea or sentence. The motion maintained that the investigation into Rehnstrom's theft had commenced during the pendency of defendant's case, that she had tested the DNA in this case in November 2003, that she was indicted for theft occurring in May and June 2004 and that she received a period of supervision, which she was serving at the time of trial, in October 2004. The trial court granted the motion.

Rehnstrom testified that she received DNA kits from L.D., her son and defendant, profiled the DNA from those kits on November 3, 2003, and faxed the resulting DNA profiles to a laboratory in North Carolina for interpretation.

Meghan Clement, an employee of the North Carolina lab, testified that she analyzed the DNA profiles and determined that there was a 99.9% probability that defendant was L.D.'s son's father.

Thereafter a warrant was issued for defendant's arrest and he was eventually arrested in Iowa. The jury found defendant guilty of predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of a child. The court then appointed, with defendant's consent, ...


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