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The People of the State of Illinois v. Alex Rutledge

April 18, 2011


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 08 CR 20271 Honorable Thomas M. Davy, Judge Presiding.

JUSTICE LAMPKIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Presiding Justice Hall and Justice Hoffman concurred in the judgment and opinion.


Following a bench trial, defendant Alex Rutledge was found guilty of aggravated battery of a police officer and sentenced, based on his criminal background, to a Class X term of 10 years' imprisonment. On appeal defendant contends that (1) he was denied a fair trial because the State introduced excessive and unnecessary "other crimes" evidence; and (2) he was improperly ordered to serve the three-year period of mandatory supervised release (MSR) associated with a Class X felony rather than the two-year period associated with the Class 2 offense of which he was convicted. We affirm.

According to the State's theory of the case, the aggravated battery that formed the basis for defendant's conviction arose from and was a continuation of an incident that developed between defendant and Keisha Atas when she rejected defendant's sexual advances while parked in an alley. The State contends that defendant battered Joseph Smith, an off-duty police officer, when Atas sought refuge in Smith's garage and Smith stepped between defendant and Atas. Defendant contends that, whatever transpired between him and Atas, no presentation of those facts was necessary to explain an unrelated battery of Smith.

At trial, Keisha Atas testified that she and defendant were present at a "get together" at her cousin's house. Atas had known defendant for more than 10 years. At the get together, she and defendant drank vodka and played cards, then left together in her cousin's car at approximately 3 a.m. Defendant was driving and they were accompanied by two other guests from the party. Defendant dropped off the other guests and asked Atas if she would like to "hang out" and get another drink. She agreed and defendant bought a bottle of vodka, which they consumed in the parked car.

Atas further testified that defendant commented that she was acting like she was "too good." Atas ignored the comment, but defendant began striking her in the face. Atas asked defendant to take her home. Instead, defendant parked in an alley. Atas told defendant that she needed to use the bathroom. Defendant let her out of the car to urinate and began to urinate in the alley himself. Defendant told Atas that "when you get back in, you better be ready to give me some pussy." Atas saw a garage door open and saw a man (Smith) standing near the alley. She ran toward Smith and into his garage.

Atas testified that as she passed Smith she noticed a badge on his belt. Defendant followed and was trying to get Atas to leave the garage. Smith told defendant that he was a police officer and asked defendant to leave. Defendant stated that he knew Smith was a police officer because he had seen him in the neighborhood. Smith told a woman to call 911 and bring him his handcuffs. Defendant continued to try to enter the garage and became more aggressive. Smith placed one handcuff on defendant, and then defendant swung at Smith, striking him in the face. They struggled until another man came from the alley and helped restrain defendant.

Joseph Smith testified that he is a Chicago police officer assigned to the marine unit. On the morning in question, he went to his garage and opened the door, planning to smoke a cigarette in the alley. He was wearing blue uniform pants, a tee-shirt with the words "Chicago Police Marine Unit" and a badge clipped to his belt. He saw Atas get out of a car in the alley with her pants down around her legs and run toward his garage. Atas was crying and bleeding, she had bruises, and some of her hair had been pulled out. She ran into his garage. Defendant followed.

Smith testified that he was trying to "decipher" what was happening. Atas asked him to take her home. He said he could not, but offered to call the police. He asked defendant why Atas was bleeding and defendant said that she struck her head. Smith told defendant that Atas did not want to go with him and asked him to leave. Smith called 911 and told defendant that he was a police officer. Defendant said that he knew Smith was a police officer. Smith told defendant that he had called the police and suggested that defendant "bounce," i.e. , leave the area. Smith then used his cell phone to call his fianceee, who was also a police officer. He asked her to bring his weapon and handcuffs to the garage.

Smith further testified that when defendant continued to refuse to leave, he decided to place him under arrest. Smith placed a handcuff on defendant's left wrist. Defendant swung at Smith with his right hand and struck him in the face causing a bruise. A neighbor attempted to help secure defendant. He was unable to do so, but a second neighbor joined them and the three men were able to place the handcuffs on defendant. After Smith placed defendant in the handcuffs, a squad car arrived and another officer took defendant into custody.

Robert Franklin testified that he is Smith's neighbor. He described assisting in defendant's arrest and generally corroborated Smith's account of his fight with defendant.

Officer Grubbs *fn1 also testified. When he arrived on the scene defendant was in handcuffs. He observed swelling ...

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