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In Re Jonathon C.B., A Minor v. Jonathon C.B

June 30, 2011

IN RE JONATHON C.B., A MINOR
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,
v.
JONATHON C.B.,
APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Thomas

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

Justices Garman, Karmeier, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Chief Justice Kilbride dissented, with opinion. Justice Freeman dissented, with opinion. Justice Burke dissented, with opinion.

OPINION

Jonathon C.B. (Jonathon) was adjudicated a delinquent minor following the circuit court of Champaign County's finding that Jonathon was guilty of criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12--13(a)(1) (West 2006)) and attempted robbery (720 ILCS 5/8--4(a), 18--1 (West 2006)). The trial court ordered Jonathon committed to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice for an indeterminate term, to automatically terminate in 15 years or upon Jonathon attaining 21 years of age. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the adjudication, with one justice dissenting. 386 Ill. App. 3d 735.

This court granted Jonathon's petition for leave to appeal. Ill. S. Ct. R. 315 (eff. Feb. 26, 2010). We now affirm the judgment of the appellate court.

BACKGROUND

On August 24, 2006, the State filed a supplemental petition for adjudication of wardship, alleging that Jonathon, who was 16 years old at the time, was a delinquent minor, and charging him with criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12--13(a)(1) (West 2006)) and attempted robbery (720 ILCS 5/8--4(a), 18--1 (West 2006)). The State alleged that Jonathon and another minor, G.W., sexually assaulted and attempted to rob C.H. Jonathon asserted that he and G.W. had paid C.H. for sex, then attempted to get their money back. Because Jonathon challenges the sufficiency of the evidence against him, we will review the facts of the case in detail.

At Jonathon's bench trial, C.H. testified that on July 10, 2006, she left her home on Comanche in Champaign, Illinois, around 11 or 11:30 p.m. to go to her friend Donnie Stewart's home to make a phone call. As she was walking, she was approached by two boys, a tall boy and a short boy. C.H. later identified Jonathon as the tall boy. The short boy said to her, "I have three for one." C.H. responded, "You should be at home in bed." Jonathon told C.H., "That is my brother. You don't talk to him like that." C.H. said, "Well, he approached me," then continued walking to Stewart's house. C.H. stayed at Stewart's house for around 10 minutes, but did not recall what time she left. C.H. took a different route home, along Campbell Street, because the boys that had approached her on her way to Stewart's house made her uncomfortable.

As C.H. was walking home, she heard footsteps behind her. She turned around and saw two boys behind her. One was Jonathon, and the other was a little shorter, but was not the same short boy from earlier. C.H. continued walking, and one of the boys said, "Hey, you." Jonathon went over to the garage of a duplex on Campbell, and asked C.H. if she wanted to have a drink. He also asked C.H. if she wanted to come near the garage. Jonathon went to the garage door and punched a button, raising the garage door. C.H. said, "I'm not going in there." Jonathon lowered the garage door and said that they could talk and drink at the back of the house. The shorter boy, later identified as G.W., then grabbed C.H.'s arm and pulled her behind the house.

G.W. put his hands on C.H.'s shoulders and pulled her to her knees. G.W. was facing C.H. G.W. unzipped his pants and "crammed" his penis in her mouth, telling her she better not bite it. Jonathon was behind her. C.H. felt Jonathon put his penis in her vagina. C.H. testified that she fought as much as she could, said "no," and tried to pull away. During the assault, C.H.'s blouse was torn. C.H. testified that there were people across the street, but no one helped.

C.H. testified that she was carrying a knife at the time of the assault, and that she had carried a knife ever since she was raped, beaten, and left for dead nine years earlier. C.H. said that the knife was in her hand. C.H. said that the knife was not open when G.W. grabbed her.

The assault was interrupted when a boy walking by said, "What are you all doing?" The boy scared G.W., who was holding C.H., so he let her loose. Jonathon also turned around, so C.H. knew it was her chance to get away. She ran south on Campbell. Her bra and shirt were torn, and she was trying to pull her pants up. C.H. screamed and asked people for help, but no one helped her. When she came to an intersection, C.H. saw her friend Keisha drive by in an orange- or gold-colored "truck like" car. C.H. ran up to the car and asked to be let in. Jonathon came up behind C.H. and told Keisha not to let C.H. in the car. Jonathon told Keisha that the police were down the street. Keisha did not let C.H. in the vehicle.

C.H. tried to run away again. When C.H. got to a tree in the back of her house, Jonathon hit her in the back of the head and knocked her down. C.H. then showed the knife she was carrying. Jonathon told C.H. to "drop the knife," and held C.H.'s arm down with his foot. The shorter boy then began "stomping" her in the head. At that point, C.H. saw a light and heard a man's voice say, "Let her go." The boys then ran off. C.H. testified that the man was a police officer. An ambulance was on the scene because someone had called 911. The officer wrapped something around C.H. to cover her up. C.H. was screaming and yelling for the officers to get her fiance, and kept telling them, "Don't touch me."

A female paramedic came out of the ambulance and put C.H. in the ambulance. The paramedic wrapped C.H.'s arm because it was bleeding. C.H. also kept saying that her stomach was hurting. C.H. refused to go to the hospital at that point because she "didn't want to go through everything that they told me I had to go through." C.H. told the female paramedic that she had been sexually assaulted, but did not tell the police officers that night. C.H. returned to her apartment with her fiance, who had arrived on the scene.

After C.H. had returned to her apartment, police officers came to the door and asked if C.H. could identify the boys who had attacked and tried to rob her. The officers drove C.H. and her fiance to 2701 Campbell, the duplex where the boys had grabbed her and assaulted her. C.H. identified the boys for the police.

At 8 a.m. the next day, detectives came to C.H.'s home. C.H. gave the detectives a bag containing the clothes she had been wearing during the attack. C.H. testified that she had prepared the bag based on her prior experience. The detectives insisted that C.H. go to the hospital to be examined, so they drove C.H. and her fiance there.

Sarah Ramey testified that on July 11, 2006, she was employed by Arrow Carle Ambulance in Champaign. In the early morning hours, around 1:10 a.m., she was dispatched to the area of Campbell and Aztec. The fire department was already on the scene. C.H. was sitting on the side of the road, and the fire department had oxygen on her. Ramey said that C.H. was obviously hysterical. C.H. was screaming, "Don't touch me." C.H. did not want anyone around her. Ramey testified that C.H. was definitely more intimidated by the men on the scene.

At first, C.H. was saying that she just wanted to go home. Ramey asked C.H. to at least step into the ambulance with her so that Ramey could check her out. As Ramey and C.H. were walking to the ambulance, C.H. turned to Ramey and whispered, "I was raped." It was still hard to calm C.H. down in the ambulance. Ramey pleaded with C.H. to go to the hospital, but C.H. was adamant about wanting to go home. Ramey observed abrasions to both of C.H.'s elbows, as well as a shoe print on C.H.'s left arm and upper arm. C.H. also complained of tenderness in her abdomen, and screamed in pain when Ramey pushed on it.

Destiny Nesbitt testified that Jonathon is her cousin. In July 2006, Destiny lived in apartment A of a duplex at 2701 Campbell Drive. Jonathon was staying with her. Around 10:45 p.m. on July 10, Jonathon asked Destiny for $40. Jonathon said there were girls out in the neighborhood and he wanted some money so he could go outside. Destiny gave Jonathon the $40. Destiny then went to sleep around 11 p.m. Sometime later, a little after 1 a.m., Destiny's boyfriend had a telephone conversation with Jonathon. Destiny heard Jonathon tell her boyfriend that he no longer had the $40 because he had "hit a hype." Destiny then went outside to talk to Jonathon, who she believed was at apartment B of the duplex. The police were outside her door.

Destiny testified that she rented the garage of the duplex. Destiny said that the garage does not have an electric button that makes the door raise and lower. Destiny used a key to get in the garage. The garage stays locked, and to enter it, Destiny would unlock the garage, turn the garage handle, and pull the door up. Jonathon did not have a key to the garage.

Deputy Andrew Good testified that he is employed by the Champaign County sheriff's office as a deputy sheriff. On July 10-11, 2006, Good was working the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift as a patrol officer with his field training officer, Deputy Bragg. Around 1:15 a.m. on July 11, Good was on foot patrol responding to a call in the area of Comanche and Campbell. While responding to that call, Good heard screaming from what appeared to be multiple males and a female north on Campbell. As Good walked closer, he saw two males standing over a female screaming and striking her with their fists or hands. The males were saying something to the effect of, "Give me the money. Where is the bread? Give me the money." The female kept repeating, "Quit hitting me. I don't have any money." The female stood up and started running in the direction of Good and Bragg. The two males began chasing her. Good then drew his gun, pointed the gun and his flashlight in the direction of the people, identified himself, and told them to stop. The males immediately turned around and ran northbound in the opposite direction. Good radioed their description and began tending to the woman.

Good explained that the woman, C.H., had continued running toward him and had collapsed in the street near where he was standing. C.H. had on a green tank top which was torn at the shoulder. Her bra strap was also torn, and her pants were soiled around the crotch area. C.H. was "real hysterical." Good asked C.H. if she could move off the street, so C.H. crawled approximately six feet over to the grass area. Good said it was hard to get information out of C.H. because she was hysterical, but at first she said she was raped and that they had a gun. Good saw that C.H.'s elbows and arms had some scraping or scratches on them, and that her elbows were bleeding.

Good eventually was able to learn C.H.'s name and was able to get a description of where C.H. first encountered the boys, at a duplex up the street, on the left side, with a big tree in the yard. Good then proceeded to 2701 Campbell, which fit C.H.'s description. When he arrived on the scene, other deputies were there. Good helped them secure the perimeter around the residence. Later, Good went into apartment B and saw one of the suspects, G.W., being taken into custody. Good and another officer went into another room and saw Jonathon and took him into custody.

Good was present when C.H. was brought to the scene for the "show up" identification. C.H. identified Jonathon and G.W. as her attackers. Good testified that during the course of the show up, Jonathon was kind of talking to himself, saying something to the effect of, "We just went up to help her. We saw the police and we ran." Good testified that in his report of the incident, he noted that there were two suspects, Jonathon and G.W. The report indicated that G.W.'s height was five feet, five inches, and his weight was 160 pounds. Jonathon's height was five feet, two inches, and his weight was 115 pounds.

Deputy Norman Meeker testified that he was a deputy sheriff with the Champaign County sheriff's office. Meeker was on patrol from 11 p.m. July 10 to 7 a.m. July 11, 2006. On that date, Meeker was dispatched to the area of Campbell and Aztec to locate two suspects in connection with a possible armed robbery. When Meeker was approximately three blocks north of the scene, he got out of his car and began walking south toward the scene on Campbell. As Meeker walked by 2701A Campbell, he heard someone talking on the phone say that "they better have their forty dollars." Meeker became suspicious and backed away from the residence. Meeker told the other units that he needed someone to respond there with him.

Meeker eventually spoke with Destiny Nesbitt. Nesbitt told Meeker that she was going next door to get her cousin, Jonathon. Destiny told Meeker that she was supposed to be watching Jonathon, and around 1:15 in the morning received a call from him saying that he had just "hit a hype." Destiny said that Jonathon had called from the duplex on the north side of the building, 2701B Campbell. When Meeker told Destiny that he had overheard her telephone conversation about the $40, Destiny said that she had given or loaned Jonathon $40 earlier in the evening, and that Jonathon said he did not have the money, but was going to get it back for her.

Meeker testified that other officers arrived and set up a perimeter. After about an hour, around 2:15 a.m., G.W. opened the door for the officers and was placed in handcuffs. Jonathon eventually came out of another room and was apprehended. Meeker was with Jonathon when the show up identification took place. Jonathon spontaneously told Meeker that they were just walking with the victim. After C.H. identified G.W. and Jonathon as her attackers, they were arrested.

Meeker interviewed Jonathon at the detention center. Jonathon told Meeker that earlier in the evening, C.H. had approached him up the street from 2701 Campbell and said that she wanted to sell a television. Jonathon told C.H. that he did not have any money, and then they had a conversation that maybe she could do something else for money, which Jonathon took to mean that she would have sex for money. Jonathon told C.H. that he had a friend, and she said that was okay. Jonathon then called G.W., and got $40 from his cousin.

Jonathon, G.W. and C.H. then went behind 2701, where he and G.W. had sexual relations with C.H. Jonathon said that at one point, C.H. fell over and cut herself. C.H. tore her shirt and maybe her bra when she fell over. C.H. then became upset and wanted the boys to walk her home so that her husband would not be mad. Jonathon said that after they had gone about a block, C.H. "freaked out," yelling and screaming. She also pulled out a box cutter or something like a box cutter. At that point, Jonathon saw the police shine their flashlights on him, so he and G.W. took off running. Jonathon told Meeker he ran because it was "instinct."

Meeker testified that Jonathon's narrative concerning the sexual relations with C.H. changed several times. Jonathon first said that he started to have oral sex with C.H. and G.W. had sexual intercourse with her. Jonathon then said that he never actually was able to have sex with C.H. because she fell over. Jonathon's last version of the events of the evening was that C.H. was walking down the street, so he and G.W. started to follow her because they wanted to get their $40 back. Around the area of Campbell and Aztec, G.W. hit C.H. and knocked her down, then started to search her for the money. Jonathon said he never hit C.H., and that they were trying to get their money when the police arrived.

Sergeant Gregory Mills of the Champaign County sheriff's office testified that on the evening of July 11, 2006, he went to C.H.'s home with his partner and took photographs of her injuries. One photo of C.H.'s left hand and wrist area showed slight abrasions and swelling. Another photo showed an injury to her left elbow.

Curtis Apperson testified that he is an investigator with the Champaign County sheriff's department. On July 11, 2006, he went to C.H.'s home to interview her concerning an armed robbery. During his conversation with C.H., C.H. told Apperson that she had been raped. Apperson collected C.H.'s clothes from the night before, and took her to Provena Medical Center. Apperson testified that when C.H. told him that she had been raped, she was emotional and had tears coming from her eyes. C.H. told Apperson that the "tall one did it." When Apperson asked C.H. why she did not tell the police earlier about what had happened, C.H. said she had been the victim of rape in the past and felt that the police officers involved in that investigation did not believe her, so she did not think it would go anywhere if she told any of the officers the night before about the rape. C.H. did say that she told a female paramedic or firefighter that she had been raped. Apperson continued interviewing C.H. at the hospital. Apperson said that C.H.'s emotions were "up and down." At times C.H. was calm, and other times she was emotional and crying.

On cross-examination, Apperson testified that C.H. told him she had a knife on her that evening that she carries for protection. C.H. also told Apperson that $50 was taken from her, two twenties and two fives. C.H. told Apperson that she had been at two places earlier in the evening: Antoine's house and Donnie's house; and that at one of the places she had a birthday drink. Apperson said it was very hard to talk to C.H. because of her emotions, so it was not exactly clear if she went to Antoine's first and then went to Donny's house. At the hospital, Apperson told C.H. that the two suspects said that they had paid her to have sex. At that point, C.H. became very emotional and made statements to the effect of "Well, here we go again," or "You're not gonna believe me." Apperson thought C.H. had told him that the two boys took $50 from her. C.H. did not tell Apperson that either of the suspects had a weapon. She said that they forced her to the ground and forced her to have sex.

William Davis testified that he was an investigator with the Champaign County sheriff's office. On July 11, 2006, Davis accompanied Apperson to C.H.'s house to conduct an interview. Davis said that C.H. told them that she had been approached by three people asking her for three for one, or something like that. C.H. thought they were talking about drugs and said she did not do that. C.H. continued to walk to her friend's house. Davis believed C.H. said she was going to get a birthday drink at a friend's house, and that she needed to get back home to her fiance, otherwise he might be mad. Davis thought C.H. said she had the drinks at Anthony's or Antoine's house. Davis testified that C.H. did not mention Donny to him. While C.H. was going back home, she was approached by two of the three boys she had seen earlier. One of the boys started pulling her shirt off. Davis said that C.H. started to break down and cry when she told them that the boy started pulling her shirt off. At that point, C.H. told them that she had been raped. Apperson then asked her to go to the hospital to have a rape kit done.

At the hospital, Davis asked C.H.'s fiance, Major Nixon, whether C.H. had any money. Major Nixon did not recall C.H. having any money on her. When the interview with C.H. resumed at the hospital, Apperson told C.H. that the two boys said they had paid C.H. for sex. C.H. became very emotional and upset, and could not "believe this is gonna happen again. She didn't want to go through this again."

Mary Sexton testified for the defense that she was a registered nurse at Provena Covenant Medical Center. Sexton was working in the emergency room on July 11, 2006, and did the initial exam and sexual assault kit on C.H. Sexton's history and physical notes indicated that C.H. said that the previous evening, she was walking back from her friend's house. Her friend was not at home. Some young kids tried to talk to C.H. C.H. told Sexton that two people sexually assaulted her. C.H. told Sexton that she was screaming for help, and indicated that afterward, she had seen a small black handled gun. C.H. said that she had a small knife that she carried with her, but the boys took it away from her. C.H. had a small abrasion on her elbow.

On cross-examination, Sexton testified that C.H. told her that one of the boys kept kicking her in the head. C.H. also told Sexton that one of the boys was standing on her arm. C.H. said that she told one of the emergency medical technicians at the scene that she had been raped and that she did not want to go to the hospital that night. C.H. also said that one of the boys held her by her shoulder.

The defense recalled Destiny Nesbitt to the stand. Destiny testified that her bedroom had a window facing the backyard. Destiny said that she went to bed at 11 p.m. on July 10, 2006, and did not hear any commotion, screams or noises that night. Destiny also testified that the garage to the duplex that she rented was locked. The garage door was not automatic, but was one that you pulled up. Jonathon told Destiny that he and G.W. had paid a prostitute $40 for some sex and some oral sex, but she did not finish whatever she was supposed to do, so they were trying to take their money back. Jonathon told Destiny's boyfriend that they were hitting her trying to get their money back. Jonathon said they were "hitting a hype," which meant a drug addict.

Jonathon testified that he was staying with his cousin Destiny Nesbitt on July 10-11, 2006. G.W. was a friend that lived next door to Destiny. Jonathon first encountered C.H. around midnight on July 10. Jonathon was with G.W.'s younger brother when C.H. approached him and said that she was selling a television. C.H. asked if the boys wanted to buy a television. Jonathon said "no." C.H. did not have a television with her at the time. C.H. then asked Jonathon if he had any money. Jonathon again said "no," and C.H. asked him if he sold drugs or had any drugs. Jonathon said "no," and C.H. asked him if she could do anything for some money. Jonathon then called G.W. and G.W. came down. Jonathon testified that this occurred between 12 and 12:30 a.m. Jonathon then asked Destiny for $40, telling her he wanted the money so he could impress some girls. The reason Jonathon wanted the money was because C.H. had told Jonathon that she would have sex with them for $20 apiece. Jonathon testified that there was a group of between 9 to 12 people outside a home across the street. When Jonathon came back outside, he gave G.W. $20 and kept $20. C.H. and G.W. had decided that G.W. would go first, so G.W. and C.H. went behind the house where G.W. had sex with C.H. Jonathon did not see G.W. give C.H. the $20. G.W. came back after 5 or 10 minutes and handed Jonathon a condom.

Jonathon then went behind the house and gave C.H. $20. C.H. first gave Jonathon oral sex for about two minutes. C.H. then pulled down her pants and hunched over. C.H.'s hands were on the ground, but her knees were not on the ground. Jonathon entered C.H. from behind. As he was having sex with C.H., he grabbed her by the shoulders and her bra strap "kind of tore." C.H. lost her balance and slipped, scraping her elbow. C.H. then got up and was crying. Jonathon did not get to finish having sex with her. C.H. asked him to walk her home because her boyfriend was going to be mad that she did not come straight home, and would beat her.

As Jonathon and G.W. were walking C.H. home, they decided to get their money back. Jonathon said that C.H. pulled a knife. Jonathon told her to calm down and put the knife down. C.H. put the knife away, although Jonathon did not see where C.H. put it. C.H. was still crying hysterically. G.W. then shoved C.H. down, and Jonathon stepped on her arm so that she would not try to go for the knife again. While Jonathon had his foot on C.H.'s arm, G.W. searched her but did not find any money. C.H. twice yelled for help. G.W. asked, "Where's the money? Where's the bread?" At that point, the police officer flashed his light and the boys ran to G.W.'s house.

Takesha Williams testified that she knew C.H. because they had lived at the same apartment complex a few years earlier. Williams testified that on the night of July 10-11, 2006, she was at home with her two boys. Williams owned an orange 2003 Pontiac Aztec, which is a combination van and truck. Williams denied being approached by C.H. on the night of July 10-11, and said that she was at home with her children. She testified that she never would have been out that time of night.

Following closing arguments, the trial judge found respondent guilty of criminal sexual assault and attempted robbery. Respondent was adjudicated delinquent and committed to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice for an indeterminate term to automatically terminate in 15 years, or upon Jonathon turning 21 years of age.

Jonathon appealed, arguing that the State failed to prove him guilty of criminal sexual assault beyond a reasonable doubt, that the trial court violated his due process rights under the fourteenth amendment because he was shackled without an individualized determination of necessity, and that juveniles charged with sex offenses have a constitutional right to a jury trial. The appellate court affirmed, with one justice dissenting. 386 Ill. App. 3d 735.

The dissenting justice stated that failing to hold a Boose hearing in this case was plain error because the evidence was closely balanced. 386 Ill. App. 3d at 751 (Appleton, P.J., dissenting). The dissent also would hold that section 5--101(3) of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/5--101(3) (West 2006)), as applied to juveniles charged with sex offenses, is unconstitutional because it denies juveniles the right to a jury trial. 386 Ill. App. 3d at 751 (Appleton, P.J., dissenting).

ANALYSIS

On appeal, Jonathon again raises the three issues that he raised in the appellate court. As in the appellate court, Jonathon only challenges his conviction for criminal sexual assault, conceding that the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction for attempted robbery. Jonathon contends that: (1) the trial court erred in finding him guilty of criminal sexual assault because he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) he is entitled to a new trial because he was shackled during his trial without a Boose hearing; and (3) section 5--101(3) of the Act, which denies minors the right to a jury trial, is unconstitutional, at least as applied to minors charged with sexual offenses.

With regard to his claim that the State did not prove him guilty of criminal sexual assault beyond a reasonable doubt, Jonathon argues that the trial court acted unreasonably when it ignored the weaknesses in C.H.'s testimony. Jonathon asserts that the trial court bolstered the testimony of C.H. by asking "Why would the victim lie?" rather than accepting that sometimes victims do lie. Jonathon claims that on six separate occasions, the trial court ignored or undermined testimony that contradicted C.H.'s statements, or brushed aside evidence supporting Jonathon's testimony in favor of C.H.'s version of events.

When considering a challenge to the sufficiency of evidence, a reviewing court applies a reasonable doubt standard. People v. Campbell, 146 Ill. 2d 363, 374 (1992). The reasonable doubt standard applies in delinquency proceedings, requiring the State to prove the elements of the substantive offenses alleged in the delinquency petitions beyond a reasonable doubt. In re W.C., 167 Ill. 2d 307, 336 (1995). The reasonable doubt standard asks whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. The reasonable doubt standard applies in all criminal cases, whether the evidence is direct or circumstantial. Campbell, 146 Ill. 2d at 374.

Jonathon admits that he had sexual relations with C.H., but contends that the sexual relations were consensual and that he paid her for the sex. Jonathon argues that the trial court erroneously failed to acknowledge that C.H.'s statements changed over time, and instead blamed the inconsistencies on uncertainties in the investigating officers' testimony. As noted, Jonathon points to instances where, he contends, the trial court ignored or undermined testimony that contradicted C.H.'s statements, and instead explained away the problems in her testimony.

Specifically, Jonathon observes that there were inconsistencies concerning where C.H. was going on the night of July 10, with Apperson and Davis testifying that when they interviewed C.H. at her house, C.H. said she was at Antoine's house, but at the hospital, C.H. said she went to Donny's house. C.H. also mentioned having a birthday drink at Antoine's house. Jonathon argues that the trial court blamed these inconsistencies on the investigators' testimony, stating:

"It appears from the testimony of [C.H.] that she commenced her journey to Mr. Stewart's house at 11:00 to 11:30 p.m. There was reference in [defense counsel's] argument that we don't know if it was Mr. Stewart or Antwone [sic]. The testimony that was elicited from the investigator's about Antwone [sic] was never that clear, and the investigators conceded they did not know if that was an earlier visit she made or if it was an earlier drink that she had but it was certainly nothing so definite as to impeach [C.H.] who testified consistently that she went to the residence of Donnie Stewart."

Jonathon next notes that C.H. claimed she left for Donnie's house at 11:30 and stayed only for approximately 10 minutes, yet the ambulance did not respond to the scene until 1:10 a.m., leaving a considerable unexplained gap of time. Jonathon also claims there are inconsistencies concerning where C.H. first encountered Jonathon and G.W. Jonathon states that Investigator Davis testified that C.H. said that she initially encountered three boys, but C.H. later testified that she first encountered two boys.

Moreover, C.H. testified that Jonathon was pushing a button, making the garage door go up and down, even though the door had to be manually opened. Jonathon asserts that the trial court discounted the discrepancy, stating that:

"With respect to the issue of the garage door, the Court does not view that as determinative. ***

We do know that [C.H.] believed that [Jonathon] opened the garage door, it's not clear if it was a few inches or a few feet or in total, and that he was working the garage door. There is no reason for [C.H.] to make that up as [defense counsel] concedes. It may have been that she assumed he was raising the button. He may have had access to unlock the door. But it really is a non-issue. The Court doesn't have any information sufficient to make it an issue and, frankly, it's a collateral matter.

*** There would be no reason for [C.H.] to make that up, and it may well have been a perception. I don't think anyone is paying careful attention to the mechanism that operates a garage door when the events are on the discussions and what took place."

Jonathon further observes that the trial court made a point of mentioning C.H.'s small stature as "an average to smaller woman" and then stating that C.H. described events "where two average-sized 16 year young men dragged her back behind a duplex and overcame her acting jointly. Certainly that would support the contention that force was used for the purpose of the statute." Jonathon points out, however, that Deputy Good's police report describes G.W. as being five feet, five inches, and 160 pounds, and Jonathon as five feet, two inches, and 115 pounds.

Jonathon next contends that the trial court simply accepted C.H.'s testimony that there were many people out on the street who did not respond to her cries for help. Jonathon notes that the State did not produce a single witness to support that claim. Nonetheless, the trial court in reviewing that testimony stated:

"[C.H.] said there were people in the area and so did [Jonathon] in his testimony. In fact, there appeared to be a large number of people across the street. [C.H.] said no one responded to help. Again the Court would question why she would make that up since clearly that would hurt her claim." Jonathon suggests that, contrary to the trial court's conclusion, perhaps no one helped C.H. because there was no sexual assault.

Jonathon argues there are other inconsistencies, including the fact that the State presented no evidence to rebut the fact that Takesha was the Keisha referred to in C.H.'s testimony. Jonathon states that here, too, the trial court discounted Takesha's testimony. With regard to Takesha's testimony, the trial court held:

"It was never definitively established that Takeisha [sic] Williams is the same Keisha that [C.H.] referred to. ***

This Court doesn't know if Ms. Williams is the same person. Certainly there is a persuasive argument that she is. Assuming that she is for the purposes of this Court's analysis this Court must then query why [C.H.] would make that up. Either Ms. Williams or [C.H.] is lying. For [C.H.] to make that up hurts her case. Why not just say a truck drove by with people and they refused to stop? By giving specifics *** [C.H.] was supplying a roadmap to a witness who would potentially contradict and impeach her statement. The Court has to question why she would do that if it didn't happen.

On the other hand, if it did happen, Keisha Williams certainly has every reason in the world for denying that she was there given her less than heroic response to the events that were occurring. I find [C.H.] had no reason to make it up. Certainly Ms. Williams had reasons to deny that it occurred." Jonathon next raises the inconsistencies concerning whether any money was actually stolen from C.H. and concerning how much money C.H. had with her. The trial court pointed out that Investigator Apperson testified that he believed C.H. said that $50 was taken from her--two twenties and two fives--while Investigator Davis did not recall that being discussed. The trial court noted that "[C.H.] was never asked about it in her testimony nor confronted with it on cross examination, has never been asked to explain it. She did state that she could not recall everything that she told the investigators."

Finally, Jonathon questions whether there was a gun on the night of July 10-11, and if not, asks why C.H. lied about it. Mary Sexton and Deputy Good both testified that C.H. told them that the boys had a gun, yet C.H. never testified that the boys had a gun, and there was no other evidence of a gun. In reviewing Sexton's testimony, the trial court stated:

"Ms. Sexton testified at length in these proceedings and the Court was not particularly impressed with her. She struck the Court as a terse, rather glum, not particularly compassionate emergency room nurse ***.

The Court is bothered by one factor, and that is the statement made to Mary Sexton, the RN, which was documented in her notes. She appeared to have no independent recall of this, and that was [C.H.'s] claim that a small black-handled gun was displayed. No other details. The Court has analyzed that carefully because that is a key factor in terms of different testimony or statements from anything else that's been elicited. [C.H.] never said that to anyone else. There is no evidence she told the investigators that although they also interviewed her at the hospital. Ms. Sexton was not able to put it in context. She simply read that statement from her notes, and [C.H.] was never confronted with that in her testimony or asked to explain it. ***

If [C.H.] said it, it's troubling because there is no other suggestion a gun was used and [C.H.] did not testify to that. One conclusion is that there was a gun, and I find that unsupported by the evidence. Another conclusion is that [C.H.] lied about that and, therefore, is lying about everything. Another conclusion is that [C.H.] enhanced her testimony or her description rather to Mary Sexton in an attempt to make her complaint of rape more believable since she was haunted by the fact that she was not believed nine years earlier and was trying to again enhance or make it more believable that force was used. Another conclusion is that Mary Sexton either misunderstood or inaccurately documented statements about the small black-handled knife. ***

But giving careful consideration to that evidence I simply can't draw any conclusions."

Jonathon contends that the preceding inconsistencies establish that C.H. lied about the sexual assault rather than admit that she had just committed the crime of prostitution with two underage boys, who then attacked her in an effort to get their money back. Nonetheless, rather than accept that C.H. was lying about the sexual assault, the trial court explained away the problems with C.H.'s testimony. Jonathon argues that the serious flaws in the State's case are set forth in the trial court's findings of fact, and that the trial court therefore acted unreasonably when it ignored all of the weaknesses in C.H.'s story and instead found C.H. to be credible, asking why the victim would lie.

This court will not retry a defendant when considering a sufficiency of the evidence challenge. People v. Wheeler, 226 Ill. 2d 92, 114 (2007). The trier of fact is best equipped to judge the credibility of witnesses, and due consideration must be given to the fact that it was the trial court that saw and heard the witnesses. Id. at 114-15. It also is for the trier of fact to resolve conflicts or inconsistencies in the evidence. People v. Tenney, 205 Ill. 2d 411, 428 (2002). Nonetheless, while a trier of fact's decision to accept testimony is entitled to deference, it is neither conclusive nor binding. Wheeler, 226 Ill. 2d at 115.

The trier of fact, however, need not be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt as to each link in the chain of circumstances. Campbell, 146 Ill. 2d at 380. Rather, it is sufficient if all the evidence taken together satisfies the trier of fact beyond a reasonable doubt of the accused's guilt. Id. A trier of fact is not required to disregard inferences which flow normally from the evidence before it, nor must the trier of fact search out all possible explanations consistent with innocence, and raise those explanations to a level of reasonable doubt. Id. "A conviction will not be reversed 'simply because the defendant tells us that a witness was not credible.' " People v. Brown, 185 Ill. 2d 229, 250 (1998) (quoting People v. Byron, 164 Ill. 2d 279, 299 (1995)).

With the foregoing principles in mind, we find that, viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the State, a rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of criminal sexual assault are set forth in section 12--13(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/12--13(a)(1) (West 2006)). That section provides:

"(a) The accused commits criminal sexual assault if he or she: (1) commits an act of sexual penetration by the use of force or threat of force ***." 720 ILCS 5/12--13(a)(1) (West 2006).

Despite the inconsistencies concerning events collateral to the criminal sexual assault, the testimony of C.H. and the other witnesses was consistent concerning the sexual assault. C.H. testified that G.W. grabbed her and pulled her behind the duplex, pushed her down and crammed his penis into her mouth, telling her not to bite it. Jonathon then inserted his penis into her vagina from behind. C.H. reported to Officer Good and paramedic Ramey that she had been raped, and both witnesses described C.H. as emotional and hysterical. Deputy Good testified that C.H.'s shirt and bra strap were torn, and it looked like she had soiled herself in the crotch area of her pants. Deputy Good also testified that C.H. had abrasions on her elbows and arms. C.H. also reported the criminal sexual assault to Mary Sexton and to investigators Apperson and Davis. When Apperson and Davis told C.H. that the boys claimed they had paid her for sex, C.H. became very upset and said, "Here we go again."

In contrast, as the trial court found, Jonathon's statements concerning the sexual encounter with C.H. were not consistent. When being brought for the show up, Deputy Good testified, Jonathon said, "We just went up to help her. We saw the police and ran." Jonathon made a statement to Deputy Meeker after he was secured that he and G.W. were just walking with C.H. Later, at the Youth Detention Center, Jonathon told Deputy Meeker that C.H. came up to him and wanted to sell him a television, then they discussed what else she could do for money. Jonathon first told Deputy Meeker that he started to have oral sex with C.H., and that G.W. had sexual intercourse with her. Jonathon then said that he was never able to actually have sexual intercourse with C.H. because she fell over. Jonathon said that when C.H. fell over, she cut herself, tearing her shirt and maybe her bra. At trial, Jonathon testified that C.H. first gave him oral sex, then pulled down her pants and hunched over. Jonathon testified that he put his penis in C.H.'s vagina from behind, and while he was having sex with her, he grabbed her by the shoulders and her bra strap "kind of tore." At that point, C.H. lost her balance and slipped, scraping her elbow. Jonathon testified that he did not get to finish having sex with C.H., and that C.H. asked him to walk her home.

The trial court, who saw and observed the witnesses and their demeanor, found C.H.'s testimony concerning the criminal sexual assault to be credible. The evidence, taken together, was sufficient to satisfy the trial court beyond a reasonable doubt of Jonathon's guilt. The trial court's finding was not so unreasonable, improbable, or unsatisfactory as to justify a reasonable doubt of Jonathon's guilt of criminal sexual assault. We therefore find that the appellate court properly affirmed the trial court's finding that Jonathon was guilty of criminal sexual assault.

Jonathon next argues that he is entitled to a new trial because he was shackled during his trial even though the trial court never held a Boose hearing to determine whether restraints were necessary. Jonathon concedes that neither he nor his counsel objected to the shackles and did not request a Boose hearing. Jonathon argues, however, that the unnecessary shackling of a minor so offends basic notions of justice that courts have a sua sponte duty to conduct a Boose hearing whenever a child appears in court in shackles. Therefore, the trial ...


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