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The People of the State of Illinois v. Tory J. Shultz

October 5, 2011

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
TORY J. SHULTZ,
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Mercer County, Illinois Circuit No. 10--CF--15 Honorable James G. Conway, Jr., Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Carter

PRESIDING JUSTICE CARTER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Lytton concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Justice Holdridge dissented, with opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 The defendant, Tory J. Shultz, was charged by indictment with disorderly conduct (720 ILCS 5/26--1(a)(13) (West 2010)). The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the indictment failed to state an offense. After a hearing, the circuit court granted the defendant's motion, and the State appealed. We reverse and remand.

¶ 2 FACTS

¶ 3 The indictment in this case alleged that on or about February 24, 2010, the defendant committed disorderly conduct when he "threatened bodily harm directed at B.S. at the High Roads School, a school in the city of Aledo, Mercer County, Illinois, by threatening to shoot B.S." At the preliminary hearing, the State presented the following testimony:

"[The defendant] instructed Richard Gregg to take photographs of him with his text phone and text them to B.S. and told him that they were loading up and they were coming. B.S. responded back that if they came to his house that he had a gun, took a picture of a shotgun, texted a picture of the gun back to Richard Gregg's phone. At that time Richard Gregg was instructed by [the defendant], respond back to him, tell him we are not talking about his [house], we are coming to school and tell him we are coming to the school and [sic] shoot him the next day."

The photographs of the defendant taken by Richard Gregg displayed the defendant holding two guns.

¶ 4 A call was made to the Aledo police department regarding the threat, and the Mercer County sheriff's department locked down two schools while they investigated the threat.

¶ 5 The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the indictment failed to state an offense because the statute penalizes threats "directed at persons," not threats directed at a single person. On April 19, 2010, the circuit court agreed and granted the defendant's motion to dismiss, finding that the statute was "an anti-Columbine type statute" and that it "was not designed to prosecute an individual for a felony." The State appealed.

¶ 6 ANALYSIS

¶ 7 On appeal, the State argues that the circuit court erred when it granted the defendant's motion to dismiss. Specifically, the State contends that the statute's use of "persons" includes the singular as well as the plural. The State's argument poses a question of statutory construction, which we review under the de novo standard. People v. Alcozer, 241 Ill. 2d 248, 254 (2011).

ΒΆ 8 At the time the defendant allegedly committed this offense, section 26--1(a)(13) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/26--1(a)(13) (West 2010)) defined disorderly conduct, in relevant part, as conduct by which an individual knowingly "[t]ransmits or causes to be transmitted a threat of destruction of a school building or school property, or a threat of violence, death, or bodily harm ...


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