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In Re: Marquita M., A Minor, the People of the State of Illinois v. Marquita M

June 13, 2012

IN RE: MARQUITA M., A MINOR, THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
MARQUITA M., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Adams County No. 10JD46 Honorable John C. Wooleyhan, Judge Presiding.

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

PRESIDING JUSTICE TURNER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justices Steigmann and Knecht concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 In May 2010, the State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship, alleging respondent, Marquita M., was a delinquent minor following the commission of the offense of unlawful use of weapons. In November 2010, the trial court found the State proved its petition and adjudicated respondent delinquent. In December 2010, the court made respondent a ward of the court and placed her on probation.

¶ 2 On appeal, respondent argues (1) her trial counsel was ineffective and (2) the State failed to prove her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 4 In May 2010, the State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship, alleging respondent, born in August 1994, was a delinquent minor in that she committed the offense of unlawful use of weapons (720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(2) (West 2010)). The petition alleged respondent knowingly possessed a steak knife with the intent to use it unlawfully against T.H.

¶ 5 In November 2010, the trial court conducted a hearing on the petition. Kimberly Dinkheller testified she served as the freshman dean of students at Quincy Junior High School at the time of the incident. In that position, she was in charge of all discipline and attendance for the freshman class. On April 6, 2010, at approximately 9:15 a.m., Dinkheller received information from a student regarding respondent and a potential threat to safety or the possibility of weapons in the school. She then contacted the police liaison officer. Dinkheller, along with Officer Matt Hermsmeier, made contact with respondent. They escorted her out of her classroom, "drawing no attention to why we were there." They then walked down to Dinkheller's office. Officer Hermsmeier proceeded to ask respondent about having a knife at school. Initially, respondent stated a knife might be in her locker, but she later said it was located in the pocket of her hooded sweatshirt. Respondent then pulled out the knife and placed it on a desk. Dinkheller described it as a "steak knife," about eight inches in length with a four-inch blade.

¶ 6 Dinkheller testified a conversation took place as to why the knife was at school. Respondent stated she was having issues with another student, T.H., and they were supposed to fight that day. If the fight was to take place, respondent stated someone would get cut or stabbed. Respondent was suspended from school and escorted off the grounds.

¶ 7 On cross-examination, Dinkheller testified respondent initially stated she did not know what she was planning to do with the knife. It was only after being questioned as to whether T.H. was beating her up during the fight that respondent said T.H. would probably get cut.

¶ 8 Quincy police officer Matt Hermsmeier testified he was assigned as the junior high school's resource officer and handled school-related incidents. On April 6, 2010, he received information from Dinkheller regarding respondent. He and Dinkheller located respondent in her classroom and escorted her back to Dinkheller's office. Hermsmeier asked respondent if she had anything she should not have, and she denied having anything. She eventually admitted having a knife, stating first it was in her locker and then it was in her pocket. Upon Hermsmeier's request, respondent took out the steak knife and placed it on the desk. Respondent then stated she was planning to fight T.H. after school. When asked what she planned to do with the knife, respondent stated she did not know. When asked about a scenario of what would happen if the two got into a fight, respondent stated T.H. would probably get stabbed.

ΒΆ 9 Following closing arguments, the trial court found the State proved the offense of unlawful use of weapons and adjudicated respondent delinquent. In December 2010, respondent filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or for a new trial. The court denied the motion. Thereafter, the court made respondent a ward of the court and placed her on probation for one year. The court also ordered her to serve 30 ...


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