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People v. Cisneros

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

September 11, 2013

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RAFAEL Q. CISNEROS, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Rock Island County, Illinois, Appeal No. 3-11-0851, Circuit No. 11-CF-511 Honorable Frank R. Fuhr, Judge, Presiding.

JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice McDade specially concurred, with opinion.

OPINION

SCHMIDT JUSTICE

¶ 1 A Rock Island County jury convicted defendant, Rafael Q. Cisneros, of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm (720 ILCS 5/12-4(a) (West 2010)). The trial court sentenced him to 18 months' probation. Defendant appeals. The sole question posed in this appeal is: Did the State prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim suffered great bodily harm? It did. We affirm.

¶ 2 FACTS

¶ 3 The State charged defendant with two counts of aggravated battery for stabbing Jose Gomez in the back with a knife on June 3, 2011. 720 ILCS 5/12-4(a), (b)(1) (West 2010). Count I charged that defendant knowingly caused great bodily harm (720 ILCS 5/12-4(a) (West 2010)), and count II charged that he used a deadly weapon to knowingly cause bodily harm (720 ILCS 5/12-4(b)(1) (West 2010)).

¶ 4 At trial, Gomez testified that on the night of June 3, 2011, after he parked his vehicle at his house, someone threw a beer bottle at the passenger side door. Defendant and three other men were across the alley in defendant's garage. Gomez walked into the alley and asked them who threw the bottle. Defendant responded that he threw the bottle. Defendant walked toward Gomez, put his hand in his pocket, and then removed it. It was dark. Gomez could not see anything in defendant's hand. Defendant hit Gomez; the fight was on. During the fight, defendant cut Gomez on his left hand, the left side of his neck, left shoulder, left side of his back, and left forearm.

¶ 5 The fight ended when Gomez pushed defendant away because he noticed his white shirt was red with blood. Gomez asked defendant if he had a knife. Defendant said no and told Gomez that he must have cut himself with his own keys. Gomez went home; his nephew called the police. Gomez later went to the hospital where he received four stitches in his hand and two in his back. Gomez also showed the jury the scars resulting from the injuries to his hand, neck, shoulder, back, and forearm.

¶ 6 Moline police officer Brett Kopf testified that he responded to a call at Gomez's house. Kopf saw injuries to Gomez's upper torso and neck. Gomez held his shirt to his neck injury, which Kopf described as a deep puncture wound. Gomez told Kopf that defendant had stabbed him. When Kopf approached defendant at his house, he found a box cutter lying in close proximity to defendant.

¶ 7 Police officer Michael Griffin testified that he was a certified paramedic and was also certified in international trauma life support. Approximately one hour after the incident, Griffin went to the hospital and photographed Gomez's injuries. Griffin described the injuries as a scratch on Gomez's forehead, a laceration to his left hand, a small laceration to his left forearm, a small laceration to his left shoulder, a long laceration to his left collar bone, and a laceration to the left side of his neck. Griffin also photographed a dressing applied to the wound on the left side of Gomez's back. Griffin did not remove the dressing for the photograph because "prior to [Griffin's] arrival at the hospital this had been bleeding the most significantly so prior to [his] arrival to take photographs it had been properly dressed by the trauma surgeon to control bleeding and [he] was not going to remove that for the purpose of a photograph." Griffin also photographed Gomez's blood-soaked shirt. Griffin described the injuries as not very deep, a few layers into the skin. This description, at least with respect to the back and hand wounds, of the injuries is contradicted by the photographs, Officer Kopf's testimony, the treatment received, and the victim's testimony. Griffin opined that the injuries were caused by a sharp, straight-edged weapon and made by slashing rather than stabbing.

¶ 8 The jury found defendant guilty of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm (count I), but could not reach a verdict on aggravated battery with a deadly weapon (count II). Defendant filed a posttrial motion, arguing that the State failed to prove defendant caused great bodily harm to Gomez. The trial court denied defendant's motion and sentenced him to 18 months' probation. Defendant appeals.

¶ 9 ANALYSIS

¶ 10 Defendant argues that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gomez suffered great bodily harm and, therefore, his conviction for aggravated battery based on great bodily harm should be reduced to battery.

¶ 11 When a defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State and determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Beauchamp, 241 Ill.2d 1 (2011); People v. Collins, 106 Ill.2d 237 (1985). It is not this court's function to retry a defendant who challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. People v. Ross, 229 Ill.2d 255 (2008). The trier of fact remains responsible for making determinations regarding the credibility of witnesses, the weight to be given to their testimony, and the reasonable inferences to be drawn from the evidence. Id. We will not set ...


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