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People v. Denson

Supreme Court of Illinois

November 20, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Appellee,
v.
DARREN DENSON, Appellant

Affirmed.

SYLLABUS

An in limine issue is preserved for review by bringing it to the trial court's attention one additional time--by contemporaneous objection in a civil case or by posttrial motion in a criminal case; and a murder defendant who made no contemporaneous trial objection after unsuccessfully responding to the State's motion in limine to admit statements preserved the issue for review when he subsequently made a motion for a new trial--forfeiture theory rejected.

Michael J. Pelletier, Thomas A. Lilien, Christopher McCoy, Office of the State Appellate Defender, of Elgin, for Appellant.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Springfield; Joseph H. McMahon, State's Attorney, of St. Charles (Carolyn E. Shapiro, Solicitor General, Michael M. Glick, Leah M. Bendik, Assistant Attorneys General, of Chicago, of counsel), for the People.

JUSTICE THOMAS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Chief Justice Garman and Justices Freeman, Kilbride, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 399

THOMAS, JUSTICE

[¶1] Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Kane County, defendant, Darren Denson, was convicted of first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 2002)), armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(1) (West 2002)), and home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(1) (West 2002)). The trial court sentenced him to natural life in prison for the first degree murder, consecutive to two concurrent terms of 30 years in prison for the other two counts. Defendant appealed, and the appellate court affirmed. 2013 IL App. (2d) 110652, 376 Ill.Dec. 694, 1 N.E.3d 27. We granted defendant's petition for leave to appeal (Ill. S.Ct. R. 315(a) (eff. July 1, 2013) and for the reasons that follow, now affirm the judgment of the appellate court.

[¶2] BACKGROUND

[¶3] Defendant was charged by indictment with the February 2003 murder of Kyle Juggins. Prior to trial, the State filed a six-page motion in limine to admit certain hearsay statements made by defendant's coconspirators. Defendant filed a five-page written response objecting to the admission of those statements. The trial court then held a hearing on the State's motion, and both sides were given the opportunity to argue before the court. The trial court granted the State's motion, and the matter eventually proceeded to trial. The jury found defendant guilty on all counts, and defendant filed a posttrial motion alleging several errors, including the trial court's pretrial granting of the State's motion in limine. The trial court denied the motion and imposed sentence. Defendant filed a timely appeal.

[¶4] On appeal, defendant argued that the trial court erred in (1) admitting the coconspirator statements that were the subject of the State's motion in limine, and (2) allowing the State to elicit a prior consistent statement from one of its witnesses. With respect to defendant's first argument, the appellate court held that defendant forfeited review of this issue both because he (1) failed to file a motion in limine of his own to exclude those statements; and (2) failed to raise a contemporaneous objection when the State introduced those statements at trial. 2013 IL App. (2d) 110652, ¶ ¶ 7-10, 376 Ill.Dec. 694, 1 N.E.3d 27. The appellate court then held that, even if defendant had not forfeited the issue, he still was not entitled to relief because, with one harmless exception, all of the contested statements, including the prior consistent statement, were properly admitted. Id. ¶ ¶ 11-29. Accordingly, the appellate court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence. Id. ¶ ¶ 32-33.

[¶5] Defendant now appeals to this court, arguing that the appellate court erred both in (1) holding that defendant forfeited review of the admissibility of the coconspirator statements, and (2) holding that two of those statements, as well as the contested prior consistent statement, were properly admitted.

[¶6] DISCUSSION

[¶7] Forfeiture

[¶8] We begin with whether defendant forfeited review of the trial court's ...


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