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People v. McGee

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division

January 23, 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DARRYL McGEE, Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 10-CR-19970. Honorable Lauren Gottainer Edidin, Judge, Presiding.

Reversed and remanded.

SYLLABUS

Defendant's conviction for stalking a Chicago Transit Authority employee was reversed and the cause was remanded for a new trial where the trial court erred in admitting, pursuant to the State's motion, evidence with respect to an incident in which defendant and the alleged victim's husband engaged in a violent encounter shortly after defendant appeared at the station where the wife worked and defendant cut the husband's arm, leaving a wound requiring 100 stitches, since the husband declined to bring charges against defendant and evidence related to the altercation between defendant and the husband was not part of defendant's alleged course of stalking conduct and was not relevant to prove his intentions toward his alleged victim.

FOR APPELLANT(s): Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Alan D. Goldberg, Deputy Defender, Melinda Grace Palacio, Assistant Appellate Defender, Officer of the State Appellate Defender, Chicago, IL.

FOR APPELLEE(s): Anita Alvarez, Cook County State's Attorney, Alan J. Spellberg, Matthew Connors, Noah Montague, Assistant State's Attorneys, Chicago, IL.

PRESIDING JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Lampkin and Rochford concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 530

HOFFMAN, PRESIDING JUSTICE

[¶1] After a jury trial, the defendant, Darryl McGee, was convicted of stalking (720 ILCS 5/12-7.3(a)(1) (West 2010)) a CTA employee and sentenced to a term of 30 months in prison. On appeal, he contends his conviction should be reversed where the State failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Alternatively, he argues that he is entitled to a new trial where the circuit court erred in admitting highly prejudicial evidence of other crimes and failing to comply with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 431(b) (eff. May 1, 2007). For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand the cause for a new trial.

[¶2] In November 2010, the defendant was indicted on two counts of stalking. Count I alleged that, on October 4, 2010, and continuing through October 8, 2010, the defendant knowingly engaged in a course of conduct directed at Vicki Glanz, " to wit: repeatedly arrived at [her] place of employment yelling obscenities, and he knew or should have known" that his conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for her safety. 720 ILCS 5/12-7.3(a)(1) (West 2010). Count II alleged the same conduct in violation of section 7.3(a)(2) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Code) (720 ILCS 5/12-7.3(a)(2) (West 2010)

Page 531

(knew or should have known conduct would cause a reasonable person to suffer other emotional distress)).

[¶3] On August 2, 2011, the State filed a motion in limine seeking to admit evidence of other crimes by the defendant. Specifically, the State sought to admit evidence of an altercation between the defendant and Vicki's husband, Christopher Glanz, which occurred on October 8, 2010. According to the State's motion, Christopher confronted the defendant about his harassment of Vicki and a physical altercation ensued which resulted in the defendant stabbing Christopher in his arm with a box cutter and the defendant requiring hospitalization for his injuries. The State asserted that, while Christopher declined to press charges for his injury, evidence of the altercation was relevant to prove the defendant's violent intent toward Vicki. The State further argued that the altercation corroborated Vicki's concerns for her safety and showed the defendant's " continuing narrative which began with the harassment and threats to Vicki Glanz and ended with the assault on her husband." The defendant objected to the admission of the evidence, arguing that Christopher was the aggressor in the altercation and that the altercation was unrelated to his alleged conduct directed at Vicki.

[¶4] The circuit court granted the State's motion, finding that the indictment covered October 8, 2010, which was the date of the altercation. The court also stated that whether the altercation constituted part of the course of stalking conduct was a matter for the trier-of-fact.

[¶5] On June 13, 2012, the defendant's trial commenced with a different presiding judge than the judge that granted the State's previous motion in limine. Although the defendant renewed his objection to the other-crimes evidence, the circuit court allowed the previous judge's ruling to stand.

[¶6] Vicki, a CTA combined rail operator, testified that, in October 2010, she was assigned to work at the Evanston Central Street Purple Line station, where she had been working for several years. On days she did not operate a train, she worked in the station's customer service kiosk, which was located near the turnstiles where customers entered to board the train or exit the station. Vicki stated that customers often approached the kiosk to ask her questions and that she was the only CTA employee working at that location to assist customers.

[¶7] According to Vicki, around 3 p.m. on October 4, 2010, the defendant entered the station and stood near the turnstile. Because his train pass was not working, the defendant asked Vicki for assistance. She testified that she used her access card to allow the defendant through the turnstile because his card was damaged. After the defendant walked through the turnstile, Vicki returned to the other customers that she had been speaking with. However, she noticed that the defendant never walked upstairs to the train platform, but remained standing in her vicinity. Vicki asked if he needed any other assistance, and the defendant asked her where the " 201 bus" was located. She told him that bus was outside, pointing toward the doors that open to Central Street. Again, the defendant did not move, but instead asked Vicki where he could find the 201 bus to which she gave him the same answer. When the defendant asked her the same question a third time, another customer answered " [d]ude, it's right outside. You have to go outside to get the bus." The train then approached and the crowd near Vicki ran upstairs to board it, but the defendant did not move. At that point, Vicki noticed that another customer needed

Page 532

assistance, so she walked to that person near the turnstile. She stated that the defendant walked behind her and stood " very close" to her. She asked him whether he needed anything else, and he repeated the same question about the 201 bus. Vicki testified that she told him that she had answered that question and that there was nothing more for them to discuss. She turned and walked toward her kiosk, but the defendant started " cursing and calling [her] names," such as " nigga bitch." Vicki entered her kiosk and called the CTA control center.

[¶8] According to Vicki, the controller heard the defendant yelling in the background and asked her whether she was okay. She told the controller what happened and asked for the police to be called. Vicki testified that the defendant was " cursing, [and] banging on the windows" of her kiosk while she was on the phone. After she hung up the phone, the defendant ran upstairs and then returned, continuing to call her names and stating that he would " get her schedule," " find her," and that he was " going to get [her]." The defendant then went back upstairs, and the police arrived. Vicki told the officer that the defendant went upstairs and the officer proceeded to look for him. When the officer returned alone, Vicki asked about the defendant, and the officer told her that she allowed him to board the train. Vicki asked the officer why she allowed that, and the officer stated that he did not do anything wrong. At that point, Vicki informed the officer that the defendant had threatened her. The officer told Vicki that she did not have that information beforehand and told her to call the police if the defendant returned.

[¶9] No surveillance video from October 4, 2010, was admitted into evidence. However, Evanston Police Officer Conley testified that she responded to the October 4th dispatch, but she was not informed of any specific threats made to an individual. When she arrived at the scene, Vicki immediately stated that the defendant " went upstairs, go get him," but she did not mention any physical threats. Officer Conley located the defendant, told him to leave the CTA employee alone, and allowed him to get on the train. When Officer Conley told Vicki that she let the defendant board the train, Vicki informed her that he had threatened her and ...


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