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People v. Guja

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

March 18, 2016

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DANIEL GUJA, Defendant-Appellant

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 12 CR 16053. Honorable Thaddeus L. Wilson, Judge Presiding.

         For APPELLANT: Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Alan D. Goldberg, Deputy Defender, Rachel Moran, Assistant Appellate Defender.

         For APPELLEE: Anita Alvarez, State's Attorney, Alan J. Spellberg, Assistant State's Attorney, Brian K. Hodes, Assistant State's Attorney, Mary P. Needham, Assistant State's Attorney, Lisa Sterba, Assistant State's Attorney.

         Gordon and Lampkin, Justices concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          REYES, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

          [¶1] Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant Daniel Guja was acquitted of attempted first degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, burglary, and aggravated domestic battery, but was found guilty of domestic battery and unlawful restraint. Defendant was sentenced to two concurrent two-year terms in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On appeal, defendant argues: (1) defense counsel was ineffective for failing to include the affirmative defenses of necessity and self-defense in his answer to discovery in violation of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 413(d) (eff. July 1, 1982); (2) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion to amend the answer as a sanction for the discovery violation; and (3) certain fees and fines should be vacated or reduced. Because we conclude defendant was not prejudiced by either defense counsel's failure to amend his answer to discovery or the trial court's denial of defendant's request to amend his answer, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court. We, however, modify the fees and fines assessed as provided herein.

         [¶2] BACKGROUND

          [¶3] The evidence at trial established that in the early morning hours of December 30, 2011, defendant and his then-girlfriend, Sandra Ortiz (Ortiz), began arguing. This argument escalated into a physical altercation, which left Ortiz with injuries. Ortiz was thereafter taken by ambulance to an emergency room where she was treated.

          [¶4] 4 Defendant was subsequently indicted on 20 separate charges for attempted first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 9-1(a)(1) (West 2010)), aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/11-1.30(a)(4) (West 2010)), aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/11-1.60(a)(6) (West 2010)), burglary (720 ILCS 5/19-1(a) (West 2010)), aggravated domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(a-5) (West 2010)), domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(1) (West 2010)), and unlawful restraint (720 ILCS 5/10-3(a) (West 2010)).

          [¶5] On September 13, 2012, the State filed a motion for pretrial discovery requesting in part written notice of any defenses defendant intended to assert at trial. On June 20, 2013, defense counsel filed an answer to the State's motion stating that defendant would " rely on the State's inability to meet its burden of proof." The answer did not list any affirmative or nonaffirmative defenses.

          [¶6] Defendant's bench trial commenced on September 18, 2013. During the opening statements, defense counsel asserted that Ortiz " started a fight and became violent with defendant." Defense counsel also stated that, while restrained by defendant, Ortiz attempted to strike him. Defense counsel further argued that the bruises sustained by Ortiz demonstrated that she was restrained by defendant and that ultimately the evidence would demonstrate that defendant was not guilty.

          [¶7] Ortiz testified that she was 40 years old. At the time of the altercation, she was living in Chicago and dating defendant. The altercation occurred at a building owned by Ortiz located on North Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. The first floor of the building was a commercial space she used to host parties, while the second floor was occupied by tenants. In the late evening of December 29, 2011, Ortiz, defendant, and some of her friends prepared the first floor of her building for a party.

          [¶8] At approximately 3 a.m. on December 30, 2011, Ortiz and defendant left the building to go to a nightclub, where they met other friends. While there, Ortiz consumed " a few drinks." When the nightclub closed at 4 a.m., Ortiz drove defendant back to her building. During the ride, defendant accused Ortiz of being interested in other men.

          [¶9] Defendant and Ortiz were arguing as they exited her vehicle. Ortiz informed defendant that he was not welcome in her building. Based on prior incidents, Ortiz believed the argument would escalate further, so she telephoned the police. While Ortiz was making the phone call, defendant seized the cell phone from Ortiz and removed the cell phone battery. According to Ortiz, the police arrived at her building approximately five minutes later. She spoke with the police and went inside. Defendant remained outside and continued to speak with the police.

          [¶10] When Ortiz believed defendant had departed, she went outside and walked across the street to speak with a woman named Marta who sold tamales from a stand. During the conversation, Ortiz observed defendant " popping his head out" from behind an automobile parked one-quarter of a block from her building. Ortiz testified that she used Marta's cell phone to contact the police, but the police did not arrive.

          [¶11] Ortiz went back to her building and 30 minutes later began loading personal items into the automobile she planned to drive to her home in the suburbs. As Ortiz attempted to reenter the building, defendant, who was hiding outside the door, pushed his way inside. In doing so, defendant knocked Ortiz to the ground. Ortiz attempted to stand up, but defendant knocked her down again, locked the door, and dragged her into the next room by her ankles. Ortiz kicked and yelled, demanding that defendant leave the building. Defendant then struck her in the head and face. On cross-examination, Ortiz clarified that defendant punched her with a closed fist and slapped her on the side of the head, but not in the face. Ortiz attempted to flee from the building, but defendant grabbed her, threw her over his shoulder, and slammed her body onto a granite countertop. Ortiz further testified that she lost consciousness when her head struck the countertop.

          [¶12] When Ortiz regained consciousness, defendant was on top of her. Defendant held her down and placed his hands over her mouth, restricting her breathing. Ortiz then placed her hands inside defendant's mouth to get him to stop choking her. Defendant got up while Ortiz remained on the floor crying and yelling at him to leave.

          [¶13] As Ortiz then attempted to crawl away from defendant, he grabbed her by the feet, pulled her towards him, and pulled her pants down. It was then that defendant " shoved" his fingers in her anus. Defendant proceeded to rip her blouse and brassiere, and grab her breasts.

          [¶14] Ortiz attempted to escape through the back door when defendant kicked an interior door down and it fell on her. Defendant then threw a metal table on top of her. As Ortiz was lying on the ground begging him to leave, defendant tried to take Ortiz's keys out of the pocket of the vest she was wearing. After a struggle, defendant obtained the keys, declared, " I give up," and left.

          [¶15] Ortiz testified that after defendant left she went outside and yelled for help. One of her tenants, a man named Benjamin, came out of the building and waited with Ortiz until the police and an ambulance arrived and transported her to Norwegian American Hospital. Ortiz was treated at the hospital, but did not have any broken bones and was discharged later that afternoon.

          [¶16] According to Ortiz, during the struggle, which lasted from approximately 5 a.m. through 10:30 a.m., defendant grabbed her throat, pulled her hair, and " banged" her head into walls and the floor several times. Ortiz identified photographs of her injuries, which included scratches on her chest, and bruises on her face, lips, wrist, arms, hands, legs, and knees.

          [¶17] During her testimony Ortiz acknowledged that she did not immediately inform the ambulance crew or the police that defendant had inserted his fingers into her anus because her tenant was with her at the time and she was embarrassed. Ortiz, however, did inform them of this fact at the hospital. She also acknowledged that she had loaned defendant approximately $5,000 and had not been fully repaid. Ortiz denied consuming alcohol prior ...


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