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People v. Arbuckle

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

August 16, 2016

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
AARON M. ARBUCKLE, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Bureau County, No. 11-CF-37; the Hon. Cornelius J. Hollerich, Judge, presiding.

          Michael J. Pelletier and Joel C. Wessol, both of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Springfield, for appellant.

          Geno J. Caffarini, State's Attorney, of Princeton (Dawn D. Duffy, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

          Panel JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Lytton and Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          SCHMIDT JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Aaron M. Arbuckle, appeals his sentences for aggravated domestic battery and aggravated battery. He argues that the matter should be remanded for resentencing because the trial court committed plain error when it sentenced him while under the misapprehension that defendant was eligible for an extended-term sentence on the aggravated battery conviction. Defendant further contends that counsel was ineffective for failing to raise that issue before the trial court. Finally, defendant argues that he was subjected to an improper double enhancement in that the trial court considered the harm done to the victim despite the fact that "great bodily harm" was an element of the charged offense. We affirmed in a prior opinion. Subsequently, the supreme court issued a supervisory order directing us to vacate our judgment and reconsider in light of People v. Clark, 2016 IL 118845, to determine if a different result is warranted. And so we do. After reconsidering, we find that a different result is not warranted. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 On June 9, 2011, the State charged defendant with aggravated domestic battery (count I) (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(a) (West 2010)) and aggravated battery (count II) (720 ILCS 5/12-4(b)(1) (West 2010)). With respect to count I, the State alleged in the aggravated domestic battery information that defendant struck his girlfriend, Kayla Zimmerlein, with a golf club, resulting in great bodily harm. In count II, the State alleged that defendant stabbed Nicole Reuter with a broken golf club.

         ¶ 4 Defendant entered an open guilty plea on September 22, 2011. While admonishing defendant, the court informed him that the maximum prison term for aggravated domestic battery, a Class 2 felony, would be 14 years' imprisonment. Defendant was eligible for an extended-term sentence due to a prior Class 2 conviction. He was also not eligible for probation. The court also informed defendant that he was extended-term eligible on the aggravated battery charge, a Class 3 felony: "The maximum prison sentence normally would be five years for a Class 3 felony. But because of the prior Class 2 conviction in 2005 in Lee County, you would be eligible for extended term ***. The maximum prison sentence could be ten years rather than five."

         ¶ 5 The factual basis established that defendant lived with his girlfriend, Zimmerlein, in an apartment. Reuter lived in an adjacent apartment. Defendant, Zimmerlein, and at least one other male attended a get-together in the common patio area of the apartments. After an altercation between defendant and another male, Zimmerlein took defendant back to their apartment. Defendant subsequently struck Zimmerlein with a golf club, breaking her arm. Zimmerlein called for help, at which point Reuter entered the apartment. Defendant then struck Reuter with the club, leaving a puncture mark on her torso. The court accepted the guilty plea, and the matter proceeded to sentencing.

         ¶ 6 Defendant's brother, grandmother, and friend testified on his behalf. Each testified that defendant had a problem with alcohol. Defendant also made a statement. He explained that he had been drinking on the night in question. He began hallucinating and thought he was being attacked. "I thought I was actually protecting when what I was doing was the exact opposite."

         ¶ 7 The court also considered the presentence investigation report (PSI). The PSI indicated that defendant had been convicted of burglary-a Class 2 felony-in 2005. It also showed multiple convictions for domestic battery (in 2006 and 2009) as well as a conviction for driving under the influence. The PSI also indicated that defendant had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and alcohol dependence. Attached to the PSI were letters from defendant and other family members. Each letter addressed defendant's problems with alcohol.

         ¶ 8 The State submitted the victim impact statements of Zimmerlein and Reuter, as well as Zimmerlein's medical records. In Zimmerlein's letter, received more than four months after the battery, she described the injury as follows:

"The ulna bone in my left arm was pretty *** shattered except for a piece by my wrist and a piece by my elbow. The rest was just crushed fragments. The doctor had to scrape and clean all the tiny little pieces that were left. He the[n] had to put in a plate and five screws just to keep my arm together."

         Zimmerlein also wrote that she had amassed more than $25, 000 in medical expenses. She was unable to lift more than five pounds with her arm, which affected her ability to work.

         ¶ 9 Zimmerlein wrote that the injury was worse than her doctor originally expected. Following the initial surgery, the doctor informed her there was no sign of bone growth. Zimmerlein was put on a bone stimulation system, which did not work. She was to undergo further surgery to correct the problem. Zimmerlein claimed that if that surgery was unsuccessful, her arm "could be like this for the rest of [her] life." She still suffered from daily pain in her arm.

         ¶ 10 Medical reports classified Zimmerlein's injury as a "Grade I open left ulna shaft fracture with comminution involving greater than 5 pieces." The reports also detailed the "nonunion" of the fracture, as well as the lack of progress with a bone stimulator. The last medical report in the PSI, dated October 14, 2011, indicated that Zimmerlein would need surgery to remove a bone graft. The doctor noted that he did not discern "any progression at all in the fracture gap."

         ¶ 11 At argument, the State posited that defendant was extended-term eligible on both counts. The State asked for sentences of seven and five years' imprisonment on count I and count II, respectively. Defendant asked for a recommendation of impact incarceration.

         ¶ 12 After a recess, the court stated that it had considered the victim impact statements, letters written on behalf of defendant, and the PSI, including all attached reports. The court also "reviewed the factors in mitigation and aggravation." The court opined that the only applicable factor in mitigation was that defendant's conduct was clearly the result of his intoxication. The court considered this a "substantial ground[ ] tending to excuse or justify the defendant's criminal conduct" but failing to establish a defense.

         ¶ 13 In aggravation, the court noted the seriousness of the injuries inflicted. The court also emphasized defendant's extensive list of prior convictions and the need to deter others from committing the same crime. The court concluded: "But clearly the factors in aggravation outweigh the factors in mitigation, for whatever that's worth. But I have ...


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