from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 13-CF-1262
Honorable Fernando L. Engelsma, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Hutchinson and Birkett concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Defendant, Lorenzo Kent, Jr., and his girlfriend, Kimiko
Wilson, were involved in an altercation with Dashon Thompson
and Donmarquis Jackson, with whom Wilson has two children.
Based on defendant's and Wilson's conduct during the
altercation, a bench trial resulted in defendant's
conviction of mob action (see 720 ILCS 5/25-1(a)(1) (West
2012)) and a sentence of 2½ years' imprisonment.
2 On appeal, defendant argues that the State failed to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that he and Wilson acted together
to disturb the public peace through the use of force or
violence. We agree with defendant and reverse the conviction.
3 I. BACKGROUND
4 Defendant and Wilson were charged with mob action based on
the allegation that, on May 4, 2013, they knowingly, by the
use of force or violence, disturbed the public peace in that
they, while acting together and without authority of law,
struck Jackson, thereby inflicting injury to him. See 720
ILCS 5/25-1(a)(1) (West 2012).
5 Thompson testified at trial that, on May 4, 2013, he and
Jackson were riding in a car when Jackson received a call
from Wilson. Thompson heard Jackson arguing with Wilson on
the phone. Thompson drove to Jackson's home, on Nelson
Boulevard in Rockford. As Thompson and Jackson were exiting
the car, Wilson and defendant drove up together. Jackson and
Wilson argued in the front yard. Then Jackson and defendant
6 Doris Gregory, who was Jackson's girlfriend and was
watching his children at the residence, also testified that
there were two arguments: one between Jackson and Wilson and
one between Jackson and defendant. Gregory testified that
defendant was in his vehicle while Jackson and Wilson argued,
and that defendant and Jackson argued only after defendant
exited his vehicle.
7 Thompson testified that Wilson argued with Jackson outside
the home and then turned to enter it. As Wilson started to
enter the home, Jackson turned to enter the home. Gregory and
Thompson each testified that, as Jackson turned to enter the
home, defendant struck Jackson from behind. A fight ensued
between defendant and Jackson on the home's enclosed
porch. Thompson saw a glass break on the porch floor and
heard the children screaming from inside. Gregory saw part of
the fight through a glass door, while she was inside helping
Wilson's and Jackson's daughter put on a coat.
8 The court heard conflicting testimony about Wilson's
participation in the fight. Gregory testified that she saw
Wilson argue with Jackson and pick up a wheelchair as if to
strike Jackson with it, though Gregory never saw Wilson
strike Jackson or hear what Wilson said. Thompson, however,
testified that he saw Wilson next to the wheelchair but never
saw her pick it up or attempt to strike Jackson. Thompson
testified that Wilson did not communicate with defendant.
9 Thompson broke up the fight after four to five minutes. He
testified that after the fight defendant threatened Jackson
with a knife. Gregory did not see defendant do or say
anything after the fight. Jackson suffered a cut over his
left eye, bite marks on his head, and scrapes on his elbow
10 Following the State's case, defendant moved for a
directed finding, arguing that the State had not established
that defendant and Wilson were acting together in the course
of the conduct. He also argued that the fight had not
disturbed the public peace, because it took place on an
enclosed porch. The State responded that the "acting
together" element was satisfied by Gregory's
testimony about Wilson's actions with the wheelchair
while in close proximity to the fight and by the evidence
that Wilson's argument with Jackson was the catalyst of
11 The trial court found that, when viewed in the light most
favorable to the State, the evidence was sufficient to
establish mob action. Noting that presence alone is not
enough to establish a criminal offense, the court determined
that presence may be considered when analyzing whether two
people were acting together. The court found that there was
unity of purpose between Wilson and defendant, as they were
there to pick up Wilson's and Jackson's children and
they each argued with Jackson. In ...