from Circuit Court of Greene County No. 13CF100 Honorable
James W. Day, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE APPLETON delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Harris and Steigmann concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 A jury found defendant, Garry L. Hillis, guilty of
aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) (625
ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(F) (West 2012)), and the trial court
sentenced him to five years' imprisonment. He appeals on
two grounds: (1) the court abused its discretion by granting
a motion in limine by the State and by denying his
own motion in limine, and (2) it was unproved that
he was the driver. We find no abuse of discretion in the
rulings on these motions in limine, and looking at
all the evidence in the light most favorable to the
prosecution, we conclude that a rational trier of fact could
find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that defendant was the
driver. Therefore, we affirm the trial court's judgment.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 A. The Charge
4 In the information, the State charged defendant with
committing the offense of aggravated DUI (625 ILCS
5/11-501(d)(1)(F) (West 2012)) in that, on May 2, 2013, he
drove a Ford F-150 pickup truck on Illinois Highway 108 in
Greene County, Illinois, while under the influence of alcohol
and was involved in a motor vehicle accident, which
proximately caused the death of Brandy Gilbert.
5 B. The Motions and Orders in Limine
6 Before the jury trial, the parties filed motions in
limine. The rulings on two such motions are at issue in
7 1. The State's Motion To Bar a Physician, Charles
Earnshaw, Jr., From Reconstructing the Accident
8 In its "Motion in Limine No. 2, " the
State said it anticipated the defense would call a physician,
Charles Earnshaw, Jr., as an expert witness. (The State's
"Motion in Limine No. 1" is not at issue
in this appeal.) The State argued that although, judging by
his curriculum vitae, Earnshaw "[might] be qualified to
testify as to matters that pertain[ed] to [i]nternal
[m]edicine, " he lacked "the requisite formal
education, experience, or scientific expertise to qualify him
to testify as to matters discussed in his report as related
to accident reconstruction and occupant placement."
9 According to Earnshaw's curriculum vitae, he has a
bachelor's degree in chemistry and a medical degree. He
is a retired physician who specialized in internal medicine.
Apparently, he never has taken any classes in accident
reconstruction (at least none are listed under the heading of
"Education"), and his curriculum vitae nowhere
mentions any training or experience in that field.
10 Nevertheless, in a report he wrote for defense counsel,
"I protracted the angle of the slope from the shoulder
of the highway to the base of the pole[, ] and this angle is
between  to 15 degrees downward. Assuming highway speeds
and a rain[-]slicked asphalt road[, ] the victims' truck
probably struck the pole between  to [60 miles per hour].
*** The front passenger door received damage that was
relatively minor[, ] with the major impact occurring to the
truck frame behind the front passenger seat and door. A
passenger in the rear seat would have experienced the full
impact. If [Gilbert] had been the restrained or even
unrestrained passenger[, ] I doubt that her injuries would
have been nearly as severe. If[, ] on the other hand[, ] she
had been the unrestrained driver[, ] she would have been
hurled at vehicle speed at the roof, door, door frame, and
[defendant's] left side with great force. This scenario
would best explain the severity and location of her
injuries[, ] including the bruising of her left anterior
thigh from contact with the steering wheel. If [defendant]
had been the unrestrained driver[, ] he would have suffered
severe right[-]sided head and chest injuries but probably
less severe than those of [Gilbert]. In addition[, ]
[Gilbert] would have in all likelihood suffered significant
left[-]sided injuries when he struck her. If [defendant] had
been a restrained driver[, ] his injury would probably be a
seatbelt bruise from the left shoulder to his right hip. ***
In conclusion[, ] I feel that [Gilbert] was the unrestrained
driver and [defendant] was the restrained passenger in this
accident but do not have enough evidence to be certain."
11 Because Earnshaw apparently had no education, training, or
experience in accident reconstruction, the State requested,
in "Motion in Limine No. 2, " that the
trial court bar him from "testifying as an expert in
matters regarding the reconstruction of the accident
involving the [d]efendant, *** and that before any attempt to
elicit testimony of the same from *** Earnshaw ***, the
proper foundation *** be demonstrated outside the presence of
the jury." ¶ 12 On April 9, 2015, in a pretrial
conference, the trial court granted the State's
"Motion in Limine No. 2." The order reads:
"State motion to deny witness granted."
13 2. Defendant's Motion To Bar an Accident
Reconstructionist, Nathan S. Shigemura, From Opining, on the
Basis of Injury Patterns, Who the Driver Was
14 The State disclosed an expert, Nathan S. Shigemura, who,
according to defendant's motion in limine, was
"a relatively well-known 'crash reconstruction'
expert in the State of Illinois." Defendant admitted
that Shigemura was "definitely qualified to opine on how
the crash in this case occurred, " but he argued that
Shigemura was unqualified "to opine on who was driving
the vehicle at the time of the crash[, ] because he base[d]
that opinion on the extent of the injuries to [defendant] and
Ms. Gilbert, without having any medical training or
15 Shigemura already had given his opinion that defendant was
the driver. He had expressed this opinion in a letter of
December 6, 2013, to the Greene County sheriff, Robert D.
McMillen. A copy of Shigemura's letter to McMillen is in
the record; it is attached to defendant's motion in
limine as exhibit A.
16 In Shigemura's letter, under the heading
"Occupant Kinematics" (referring to the
movement of vehicle occupants in a crash), he begins by
describing how the accident happened: the pickup truck slid
diagonally to the right and into a utility pole, as
illustrated in a drawing. (Emphasis in original.) The impact
was in the area of the passenger door, near the side mirror.
The front-seat passenger, Shigemura explains to McMillen,
would take the brunt of the impact:
"[T]he front[-]seat passenger would move to the right
and forward[, ] into the collision region[, ] and would
sustain severe injuries, predominantly to the right side. The
driver's injuries would be less severe than the
passenger's since the driver would be f[a]rther from the
collision region and not moving into the collision region.
The passenger would also be [in between] the driver and
collision region[, ] thus providing shielding and cushioning
for the driver. Ms. Gilbert sustained severe injuries[, ]
including skull fractures[, ] as a result of the crash. The
magnitude and locations of the injuries sustained by Ms.
Gilbert indicate that she was in the immediate area of the
impact at the time of the collision. These injuries led to
the death of Ms. Gilbert.
[Defendant] sustained minor injuries, described as 'bumps
and bruises[, ]' in the collision and was treated and
released from the hospital the night of the crash. Minor cuts
were located on the right arm of [defendant]. While at the
hospital[, ] [defendant] 'was complaining of his side
hurting.' When examined at the Greene County
[s]heriff's [o]ffice two days after the crash,
[defendant] had soreness and a red mark to the left chest
area. The bottom of the steering wheel of the truck was bent
forward. The damage to the steering wheel and the
soreness/red mark to the left chest area of [defendant] are
consistent with [his] striking the steering wheel with his
left chest area as [he] moved to the right and forward at the
time of the collision with the pole. At the time of the
collision, the steering wheel would have been turned to the
left in an unsuccessful attempt to bring the vehicle back
onto the roadway (which also caused the counterclockwise
rotation of the vehicle). Because the steering wheel would
have been turned to the left, the bottom of the steering
wheel would have rotated up to the 'three
o'clock' position[, ] where it was struck by
Thus, evaluation of the information available, inspections of
the scene and [the] Ford truck[, ] and analyses of the
vehicle motion and occupant motion[, ] with related injury
pattern, all indicate that [defendant] was the driver and Ms.
Gilbert was the passenger of the Ford truck at the time of
17 Defendant argued in his motion in limine:
"[I]t is clear that Mr. Shigemura's opinion that the
[d]efendant was the driver is primarily based upon
the injury pattern he observed in the medical records in this
case. *** And since Mr. Shigemura has NO general or
specialized medical training or experience, he cannot, as a
matter of law, depend on the medical records to reach his
conclusion." (Emphasis in original.) Therefore,
defendant requested the trial court to "enter an [o]rder
limiting the State's expert witness opinion to that
evidence related to accident reconstruction and not the
medical records in this case."
18 In the pretrial conference of April 9, 2015, the trial
court "[d]en[ied] [defendant's] mot[ion] to
eliminate Shig[e]mura as a witness, " to quote the
19 C. Evidence in the Jury Trial
20 1. The Testimony of Michael Lovel
21 Michael Lovel was a Carrollton police officer. The evening
of May 2, 2013, he was on his regular patrol. At
approximately 11:15 p.m., a dispatcher radioed him that the
Greene County sheriff's office had requested the
assistance of the Carrollton police with an accident west of
Carrollton, on Illinois Highway 108. Lovel drove to the scene
of the accident.
22 It had been raining off and on throughout the evening. It
was a little muddy out, a little slick. At the first set of
"S" curves, Lovel saw a broken utility pole and
drooping power lines. After parking his squad car in a
position that would warn eastbound drivers of the downed
power lines, he got out and began descending the embankment,
toward a pickup truck, which had come to rest in a field
23 He encountered defendant on the way down the embankment.
Defendant "was visually upset, frantically running
about[, ] and he *** came up the embankment screaming that
'She needs help[!] She needs help[!] We need to get her
to the hospital[!]' " The truck was pointing away
from Lovel, toward the south, and at first he did not see to
whom defendant was referring. Then defendant led him around
the truck, to a woman lying on the ground, on her left side,
10 to 15 feet from the driver's side of the truck.
Defendant told him it was Brandy Gilbert-and, in fact, Lovel
was acquainted with both her and defendant, having (in a
professional capacity) interacted with them on previous
occasions. The right side of Gilbert's face was red and
swollen, and she appeared to be bleeding from the right rear
of her head. Her hair was blood-soaked. Defendant lifted her
arm, and it fell down limply when he released it.
24 Lovell called emergency medical services and the fire
department. As he waited for them to arrive, the wind picked
up, and it began to rain, so he got a blanket out of his
squad car and covered Gilbert with it to keep her warm. Soon
the paramedics arrived. Deputy Sheriff Chris Weller also
arrived. Lovel helped the paramedics carry Gilbert up the
embankment and into an ambulance. Defendant also was taken
away in an ambulance, or so Lovel assumed (he was
concentrating on Gilbert).
25 He never asked defendant what had happened or who had been
26 2. The Testimony of Chris Weller
27 On May 2, 2013, the dispatcher notified Weller of a
single-vehicle crash that had occurred about four miles west
of Carrollton, "on the first set of 'S'
curves." Weller was 20 to 30 minutes away. Upon
arriving, he saw fire trucks; ambulances; another police
officer; a snapped utility pole; power lines close to the
ground; and "a black truck pointed south on the south
side of the road[, ] in the field." Two people were
being loaded into ambulances. The ambulances left.
28 Weller walked down the embankment. He testified: "It
was rainy. It was cool. It was slippery. *** [The truck] had
been hit on the passenger side, like on the passenger side
corner post." Gilbert was the registered owner of the
truck, or so Weller "believe[d]." (Actually, it was
undisputed that defendant was the registered owner of the
truck. A 2013 Illinois registration card found in the truck
named him as the owner, and later in the trial, he testified
he was the registered owner.)
29 When a state trooper arrived at the scene, Weller went to
Boyd Hospital to find out the condition of the two occupants
of the pickup truck. Gilbert was unconscious and in critical
condition, and she was going to be flown out. She had a
"trauma or wound *** on the right side of her head"
and "lacerations *** on her right shoulder."
Defendant, however, was in a condition to talk. When the
state trooper, named Goodman, came to the hospital, he or
Weller read defendant his rights and asked him what had
happened. Defendant explained what had happened, including
who the driver was. (When defense counsel, on
cross-examination, asked Weller what defendant's answer
was to the question of who had been the driver, the
prosecutor objected on the ground of hearsay, and the trial
court sustained the objection.)
30 Subsequently, Weller attended two further interviews of
defendant. Defendant was consistent in what he said in all
the interviews. During one of the interviews, defendant
lifted up his shirt and showed "he had a mark on his
chest." Defense counsel asked Weller:
"Q. Did you, while you were standing there, being
videotaped, make a mark-make a hand signal across from his
right shoulder to his lower hip and say, 'Yeah, passenger
A. I don't recall.
Q. Is it possible?
A. I don't recall. That state-
Q. If it were videotaped, it would show, would it not?
A. Yeah, it would, but I don't recall.
A. That's been a long time ago. I don't recall what I
31 A couple of days after the accident, Weller also
interviewed "a Ms. Stewart at Moto Mart in
Carrollton." He asked her if she saw Gilbert the day of
the accident. Stewart replied that she had. According to
Stewart, Gilbert stopped by the Moto Mart in the afternoon,
to get some cash with her debit card, but "[t]he debit
machine was broke[n], " and she could not get any cash.
At the time, Gilbert "was driving the vehicle, "
and nobody was with her. Gilbert "always drove the
vehicle to work, " Stewart told Weller.
32 3. The Testimony of Brandi Field
33 Brandi Field is a master trooper with the Illinois State
Police. More specifically, she is a crime scene investigator.
A search warrant authorized her to search the persons of
defendant and Gilbert; collect deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA),
fingerprints, and handprints from them; and search the pickup
34 On May 4, 2013, she went to the Greene County
sheriff's office to meet with the sheriff, to photograph
defendant, and to take standards from him. Pursuant to the
search warrant, she took cheek swabs and a hair sample from
him, and she obtained his fingerprints and palm prints. She
also took photographs of him. As shown by the photograph
labeled People's exhibit A-5, his "left side [was],
just under the nipple line[, ] *** just a hair redder."
She saw nothing out of the ordinary on his chest, shoulders,
and back. On the back of his hands and on his forearms were
some small nicks or abrasions, evidently from the tiny cubes
of broken glass that had flown through the cab of the truck
when the passenger window exploded. Between the eyebrow and
eyelid of his right eye, he had a small abrasion like a
pinprick and some reddish discoloration.
35 Next, Field "went to where the vehicle was secured,
" Pyatt Towing Company. She described the exterior of
the truck as follows:
"A. It was a black pickup truck with a gray interior.
The significant damage on the passenger side-looked like
something underneath-undercarriage and looked like it had
been rolled[, ] but the whole passenger side was just laid
open like a can opener. It was, um, the window was broken on
the passenger side, on that side. The other windows were
intact. It looked like that damage had been focused on that
36 She described the interior of the truck as follows:
"A. There was food, like carry-out food, strewn all in
the passenger floorboard. There was a cell phone in the
floorboard of the passenger side, front. There [were] items,
personal items, in the back seat. *** [I]t was like a
half-cab so there was a bunch of stuff stacked back there.
But besides a lot of red, bloodlike substance, there was
glass throughout the vehicle from the-it looked like from the
front passenger door and from that little side window behind
the passenger door that was broke[n] out."
37 Field's photographs are in the record. It appears,
from these photographs, that the passenger-side mirror is
broken off. The passenger door-which, Field testified, would
not open-is dented, wavy, and scraped, starting from where
the mirror used to be and going back. From front to rear, the
damage on the passenger side becomes progressively worse. The
extended-cab area, behind the passenger door, is more deeply
bashed in, and the bed of the truck on the passenger side has
its skin peeled back. The leaf springs are knocked loose from
the passenger rear wheel.
38 It also appears, from these photographs, that the
driver's seat, the center console (which is in the down
position), the middle seatbelt, and the passenger's seat
are stained with splotches of a red, blood-like substance.
These red splotches appear to begin on the left half of the
passenger seat and to become bigger and more extensive in the
area of the middle console and on the driver's seat. A
red, blood-like substance appears to be thinly smeared and
printed all over the plastic end-part of the middle console,
where a cup would be inserted, and kernels of glass are down
inside the cup receptacle. On the passenger floorboard, near
the passenger door, is a white Styrofoam container, which is
split and muddy but appears to have no red stains on it. Also
on the passenger floorboard are some hamburger buns, which do
not appear to be squashed or bloodied. On the floor hump
between the driver floorboard and the passenger floorboard
are two slices of white bread, a hamburger bun, and French
fries, none of which appear to be squashed or bloodied.
Strips of what appears to be grilled steak are also scattered
among these items, on the hump and the passenger floorboard.
39 People's exhibit B-45 is a photograph of a 2013
Illinois registration card showing defendant as the owner of
this truck, a 1986 Ford pickup truck. People's exhibit
B-46 is a photograph of his proof of insurance for the truck
(the expiration date is September 22, 2012).
40 After looking at the truck; taking photographs; swabbing
the red, blood-like stains; and collecting long strands of
hair, some of which was stuck to the driver's-side
windshield, Field went to the hospital to look at Gilbert and
collect samples from her. By the time Field arrived at the
hospital, Gilbert was brain-dead and was being prepared for
41 Field found a wooden fragment in Gilbert's
blood-matted hair and saw what appeared to be little slivers
of wood on her forehead. The injuries on her right side were
quite severe: she had "significant scratches and
abrasions on the right shoulder, " and on the right side
of her head, lacerations were stapled together.
"[T]hroughout the back of her neck and in front and kind
of on her chest, " she "had quite a bit of those
little lacerations and stuff that you very commonly see with
broken glass, the cube glass that comes from *** those side
windows during crashes." Her right ear was filled with
blood and fluids. There were no visible injuries on the left
side of her head. There was a bruise, however, on her left
42 Field took photographs of Gilbert lying on a bed in the
hospital. It appears, from these photographs, that the
shoulder wound consists of three, four, or five closely
spaced lacerations roughly parallel to one another, covered
and held shut with a strip of transparent medical tape. These
lacerations are on top of the shoulder (that is, on the
horizontal plane of the shoulder), starting near the tip of
the shoulder and extending toward the neck. The right side of
her face and neck and her right shoulder near the base of her
neck have many ...