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People v. Shakirov

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

April 5, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MANSUR SHAKIROV, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from Circuit Court of McLean County No. 13CF597 Honorable John Casey Costigan, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Holder White and Pope concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          STEIGMANN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In March 2013, defendant, Mansur Shakirov, was driving a semi-tractor trailer southbound on Interstate 39 (I-39) near Hudson, Illinois, when he collided with several emergency vehicles that were responding to an earlier accident. The collision resulted in the death of volunteer firefighter Christopher R. Brown.

         ¶ 2 In May 2013, the State charged defendant with reckless homicide (720 ILCS 5/9- 3(a) (West 2012)). In March 2014, a jury convicted defendant of that charge, and the trial court later sentenced him to four years in prison.

         ¶ 3 Defendant appeals, arguing, in pertinent part, that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendant argues alternatively that the trial court erred by denying his motion in limine to bar certain evidence. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

         ¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 A. The Charge of Reckless Homicide

         ¶ 6 To facilitate the reader's understanding, we provide the elements the State was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to sustain a conviction for reckless homicide.

         ¶ 7 A person commits reckless homicide when (1) while driving a motor vehicle, (2) the person "unintentionally kills an individual without lawful justification *** if his acts whether lawful or unlawful *** are such as are likely to cause death or great bodily harm, " and (3) those acts were performed recklessly. 720 ILCS 5/9-3(a) (West 2012). As applied to the offense of reckless homicide, "A person is reckless or acts recklessly when that person consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that [his acts are likely to cause death or great bodily harm], and that disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the situation." 720 ILCS 5/4-6 (West 2012); see also 720 ILCS 5/9-3(a) (West 2012).

         ¶ 8 B. The State's Charge and Defendant's Arraignment

         ¶ 9 On the evening of March 5, 2013, defendant, a 28-year-old resident of Spokane, Washington, was driving a semi-tractor trailer southbound on I-39 near Hudson, Illinois, when he collided with emergency vehicles that were parked in the left lane responding to an earlier accident. Defendant's collision resulted in Brown's death. Police issued defendant two traffic citations that night, and sometime later, defendant returned to Spokane.

         ¶ 10 In May 2013, the State charged defendant with reckless homicide, alleging, as follows:

"[T]hat defendant, while acting in a reckless manner, performed acts likely to cause the death of or great bodily harm to some individual in that he operated a motor vehicle, a white 2003 Freightliner [semi-tractor trailer], in a southern direction [o]n the inside (left passing lane) of I-39, *** at a speed which was greater than was reasonable and proper with regard to the existing traffic conditions and the safety of persons properly upon the roadway, failed to proceed with the necessary due caution and yield the right-of-way by slowing down and change [sic] into the right lane, while reducing speed of the vehicle and maintaining a safe speed for the conditions, upon approaching authorized emergency vehicles displaying the appropriate warning lights, in that the defendant caused his vehicle to strike *** Brown, thereby causing [his] death[.]"

         That same day, the trial court issued a warrant for defendant's arrest. The United States Marshall Service subsequently arrested defendant in Spokane.

         ¶ 11 At a July 3, 2013, arraignment hearing, defendant appeared with counsel. At that hearing, defendant (1) filed a waiver of extradition, (2) surrendered his passport, (3) agreed not to drive commercial vehicles, and (4) entered a plea of not guilty. Upon the parties' agreement, the trial court set defendant's bail at $100, 000. That same day, defendant posted a $10, 000 cash bond and was released from custody.

         ¶ 12 C. Defendant's Motion in Limine

         ¶ 13 On March 7, 2014, defendant filed a motion in limine, seeking to bar the State from introducing evidence regarding an alleged violation of (1) section 395.3 of title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (Federal Regulation) (49 C.F.R. § 395.3(a)(1), (2), (3)(i) (2013)), which is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulation titled, "Maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles"; and (2) section 11-907(c)(1), (2) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-907(c) (West 2012)), titled, "Operation of vehicles *** on approach of authorized emergency vehicles." As to each of these allegations, defendant contended that such evidence was not relevant, had no probative value, and would be highly prejudicial.

         ¶ 14 1. The Pertinent Portions of the Provisions at Issue and the Specific Evidence Defendant Challenged

         ¶ 15 To provide context, we quote the pertinent provisions of the aforementioned sections of the Federal Regulation and Vehicle Code and provide a brief discussion of the specific evidence defendant sought to bar the State from presenting to the jury.

         ¶ 16 a. Section 395.3 of the Federal Regulation

         ¶ 17 The pertinent provisions of section 395.3 of the Federal Regulation provide, as follows:

"(a) *** [N]o motor carrier shall permit or require any driver used by it to drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, nor shall any such driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver's services, unless the driver complies with the following requirements:
(1) Start of work shift. A driver may not drive without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty;
(2) 14-hour period. A driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive after the end of the 14-consecutive-hour period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty."
(3) Driving time and rest breaks. (i) Driving time. A driver may drive a total of 11 hours during the 14-hour period specified in paragraph (a)(2) ***." 49 C.F.R. § 395.3(a)(1)-(3)(i) (2013).

         ¶ 18 b. Section 11-907 of the Vehicle Code

         ¶ 19 Section 11-907(c)(1), (2) of the Vehicle Code-commonly referred to as "Scott's Law"-provides, as follows:

"(c) Upon approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, when the authorized emergency vehicle is giving a signal by displaying alternately flashing red, red and white, blue, or red and blue lights or amber or yellow warning lights, a person who drives an approaching vehicle shall:
(1) proceeding with due caution, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle, if possible with due regard to safety and traffic conditions, if on a highway having at least 4 lanes with not less than 2 lanes proceeding in the same direction as the approaching vehicle; or
(2) proceeding with due caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle, maintaining a safe speed for road conditions, if changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe." 625 ILCS 5/11-907(c)(1), (2) (West 2012).

         ¶ 20 c. The Specific Evidence Defendant Sought To Bar

         ¶ 21 Defendant sought to prevent the State from soliciting expert testimony that on the day before Brown's March 5, 2013, death, defendant violated section 395.3(a)(2) of the Federal Regulation by driving after the aforementioned 14-hour time period had elapsed. The expert based his opinions, in part, on defendant's logbook entries, in which he was required to document, among other matters, the time he spent driving. As to the Vehicle Code, defendant sought to prevent the State from offering expert testimony that he violated Scott's Law by failing to reduce speed or change lanes when approaching the emergency vehicles at issue.

         ¶ 22 2. The Hearing on Defendant's Motion in Limine

         ¶ 23 On March 10, 2014, defendant's trial commenced. After the parties had selected a jury and the trial court released the jury for the evening, the court considered arguments on ...


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