from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 14CF1446 Honorable
Harry E. Clem, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Appleton and Knecht concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 In January 2015, a jury found defendant, Travis E. Lewis,
guilty of aggravated battery. The trial court later sentenced
him to five years in prison.
2 Defendant appeals, arguing that he was denied a fair trial
because (1) the trial court erroneously allowed the jury to
consider an improperly admitted prior inconsistent statement
as substantive evidence in violation of section 115-10.1 of
the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS
5/115-10.1 (West 2014)) and (2) the State impermissibly
vouched for a witness's credibility during its closing
argument. Defendant also argues that he was entitled to a
$100 presentence credit against his eligible fines.
3 For the reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's
conviction and five-year sentence. Because we accept the
parties' agreement that defendant is entitled to the
application of a $100 presentence credit to satisfy the fines
the trial court imposed, we remand with directions.
4 I. BACKGROUND
5 In October 2014, the State charged defendant with
aggravated battery, alleging that he strangled Valisa Byndum
(720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(a)(5) (West 2014)).
6 A. The Trial Evidence
7 At defendant's January 2015 jury trial, the following
evidence was presented.
8 1. The State's Evidence
9 Byndum testified that she knew defendant through his
sister, Rachel Simmons, whom Byndum considered her best
friend. At some point, defendant acquired Byndum's
cellular phone number and sent her text messages of a
suggestive and explicit nature that made Byndum
uncomfortable. Byndum initially ignored defendant's
texts, but when he persisted, Byndum told defendant that she
was not interested in a relationship. Eventually, Byndum told
defendant that if he did not stop texting her, she would tell
defendant's girlfriend about his messages.
10 On October 17, 2014, Byndum drove Rachel to the apartment
of Hailey Simmons, Rachel's cousin. Upon entering, Byndum
noticed defendant, who immediately walked up to Byndum,
grabbed the phone she was holding, and walked toward the
bathroom. Rachel intervened, took the phone from defendant,
and returned it to Byndum. Defendant then approached Byndum
as she stood in the kitchen of Hailey's apartment and
reached for her neck. Byndum stepped back toward a wall, and
Rachel placed herself between Byndum and defendant. Defendant
reached around Rachel with one hand and choked Byndum, which
caused her pain and knocked her eyeglasses off her face.
Byndum estimated that defendant obstructed her breathing for
a couple of seconds. Thereafter, Byndum drove away from the
apartment and later called the police to report the incident.
11 Champaign police officer Justin Prosser testified that on
October 17, 2014, he responded to a dispatch regarding a
battery. Upon his arrival at a location later determined to
be the home of Byndum's mother, Prosser questioned Byndum
privately and then questioned Rachel in Byndum's
presence. Prosser prepared a written report regarding their
respective accounts. Prosser did not see any injuries or
bruising on Byndum, which he opined was not unusual.
12 2. Defendant's Evidence
13 Defendant testified that he had known Byndum for about six
years. On October 17, 2014, defendant was at Hailey's
home with approximately six other people. Rachel and Byndum
later entered the home. Defendant approached Byndum and asked
to see her phone. When Byndum "pulled her phone out,
" defendant took it and went into the bathroom.
Defendant intended to delete certain text messages from
Byndum's phone, characterizing them as
"inappropriate" messages that they had mutually
exchanged. Defendant explained that a week earlier, Byndum
threatened to show the inappropriate exchanges to his
14 Byndum and Rachel followed defendant into the bathroom,
where Byndum began hitting and pushing him. Defendant
understood that Byndum was acting out because he had
possession of her phone. Defendant gave the phone to Rachel,
and Rachel returned it to Byndum. As defendant exited the
bathroom, Byndum continued attacking defendant. Defendant
went into the kitchen, and Rachel placed herself between
defendant and Byndum. Rachel asked Byndum to stop hitting
defendant. Defendant admitted that while Rachel was between
them, he grabbed Byndum's arm with one hand and pushed
her with the other. Defendant denied that he made contact
with Byndum's neck. Defendant did not hear Byndum gasp
for air or complain that she was being choked.
15 During defendant's direct examination, the following
"[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: After Rachel was standing between
you, what happened?
[DEFENDANT]: After the incident within itself, what happened
between the choking and stuff? Byndum left. Rachel
16 During the State's cross-examination, defendant
acknowledged that he responded to defense counsel's
question by referring to "the choking and stuff"
but denied that any choking occurred.
17 Hailey testified that on October 17, 2014, several of her
cousins visited her apartment, and she noticed a commotion in
her kitchen involving Byndum, Rachel, and defendant. Hailey
observed Rachel between Byndum and defendant "playing
the peacemaker" by attempting "to restrain Byndum
from hitting [defendant]." During their altercation,
Hailey did not see defendant grab Byndum by her neck.
18 Rachel testified that on October 17, 2014, she and Byndum
went to Hailey's apartment, where they encountered
defendant. Shortly after their arrival, Rachel observed
defendant take Byndum's phone and walk into the bathroom.
Rachel followed Byndum into the bathroom, where Rachel took
the phone away from defendant and returned it to Byndum.
After leaving the bathroom, defendant and Byndum got into an
argument in the kitchen of Hailey's home. Rachel stood
between them, facing defendant. Rachel testified that Byndum
and defendant were "swatting" at each other.
Because of the space Rachel occupied between defendant and
Byndum, Rachel prevented them from making contact with each
other. Rachel did not see defendant place his hands on
Byndum's neck or hear Byndum gasp for air. At one point,
Rachel saw defendant push Byndum back. Rachel estimated that
the incident ended quickly.
19 Later that night, Rachel went to the home of Byndum's
mother, where Byndum was present. Rachel testified that she
spoke to Officer Prosser there regarding the earlier incident
between Byndum and defendant.
20 During the State's cross-examination of Rachel, the
following exchange occurred:
"[THE STATE]: So you did decide to talk to *** Prosser;
is that correct?
[THE STATE]: Do you remember what you told [Prosser]?
[RACHEL]: Oh, yes, I remember some of the stuff that I told
[THE STATE]: Do you remember telling him that your cousin,
the defendant, choked your friend, Rachel-or excuse me,