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People v. Crosby

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

June 13, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RONALD CROSBY, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. No. 11 CR 1817 Honorable Domenica A. Stephenson, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE MASON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Hyman and Justice Pucinski concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          MASON JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 This case comes to us following a jury trial, a direct appeal, a supervisory order, and three rounds of supplemental briefing. It has been over six years since defendant Ronald Crosby was charged with the crimes of armed habitual criminal (AHC) and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon (UUWF) and over five years since his conviction and sentencing for AHC. For the reasons that follow, we reverse Crosby's conviction.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Crosby was charged with four counts of UUWF and AHC based on the events of December 31, 2010, when two Chicago police officers responded to a disturbance call at 1119 South Mozart Street. The officers entered the building and found Crosby inside the third floor apartment, holding a handgun and attempting to empty it out. When the officers instructed Crosby to drop the weapon and show his hands, Crosby fled, but he was caught after he jumped out of the bedroom window.

         ¶ 4 The charging instrument cited two prior felonies as the predicate offenses for Crosby's AHC charge: a 2001 conviction for Class 4 AUUW and a 2003 conviction for aggravated battery of a police officer. With regard to the UUWF charges, two counts were premised on Crosby's 2001 conviction, and two counts were premised on the 2003 conviction. The State represents that before trial, it nolle prossed the UUWF count based on Crosby's 2001 conviction for Class 4 AUUW.[1] Ultimately, the State proceeded to trial on the AHC count as well as one count alleging UUWF based on Crosby's possession of a firearm after having been convicted of aggravated battery in 2003. The parties entered into a stipulation that the two prior felonies were "qualifying offenses under the Armed Habitual Criminal Statute."

         ¶ 5 Following a jury trial, Crosby was acquitted of UUWF and found guilty of being an AHC. On May 11, 2012, the trial court denied Crosby's motion for a new trial and sentenced him to eight years' imprisonment.

         ¶ 6 Crosby appealed, arguing (1) Judge Evelyn Clay abused her discretion when she denied Crosby the right to represent himself, (2) the trial court erred in permitting impeachment of defense witness Keona Montgomery, and (3) he was subjected to improper double enhancement where the same prior felony convictions were used to prove an element of the AHC offense and served as an aggravating factor in determining his sentence. Finally, in a supplemental brief filed after our supreme court's decision in People v. Aguilar, 2013 IL 112116, Crosby argued for reversal of his AHC conviction because it was predicated in part on his earlier conviction for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW) under a statute that the Aguilar court found to be unconstitutional.

         ¶ 7 On March 12, 2014, we reversed Crosby's AHC conviction relying on Aguilar. People v. Crosby, 2014 IL App (1st) 121645-U, ¶ 4. In light of our conclusion, we did not address the other issues on appeal. Id. at ¶ 2.

         ¶ 8 On September 28, 2016, the supreme court denied the State's petition for leave to appeal, but directed us to vacate our March 2014 order and reconsider it in light of People v. McFadden, 2016 IL 117424. We permitted the parties to file supplemental briefs regarding McFadden.

         ¶ 9 Following the completion of briefing, we set this matter for oral argument in March 2017, at which point Crosby moved to file a third supplemental brief, arguing for the first time that his 2003 conviction for aggravated battery to a peace officer could not serve as a predicate offense for his AHC conviction and seeking to be relieved of the effect of his trial counsel's stipulation. The parties have now fully briefed this issue.

         ¶ 10 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 11 Of the numerous issues raised over the course of three years of briefing, we find the final issue argued-the effect of Crosby's stipulation to his 2003 conviction of aggravated battery of a peace officer-dispositive, and so do ...


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