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People v. Irons

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

June 30, 2017

JEREMY A. IRONS, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County, No. 15-CF-13; the Hon. Thomas J. Difanis, Judge, presiding.

          Michael J. Pelletier, Patricia Mysza, and Ross E. Allen, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

          Julia Rietz, State's Attorney, of Urbana (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and John M. Zimmerman, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

          JUSTICE POPE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Turner and Justice Knecht concurred in the judgment and opinion.


          POPE JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 On March 17, 2015, defendant, Jeremy A. Irons, was convicted of aggravated domestic battery and intimidation and later sentenced to consecutive terms of 14 years and 6 years in prison. Defendant appeals, making the following arguments: (1) he was deprived of his right to a fair trial because the trial court allowed the jury to hear excessive other-crimes evidence; (2) his sentence was excessive in light of his youth, criminal background, and lack of serious injury to the complainant; and (3) his assessments should be reduced from $553 to $351. We affirm defendant's conviction and prison sentence but remand for the trial court to reduce defendant's outstanding assessments from $553 to $351.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 In January 2015, the State charged defendant with aggravated domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3 (West 2014)) and intimidation (720 ILCS 5/12-6(a)(1) (West 2014)). In February 2015, the State filed a motion to admit defendant's prior acts of domestic violence pursuant to section 115-7.4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Procedure Code) (725 ILCS 5/115-7.4 (West 2014)). At the hearing on the motion, the State noted (1) the acts involved Sada Hoskins (the alleged victim in this case) and defendant and (2) occurred within a six-month period before the charged incident. The State argued this evidence explained why Hoskins stayed in close proximity to defendant after he battered her. Defendant had threatened he would kill Hoskins if she told anyone of the abuse. The court granted the motion after weighing the probative value against the prejudicial impact of the evidence. At the same hearing, the court arraigned defendant on two additional counts of domestic battery.

         ¶ 4 At trial, Hoskins testified she was living with her mother, Rosie Chenault, in Danville and dating defendant on December 31, 2014, when the charged offenses occurred. She met defendant on the Internet in September 2014. He lived in Chicago at the time, and she would drive there to see him. As their relationship progressed, defendant became abusive. Defendant slapped her and called her names when she talked to other men or viewed their Facebook pages. He first hit her in front of his grandmother's house after he asked her about talking to other men on the phone. He next hit her while they were driving on Lake Shore (presumably in Chicago) because of her Facebook activity. Defendant had all the passwords to her social media accounts.

         ¶ 5 Defendant also abused her at his cousin's apartment in Chicago, choking her when she yelled for help and hitting her hard enough to leave a scar on her nose. She and defendant went to South Shore Hospital, where a hospital worker called the police. Defendant left in Hoskins's car. Her mother had to pick her up at the hospital. After this incident, Hoskins said she was done with defendant, but she later took him back, blaming herself for what happened.

         ¶ 6 On another occasion, she and defendant were driving at night in Chicago in her car. She told defendant she did not want to be with him any longer. He accused her of cheating on him, took her keys and phone, and left her alone in the car in an unfamiliar area of the city. She walked to a gas station and called the police. She and defendant reunited again after a text message and a phone call.

         ¶ 7 According to Hoskins, defendant made her call him before she left for work at 6 a.m. and talk to him while she was driving. He did not want her to give anyone else a ride. She could not take her phone into her workplace, but defendant wanted her to call him on her breaks. At the end of December, defendant started accusing her of having sex with another man while on the phone with defendant. He became angry when she denied this.

         ¶ 8 The charged incidents occurred on December 31, 2014, and the early morning hours of January 1, 2015. While driving from Danville to Champaign, defendant again accused Hoskins of having sex with another man while she was on the phone with defendant. He reached across the car and slapped Hoskins on the left side of her face. In Champaign, defendant began hitting her, telling her to admit she cheated on him. She lied and said she was unfaithful. Defendant then banged her head on the interior side of the car until she "blacked out." He told Hoskins she was lucky he did not bust her head through the car window. Defendant also slapped and choked her during this incident and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. He said he had a prior standoff with the police and could easily get a gun.

         ¶ 9 Defendant and Hoskins then went to his mother's house. She told defendant she wanted to go home, but he said no. Defendant told Hoskins not to say anything to his mother because he had no problem hitting her in front of his mother. While in the house, Hoskins wore a hat, which she pulled to the side of her face to hide her injuries. After midnight, defendant took Hoskins home but told her not to let her mother see her face. Hoskins promised not to tell her mother. Once inside, though, she went straight to her mother's room. She and her mother called the police, and Hoskins went by ambulance to the hospital in Danville.

         ¶ 10 Rosie Chenault, Hoskins's mother, testified she was in bed watching television when Hoskins arrived home. When Hoskins entered her room, Chenault saw her swollen face. She had never seen Hoskins's face look like it did that night.

         ¶ 11 Illinois State Police trooper Nicholas Orndorff testified he spoke with Hoskins at the hospital, took her statement, and took photographs of her observable injuries. He immediately noticed her facial injuries, including swollen contusions above each of her eyes, red marks on the right side of her head, and a swollen lip. Hoskins showed Orndorff a red mark around her neck. He then went ...

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