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