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People v. Gray

Supreme Court of Illinois

September 21, 2017


          JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Thomas, Kilbride, Garman, Burke, and This concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, Matthew Gray, was convicted of, inter alia, aggravated domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3 (West 2010) (as amended by Pub. Act 96-1551, § 5 (eff. July 1, 2011))). The appellate court held that the statutory definition of "family or household members" violated substantive due process as applied to defendant. 2016 IL App (1st) 134012. This court allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal as a matter of right. Ill. S.Ct. R. 317 (eff. July 1, 2006). We now reverse the judgment of the appellate court and remand the cause to that court for further proceedings.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On November 1, 2011, defendant and the victim, Tina Carthron, spent the evening together drinking. On the morning of November 2, Carthron sustained knife wounds to her chest and back. Defendant was charged by information with two counts of attempted first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 9-1(a) (West 2010)) and two counts of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(a)(5), (f)(1) (West 2010)). Defendant was also charged with three counts of aggravated domestic battery, alleging great bodily harm (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(a) (West 2010)), permanent disfigurement (id.), and strangulation (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(a-5) (West 2010)). In September 2013, defendant was tried before a jury on all counts.

         ¶ 4 In the State's case-in-chief, Carthron testified in pertinent part as follows. Carthron was 51 years old. She was born in Chicago and had lived there her entire life. Carthron had known defendant for approximately 20 years. She began to spend time with defendant based on the friendship between their families. Fifteen years ago, they dated for approximately two years. They dated each other exclusively, and they slept over at their respective residences.

         ¶ 5 In early October 2011, Carthron saw defendant outside of his new apartment. Several times thereafter she visited defendant at his apartment. On one visit, she brought some clothes and left them at defendant's apartment when she went to work. Carthron was not interested in rekindling their romantic relationship, but rather, they remained "just friends."

         ¶ 6 On November 1, 2011, defendant telephoned Carthron, and she went to his apartment. It consisted of a single room, which included a kitchenette, and a bathroom. Carthron brought whiskey and beer, and she and defendant spent the evening drinking together. Carthron drank approximately a pint of whiskey and 40 ounces of beer. During that evening, defendant's girlfriend, Laura Moore, telephoned defendant. Carthron became upset, believing that it was disrespectful for defendant to talk to another woman in Carthron's presence. After the call, Carthron and defendant argued, but they eventually listened to music, watched television, and had sex. Defendant went to bed. Carthron continued drinking.

         ¶ 7 Carthron did not remember whether defendant explicitly invited her to sleep over that night. However, defendant "never had a problem" with her sleeping over, and the reason she went to defendant's apartment was to spend the night.

         ¶ 8 Carthron testified that she "still was drunk" the next morning. At approximately 7:00 a.m., as she and defendant lay in bed, they argued about the telephone call from Moore. Defendant then climbed on top of Carthron, placed his hands on the front of her neck, and began to strangle her. She passed out. When Carthron regained consciousness, she saw defendant standing in the bathroom holding a knife. Defendant told Carthron to leave because he had called the police. Carthron began to gather her clothes to get dressed. As she grabbed her coat, Carthron saw that the left side of her chest was bleeding and said "oh no, you didn't stab me." According to Carthron, defendant said in response: "Get out." Carthron testified: "He just kept saying get out. He had called the police on me." On cross-examination, Carthron testified that she did not remember defendant stabbing her. She also acknowledged that she was "kind of drunk" that morning and did not remember biting defendant.

         ¶ 9 Carthron left defendant's apartment dressed in only her jeans and a leather jacket, leaving behind her cell phone, eyeglasses, and underwear. Carthron saw police officers outside of defendant's apartment building. However, she did not approach them because she did not know what defendant had told them.

         ¶ 10 Carthron had two daughters, Marie and Suzette. Although Carthron was living with Marie, Carthron went to Suzette's home because Carthron knew that Suzette would be at home. Carthron rode two city buses for about 30 minutes to reach Suzette's home. She climbed the stairs to Suzette's third-floor apartment slowly because she was in pain. Once inside, Carthron sat on a chair and told Suzette that defendant had stabbed her. As Suzette was removing Carthron's jacket, Carthron noticed that her back hurt also. Once the jacket was off, they discovered that Carthron had also been stabbed in the back. Suzette called 911, and Carthron was taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment.

         ¶ 11 Carthron spoke with Chicago police personnel while she was at the hospital, and after she was discharged, she went to the police station and was interviewed a second time. Officers then drove her home, stopping along the way at defendant's apartment, where they retrieved Carthron's eyeglasses.

         ¶ 12 The State's case-in-chief included DNA evidence, which established the presence of Carthron's blood on a knife recovered from defendant's apartment. In addition, the State presented other-crimes evidence pertaining to two prior incidents between defendant and Laura Moore. In September 2010, police responded to a domestic battery call by Moore. She reported that defendant kicked her down a flight of stairs and hit her in the eye. They were both very intoxicated. Moore was hospitalized for a left ankle fracture and a facial contusion. However, she did not want to sign a criminal complaint. In February 2011, police responded to another domestic battery call, where both Moore and defendant appeared to be intoxicated. Moore told police that she and defendant were watching the Super Bowl when defendant became angry and began choking Moore. She declined to have an ambulance called.

         ¶ 13 Defendant's theory of the case, as indicated by his trial counsel's opening statement and closing argument, was that defendant did not intend, and never attempted, to kill Carthron. Rather, defendant wounded her in self-defense.

         ¶ 14 As his first witness, defendant called Detective Rapunzel Williams, who interviewed Carthron at the hospital on November 2, 2011. Carthron told Williams that she had been sleeping at defendant's apartment the previous night and awoke in the early morning hours. Williams believed Carthron indicated the time was approximately 1:30 a.m. As Carthron prepared to leave the apartment, she saw that she was bleeding from her left side and that defendant was holding a knife. Carthron did not initially state that she was awakened because defendant was choking her or that he had choked her until she passed out. However, Williams again interviewed Carthron at the police station later that day. During the second interview, Carthron stated that she had been choked by defendant. In addition, Williams observed defendant that day and saw that he had an oval-shaped red mark below his chest.

         ¶ 15 Testifying on his own behalf, defendant stated in relevant part as follows. He and Carthron had known each other for approximately 20 years, and they had a prior romantic relationship that ended approximately 15 years earlier. Though they no longer dated, he and Carthron had remained friends and occasionally saw each other in the neighborhood. During the first week of October 2011, defendant was outside his new apartment building and saw Carthron as she walked by. Later that month, defendant agreed to keep a bag of clothing for Carthron, and she brought him some wine when she returned to collect the bag later that night.

         ¶ 16 On the afternoon of November 1, 2011, defendant went to the store and purchased whiskey, cigarettes, and juice for Carthron, as she had requested. Defendant also bought himself some wine. At about 7 p.m., defendant called Carthron and told her how much she owed him for the items he purchased for her. During that conversation, he invited Carthron to come to his apartment because she sounded depressed. When she arrived, Carthron asked if she could have a cocktail before leaving. Defendant agreed, and he and Carthron began drinking while they were listening to music and talking.

         ¶ 17 At about 11 p.m., defendant received a telephone call from Moore, whom he had dated for 15 years and considered to be his common-law wife. Defendant turned the music off and spoke to Moore, telling her that he would go see her after he took a short nap. He gave Carthron the remote control for the television and told her that he would walk her home after his nap. When defendant went to sleep, Carthron was fully dressed, sitting in a chair, and having a drink. He and Carthron did not argue that night, and they did not have sexual relations.

         ¶ 18 Defendant awoke at about 7 a.m. because Carthron was biting his lower chest. Carthron, who was 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed about 125 pounds, had him pinned to the bed with her arm around his waist and her leg on top of him. When defendant tried to push her head away, she bit him harder. He yelled and told her to let him go, but she bit him harder still. Though defendant, who was 6 feet tall and weighed about 165 pounds, put his hands on Carthron's shoulder in an attempt to push her off, she would not let go. Defendant did not put his hands around Carthron's neck, but he may have scratched her neck with his long fingernails. In addition, defendant believed that the photograph of marks on Carthron's neck on November 2, 2011, depicted "old wounds."

         ¶ 19 After repeatedly telling Carthron to let go, defendant tried to find something he could use to hit her. The lights were out, and the room was illuminated solely by the television. The only item defendant could reach was a knife that he kept near his bed for security. Defendant touched Carthron's back once with the knife but she continued biting him. When he touched her back with the knife a second time, he cut her, and she released her bite. Defendant then pushed Carthron off the bed. It was possible that the knife touched Carthron's chest when he pushed her off of him, but he did not know at that time that her chest was bleeding. Although defendant touched Carthron's back with the knife, he did not intend to stab or hurt her.

         ¶ 20 When Carthron fell to the floor, defendant got up and turned on the light. He then went to the bathroom and saw that he had a bite mark on his lower chest. He used a wet face towel to put some witch hazel on the wound, which was not bleeding. He then returned to the bedroom where Carthron was sitting in her underwear and drinking whiskey. Defendant told Carthron that he had cut her, and he used the towel to dab her back with the witch hazel, but he did not bandage her wound. Carthron stood up but refused to speak to him. After finding her clothes, defendant told Carthron to leave before he called the police on her. Defendant then went back into the bathroom for a moment and, when he came out, he saw Carthron dressed and standing by the door. He escorted her out of the building and then called 911.

         ¶ 21 Defendant also testified, however, that an ambulance was already outside when Carthron left the building but she declined to get in it. Defendant did not remember telling a 911 operator that his girlfriend had attacked him with a knife, that she bit him, or that he stabbed her. In addition, ...

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