Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 14 CR 13802
Honorable Clayton Jay Crane, Judge, presiding.
PUCINSKI JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Neville concurred in the judgment
and opinion. Justice Hyman specially concurred, with opinion.
1 Following a bench trial in Cook County, defendant Jimmy Lee
was convicted of aggravated battery of a nurse (720 ILCS
5/12-3.05(d)(11) (West 2014)) and sentenced to 27 months'
imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends that the State
failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We
2 Defendant was arrested on July 24, 2014, as a result of a
July 4, 2014, physical altercation with Emily Reich, a nurse
who was treating defendant for an intentional drug overdose
at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center (Illinois
Masonic). He was subsequently charged with two counts of
aggravated battery. Count I alleged that defendant knowingly
caused bodily harm to Reich, whom he knew to be a nurse
performing her official duties. Count II alleged that
defendant used a deadly weapon to cause bodily harm to Reich.
Count II was amended before trial to allege that defendant
knowingly made physical contact of an insulting or provoking
nature with Reich, whom he knew to be a nurse performing her
official duties. Defendant waived his right to a jury trial,
and the case proceeded to a bench trial.
3 At trial, Reich testified that, at 11:30 p.m. on July 4,
2014, she was working as an emergency room (E.R.) nurse at
Illinois Masonic when defendant was admitted to the hospital.
Defendant was accompanied by paramedics and police officers.
He was yelling abusively. Emergency personnel informed Reich
that defendant had suicidal thoughts and had intentionally
overdosed on prescription medication. Reich was familiar with
defendant and had treated him at the hospital on
approximately five previous occasions. When Reich entered
defendant's hospital room, she was wearing her scrubs
with embroidering that indicated she was a nurse.
4 As Reich entered defendant's room, she noticed that he
had changed into a hospital gown but was still wearing a
chain necklace with a four-by-three-inch metal cross at the
bottom of it. Reich testified that hospital protocol dictates
that, once it is known that a patient has had suicidal
thoughts, all personal items are removed because they could
be used as potential weapons against the patient or the
staff. Reich told defendant that "[w]e're going to
need to remove" the necklace. Defendant refused and
called her vulgar names. He also threatened to kill her.
Defendant told Reich the necklace was a gift and that she
could not have it. Reich explained to defendant that the
necklace needed to be removed for safety purposes and reached
toward defendant to remove it. Another nurse in the room,
standing on the opposite side of defendant, attempted to calm
him down while Reich removed the necklace. As Reich was
leaning over defendant trying to unclasp the necklace, he
pulled away, cross clutched in his hand, and the chain broke.
At this time, Reich noticed defendant's "elbow come
down and his hand go back up, " which made her
"flinch." She then felt something very sharp on her
forehead and realized that defendant had hit her with the
cross he was holding.
5 After doing so, defendant threw the cross onto the floor.
Reich walked over to where defendant had thrown the cross and
bent down to retrieve it. As Reich rose, she found defendant
standing over her and threatening to kill her. Reich exited
the room when additional staff entered the room. After Reich
left the room, she noticed a red mark about three-quarters of
an inch long right along her hairline. Reich stated that she
felt a stinging pain throughout the night.
6 The State introduced into evidence a surveillance video
depicting Reich's interaction with defendant. The video
was played in open court. Reich testified that the video
shows her entering defendant's room and telling him that
his necklace needed to be removed. The video also shows a
brief struggle between Reich and defendant. According to
Reich, the video depicts her leaning over defendant to
unclasp the necklace, defendant's hand reaching up to
prevent her from removing the necklace, and defendant's
hand briefly "flutter[ing], " which was when Reich
said defendant hit her with the cross. Defendant is also
depicted leaving his bed to stand over Reich as she is bent
down in the corner of the hospital room picking up the
necklace. Reich described the video as a true and accurate
depiction of what occurred on the night in question.
7 On cross-examination, Reich testified that emergency
personnel did not inform her that defendant was grieving the
loss of a loved one. Reich admitted that she was familiar
with defendant's mental health history and that she had a
similar encounter with defendant during one of his previous
visits to the hospital. Reich stated that she previously had
a patient commit suicide using a similar item as the cross.
About 20 minutes after defendant hit her, Reich noticed a
mark near her hairline, which was visible until the next day.
At 1:45 a.m. on July 5, 2014, Reich met with Officer Okazaki
to report her injury and give a statement about what had
8 Katie Blazek testified that, on July 4, 2014, she was
working at Illinois Masonic as an E.R. nurse. Blazek was
familiar with defendant from his previous visits to the E.R.
at Illinois Masonic. On the night in question, Blazek was
wearing her scrubs and a badge that indicated she was a
nurse. Before defendant entered the E.R., she could hear him
yelling. Initially, defendant's yelling was not directed
to anyone in particular. Blazek provided medical services to
defendant, including taking his vital signs, drawing his
blood, and starting an IV. Defendant was cooperative during
9 Blazek testified that, per hospital protocol, all
belongings are removed from patients and that defendant had a
necklace with a cross on it that needed to be removed. When
Reich entered the room and informed defendant that his
necklace would need to be removed, defendant's yelling
became directed at Reich. Defendant told the nurses
"point blank" that they were not going to get the
necklace off of him. Blazek and Reich were both standing at
defendant's bedside but on opposite sides of the bed near
his head. As Reich attempted to remove defendant's
necklace, Blazek saw defendant's hand move "in a
very fast motion across the bed towards the opposite side of
the bed." Blazek did not see defendant's hand or
fist strike Reich because she was focused on defendant at
that time. Defendant then threw the cross to the other side
of the room. Blazek turned her back to attend to her duties.
When she turned around again, defendant was out of bed and
standing over Reich, who was bending down in the corner of
the room. Blazek wanted defendant to return to his bed but
feared that he would hit her if she stepped in front of him.
Because defendant was connected by cables to the monitor next
to his bed, Blazek pulled the cables to get him back into the
bed. The State then rested.
10 Defendant testified that, on July 4, 2014, he had learned
that both his partner and his son were in a car accident and
that his son had not survived the accident. Defendant
attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on prescription
medication. Defendant was then transported by ambulance to
Illinois Masonic, where he has been a patient since 2006.
Defendant is a diagnosed schizophrenic. He stated that he
respects the staff at Illinois Masonic and credits them with
saving his life "so many times." During his
testimony, defendant referred to several of the
hospital's nursing staff and doctors by their first
11 At the hospital, defendant was treated by Blazek and then
Reich. When Reich entered the room, she said, "Jimmy, I
need to take your cross off." Defendant described Reich
as being "really loud and boisterous about it." He
refused to remove the cross and explained that it had been a
gift from his partner. At this time, Blazek, with whom
defendant stated he has a "close relationship, "
was attempting to reassure and comfort him. Defendant was
calm and cooperative when Blazek was treating him because he
"had no fear." He stated that Reich reached for his
cross and said "[i]t's mine now." As Reich
reached around his neck, defendant grabbed her hand. Reich
then pulled on the necklace, which broke the clasp of the
chain holding the cross, causing it to fall and slide across
the floor. Defendant stated that the next thing he remembers