JUSTICE THOMAS delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Freeman,
Kilbride, Garman, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment
1 Following a jury trial on a first degree murder charge,
defendant Jared M. Staake was convicted in the circuit court
of Schuyler County of second degree murder (720 ILCS
5/9-2(a)(1) (West 2012)) for the stabbing death of Michael
Box. The trial court sentenced defendant to 18 years in
prison. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed his
conviction,  finding that (1) the State's
amendments of the initial charge from second degree murder to
first degree murder did not amount to a "new and
additional" charge for speedy-trial purposes and (2)
defendant's failure to make an offer of proof deprived
the appellate court of a proper record to determine whether
the trial court abused its discretion in granting the
State's motion in limine to preclude defendant
from presenting evidence and argument as to an intervening
cause of death. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the
judgment of the appellate court.
3 In July 2013, the State charged defendant by information
with second degree murder, alleging that he committed the
first degree murder of Box while acting under sudden and
intense passion resulting from serious provocation from Box.
Trial was scheduled to commence January 13, 2014. In October
2013, defendant disclosed that he intended to assert
self-defense as an affirmative defense if the cause proceeded
to trial. Thereafter, the State filed a motion in
limine, asking the trial court to prohibit defendant
from presenting evidence or argument relating to Box's
refusal of medical treatment being an intervening cause of
4 In early December 2013, the State told the court at a
status hearing that it might amend the charge to first degree
murder given that defendant was now claiming self-defense.
The State asserted that its proposed amendment
"shouldn't change anything, because even in a
second-degree murder case, the State still has to prove
first-degree murder." The court instructed the State to
make any amendment to the charging instrument within the next
seven days. The following day, the State filed an amended
information, alleging that defendant committed first degree
murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2012)) by stabbing Box,
thereby causing his death, while knowing that the stabbing
would cause his death. The amended information no longer
charged second degree murder.
5 On December 18, 2013, the trial court conducted a hearing
on the State's motion in limine to prohibit
defendant from producing any evidence or argument about an
intervening cause of death. Defendant argued that causation
was an essential element of the crime and, as such, was a
question of fact for the jury to determine. The trial court
found that if the defense planned to challenge the
State's evidence of causation, it would have to produce
its own evidence of causation and not just speculation of
what might have happened. The trial court then granted the
State's motion with the following qualification:
"It is quite true that the [State] must prove causation.
*** I know there have been statements by the [State] on more
than one occasion that they have a forensic scientist who is
going to testify as to cause of death. And I agree it is
their burden and one of the elements of their case to prove
On the other hand, if the Defense is going to raise an
alternate theory, a question mark to some of the
[State's] evidence, it has to be raised by evidence, not
just by speculation. *** And so if the Defense thinks
they're just going to come in and say, oh, the defendant
[sic] went to the hospital, but he left the hospital
and we don't know what would have happened if he had
stayed at the hospital, that's not evidence. That's
guess, speculation, and conjecture. So if the Defense intends
to actually question the State's causation evidence, I
think they're entitled to do that, but then they're
going to have to come up with, with actual evidence of that,
not just their own speculation of what might have happened.
*** [I]f the defense has evidence *** to actually question
the causation evidence, then *** through an offer of proof
they can *** introduce that to me outside the presence of the
jury, and I'll see if it raises to that. But what I'm
not going to let either side do in this case is just raise
question marks for the jury with no evidence behind it ***.
So the defense response didn't, by affidavit or
otherwise, indicate that they had any evidence with regard to
causation. And they may. I simply don't know. I don't
know if they have a forensic expert as well that's going
to question what the State's witnesses have said. But if
that's the case, I'm going to need to know about
that, and I'm assuming that's going to have been
produced in the discovery. But at this juncture, I don't
have any of that information. So I'm granting the
[State's] motion *** unless the Defense has *** actual
evidence they're going to produce. And if they do,
I'm going to see that in an offer of proof outside the
presence of the jury."
6 After moving on to other matters, the trial court informed
defendant of the nature of the first degree murder charge and
the penalties he faced if found guilty. Defendant indicated
that he understood and persisted in his plea of not guilty.
Defense counsel then conceded that he was prepared for trial
and that the amendment from second degree murder to first
degree murder had no affect on the defense's preparation
7 On January 3, 2014, defendant argued that causation was an
element of the offense and that he therefore had a
constitutional right to cross-examine the State's
witnesses-in particular, the medical examiner-on the issue of
causation, and he should not first have to present a proffer
of what the State's witnesses might provide. The court
responded by explaining that the requirement of a proffer was
intended to prevent a "fishing expedition that you know
in advance isn't going to produce any evidence because
you know what the medical examiner said." The court told
defendant that he could still submit a proffer of evidence he
expected to extract from the medical examiner.
8 On January 9, 2014, the State filed a second amended
information. The new information again charged defendant with
first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 2012)) but
this time under a different theory than that alleged in the
first amended information. The second amended information
alleged that defendant stabbed Box, causing his death,
knowing that the stabbing created a strong probability of
death or great bodily harm.
9 On January 13, 2014-the day of trial-defendant filed a
motion challenging the second amended information. Defendant
argued that it charged him under a different subsection of
the first degree murder statute than had the first amended
information. Defendant maintained that section 9-1(a)(2)
contained a different mens rea requirement than
section 9-1(a)(1). As a result, defendant argued that he now
lacked time to adequately prepare for trial that day on the
second amended information. Defendant requested that the
trial court prohibit the State from charging first degree
murder under section 9-1(a)(2).
10 The trial court denied defendant's motion as to the
second amended information. Defendant then requested a
continuance to prepare for trial on the recent amendment. The
State responded that, when charging first degree murder, the
State is required to notify a defendant only that he is being
charged with first degree murder, not to identify which
subsection of the first degree murder statute the State
intends to pursue. The court denied defendant's motion
for a continuance, finding that defendant had not pointed to
anything about the trial or the evidence that had changed
because of the second amended information.
11 Defendant again inquired about whether he could question
the State's expert witnesses about the cause of death.
The trial court responded, "No. The limitations as to
whether or not the [victim's] seeking or not seeking
medical treatment affected causation, and my ruling stands
with regard to that. You may not go into those issues."
12 The cause then proceeded to a trial in front of a jury,
where the evidence presented was as follows. Casey Slusser
testified that she was employed managing carnival games for
Kenny Fox, who operated a travelling carnival business. In
July 2013, Slusser worked for Fox at the Schuyler County
fair. She and Box were the only two employees who managed
carnival games for Fox, and while traveling for work, both
Slusser and Box lived together in a trailer in which they had
separate rooms. Slusser described Box as her
ex-boyfriend's best friend and her "protector."
13 Slusser further testified that on July 1, 2013, defendant
visited the fairgrounds and socialized with other carnival
workers. Slusser and Box began playing a beer-drinking game.
After they finished playing the game, Box went to his room.
Slusser asked defendant if he wanted to come to her room.
Defendant agreed, and the two went to Slusser's room,
where they lay down and talked. After about two or three
minutes, Box began yelling and banging on Slusser's door.
Defendant exited Slusser's room, opening the door so hard
that it banged off the trailer.
14 Slusser testified that as defendant exited the trailer,
Box punched him in the face. Defendant took a couple of steps
backward before taking a knife out of his pocket. Defendant
stabbed Box with the knife in the left abdomen. Box fell into
a pile of tires. Defendant said, "I'm sorry. I
didn't mean to stab you, " before running off.
15 Slusser took Box to the hospital and dropped him off
there. Two days later, Slusser checked on Box in his trailer.
She found him dead and lying naked on the floor.
16 Dr. Mark Day testified that in the early morning hours of
July 2, 2013, he treated Box at the hospital for a
"small" stab wound. Day testified that it was
difficult to examine Box because he was very uncooperative.
Day tried to examine the wound, but Box took a swipe at him.
Box was not bleeding significantly, and Day left the room for
a minute. By the third or fourth time that Day tried to
evaluate Box, Box had passed out. Day did not think the stab
wound had penetrated Box's fascia. Day explained that the
fascia is underneath the muscle, and in the absence of an
injury to the fascia, the wound is one that "you need
not worry about that much." Day reluctantly ...