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People v. Beck

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

November 30, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
WILLIAM L. BECK, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from Circuit Court of Coles County No. 14CF525 Honorable Mark E. Bovard, Judge Presiding.

          HARRIS JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Steigmann and DeArmond concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HARRIS JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Following a stipulated bench trial, defendant, William L. Beck, was found guilty of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(C) (West 2012)) and sentenced to 30 months' probation. Defendant appeals, arguing the trial court erred by (1) denying his motion to suppress statements he made to a law enforcement officer, which he alleges occurred during the course of a custodial interrogation and without the benefit of Miranda warnings (See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)); (2) denying his motion in limine to bar the State from presenting evidence at trial of the result of a blood draw performed during his hospitalization; (3) denying his motion in limine to bar the State from presenting at trial the results of a blood draw performed at the request of law enforcement; (4) denying his motion in limine to bar the State from offering expert opinion testimony on retrograde extrapolation; (5) overruling his objections to subpoenas duces tecum utilized by the State to obtain his hospital records; and (6) finding evidence relevant to the issue of proximate cause inadmissible. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On the evening of October 25, 2014, defendant, who was then 19 years old, was involved in a motor vehicle accident on a two-lane highway in Coles County, Illinois. The record reflects defendant's vehicle collided with a vehicle driven by Alyssa Camp. Both defendant and Camp sustained injuries in the collision and were transported to Carle Foundation Hospital (Carle) for emergency medical treatment. Coles County sheriff's deputy John Clough investigated the accident and, at Carle, issued defendant a traffic citation for DUI. In November 2014, the State charged defendant with two counts of aggravated DUI (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(C) (West 2012)), alleging that he drove with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or greater (count I) or while under the influence of alcohol (count II) and was involved in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in great bodily harm to Camp and that his actions were the proximate cause of Camp's injuries.

         ¶ 4 A. Pretrial Proceedings

         ¶ 5 The record reflects the trial court considered numerous pretrial motions filed by the parties, several of which are at issue on appeal. In April 2015, defendant filed a motion to suppress statements he made to Clough while hospitalized at Carle. Defendant alleged the statements concerned his consumption of alcohol on the day of the accident and were elicited by Clough during the course of a custodial interrogation and without the benefit of Miranda warnings.

         ¶ 6 From April to June 2015, defendant also filed a series of motions in limine, asking the trial court to exclude certain evidence from being offered by the State at his trial. Relevant to this appeal, he first asked the court to bar the State from offering evidence at trial of the result of a chemical analysis of a blood specimen (hereinafter hospital blood draw) obtained from him on the day of his accident, which was conducted at Carle. The record reflects the hospital blood draw occurred not long after defendant arrived at Carle on the day of the accident and yielded a serum BAC of 0.211. In support of his request, defendant asserted the hospital blood draw "was not conducted in accord with the statutory criteria for admissibility in evidence" because it was performed at the request of a law enforcement agency.

         ¶ 7 In a separate motion in limine, defendant asked the trial court to bar the State from offering evidence at trial of the result of a chemical analysis of a blood specimen (hereinafter law enforcement blood draw) taken from him on the day of the accident, which was conducted at the Illinois State Police (ISP) crime laboratory. The record shows the law enforcement blood draw was requested by Clough, collected at 3:25 a.m. on October 26, 2014, and yielded a whole BAC of 0.071. In support of his motion, defendant argued that Clough's decision to "charge" him with DUI was based upon the unauthorized disclosure to Clough of the hospital blood draw results. He maintained that, because the disclosure of those results was unauthorized, Clough lacked both the probable cause to charge him with DUI and the authority to obtain the law enforcement blood draw.

         ¶ 8 In a third motion in limine, defendant asked the trial court to bar the State from offering retrograde extrapolation opinion testimony at his trial. He argued that for a retrograde extrapolation calculation to be valid, two factors had to be established to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty: (1) the rate at which a person metabolized alcohol and (2) whether the person was in the post-absorption phase at the time of chemical testing. Defendant maintained that information disclosed by the State during discovery did "not provide sufficient information for a qualified witness to render an opinion, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, regarding" either factor.

         ¶ 9 In September 2015, the trial court conducted a hearing on defendant's motion to suppress and motions in limine. Clough testified regarding his investigation of the motor vehicle accident and his interactions with defendant. He stated he worked as a Coles County sheriff's deputy for 22 years and was the accident investigator for the sheriff's office. On October 25, 2014, he went to the scene of the accident and took measurements, examined skid marks, and spoke with witnesses. Based on his examination of the scene and witness statements, he determined that defendant's vehicle crossed into Camp's lane of travel, resulting in a head-on collision with Camp's vehicle. While at the scene, Clough was informed that Camp had sustained severe injuries and "they didn't know whether she would make it or not." He was also advised that the incident "was possibly a DUI investigation."

         ¶ 10 Clough testified he went to Carle to further his investigation. Upon his arrival, he spoke with defendant's parents, Camp's parents, and emergency room staff. He also spoke with a nurse and inquired if any lab work had been performed by the hospital. Clough was shown test results indicating defendant had a blood alcohol result of 0.211. After receiving those results, Clough waited to speak with defendant, who was undergoing a medical procedure. He spoke with defendant's parents after obtaining the test results and agreed that he told them that defendant "was going to be charged with DUI." Clough testified that, prior to talking with defendant, he had been given information that led him to believe defendant had been drinking or that he was under the influence of alcohol.

         ¶ 11 Clough stated he first saw defendant in a bed in his hospital room. Defendant's parents were present and Clough believed a nurse was also in and out of the room. Clough testified he spoke to defendant briefly, asking him what happened, informing him that Clough "was go[ing] to charge him with DUI, " and reading to him the "Warning to Motorist." More specifically, Clough testified he read the warning to motorist to defendant at 1:45 a.m., then had an initial discussion with defendant "about drinking." Clough next asked defendant if he was willing to submit to testing of his blood and urine. Defendant consented to the testing, and Clough asked a nurse to "do a DUI kit." Because the emergency room was busy, blood was not collected from defendant until approximately 3:25 or 3:26 a.m. While waiting on the nurse to obtain specimens from defendant, Clough and defendant had a further discussion about defendant's consumption of alcohol. During that conversation, defendant reported that he had been drinking at a party prior to the accident.

         ¶ 12 Defendant submitted a warning to motorist into evidence, which was signed by Clough and indicated it was issued to defendant at 1:45 a.m. on October 26, 2014. The initial sentence of the warning to motorist begins with the phrase "[s]ubsequent to an arrest for [DUI]" and contains various warnings regarding a DUI arrestee's driving privileges.

         ¶ 13 At the hearing, Clough acknowledged that he did not read defendant Miranda warnings prior to their discussions. Further, he agreed that he obtained defendant's driver's license while at the hospital and that defendant's license was retained "by the Court." Clough also issued two traffic citations to defendant. He testified he wrote the citations after midnight on the evening of the accident but prior to 1:45 a.m. the following morning and before reading the warning to motorist to defendant. Before leaving the hospital, Clough gave the citations to defendant's parents "because [defendant] was still being examined." He stated he gave the citations to defendant's parents after he read the warning to motorist to defendant and "would have handed all the paperwork [over] at the same time."

         ¶ 14 Defendant submitted copies of the citations issued by Clough into evidence. The record reflects the citations were for improper lane usage (citation No. 56321) and DUI (citation 56322). Under a section entitled "BOND, " the improper lane usage citation indicated Clough obtained defendant's drivers' license and that bond was "POSTED ON TICKET NO. 56322." The DUI citation identified defendant's bond as a "NOTICE TO APPEAR."

         ¶ 15 Clough further testified that there was nothing to prevent a person from leaving defendant's hospital room and that no other law enforcement personnel were present while he spoke with defendant. He testified he never drew his weapon, placed defendant under arrest, restrained defendant in any way, or informed defendant that he was not free to leave the room. Clough stated he had to ask permission to see defendant in his hospital room and that "everyone consented." However, he agreed that he did not tell defendant he was free to leave the room.

         ¶ 16 Clough testified that, in connection with his investigation, he prepared an incident report and DUI questionnaire. On the questionnaire, he noted observing that defendant's eyes were bloodshot and glassy and that defendant smelled of an alcoholic beverage. Further, Clough agreed that he noted the date and time of defendant's "arrest" as October 26, 2014, at 1:45 a.m.

         ¶ 17 At the hearing, Bruce Gubbins testified he was a firefighter and paramedic for the city of Charleston, Illinois. On examination by defendant's counsel, he stated he responded to the crash scene and provided emergency medical services to defendant. When he arrived at the scene, defendant was "on kind of the edge of the road" and receiving treatment from first responders. He helped get defendant into an ambulance, checked defendant's vital signs, and performed multiple other assessments of defendant's condition. Gubbins testified all of the assessments he performed were within normal ranges and remained within normal limits as defendant was transported to Carle. Gubbins observed that defendant had bruising around his left eye and Gubbins noted the presence of blood in defendant's left eye; however, defendant denied any head or neck pain or losing consciousness. According to Gubbins, defendant arrived at Carle at approximately 9:43 p.m., and ambulance personnel had radioed Carle's emergency department in advance to provide them with information regarding defendant's condition.

         ¶ 18 On cross-examination by the State, Gubbins testified that although his evaluations of defendant were within the normal range, defendant was taken to the hospital due to "the mechanism of injury." He noted that in a serious car crash, which may have been at a high rate of speed or involved a sudden stop, there could be nonobvious injuries that require identification by X-rays or a physician. Gubbins noted that he observed seat belt bruising on defendant and the previously referenced injuries to defendant's face. Gubbins further testified that he recalled smelling alcohol on defendant. He stated he asked defendant about his consumption of alcohol because doctors want to know in case they have to give a patient certain medications. According to Gubbins, defendant reported that he "had maybe five beers" and Gubbins relayed that information to Carle's emergency room.

         ¶ 19 At the hearing, defendant further presented audio recordings from the Coles County 9-1-1 center, which occurred following the motor vehicle accident. The recordings indicated the 9-1-1 center was contacted by law enforcement and asked to contact Carle's emergency department with a request to draw defendant's blood. A dispatcher with the 9-1-1 center then contacted Carle and relayed the request to its emergency department, stating as follows: "[T]he deputies on scene are requesting that the male subject who's being transported, you guys get a blood draw from him." An unidentified individual from Carle's emergency department then responded "[y]eah, we usually always do."

         ¶ 20 At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court took the matter under advisement. On September 11, 2015, it entered a written order. The record reflects the court denied defendant's motion to suppress statements he made to Clough, finding defendant was not in custody at the time he was questioned. Ultimately, defendant filed a motion to reconsider that decision, which the court also denied.

         ¶ 21 In its written order, the trial court also denied defendant's motion in limine to exclude evidence of the law enforcement blood draw. The court concluded that, at the time Clough arrived at Carle, he "was aware of multiple facts which provided him reasonable grounds to believe *** [d]efendant had been operating his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol." In particular, the court noted an eyewitness reported that defendant's vehicle crossed the centerline and struck Camp's vehicle head-on and first responders had reported defendant smelled of alcohol and that he admitted consuming beers before the collision. It concluded as follows:

"This information was sufficient to provide Clough with probable cause of a DUI offense having been committed, and, to warrant [Clough's] request for a DUI kit specimen. Even assuming *** that the [hospital blood draw] evidence was wrongfully obtained ***, or that [defendant's] statements are suppressed ***, Clough still had a reasonable basis to request the blood kit sample."

         The court reserved ruling on defendant's motions in limine to exclude evidence of the hospital blood draw and retrograde extrapolation opinion testimony.

         ¶ 22 On October 2, 2015, defendant filed an objection to a subpoena duces tecum, issued at the State's request on September 30, 2015, and directed to Carle. He asserted the State's subpoena was overly broad because it sought the production of "all medical records from Carle pertaining to treatment" he received on October 25 and 26, 2014. He further argued the subpoena "was not issued in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [of 1996] (HIPAA)" (42 U.S.C. 201 et seq.). On October 8, 2015, the trial court conducted a hearing in the matter and overruled defendant's objection to the subpoena "subject to the records being produced to the [c]ourt for an in camera review."

         ¶ 23 On October 13, 2015, defendant filed an objection to a second subpoena duces tecum issued at the State's request on October 1, 2015. The subpoena was directed to Carle and sought the production of "[a]ny and all names of personnel" that treated defendant on October 25 and 26, 2014. Again, defendant argued the State's subpoena was overly broad and not issued in compliance with HIPAA.

         ¶ 24 On October 19, 2015, the trial court entered an order, stating it had received a response to the subpoena issued on September 30, 2015, which consisted of 144 pages of defendant's medical records from October 25 and 26, 2014. The court stated it had reviewed the records and found them relevant in consideration of issues posed by the pending motions in limine. The court ordered the records tendered to the State subject to 50 specific pages being withheld from production.

         ¶ 25 On October 23, 2015, the trial court conducted a further hearing on defendant's motion in limine to exclude retrograde extrapolation opinion testimony. The record shows the hearing addressed both the foundation for retrograde extrapolation evidence as well as the reliability of such scientific evidence under the Frye standard (Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923)).

         ¶ 26 The State presented John Wetstein as an expert witness. Wetstein first testified regarding his education, training, and work experience. He stated he was employed by ISP for a total of 27 years, working as a bench level forensic toxicologist, an assistant laboratory director, and, for the previous 12 years, a toxicology training coordinator. As a training coordinator, Wetstein's primary responsibility was developing and implementing training programs in the area of toxicology. In 1987, he obtained a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and, in 1990 or 1991, he completed a graduate course in pharmacology. Wetstein had also completed a 12- to 18-month ISP toxicology training program. He described the field of toxicology as relating to the study of drugs, poisons, and metabolites and their effects on the human system. He stated he used his training on a daily basis.

         ¶ 27 Wetstein further testified he had previously been accepted as an expert witness in over 100 criminal court proceedings, providing testimony on forensic toxicology, retrograde extrapolation, and the pharmacology of drugs and abuse. He estimated he provided testimony on retrograde extrapolation on over 20 occasions. Because his job required him "to stay current, " Wetstein stated he subscribed to the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, which he described as the "premier peer-reviewed publication" in the area of forensic toxicology. Based on this testimony and over defendant's objection, the trial court found Wetstein qualified as an expert witness in the subject of retrograde extrapolation.

         ¶ 28 Wetstein described retrograde extrapolation as "a mathematical process" and "a method of estimating an individual's [BAC] at an earlier point in time when it's known at a later point in time." He testified retrograde extrapolation was an accepted method within the field of toxicology for determining an individual's BAC and "was first described in the 1930s." Wetstein asserted the mathematics of a retrograde extrapolation calculation were pretty simple and at the level of "high school algebra."

         ¶ 29 At the State's request, Wetstein reviewed a file relating to defendant and the accident that occurred in October 2014. He reviewed documents, including a law enforcement narrative report; "statements made"; the hospital blood draw results, which he stated were obtained at 9:50 p.m. on the evening of the accident and demonstrated a serum BAC of 0.211; and the law enforcement blood draw obtained at 3:25 a.m. the morning following the crash and which showed a whole BAC of 0.071. Wetstein noted that a serum BAC cannot be directly compared to a whole BAC, and defendant's serum BAC had to be converted to a whole BAC for comparison purposes. From the results of defendant's hospital blood draw, Wetstein calculated a whole BAC of 0.178. Following that conversion, he was able to calculate defendant's alcohol elimination rate-the rate at which defendant's BAC dropped during the approximately 5 1/2 hours between his two blood draws. Wetstein calculated defendant's alcohol elimination rate as 0.019. He testified the average elimination rate falls between 0.01 to 0.02 grams per deciliter per hour.

         ¶ 30 Wetstein next calculated defendant's BAC at the time of the accident, which he testified occurred at approximately 8 p.m. He relied on information from the law enforcement narrative report, including defendant's height, weight, and gender. He also relied on statements in the report that defendant consumed eight to nine beers between 5 and 7 p.m. on the day of the accident. Using that information, Wetstein concluded defendant's last drink was consumed by 7 p.m. Further, he opined within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that defendant was in the "elimination phase" at the time of the accident rather than the "absorption phase." He testified as follows:

"It is reasonable to assume that [defendant] was in the elimination phase at the time of the incident. There is approximately an hour between statements about when the last beer was consumed. There is nothing in that packet of data that would make me believe that the individual was not in the elimination phase.
There's been sufficient time after social drinking that it's certainly reasonable to make the assumption that the individual is in the elimination phase at the time in question."

         Wetstein testified that a retrograde extrapolation calculation required that an individual be in the elimination phase. If he reasonably believed defendant had been in the absorption phase at the time of the accident, he would not have offered an opinion on retrograde extrapolation. Ultimately, Wetstein calculated, within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, that defendant's whole BAC at the time of the accident was 0.211 grams per deciliter.

         ¶ 31 Wetstein testified that he did not recall seeing any information about defendant's eating habits on the day of the accident in the materials he reviewed. On cross-examination, he testified that factors relevant to absorption included "how much you eat, what you ate, when you ate, what you're drinking, the period of time at which you drink it, [and] how much you drink." He agreed that it was fair to say that "[t]he most significant effect on alcohol absorption [was] the quantity of food substances ingested with or immediately prior to consumption of an alcoholic beverage." Wetstein also agreed that a large amount of food present in the stomach would delay the absorption of alcohol. If no food is present in the stomach the absorption rate is faster. Wetstein agreed that, as a matter of fact, he could not say when full absorption of alcohol occurred in defendant's case.

         ¶ 32 Defendant's counsel also questioned Wetstein regarding a State of Illinois Breath Analysis Operator Training manual. Wetstein indicated he was familiar with the manual but asserted it was "intended for a different target audience than [his] trainees." He did not completely agree with the following proposition contained in the manual: "As the alcohol moves from the stomach or the small intestine into the bloodstream, the alcohol will be absorbed into the bloodstream in a period of 30 to 90 minutes, depending *** on the contents of the stomach, the size/weight of the individual[, ] and the individual's state of health." In particular, he found it too broad and did not take into account "the breadth of studies" in the area of alcohol absorption. Wetstein noted that he reviewed absorption studies that mimicked social drinking situations, in that subjects were allowed to consume alcohol at their own preferred rate over a period of time. He testified, in those studies, "individuals [were] at or near their peak [BAC] within 15, 20 minutes of the cessation of drinking."

         ¶ 33 Wetstein further testified that alcohol elimination continued at a linear rate until it reached under 0.02, when it would become exponential. He stated he was familiar with Dr. Kurt Dubowski, a prominent researcher in the area of forensic toxicology. He agreed that Dr. Dubowski had published hundreds of articles on the subject of retrograde extrapolation and alcohol absorption and elimination. When asked whether he was aware that one of Dr. Dubowski's writings questioned whether elimination rates were linear, pseudolinear, or exponential, Wetstein asserted he did not believe there was "any doubt at this point in time that elimination rate is considered linear, particularly between 0.02 and *** 0.5."

         ¶ 34 Wetstein next testified he was also familiar with Dr. A.W. Jones, who had also authored articles on the subject of retrograde extrapolation. He stated he had read Dr. Jones's publications and did not doubt that Dr. Jones "characterized retrograde extrapolation as a dubious practice, owing to the many variables and unknowns involved." Wetstein acknowledged there were "valid reasons for [Dr. Jones] to make such a statement" and that "it would be very easy to overstate retrograde extrapolation if one isn't careful to express the limitations when they provide testimony."

         ¶ 35 On examination by the trial court, Wetstein agreed that it was fundamental to his calculation of defendant's BAC at the time of the accident that defendant was in the elimination phase when the accident occurred. He believed it was reasonable to find defendant was in the elimination phase at the time of the accident and agreed that his opinion was based on certain assumptions. He stated that, "in the absence of information, " he assumed defendant had an empty stomach between 7 and 8 p.m.

         ¶ 36 On redirect examination, Wetstein testified that he believed there was a "general consensus in the forensic toxicology community that retrograde extrapolation, when applied appropriately, [was] quite reasonable." He did not believe any of the factors relied upon by Drs. Dubowski and Jones to find retrograde extrapolation "dubious" existed in the present case.

         ¶ 37 On further examination, Wetstein testified that, for purposes of his calculations, he assumed that defendant's intake of alcohol was spread out evenly over the reported period of time. He also assumed defendant consumed standard alcoholic drinks, which he described as "a 12-ounce serving of [4%] alcohol beer."

         ¶ 38 Following Wetstein's testimony, defendant submitted several exhibits into evidence, including a 2012 online article from The Champion magazine, entitled "Retrograde Extrapolation: A Scientifically Flawed Procedure (DWI)" and authored by Dominick A. Labianca; documents containing the credentials of both Dr. Dubowski and Dr. Jones; and the State of Illinois Breath Analysis Operator Training manual.

         ¶ 39 On November 10, 2015, the trial court entered a written order denying defendant's motion in limine to exclude retrograde extrapolation opinion testimony at defendant's trial. Initially, the court found retrograde extrapolation met the Frye standard, stating as follows:

"Wetstein testified that this calculation has been widely used in the field of forensic toxicology for decades and it has been accepted by its members. Case law bears this out. *** While [defendant] raises arguments challenging the reliability of such calculations because of the number of factors required to perform the calculations, this Court does not believe this deems the test unreliable. [Defendant] can point these out on cross[-]examination, but the evidence itself is admissible upon showing of proper foundation."

         The court next found Wetstein was qualified to offer opinions on the subject of retrograde extrapolation given his education, training, and experience, and that his testimony on the subject was admissible at defendant's trial. It noted Wetstein determined that defendant had a normal or average elimination rate based on two blood draws and found it significant that Wetstein opined within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that defendant was in the elimination phase at the time of the accident. The court further pointed out that, although defendant cast doubt on the accuracy of the information upon which Wetstein based his opinions, defendant could cross-examine Wetstein on those matters to discredit the weight of his testimony. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider the court's denial of his motion in limine to exclude retrograde extrapolation opinion testimony, which the court denied.

         ¶ 40 On December 22, 2015, defendant filed an objection to an additional subpoena duces tecum issued at the State's request on December 17, 2015. The subpoena was directed to Carle's Director of Health Information and sought "any medical records from Carle pertaining to treatment of [defendant] on October 25 [and] 26, 2014." Similar to his previous objections, defendant argued the subpoena was overbroad and not issued in compliance with HIPAA.

         ¶ 41 On December 29, 2015, the trial court conducted a hearing on several outstanding motions and heard evidence in connection with defendant's motion in limine to exclude evidence of the hospital blood draw. The State presented the testimony of Susan Freed, an Operations Manager for the Health Information Management Department at Carle. Freed testified her department maintained Carle's medical records and processed records requests. She identified records pertaining to defendant and his treatment at Carle on October 25, 2014, and testified they were created in the regular course of business at Carle. Freed testified the record showed the collection of a specimen from defendant on October 25, 2014, at 10:29 p.m. and that the specimen was ...


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