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People v. Witherspoon

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

December 6, 2017

MARCELUS WITHERSPOON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County No. 14CF1056 Honorable Thomas E. Griffith, Judge Presiding.

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



         ¶ 1 Under Illinois law, an individual commits home invasion when "without authority he or she knowingly enters the dwelling place of another when he or she knows or has reason to know that one or more persons is present *** and *** [i]ntentionally causes any injury *** to any person or persons within the dwelling place." (Emphasis added.) 720 ILCS 5/19-6(a)(2) (West 2014).

         ¶ 2 After an April 2015 bench trial, the trial court found defendant, Marcelus Witherspoon, guilty of home invasion. The court found that defendant entered the dwelling of another without authority because a court order prohibited him from going to or entering that particular residence. Defendant had argued that he had authority because the resident, S.L., consented to his entry. The court rejected that argument and later sentenced defendant to 14 years in prison.

         ¶ 3 On appeal, defendant argues only that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of home invasion because S.L. consented to his entry. We agree, concluding that a defendant is not guilty of home invasion when, with the resident's consent, he enters that resident's dwelling place even though his doing so is in violation of a court order. Accordingly, we reverse defendant's conviction.

         ¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 In August 2014, the State charged defendant in Macon County case No. 14-CF- 0924 with domestic battery and criminal trespass to a residence. S.L. was the alleged victim in that case. On August 10, 2014, defendant was released on bond subject to the conditions that he refrain from (1) contacting S.L., (2) going to her residence, or (3) entering her residence.

         ¶ 6 In September 2014, the State charged defendant with the following crimes of which S.L. was the alleged victim: home invasion (720 ILCS 5/19-6 (West 2014)), aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12-13(a)(1) (West 2014)), domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(1) (West 2014)), unlawful possession of a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 2014)), and violation of bail bond (720 ILCS 5/32-10(b) (West 2014)). The State alleged that these offenses were committed on August 28, 2014. Before trial, the State dropped the violation of bail bond charge.

         ¶ 7 In April 2015, defendant's case went to trial, beginning as a jury trial. However, midway through trial, defendant waived his right to a jury, and the trial continued as a bench trial.

         ¶ 8 At trial, S.L. testified that she previously had a romantic relationship with defendant throughout 2014. On August 28, 2014, around 10 p.m., defendant arrived at her home. She and defendant argued, and defendant left with her phone and keys. S.L. testified that she went to bed, expecting defendant to return the items later. When she awoke around 2 a.m., she discovered defendant standing over her, and he then attacked and raped her. She called the police around 5:30 a.m., and they arrested defendant as he slept at S.L.'s home. Police found three-tenths of a gram of cocaine in his pants. The State also introduced defendant's condition of bond from his earlier pending criminal case, Macon County case No. 14-CF-0924.

         ¶ 9 Defendant testified that on August 28, 2014, he had been at S.L.'s home and left to get marijuana. When he returned, S.L. opened the door to let him in her residence. Defendant testified that they had a physical fight, and he defended himself. According to defendant, he had consensual sex with S.L. following the fight.

         ¶ 10 The trial court found defendant guilty of domestic battery and possession of a controlled substance but not guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault. The trial court reserved ruling on the home invasion charge so that it could receive further argument from counsel regarding the effect of the bail bond condition. However, when the court so ordered, the court first essentially found that S.L. had consented to defendant entering her residence, with the court's noting that "by [S.L.'s] own testimony[, ] [defendant] had authority to enter [S.L.'s] residence." The court further explained that if defendant's violation of the condition of his bail bond that he not enter S.L.'s residence was sufficient "in and of itself" to render his entry as being without authority, "then he is guilty of home invasion." However, if defendant violating that condition of his bail bond was not sufficient, "then he is not guilty of home invasion." The trial court continued the trial so that the parties could brief this issue.

         ¶ 11 At a subsequent hearing in April 2015, the State argued that "judicial authority is the ultimate controlling factor here as far as authority to enter a residence and trumps any other authority that an individual might attempt to give to another person as far as entering their residence." The State cited subsection (d) of the home invasion statute, which defined "dwelling place of another" to include a dwelling place "where the defendant maintains a tenancy interest but from which the defendant has been barred by a divorce decree, judgment of dissolution of marriage, order of protection, or other court order." 720 ILCS 5/19-6(d) ...

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