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People v. Mumaugh

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

January 5, 2018

BRANDON MUMAUGH, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, LaSalle County, Illinois, Circuit No. 13-CF-372 Honorable H. Chris Ryan, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE HOLDRIDGE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McDade and O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 After a stipulated bench trial, the defendant, Brandon Mumaugh (Mumaugh), was convicted of aggravated driving under the influence of a drug (aggravated DUI) in violation of sections 11-501(a)(6) and 11-501(d)(1)(C) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Code) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(6), (d)(1)(C) (West 2012)) and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. The defendant appeals his conviction.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 The trial court conducted a bench trial on October 17, 2014. The parties presented all evidence by stipulation. The following facts are taken from the parties' stipulated evidence.

         ¶ 4 Mumaugh was 43 years old at the time of trial. He lived in Marseilles, and had been a professional truck driver for 27 years. On June 21, 2012, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Mumaugh left work in Ottawa and began driving his GMC Blazer east on I-80 toward Marseilles. He exited the Interstate at the Marseilles exit and proceeded south on Highway 15 toward the Marseilles city limits. It was a very dark night with no moonlight.

         ¶ 5 At the same time Mumaugh was driving home that night, 12-year-old Jennifer Dennis (Jennifer) and her friend, 13-year-old Courtney Brown (Courtney), were walking on the east side of Highway 15, at the edge of the northbound lane. Jennifer and Courtney had sneaked out of Courtney's house to go the Dollar Store for soda. Finding the store closed, they continued north on Highway 15 in Marseilles toward a gas station, which was also closed. The girls then walked south along Highway 15 on their way back to Courtney's house.

         ¶ 6 At 10:34 p.m., Maggie Thomas, a 911 dispatcher, received a call from Milan Najdanovich. Najdanovich told Thomas, "I'm on my way into town, and you got two little girls, they've got to be 12 or 14 years old, walking on Marseilles blacktop walking in between Hicks Gas and the Shell station." Najdanovich said that "they've got no reflectors on, no nuttin' Honey, they're goin' to get hit." He added, "[t]hey're wearing dark clothes. I'm really afraid somebody's gonna hit 'em or something.'" Within 58 seconds of Najdanovich's 911 call, a squad car was dispatched to the scene.

         ¶ 7 As Courtney and Jennifer walked, Courtney's flip flop broke, and she bent down to fix it. Mumaugh was driving south on highway 15 at 50 miles per hour when he saw the white legs of a young girl (Courtney), in the northbound lane. Courtney was about 75 feet away.[1] Within a split second, another young girl, Jennifer, appeared out of nowhere in the southbound lane, immediately in front of Mumaugh's vehicle. Jennifer was wearing black clothes and had her back to Mumaugh. Mumaugh immediately swerved his vehicle to the right to avoid striking Jennifer, but Jennifer was right in front of his vehicle. The left side of his vehicle struck Jennifer. Courtney heard a crash as she was bending over. Mumaugh's vehicle veered off into a ditch on the west side of the highway. Mumaugh immediately exited his vehicle to give aid to Jennifer.[2] He encountered Courtney, who said to him, I kept telling her to get out of the road. I kept telling her she shouldn't walk on the road." Mumaugh and Courtney found Jennifer lying face down on the east side of the highway. Her breathing was very labored. Courtney called 911. The 911 dispatcher received the call about eight minutes after the Marseilles squad car was dispatched.

         ¶ 8 Highway 15 is a paved, two-lane road. At the time of the accident, the posted speed limit was 55 m.p.h. At the location of the accident, there were no lights illuminating the highway. The area is rural, and the highway is surrounded by open fields and bordered by gravel shoulders.

         ¶ 9 At the time of the accident, Mark Judd was driving north on Highway 15 north of Marseilles when a Marseilles police squad car passed him with its emergency lights activated. The squad car stopped approximately one mile ahead. The officer exited his vehicle and directed Judd to stop. Judd pulled over and exited his vehicle. The officer, Brian Faber, saw Mumaugh standing over Jennifer, with Courtney standing nearby. Mumaugh told Officer Faber that Jennifer was walking down the middle of the road, that Mumaugh did not see her, and that he hit her with his car. Judd, a former EMT, walked to where Jennifer was lying to see if there was anything he could do to help her. Judd asked Officer Faber to help him assist Jennifer. Officer Faber did not respond. Judd asked Mumaugh to help him turn Jennifer over to make sure she was breathing. Mumaugh assisted Judd.

         ¶ 10 Detective Todd Gordon and Officers Ronald Baudino and Thomas Rogel of the Marseilles Police department subsequently arrived on the scene. A Marseilles ambulance also arrived, rendered aid, and took Jennifer to an area where she could be airlifted to a hospital. Judd then spoke to Courtney, who was sitting in Judd's vehicle. Judd asked her what happened. Courtney told Judd that Jennifer was walking in the middle of the road, kicking a rock. Courtney also told others at the scene that Jennifer was walking in the middle of the road and provided a written statement to that effect.

         ¶ 11 Officer Baudino asked Mumaugh if he had been drinking. Mumaugh responded that he had not and offered to take field sobriety tests. After administering field sobriety tests, Officer Baudino told Mumaugh that he was "good" and that he saw no signs of impairment. Mumaugh agreed to be taken by ambulance to OSF Hospital to give blood and urine samples.

         ¶ 12 Detective Gordon and Officers Faber and Baudino did not detect any odor of cannabis on Mumaugh's breath or clothing. At no time did they observe anything that would lead them to believe that Mumaugh was under the influence of drugs. Mumaugh did not show any signs of impairment in his actions or senses. Mumaugh told the officers that he had "smoked weed" five days earlier (on June 16, 2012), but had not smoked any marijuana on the day of the accident.

         ¶ 13 While at the accident scene, Mumaugh realized that he had a "hitter" pipe in his vehicle and he knew that the police would probably search the vehicle. To avoid being arrested for possession of the pipe, Mumaugh removed the pipe from the vehicle and discarded it on the side of the road. Mumaugh claimed he did not use the pipe to smoke cannabis at any time that day. He did not have any cannabis on his person or in his vehicle. Officer Rogel saw the hitter pipe (a type of pipe commonly used to smoke cannabis) on the ground next to the ambulance that took Mumaugh to the hospital. The pipe was not warm to the touch, and there was nothing Officer Rogel observed that would lead him to believe that the pipe had been ...

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