from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Tazewell
County, Illinois, Circuit No. 14-CF-153 Honorable Paul P.
Gilfillan, Judge, Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Holdridge and Wright concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Defendant, David C. Darr, appeals following his conviction
on three counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a
child and two counts of criminal sexual assault. He argues
that an accumulation of errors resulted in a fundamentally
unfair trial and requests that this court vacate his
convictions and remand for a new trial. Alternatively,
defendant argues that his pro se posttrial claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel warranted a preliminary
Krankel inquiry, which the circuit court failed to
conduct. Finally, defendant argues that the circuit court
erred in imposing the public defender fee without first
conducting the requisite hearing on defendant's financial
circumstances. We affirm defendant's convictions and
sentence and vacate the public defender fee.
3 In a bill of indictment filed April 17, 2014, the State
charged defendant with three counts of predatory criminal
sexual assault of a child (counts I to III) (720 ILCS
5/11-1.40(a)(1) (West 2014)) and three counts of criminal
sexual assault (id. § 11-1.20(a)(3)). Counts I to III
referenced events occurring between December 29, 2006, and
December 28, 2012. Count I alleged that defendant knowingly
made contact with the vagina of C.J. with his penis. Count II
alleged defendant knowingly made contact with the vagina of
C.J. with his fingers. Count III alleged defendant knowingly
made contact with the mouth of C.J. with his penis.
4 Prior to trial, the State filed a motion to admit
other-crimes evidence pursuant to section 115-7.3 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/115-7.3
(West 2014)). Specifically, the State sought to introduce
evidence of defendant's prior conviction for predatory
criminal sexual assault of a child committed in 1996. In
addition to the certified conviction, the evidence would
include the testimony of the victim in that case, J.M.;
testimony of Dennis Minton, to whom defendant admitted
J.M.'s allegations were true; a written admission by
defendant; and a letter written by defendant to the
prosecutor in that case further admitting to the offense. The
State later orally amended its motion to include testimony
from J.S., who would testify that defendant had sexual
contact with her when she was seven or eight years old. The
court granted the State's motion.
5 The evidence at trial established that C.J. was born on
December 29, 1999. C.J.'s mother is Colleen R.
Colleen's two sisters (C.J.'s aunts) are Sondra B.
and Karen O. In addition to C.J., Colleen has two other
daughters and one son. One of the other daughters is
defendant's biological child. Colleen and defendant
entered into a relationship in 2002 or 2003. Approximately
three years later, defendant moved in with Colleen in a house
located on North Main Street in North Pekin. Colleen's
four children, including C.J., also lived at the house.
Defendant's two older daughters from a different
relationship-Kayla and Erica-would live periodically at the
6 The evidence further established that defendant was born on
February 3, 1967. Prior to his relationship with Colleen,
defendant was married to Delta V. (also known as Delta Darr).
Delta was the cousin of Colleen, Sondra, and Karen. It was
through Delta's marriage that the sisters originally knew
defendant. Delta has two nieces, J.M. and J.S., who were born
in 1984 and 1986, respectively.
7 Sondra testified that she had a close relationship with
C.J. Sondra lived in Missouri until C.J. was approximately 12
years old, and C.J. would often visit for weeks at a time.
When Sondra moved back to North Pekin, C.J. and her sisters
would often spend weekends at Sondra's home. Sondra
testified that C.J. had always been an outgoing child and was
"happy-go-lucky." When C.J. was 12 years old,
however, Sondra began to notice a change in C.J.'s
personality. She noticed that C.J. did not like to be around
any adults and did not like to play with other children. She
preferred to be alone. Sondra described C.J. as becoming
8 Toward the end of March 2014, C.J. stayed at Sondra's
house during her spring break. March 30 was a Sunday; C.J.
was to return to school the next day. Though the plan had
been for C.J. to return home that evening, she asked Sondra
if she could spend the night and have Sondra drive her to
school in the morning. Sondra called Colleen, but Colleen
decided that C.J. needed to come home to get ready for
school. Sondra testified that she repeatedly told C.J. to get
ready to return home, but C.J. continued to procrastinate.
9 C.J. eventually went to the front porch of Sondra's
home, where Sondra's sister-in-law, Sherry H., was
sitting. Sondra testified that C.J. had been on the porch
with Sherry for approximately five minutes when the two came
back into the house, C.J. crying. Sondra had never seen C.J.
that upset. Sherry told Sondra that they needed to speak
privately, so they went to the basement with C.J. Sondra
testified that she asked C.J. what was wrong, and that C.J.
responded, "Aunt Sondra, I'm scared, I don't
want to go home. [Defendant is] messing with me."
10 At this point, defense counsel objected on hearsay
grounds. The State responded, "it's [offered] for
the effect on the listener and what she did in response to
it. [C.J.] will testify to all of this." The court
sustained the objection in part, stating:
"With regard to the hearsay objection, the jury will be
instructed, just as they were moments ago, any claimed
statement by [C.J.] at this point in time is not to be taken
by you as the truth of the matter that that occurred for what
she said. Rather, that statement is coming in for the limited
purpose of showing what impact it had on this witness here.
counsel indicated and as other counsel has as well, [C.J.]
will be testifying on first hand information allegations
11 Sondra reiterated that C.J. told her that defendant
"was messing with her." They talked in the basement
for approximately 25 to 30 minutes. C.J. pleaded to not be
taken home. Sherry called Karen, who then came to
Sondra's house. Karen, Sondra, Sherry, and C.J. went to
the North Pekin Police Department.
12 Michael Sea of the North Pekin Police Department testified
that he was off duty on the night of March 30, 2014. Around
10 p.m., he received a phone call from Karen, who was a
friend of Sea's wife. Sea testified, "Karen called
me and stated that her niece [C.J.] had *** talked to her and
stated that she had been molested." He clarified that
Karen had specifically told him that C.J. said defendant had
molested her. Sea knew C.J. because she was of similar age to
his own daughters and had been to his house several times. He
also knew defendant. Sea called Bryon Martin, also of the
North Pekin Police Department, because Sea knew Martin was
familiar with the family.
13 Sea went to the police station at approximately 10:15 p.m.
He noticed that C.J. was upset and crying or, as he put it,
"not her normal self." Sea remained at the police
station while Martin spoke with C.J., but Sea himself was not
formally a part of the investigation. He testified that an
agent of the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS)
came to the station and established a safety plan, which
included removing C.J. from her home.
14 Martin testified that he was at home on the night of March
30, 2014, when he received a telephone call from Sea.
Regarding that phone call, Martin testified, "He told me
that [C.J.] was ready to talk about [defendant] touching
her." Martin arrived at the police station around 10:15
p.m., where he noticed that C.J. was visibly upset. Martin
spoke with Karen, Sherry, Sondra, and C.J. Martin testified
that his conversation with C.J. was brief because after she
made an allegation of sexual abuse he terminated the
interview and arranged for a child advocacy center (CAC)
15 Martin testified that Colleen eventually arrived at the
station. Martin informed her that C.J. had made an allegation
of sexual abuse against defendant. He testified that Colleen
had no emotional reaction to the news. Martin explained that
under the DCFS safety plan, Colleen's three daughters
would go to Karen's house and Colleen's son would go
to Sondra's house.
16 On April 4, 2014, Jeff Jackson of the North Pekin Police
Department arrested defendant. Jackson informed defendant
that he was being charged with predatory criminal sexual
assault. Martin was present for the arrest and
defendant's subsequent transport. Martin testified that
no questions were asked of defendant while he was in the
squad car, but defendant did enquire as to "why it was
predatory." When Martin explained that the charge was
"based upon the timeline, " defendant "said
something about her being over 13."
17 C.J. testified that she lived in the home on North Main
street in North Pekin with Colleen and defendant for
approximately 11 years. She testified that on the night of
March 30, 2014, she told Sondra that defendant had molested
her. Soon thereafter, Karen arrived at Sondra's house,
and they all went to the police station. At the police
station, C.J. told officers "that over the past couple
of years, [defendant] had been coming in my room. He's
been asking me to do things and everything else." C.J.
did not go into full detail with the officers that night but
went into more detail in the CAC interview conducted a few
18 C.J. testified that her first encounter with defendant
occurred at her mother's house. C.J. was in the bathroom
and heard a knock on the door. She opened the door to find
defendant standing before her. C.J. testified, "He just
told me to back into the bathroom, and he took pictures of my
butt." Further, she testified, "He had me lean over
the toilet, and he pulled my pants down and took pictures of
my butt." C.J. testified that she was "[l]ike 7,
almost 8" years old when that happened.
19 C.J. immediately told Karen about the bathroom incident,
and Karen took C.J. to Colleen. After C.J. told Colleen what
had happened, Colleen and Karen spoke to each other
privately. Later, a DCFS agent came to the home. C.J.
testified that she told the DCFS agent what happened but
stated that defendant had not touched her. She told the DCFS
agent this because she did not want to be taken away from her
20 Later, when C.J. was approximately eight years old,
defendant began going into C.J.'s bedroom at night. C.J.
explained, "He'd unbutton my pants and he'd
stick his hands in my vagina." She clarified that
defendant's finger or fingers went inside her vagina.
C.J. testified that defendant's behavior was continuous
from the time she was eight years old until she alerted
authorities. She estimated it had occurred at least 100
times. Though C.J. shared a bedroom with her two younger
sisters, she believed they were asleep during the encounters.
21 C.J. also testified that when she was 11 or 12 years old,
she went to her mother's bedroom to retrieve cigarettes
for her mother, and defendant followed her. She continued,
"He came in and like closed the door like halfway and
had me lay on my mom's bed and pulled down my shorts and
he got on top of me and had sex with me." C.J. confirmed
that defendant put his penis in her vagina and moved back and
forth. She testified that this was not the first time
defendant had put his penis in her vagina. He had done the
same thing in her bedroom when she was nine years old.
22 C.J. recalled another incident as well:
"[C.J.]: I was in the bathroom getting ready to go to
bed, and he came in and had me sit on the toilet.
[STATE]: About how old were you then?
[C.J.]: 13 maybe, and he-
[STATE]: Were you 13 or were you younger?
[C.J.]: I might have been younger."
C.J. further explained that on that occasion, defendant
placed his penis inside her mouth and moved it back and
forth. He later told her to clean her mouth. On
cross-examination, C.J. estimated she was "[l]ike 11 or
12" when the incident in the bathroom occurred.
23 C.J. testified that her mother had instituted a rule that
none of the children in the house were to be alone with
defendant. C.J. testified that she had been living with her
father since she came forward, but she missed living with her
mother. In the time that defendant was molesting her, C.J.
did not tell anyone because she continued to fear that she
would be taken from her mother.
24 Colleen testified that she continued to live on North Main
Street in North Pekin and had lived there for more than 25
years. She testified that defendant moved into that home in
2005, when C.J. was five or six years old. When defendant
moved in, Colleen established a rule that he would never
babysit or be alone with the four children. The rule was
crafted because Colleen knew defendant was a registered sex
offender and also knew he had been convicted of an offense.
Defendant's two daughters, Erica and Kayla, were now in
their twenties and would occasionally stay at the house.
25 Colleen recalled the incident in which Karen told her that
defendant had taken photographs of C.J.'s buttocks.
Colleen confronted defendant the next day but did not find
the pictures on his phone. Defendant continued to live at the
house after the incident.
26 Colleen did not receive a telephone call on the night of
March 30, 2014. After C.J. had not returned from Sondra's
house for some time, Colleen and defendant got into a vehicle
with the intent of finding her. Because her home is directly
adjacent to the North Pekin police station, however, Colleen
immediately noticed Karen's van in the police station
parking lot. Before Colleen could head to the police station,
defendant exited the vehicle. He told Colleen he was going to
go to his sister's house because "he had a feeling
something was wrong."
27 Karen testified that she had known C.J. since C.J.'s
birth. Karen and C.J. had always had a close relationship,
largely because C.J. spent so much time at Karen's house
when she was growing up. Karen described C.J. as "[v]ery
talkative, outgoing, [and] vibrant" when she was a young
child. But as C.J. became older, she became more withdrawn
and introverted. Karen began noticing these changes in
C.J.'s personality when she was seven years old.
28 Karen recalled the incident in the bathroom at the North
Main Street house to which C.J. had referred. Karen testified
that she was at the house doing her laundry that evening. She
eventually fell asleep in the front room of the house but
woke up at approximately 5 a.m. Karen went toward the back of
the house to use the bathroom, where she noticed defendant
exiting the room. Defendant shut the bathroom door behind him
and remained standing in front of it. When Karen told
defendant she needed to use the bathroom, defendant told her
C.J. was using it.
29 Defendant eventually relented, and Karen entered the
bathroom. She saw C.J. crying. Karen testified, "She was
really upset. She had said that [defendant] tried to take a
picture of her bottom and told me that he pushed her on her
back to have her bend over the toilet seat so he could take
the picture." Defendant was wearing a black flip phone
on his belt. Karen immediately took C.J. to Colleen's
bedroom, where C.J. told her Colleen what had happened. When
Colleen failed to notify the police, Karen did so. From that
time forward, Karen saw significantly less of C.J. because
Colleen did not want the children to see Karen with such
regularity. Karen testified that she began seeing more of
C.J. again in 2014.
30 On March 30, 2014, Karen received a telephone call from
Sherry, Sondra's sister-in-law. Based on that telephone
call, Karen called Sea, then she went to pick up C.J. from
Sondra's house. When she arrived, she saw that C.J. was
crying. Karen took C.J. to the police station, where they
both spoke with the officers.
31 Dennis Minton of the North Pekin Police Department
testified regarding an incident that occurred in 1996 and he
investigated in 1998. Minton testified that he came to
interview J.M., who told him that she had been home with
defendant when defendant placed his mouth on her vagina then
placed his penis in her vagina. The incident occurred when
J.M. was 11 years old. Defendant was her uncle.
32 Minton subsequently went to defendant's home, where he
was living with Delta, his wife at the time. Minton
transported defendant from his home to the police station.
Minton testified that during the ride "[defendant] asked
me if this was about [J.M.], and I told him it was, and he
said that he was glad that it was going to be over
with." Minton eventually relayed J.M.'s accusations
to defendant, and defendant told Minton "it was
basically true." Minton testified that defendant
explicitly admitted to having sexual intercourse with J.M.
Defendant later provided a written confession, which was