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People v. Taylor

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

March 21, 2018

STATEN D. TAYLOR, Defendant-Appellant.

          Rehearing denied April 13, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County, No. 13-CF-418; the Hon. Timothy J. Steadman, Judge, presiding.

          Michael J. Pelletier, Patricia Mysza, and Aliza R. Kaliski, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

          Jay Scott, State's Attorney, of Decatur (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and Allison Paige Brooks, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

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



         ¶ 1 A jury found defendant, Staten D. Taylor, guilty of aggravated domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(a) (West 2012)) for beating his brother-in-law. The Macon County circuit court sentenced defendant to 15 years in prison. Defendant appealed, claiming (1) he was denied a fair trial on several grounds, (2) his trial attorney rendered ineffective assistance, (3) the court failed to give adequate consideration to his pro se allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel, and (4) his sentence was excessive. We affirmed defendant's convictions, finding (1) he forfeited review of the errors he claimed had deprived him of a fair trial, (2) his ineffective assistance of counsel claims should be raised in postconviction proceedings where a better record can be made, (3) the court conducted an adequate Krankel inquiry (People v. Krankel, 102 Ill.2d 181, 464 N.E.2d 1045 (1984)) into his pro se posttrial allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel, and (4) his sentence was not excessive. People v. Taylor, 2015 IL App (4th) 140060, 44 N.E.3d 1234. Defendant filed a petition for leave to appeal with the Supreme Court of Illinois.

         ¶ 2 On September 27, 2017, the supreme court denied defendant's petition for leave to appeal but issued a supervisory order (People v. Taylor, No. 120425 (Ill. Sept. 27, 2017) (nonprecedential supervisory order on denial of petition for leave to appeal)), directing this court to vacate our prior judgment and reconsider our decision in light of People v. Veach, 2017 IL 120649, 89 N.E.3d 366. There our supreme court noted "ineffective assistance of counsel claims may sometimes be better suited to collateral proceedings but only when the record is incomplete or inadequate for resolving the claim." Veach, 2017 IL 120649, ¶ 46. On remand to this court, the parties filed supplemental briefs, addressing the application of the Veach decision to the facts of this case. On December 1, 2017, this court filed a new opinion, in which we reconsidered our decision in light of Veach and again found defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims should be raised on collateral review because they depended on proof of matters outside the appellate record.

         ¶ 3 Defendant filed a petition for rehearing, asserting this court's December 2017 opinion failed to meaningfully address Veach and acknowledge the parties' supplemental briefs on remand. We granted defendant's petition for rehearing. The State filed an answer to the petition for rehearing, and defendant filed a reply to the answer. This court has again reconsidered defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel arguments in light of Veach and now addresses those claims. We affirm the circuit court's judgment.

         ¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 Dawnette Sigmon, defendant's estranged wife, began living in a rented single-family home on Church Street in Decatur with her three young children in September 2012, a few months before she met defendant. Dawnette and defendant met in November 2012 and married in January 2013. Dawnette asked defendant to move out of the home in March 2013 after an undisclosed "incident." After this "incident," Dawnette and her children frequently stayed with a friend in Warrensburg. Whenever Dawnette wanted to return to her Church Street home, she would call on her brother, Jashua Sigmon, to check the home to ensure no one, meaning defendant, was there. On April 5, 2013, she reached out to Jashua and asked for a security check of the home.

         ¶ 6 Jashua testified at defendant's jury trial that on April 5, 2013, he received a call from his sister, asking him to check on her house. At approximately 10 p.m., Jashua drove to the Church Street residence, where he saw defendant standing in the driveway, talking to individuals in a van from the van's driver's side window. Jashua parked his vehicle behind the van and approached defendant, telling defendant he was not supposed to be there. Defendant told Jashua that Dawnette had given him permission to stay there for the last few days. As Jashua approached, defendant shoved him, and Jashua shoved defendant back. Defendant punched Jashua in the face. Jashua grabbed defendant in an attempt to take him to the ground. An unidentified man exited the van and grabbed Jashua from behind, holding his arms behind his back while defendant continuously punched Jashua in the face. The man threw Jashua to the ground, where defendant and the man repeatedly kicked Jashua in his back. Jashua crawled to his vehicle while being kicked. He estimated the two men kicked him between 15 and 25 times. Defendant eventually told the man to stop the beating, saying Jashua had enough to know not to" 'come around here anymore.' "

         ¶ 7 Jashua made it to his car and drove home, where he and his girlfriend cleaned the blood from his face. He said he did not want to call the police because he was on parole and he feared he would be sent back to prison. He went to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a broken nose. He was released after several hours and had surgery to repair his nose several days later.

         ¶ 8 Dawnette also testified, corroborating Jashua's testimony regarding her request for the welfare check on her home. She denied giving defendant permission to be at her house. She said his name was not on the lease, he did not contribute to the rental payments, and he did not have a key.

         ¶ 9 Jason Danner, a Decatur police officer, testified he met with Jashua after the hospital had called the police to report the battery incident. Officer Danner said both Jashua and Dawnette cooperated with his investigation. After speaking with the siblings, Officer Danner drove to the Church Street residence, hoping to find defendant. He eventually saw defendant at the house and arrested him there. Officer Danner noticed defendant had a cut on his finger and his fists were red and swollen.

         ¶ 10 In defendant's case in chief, he presented, by stipulation, the testimony of Greg Bell, defendant's parole officer. If Bell were called to the witness stand, he would testify that defendant was on parole on the date of the incident. He would also testify that defendant's home record listed his address as the Church Street residence.

         ¶ 11 After deliberations, the jury found defendant guilty of aggravated domestic battery. Defendant filed a pro se motion for ineffective assistance of counsel. The circuit court conducted a Krankel hearing, wherein defendant complained his counsel did not (1) introduce evidence on his behalf at trial, (2) meet with him to discuss the trial, and (3) discuss the State's plea offer before trial. The court asked defendant to explain each allegation in detail. The court then asked defendant's counsel to respond. To the court's satisfaction, counsel explained the issues complained of were either (1) matters involving trial strategy or (2) nonmeritorious. The court denied defendant's motion.

         ¶ 12 Counsel filed a posttrial motion, claiming the State's evidence was insufficient to support the jury's verdict. The court denied the motion and proceeded to sentencing. We note that, on the day before the sentencing hearing, defendant filed a pro se motion "appealing" the ...

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