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People v. Holmes

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

May 8, 2018

CHRISTOPHER M. HOLMES, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Hancock County, No. 14-CF-36; the Hon. Richard H. Gambrell, Judge, presiding.

          James E. Chadd, Peter A. Carusona, and Alan M. Freedman, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Ottawa, for appellant.

          Jason W. Pohren, State's Attorney, of Carthage (Patrick Delfino, Lawrence M. Bauer, and Mark A. Austill, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

          JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Carter and Justice McDade concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 Defendant, Christopher M. Holmes, appeals from his conviction for aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Defendant argues (1) the circuit court improperly overruled defense counsel's objection to lay opinion testimony regarding defendant's intent and (2) the State failed to prove aggravated criminal sexual abuse beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 On May 19, 2014, the State charged defendant with the aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/11-1.60(d) (West 2014)) of M.S., a minor, who was at least 13 years of age but under 17 years of age. The cause proceeded to a jury trial.

         ¶ 4 M.S. testified that in May 2014, she lived with her mother, S.F.; two brothers, T.S. and G.S.; and defendant. Defendant and S.F. were married; defendant was her stepfather. At the time, M.S. was 16 years old. M.S. described her relationship with defendant as "typical." However, in early 2014, defendant's relationship with M.S. changed; M.S. no longer felt safe around defendant. In January 2014, defendant picked M.S. up by placing his hands under M.S.'s arms. Defendant swung M.S. in the air. While picking M.S. up, at least one of defendant's hands slid under M.S.'s shirt and touched an area under her bra. G.S. saw defendant's actions and seemed surprised. Defendant let go of M.S.; M.S. went to her room. G.S. told M.S. "that's not right" or "he's a pervert." M.S. initially did not take the incident seriously as she attributed defendant's inappropriate contact to an accident. After the incident, defendant began treating M.S. "overly nicely."

         ¶ 5 On the evening of May 17, 2014, M.S. ate dinner at her house with defendant and T.S. T.S. left the house after dinner. Defendant went to the lower-level laundry room. While T.S. was still at the kitchen table, defendant asked M.S. to come downstairs to help him with the laundry. This was unusual as each family member did their own laundry. Nevertheless, M.S. went to the laundry room and started a load of laundry in the washer. Defendant asked M.S., "Can you keep a secret?" M.S. responded, "It depends what it is." Defendant said M.S.'s response was not very convincing; defendant asked again if M.S. could keep a secret. M.S. eventually said "sure." Defendant then started pulling up the right side of her shirt. M.S. told defendant to stop and hit his hand away. When M.S. attempted to walk away, defendant grabbed her from behind and stuck his hands up her shirt. M.S. said both of defendant's hands were underneath her bra and touched her breasts. M.S. yelled at defendant to stop, and defendant replied in a sarcastic tone, "What am I doing?" M.S. yelled," 'You're touching my F-ing breasts.'" M.S. broke away from defendant, ran upstairs, and locked herself in her bedroom. M.S. had left her cell phone on the kitchen table so she made a Facebook post asking if anyone had her mother's telephone number. While M.S. was attempting to get the telephone number, defendant knocked on her bedroom door and asked M.S. to finish the glass of milk that she had left on the table. At that point, approximately one hour had passed since M.S. ate dinner. M.S. responded," '[o]bviously I'm not going to come out of the room. You just attacked me.'" M.S. heard defendant go into the bathroom, and she hurried to the kitchen to retrieve her cell phone and returned to her bedroom. M.S. sent a text message to S.F. regarding the incident asking her to come home. S.F. called M.S. and told her to call 911. S.F. then called defendant. M.S. overheard defendant denying the incident while speaking to S.F. on the telephone. M.S. called 911; she stayed in her bedroom until police arrived.

         ¶ 6 On cross-examination, M.S. clarified that defendant "firmly cupped" her breasts; he did not "squeeze" or "rub" them. M.S. occasionally had arguments with defendant regarding "typical parent stuff." M.S. had wanted to attend a festival in Chicago, but her biological parents would not let her go because of the lack of adult supervision. Defendant also did not want M.S. to go to the festival but her biological parents ultimately made the decision.

         ¶ 7 S.F. testified that, in 2014, she and defendant were married and lived together with her three children, T.S., M.S., and G.S. On May 17, 2014, S.F. worked at a nursing home from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Toward the middle of her shift, she received a text message from M.S. M.S.'s message was unusual in that she did not ordinarily contact her mother at work. In the message, M.S. asked S.F. to come home right away because defendant had attacked her. She sent a reply text that directed M.S. to" '[g]o to [her] room and be safe.'" S.F. then called defendant and said:

" 'What the hell were you doing?' And [defendant] said, 'What do you mean?' And I said, 'Did you touch my daughter?' And [defendant's] exact words were, 'She never comes out of her room. How can I touch her?' And I said 'You're lying.' And I hung up."

         M.S. overheard S.F.'s conversation with defendant; she sent S.F. a text message that said defendant was lying.

         ¶ 8 S.F. called M.S. after she got off the phone with defendant. M.S. sounded scared and did not exhibit her usual quiet demeanor. S.F. told M.S. ...

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