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People v. Royster

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

May 17, 2018

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MITCHELL JAMES ROYSTER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois, Circuit No. 15-CF-515 Honorable Kevin W. Lyons, Judge, Presiding.

          OPINION

          JUSTICE O'BRIEN JUDGE

         delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Lytton and Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion.

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Mitchell James Royster, appeals his aggravated battery conviction, arguing that a jury instruction given misstated the law. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 Defendant was charged with aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(b)(2) (West 2014)) and domestic battery (id. § 12-3.2(a)(1)). The case proceeded to a jury trial. Ashley C. testified that A.C.M. was her daughter and, on July 31, 2015, A.C.M. was two years old. Defendant was Ashley's fiancé. On July 31, Ashley had a doctor's appointment to which defendant and A.C.M. accompanied her. A.C.M.'s car seat was located behind the driver's seat. Ashley testified that they all went into the examination room. A.C.M. was given a latex glove, and Ashley blew it up like a balloon for her to play with. A.C.M. kept putting the glove in her mouth, and Ashley, defendant, and the nurse kept telling her to stop. When A.C.M. would not stop, they took the glove away from her and threw it in the garbage can. A.C.M. then "started throwing a fit in the exam room." "She started throwing herself backwards onto the floor, kicking and screaming and hitting her head on the floor and pulling at her hair." When Ashley could not calm A.C.M. down, defendant took her out to their vehicle. Ashley saw A.C.M. later that day and did not notice any black eyes, bruises, or a cut on her lip. She stated that the photographs accurately portrayed what A.C.M. looked like that day. Defendant had Ashley's permission to "spank [A.C.M.'s] bottom" or "pop her on her mouth" at any time when A.C.M. was misbehaving.

         ¶ 4 Lori Tracy testified that she was a medical records supervisor at Heartland Community Health Clinic. At around 11:30 a.m. on July 31, she was leaving the clinic for a smoke break with Misty Garcia. Before they reached the doors, they saw defendant carrying a screaming A.C.M. over his shoulder and asking where to exit the building. A lady directed defendant to the door, and Tracy and Garcia followed him. Tracy stated, "As soon as he walked out the *** door and we were not even two feet behind him, he smacks her on the leg, open handed at least three times really hard and yelled at her to shut the fuck up." The slaps were on A.C.M.'s bare leg and were "pretty hard." Tracy said they observed defendant take A.C.M. to a vehicle and "thr[o]w [A.C.M.] in the backseat." She saw defendant "raise up his fist in the air" three times "[t]owards the child." Defendant then walked around the vehicle, opened the vehicle door again, and "struck A.C.M. again three more times with a fist." Tracy said:

"When he got done with that one, he slammed the car door, proceeded to walk around again. By the time he got to the trunk, he slammed the phone on the trunk of the car because he was so pissed-you can see he was mad-proceeded to open the car door again. By then we couldn't stand it anymore. We took off running [toward the vehicle]. By the time I got to the car, he already hit her again another three times."

         ¶ 5 Tracy told defendant she was going to take A.C.M. inside. Defendant tried to prevent her from doing so and said, "by law I can hit her up to three times." Tracy told Garcia to call the police. When Tracy approached A.C.M., "[s]he was crying and her face was all red. Her lip was bleeding and she was just crying." Tracy took A.C.M. into the clinic until the police arrived. Tracy said that once A.C.M. started to calm down, she noticed that A.C.M.'s "lip was busted. She had red lines where it was split apart. *** Her face was all red and her-underneath her eyes were starting to turn more blue and puffy." As time progressed, Tracy noticed that both of A.C.M.'s eyes were puffy and blue. She also had a handprint on her leg. Garcia corroborated Tracy's testimony.

         ¶ 6 Dina Durst stated that she was sitting in her vehicle in the parking lot of the clinic at the time of the incident. She saw defendant carrying A.C.M. out of the clinic. Defendant "looked agitated with [A.C.M.]" It looked like defendant was yelling at her. Durst saw defendant "throw[ ] [A.C.M.] in her car seat." She saw defendant's arm "swinging" in "an upwards movement sideways." Defendant then slammed the door, walked around the vehicle, opened the door, and did it again. After it had happened twice, Durst exited her vehicle and started walking over toward defendant's vehicle when defendant opened the door and did it a third time. She saw two other ladies walk over and take A.C.M. into the clinic.

         ¶ 7 Defendant testified that when A.C.M. started to "throw[ ] a fit, " he took her out to their vehicle. It was difficult placing A.C.M. in her car seat because she was thrashing around and flailing her arms and legs. He then pointed his finger at her and told her "that if she did not stop throwing her fit that [he] was going to pop her in the mouth." When she did not stop, he "popped her in the mouth with [his] left hand with minimal force, just enough to get her attention." He then shut the door and walked around to the passenger side of the vehicle to retrieve his cell phone and cigarettes. As A.C.M. was still "throwing a fit, " he again "popped her in the mouth with [his] open hand [with] minimal force." He again closed the door and walked around the vehicle. He then opened the door to try to talk to A.C.M. when Tracy approached the vehicle and said she was taking A.C.M. When defendant refused, Tracy forcefully took A.C.M. out of the vehicle and into the clinic. Defendant followed her. Defendant said he never hit A.C.M. with his fist. He also did not throw A.C.M. into the vehicle.

         ¶ 8 A jury instruction conference was conducted. The State proposed three instructions that included references to defendant's affirmative defense of corporal punishment based on People v. Green, 2011 IL App (2d) 091123. The three instructions provided, in relevant part:

(1)"To sustain the charge of Aggravated Battery, " the State had to prove, inter alia, "[t]hat the force used was not reasonable or necessary, "
(2)"To sustain the charge of Domestic Battery, " the State had to prove, inter alia, "[t]hat the force used was not reasonable or ...

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