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People v. Bunning

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

May 17, 2018

JERRY H. BUNNING, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Christian County. No. 13-CF-59 Honorable Bradley T. Paisley, Judge, presiding.

          Attorneys Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Ellen J. Curry, Deputy for Defender, Elizabeth M. Crotty, Assistant Appellate Defender,

          Attorneys Hon. Michael M. Havera, State's Attorney, Christian County Courthous, Patrick Delfino, Director, Appellee David J. Robinson, Deputy Director, Erin Wilson Laegeler, Staff Attorney,

          JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Moore and Overstreet concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 After a jury trial in the circuit court of Christian County, defendant, Jerry H. Bunning, was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/11-1.60(c)(1)(i) (West 2012)) and was sentenced to five years in the Department of Corrections to be followed by two years of mandatory supervised release. Defendant appeals the denial of his motion to reconsider his sentence. The issue raised in this direct appeal is whether the trial court erred by considering in aggravation the psychological harm or threat thereof suffered by the minor victim in sentencing defendant. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 Defendant was charged by information with a single count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for having the victim, M.B., who was under 13 years of age, "touch his penis over his clothing." Id. M.B. is defendant's step-granddaughter. At trial, M.B., age nine, testified that approximately two years earlier defendant showed her pornography on a computer and made her touch him on "his bad spot" over his clothes. She pointed to the bad spot on a diagram. M.B. said it happened in the computer room at her grandparents' house. M.B. estimated that it happened approximately four times, usually at night while her grandmother was asleep.

         ¶ 4 After hearing all the evidence, the jury found defendant guilty. The trial court ordered a sex offender evaluation and presentence investigation (PSI) prior to sentencing. The sex offender evaluation showed that defendant is at a low risk for recidivism. The evaluator recommended defendant undergo "[s]ex offender-specific treatment utilizing group-centered, cognitive-behavioral techniques as recommended by the Illinois Sex Offender Management Board" and "[s]ex offender-specific guidelines/requirements and specialized monitoring if [defendant] is at some point placed/released under community supervision via probation or parole."

         ¶ 5 The presentence investigation showed defendant has one 1977 conviction for disorderly conduct. It also showed that defendant was gainfully employed as a truck driver by the same employer for 18 years. With regard to a proposed plan of supervision, the report concluded:

"Due to the severity of the current offense and the defendant's failure to take full responsibility for the offense, it appears the defendant lacks empathy for others. In addition, the defendant lacks involvement in an organized group or activity. If the court were to sentence the defendant to a term of probation, the targeted interventions and supervision strategies listed above as well as maximum level of supervision, would be priorities in a supervision case plan."

A revised level of service inventory suggested that defendant receive a "medium level of supervision/service" and placed defendant's probability of recidivism at 23%.

         ¶ 6 M.B.'s mother submitted a victim impact statement in which she set forth the ways in which she, M.B., and her family had been impacted by defendant's abuse of M.B. In her letter, she discussed how, over the course of the previous two years, her family members' lives have "been turned upside down." She explained how the family has "had to rearrange our lives to keep all of the counseling appointments, court dates, and advocate meetings." She said she and her husband missed more than 30 days of work because of such appointments, causing them to lose money because neither has a job that gives them paid time off for such matters. She also noted that the victim "has had to miss many days of school and some fun activities with her friends." She believes M.B. "is not the same girl she used to be" and defendant "took her childhood away."

         ¶ 7 A sentencing hearing was conducted on July 31, 2014. The State did not offer any additional evidence in aggravation. The defense called defendant's wife and defendant to testify. Both testified about the ...

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