from the Circuit Court of Macon County No. 14CF1090 Honorable
James R. Coryell, Judge Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court,
with opinion. Justices Steigmann and DeArmond concurred in
the judgment and opinion.
HARRIS, PRESIDING JUSTICE
1 Following a jury trial, defendant, Wesley Lawrence
Whitfield, was convicted of aggravated battery of a child
(720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(b)(2) (West 2012)) and sentenced to four
years in prison. He appeals, arguing (1) portions of his
videotaped interrogation were improperly admitted at his
trial and played for the jury and (2) the State improperly
impeached a defense witness. We affirm.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 In September 2014, the State charged defendant with two
counts of aggravated battery of a child (id.). It
alleged defendant caused bodily harm to his two children,
N.W. and S.W., by repeatedly striking N.W. (count I) and
repeatedly striking and burning S.W. (count II). In January
2015, defendant waived his right to counsel and began
4 The record reflects defendant filed several pretrial
motions, including two motions addressing his bond. In
January 2015, he filed a motion for bond reduction or a
recognizance bond. At a hearing that same month,
defendant's father, Luther Whitfield, testified on
defendant's behalf. Luther agreed he received a call in
September 2014 regarding defendant's "case." He
learned defendant had been charged and the amount of his
bond. The State declined any cross-examination, and following
defendant's testimony on his own behalf, the trial court
granted the motion and lowered defendant's bond.
5 In June 2015, defendant filed a motion for a recognizance
bond. In July 2015, the trial court conducted a hearing on
that motion and other pretrial motions filed by defendant,
including a motion to suppress evidence. Relative to the
motion for a recognizance bond, Luther, again, testified on
defendant's behalf. He stated defendant's children
had been in a car accident approximately a week before the
date of the alleged offenses and defendant's arrest.
According to Luther, the accident resulted in N.W. receiving
medical care. Luther suggested the charges against defendant
were based on injuries the children likely sustained in the
automobile accident. Further, he testified he attempted to
obtain medical records related to the accident for defendant
but was unable to do so. Ultimately, the court denied
6 In August 2015, defendant's jury trial was conducted.
The record reflects the matter proceeded to trial on only
count I, charging defendant with the aggravated battery of
N.W. Count II, setting forth the charges related to S.W., was
dismissed on the State's motion.
7 At trial, Laura Cole testified she was the maternal
grandmother of N.W. and S.W. Her daughter Nicole was the
children's mother and had been in a relationship with
defendant. On October 4, 2011, the day N.W. was born, Nicole
passed away. Thereafter, defendant was the primary caregiver
for both children. At the time of the alleged offense, N.W.
was two years old.
8 In September 2014, Laura resided in Wisconsin but traveled
to Decatur, Illinois, with her daughter Markeena Cole to meet
with defendant and visit S.W. and N.W. Laura testified she
and Markeena arrived at defendant's home at around 5 p.m.
or 6 p.m. on September 3, 2014. She visited with her
grandchildren and asked defendant if the children could stay
the night with her at her hotel. Initially, defendant
refused; however, at the encouragement of a friend, he
allowed Laura and Markeena to take the children. Laura
recalled that, although the weather was sunny and the
temperature was 85 or 90 degrees, N.W. was dressed in a
long-sleeved shirt and jeans.
9 After leaving defendant's house, Laura, Markeena, and
the children visited Thelma Lawson's home, which Laura
described as "the kids' cousin['s] house."
While at Lawson's home, Laura heard S.W. say "
'[d]addy whip [N.W.] like this' " and saw S.W.
demonstrate "how [N.W.] got a whipping." Laura then
raised N.W.'s shirt and saw "the welts and
everything on him." She showed what she discovered to
Markeena and Lawson.
10 Ultimately, Laura took N.W. to the hospital. She testified
the police and the Illinois Department of Children and Family
Services (DCFS) were called, and S.W. and N.W. were taken
into protective custody. In October 2014, Laura relocated to
Decatur "for [her] grandkids." At the time of
trial, both children were in her care.
11 During her testimony Laura viewed photographs, which she
testified depicted the appearance of N.W.'s injuries on
September 3, 2014. She denied that any of the injuries shown
in the photographs occurred between the time she picked N.W.
up from defendant's house and when she took N.W. to the
12 On cross-examination, Laura acknowledged that she had
tried to gain custody of S.W. and N.W. in the past. Further,
she agreed that, prior to her arrival in Decatur, defendant
told her during a telephone conversation that the children
had recently been in a car accident. Also, Laura acknowledged
that, after discovering N.W.'s injuries at approximately
8:30 p.m., she went to her hotel before taking N.W. to the
13 Markeena testified similarly to Laura, stating she and her
mother traveled from Wisconsin to Decatur on September 3,
2014, to visit S.W. and N.W.; defendant reluctantly allowed
them to have the children overnight; and they initially took
the children to Lawson's home. While at Lawson's
home, Laura showed Markeena injuries on N.W. Markeena
testified N.W. had been wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long
pants although it was "[b]urning hot" outside and
close to 90 degrees.
14 After noticing N.W.'s injuries, Markeena, Laura, and
the children went to a hotel and "kind of sat down and
decided what would be the best thing to do about the
situation." Markeena concluded that the children should
not be returned to defendant and that they needed to
"get some help." She stated they then took the
children to the hospital. Markeena denied that N.W. was
injured while in her and Laura's care. On
cross-examination, she acknowledged that Laura had tried to
gain custody of the children in the past.
15 Dr. Edward Leon testified he was an emergency room
physician in Decatur and treated N.W. at the hospital in the
early morning hours of September 4, 2014. According to Dr.
Leon, he observed injuries on primarily the left side of
N.W.'s body-specifically, on N.W.'s arm, back,
buttocks, and left leg. He stated the injuries consisted of
bruising and what appeared to be "belt marks." Dr.
Leon estimated that the injuries were inflicted "within
a few days" and opined they were "consistent with
being whipped with a cord or a belt."
16 On cross-examination, Dr. Leon testified he first examined
N.W. around 12:30 a.m. He recalled that the children's
grandmother was present and was concerned about child abuse.
Dr. Leon testified he was not aware that the children had
been in a car accident approximately a week prior to their
hospital visit. On re-direct, Dr. Leon testified the injuries
depicted in a photograph of N.W.'s left arm did not
appear to be consistent with a car accident. On
re-cross-examination, he opined the injuries depicted in the
same photograph appeared to have been inflicted "within
days" rather than within the course of several hours.
17 City of Decatur police officer Jason Danner testified he
went to Decatur Memorial Hospital on September 4, 2014, in
response to a report of child abuse. Upon his arrival, he
spoke with Laura and made contact with N.W. Danner stated he
observed injuries to N.W., which he described as follows:
"[N.W.] had welts up and-or looped-shaped welts all up
and down his arms, his legs. He had bruising and scars on his
back and abrasion-an old abrasion on the side of his
hip." Danner identified photographs he took of
N.W.'s injuries at the hospital. He testified the
photographs fairly and accurately depicted how N.W.'s
injuries appeared on September 4, 2014. Ultimately, the
photographs, contained in People's exhibit Nos. 2 through
19, were admitted into evidence.
18 Danner further testified that on September 5, 2014,
defendant was taken into custody. At police headquarters, he
made contact with defendant and read him the Miranda
warnings (Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)).
Defendant indicated he understood his rights, and he agreed
to speak with Danner. According to Danner, defendant asserted
that he did not "beat his kids; he only spank[ed]
19 On cross-examination, Danner explained differences in some
of the photographs that depicted the same area of N.W.'s
body as the result of different camera angles and different
lighting. Further, he testified he was not aware that the
children had been in a car accident in the week before the
events at issue and defendant did not inform him of a car
accident at the time of their interview.
20 Police officer Josh Whitney testified he responded to
Decatur Memorial Hospital on September 4, 2014, and was
advised by Danner that defendant was suspected of causing
injury to N.W. Whitney contacted defendant by telephone and
told him to come to the hospital. He testified he explained
to defendant that the police needed to talk to him about his
children. According to Whitney, defendant stated he would be
there but never showed up. Police officer Tyler Nottingham
testified he arrested defendant on September 5, 2014.
21 Police officer Kyle Daniels testified he interviewed
defendant on September 5, 2014. Initially, he reminded
defendant of the Miranda warnings, and defendant
agreed to speak to him without having an attorney present.
Daniels testified he recorded his interview and informed
defendant that he was being recorded. The hour-long audio and
video recording was then played for the jury. Daniels agreed
that the recording was complete and accurate "except for
certain edits that were made to remove dead time and to
remove discussion of another incident." Further, he