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People v. Ramsey

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

June 12, 2018

RUNALDO D. RAMSEY, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County No. 12-CF-1197 Honorable Robert G. Kleeman, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE HUTCHINSON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Jorgensen and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 Defendant, Runaldo D. Ramsey, appeals his convictions and sentences for Class X home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(2), (c) (West 2010)) and two counts of Class 3 aggravated battery (id. § 12-3.05(a)(1), (f)(1), (h)). He contends that the evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty of home invasion beyond a reasonable doubt, that he was denied his right to counsel of his choice, and that he was wrongly sentenced to an extended term for aggravated battery. We affirm the convictions but modify the sentence for aggravated battery.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Defendant was indicted in July 2012 and released on bond. Early on, his attorney sought to withdraw, stating that he had not spoken to defendant for a while and had tried to call him. Defendant then appeared in court late and told the court that he had hired new counsel. He was given a two-week continuance. In June 2013, his counsel withdrew, and the public defender was appointed. In July 2013, defendant failed to appear at a status hearing, and it was noted that he had previously been late for hearings. After further continuances, the case was set for a jury trial on July 29, 2014. On July 24, 2014, attorney Ted Gailan sought to file an appearance, but the court denied the request because defendant failed to appear and trial was already set. On July 29, 2014, trial was continued because the court had a scheduling conflict, and defendant was allowed to seek to retain substitute counsel. However, defendant did not do so. After several more continuances, trial was set for August 24, 2015. During that time, defendant failed to appear at least once.

         ¶ 4 On August 24, 2015, defendant waived a jury trial, and the case was held over to the next day for a bench trial. The next day, defendant's public defender told the court that defendant wanted a private attorney, "Mr. Kayne, " to represent him. The public defender stated that Kayne informed him that he would be unable to go to trial that day, that it was unlikely that the court would grant a continuance, but that, if the court did so, Kayne could go to trial in two weeks. The State objected, arguing that the request was a dilatory tactic, and the public defender replied that Kayne said without reservation that he was willing and able to come into the case. The court denied the request, stating that its ruling would have been different if made a week earlier but that it was now "59 minutes past the eleventh hour, " there were witnesses in the hallway, and the court would not inconvenience the witnesses and the State.

         ¶ 5 Trial began, and after a recess defendant appeared 54 minutes late and was admonished that, if he were late again, a warrant would issue. The court then revisited the issue of defendant's request to substitute counsel, stating that it wanted to clarify the matter for the record. The court had since reviewed a case on the issue and provided it to counsel. Defense counsel and the State both made brief statements. The State noted that defendant had previously retained multiple attorneys, and it argued that defendant was trying to delay trial. The court observed that defendant had been represented by several different attorneys and that the case had been continued due to a scheduling conflict that gave defendant additional time to retain private counsel, but none was retained. The court also found that the public defender had been on the case for some time and that Kayne was not ready to make an unconditional appearance. The court indicated that it was perhaps having different thoughts on whether defendant subjectively was trying to delay trial but that, even if defendant did not subjectively intend to be dilatory, granting a continuance on the day of trial would unduly interfere with the administration of justice.

         ¶ 6 At trial, Steven Stanley testified that, on June 8, 2012, he lived in a building with two apartments. Stanley lived on the first floor, and his landlord lived on the second floor. Stanley was required to enter his apartment through the back door of the building, which opened into a laundry room. From there, a door opened into Stanley's apartment. Another door led to a set of stairs leading to his landlord's apartment. Other than passing through to his apartment, Stanley was not allowed to use the laundry room. He was not allowed to wash his clothes there and would not leave boots or an umbrella there. When asked if his living area started when he set foot inside of the exterior door, Stanley said "[n]o." When asked if he was allowed to keep other people out of the laundry room, he replied, "[i]f the outside door is locked, yes, " but "[i]f the door is open, they are going to walk in." He then agreed that, whether the door was locked or not, he had a right to tell people that they could not come in. He later stated that he used the laundry room only as a hallway to enter his apartment. Multiple times during trial, Stanley referred to the interior door that opened to his apartment from the laundry room as his back door. However, he also referred to the exterior door as the back door on several occasions.

         ¶ 7 On June 28, 2012, between 11:30 p.m. and midnight, defendant and his girlfriend, Tuwanda, came to Stanley's apartment and banged on the window. Stanley's ex-girlfriend, Colleen, was Tuwanda's friend, and Stanley had previously met defendant. Stanley let defendant and Tuwanda inside. Tuwanda then said that she would wait in the car and left. Defendant asked Stanley if he had defendant's money. Stanley said that he did not owe defendant money. Defendant repeated his request and said that Colleen owed him $50 and that Stanley was her "money man." Defendant continued to repeat that he wanted his money, and Stanley reached into his wallet and gave defendant $20, telling him that that was all he had. Defendant persisted in asking for money, appeared agitated, and spit in Stanley's face. Stanley then gently pushed defendant, and defendant pushed him back, causing him to fly across the kitchen and hit his head on the kitchen cabinet. When Stanley got up, defendant hit him on the ear with a beer bottle.

         ¶ 8 Stanley said that he was calling the police and ran to the bedroom for his phone. As he was dialing, defendant tackled him into a television and began strangling him. Stanley hit defendant in the ribs, and defendant let him go and left the bedroom. Stanley picked up his phone, which in the scuffle had gotten about 20 numbers entered on it. He began erasing the numbers so that he could dial 911. He also entered his kitchen to lock the interior door. As he approached the door, defendant entered with a garden weeder in his hand. Defendant tried to stab Stanley in the face and chest with the weeder, and its handle split down the middle. Defendant then left the apartment again and returned with a second, "much sharper" garden weeder with a "V-shaped blade." Using the weeder, defendant stabbed Stanley multiple times and told Stanley that he was a dead man if he called the police. Defendant then left. The weeders had been stored outside the building, next to the exterior door. Exhibit No. 27 shows a weeder leaning against the building, within an arm's reach of the door. A person likely could retrieve it without fully exiting the building.

         ¶ 9 Stanley called 911 and went to the hospital, where he was treated for multiple injuries. Stanley identified defendant from a photo lineup. The investigating officer testified at trial about the crime scene and took the picture in exhibit No. 27. During closing arguments, the State suggested that defendant must have left the weeder in that position when he went outside and got the second weeder.

         ¶ 10 The defense moved for a directed finding, arguing that the State failed to prove the offense of home invasion because the laundry room was part of Stanley's dwelling and the State failed to prove that defendant exited and reentered after his initial authorized entry. The court denied the motion, noting circumstantial evidence that defendant left the building entirely and noting that the laundry room was a common area. The defense rested without providing evidence.

         ¶ 11 The court found defendant guilty, finding that, based on exhibit No. 27, it was persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant twice left the building in its entirety through the outside door, recovered a weapon, and made an unauthorized entry back into the building. Thus, the court stated that it found an ...

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