from the Circuit Court of the 21st Judicial Circuit, Kankakee
County, Illinois Circuit No. 11-CF-662 Honorable Clark
Erickson, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justice Wright concurred in the judgment and
1 A jury convicted defendant, Tavarius D. Radford, of felony
child endangerment (720 ILCS 5/12-21.6(a) (West 2010)), for
which the trial court sentenced him to 42 months in prison.
Defendant now appeals his conviction. First, defendant argues
that the State's evidence failed to prove his guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt. Second, he contends that the trial
court plainly erred by issuing a child endangerment jury
instruction that misstated the requisite mens rea
or, in the alternative, counsel provided ineffective
assistance by not objecting to the instruction. Finally,
defendant claims the trial court violated his right to a
public trial by partially closing the courtroom during
voir dire and, later in the trial, asking journalism
students in the audience to find a seat or leave the
courtroom. For the following reasons, we affirm
3 The State charged defendant with murder and child
endangerment after his 26-month-old daughter died from
traumatic head injuries on October 26, 2011. Around 10 a.m.
that morning, Kayleigh Reardanz found her daughter, M.R.,
unresponsive in their Bourbonnais apartment. By the time she
reached the hospital, M.R. had fallen into cardiac arrest.
After attempting to resuscitate her, the treating physician
pronounced M.R. dead shortly after 11 a.m. The forensic
pathologist who performed M.R.'s autopsy concluded that
blunt head trauma from child abuse caused her death.
M.R.'s death certificate described her manner of death as
homicide due to child abuse. Defendant's jury trial began
November 18, 2013.
4 Prior to voir dire, the trial court recognized
that, although jury selection is a public proceeding, the
courtroom could not accommodate over 90 potential jurors and
spectators present for the proceedings. The record indicates
that M.R.'s family members and other members of the
public regularly attended pretrial hearings. Due to the
nature of the case, the trial court also noted that the large
congregation of spectators with "emotions running
high" risked contaminating the jury pool.
5 The court observed that the spectators appeared equally
divided between those who supported defendant and those who
did not. In an effort to preserve defendant's public
trial right and proceed with jury selection, the court asked
all spectators, except two who supported defendant and two
who did not, to leave the courtroom. The court let the
spectators decide who would remain in the courtroom. Neither
defendant nor his counsel objected to this partial closure.
6 Kayleigh testified that she, defendant, and M.R. lived in
the Bourbonnais apartment for approximately one month before
M.R.'s death. They lived in the apartment with
Kayleigh's grandparents, Cheryl and David Heather, and
close friends, Kimberly and Echo Brewington. On October 26,
2011, Kayleigh found M.R. unresponsive around 10 a.m. Her
skin was blue in color and very cold. Kayleigh became upset
and yelled for help. She called 911 and handed the phone to
Kimberly. Before the ambulance arrived, David attempted to
resuscitate M.R. by performing CPR. Doctors pronounced M.R.
dead just after 11 a.m.
7 Kayleigh spoke with police at the hospital and again days
after M.R.'s death. During these conversations, Kayleigh
did not disclose M.R.'s prior falls or medical history.
She testified that she believed M.R. died from sudden infant
death syndrome (SIDS), so she did not think to disclose
M.R.'s prior falls to police. After M.R.'s autopsy
revealed that she died from head trauma caused by child
abuse, police interviewed Kayleigh a third time. This time,
she informed police of M.R.'s prior falls and medical
8 Kayleigh testified that M.R. was born in August 2009. Soon
after, M.R. developed a blue sclera and grew to be unusually
large for her age. Her pediatrician believed these symptoms
were consistent with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone
disease) and recommended a blood test and appointment with a
geneticist. When Kayleigh and defendant received M.R.'s
blood test results, they decided not to consult the
9 In January or February 2011, M.R. fell down and hit her
head while defendant babysat her. Defendant took M.R. to the
emergency room; Kayleigh met him there. M.R.'s computed
tomography (CT) scans were negative, and the treating
physician discharged her. Kayleigh noticed a "knot"
on M.R.'s forehead at the hospital.
10 Kayleigh also testified that M.R. "split her eyebrow
open" later in 2011 while Kayleigh's friend babysat.
Then, on Easter in 2011, M.R. slipped in Kayleigh's
mother's bathtub and "busted her chin." M.R.
went to the emergency room after both falls.
11 In September 2011, M.R.'s pediatrician diagnosed her
with mild anemia. On October 13, Kayleigh again took M.R. to
her pediatrician due to a large rash on her chest. Kayleigh
pointed out bite marks on M.R.'s arm where she bit
herself. The pediatrician believed that capillary hemangiomas
caused M.R.'s rash. M.R.'s self-harm stemmed from a
behavioral issue unrelated to the rash. The rash subsided the
next day, so defendant and Kayleigh never took M.R. to
undergo bleeding and bruising panels that her pediatrician
12 On October 22, M.R. fell and hit her head on the pavement
while playing outside with Kayleigh. Kayleigh examined
M.R.'s head but saw no injury; she did not take M.R. to
the hospital. However, she kept M.R. awake for at least one
hour after the fall in case she sustained a concussion.
13 Kayleigh also testified that M.R. fell the day before her
death. She threw herself backwards during a tantrum and hit
her head on the pavement. After the incident, M.R. complained
of head pain. While Kimberly and Kayleigh were styling
M.R.'s hair later that night, M.R. complained of pain
when they touched the back of her head. Cheryl, Kimberly, and
Kayleigh examined M.R.'s head but did not see any
indication of injury. Although Kayleigh stated these events
occurred the day before M.R.'s death, Echo testified that
it occurred on October 23, three days before M.R.'s
14 Kayleigh stated that she worked from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m.
on October 25. When she returned to the apartment after work,
she noticed M.R. whimpering and shaking. Kayleigh asked M.R.
if she was in pain; she indicated that she was not. M.R.
commonly shook when she became impatient, so Kayleigh was not
alarmed by M.R.'s behavior. Kayleigh discovered M.R.
unresponsive the next morning.
15 Cheryl testified that Kayleigh took her to the grocery
store in the early afternoon on October 25. M.R. was asleep
when Cheryl and Kayleigh returned to the apartment before 3
p.m. After quickly getting ready, Kayleigh left for work
around 3 p.m. At around 5 p.m., Cheryl agreed to watch M.R.,
who was still asleep, while defendant and Echo biked to
16 Echo testified that she and defendant were gone for at
least two hours-they biked to a friend's house, purchased
marijuana, and smoked it in a nearby park. M.R. was still
asleep when defendant and Echo returned to the apartment
around 7 p.m.
17 Although defendant did not testify on his own behalf, the
jury viewed his videotaped police interview. Before the jury
viewed the interview, journalism students from a local
university entered the courtroom to observe the proceedings,
specifically the interview. The trial court asked the
students to "find a place to sit" or they would
have to leave the courtroom. The record does not indicate
whether any of the students left the courtroom.
18 During the interview, defendant told police that he tucked
M.R. in for a nap before 3 p.m. on October 25. A few minutes
later, defendant returned to check on M.R. She was playing
with a wooden unicorn plaque instead of sleeping. Defendant
grew angry at M.R.'s insubordination and tucked her in
"kind of roughly." He immediately apologized to
M.R. and told her that he loved her.
19 Defendant told police that he did not believe M.R. could
have been injured when he tucked her in. He speculated that
she may have hit her head on the wooden plaque, but he was
uncertain. However, when defendant demonstrated his action
toward M.R. on a stuffed bear, he told police the
demonstration was less aggressive than how he tucked M.R. in
because he did not want to hurt the bear.
20 Defendant also told police that M.R.'s naps would
typically last between 60 and 90 minutes; on October, 25, she
slept for at least 4 hours. She seemed to have no appetite
and ate very little at dinner after she awoke from her nap.
Defendant also told police that M.R. may have vomited after
dinner, but he could not remember for certain.
21 Two experts presented crucial testimony regarding
M.R.'s manner of death. Dr. Valerie Arangelovich, the
forensic pathologist who performed M.R.'s autopsy, opined
that abuse caused M.R.'s fatal head trauma. Dr. Shaku
Teas, an experienced forensic pathologist, disagreed with
Arangelovich's conclusion and criticized her methods.
Teas found no signs of child abuse in M.R.'s autopsy
22 Specifically, Teas disagreed with Arangelovich's
conclusion that M.R.'s fatal injuries occurred within 24
hours of her death. Arangelovich found subgaleal and subdural
injuries in M.R.'s brain-both experts agreed that the
subdural injuries directly caused M.R.'s death. Both
experts also agreed that the subgaleal injuries were likely
old injuries. Arangelovich found iron when she sampled
M.R.'s subgaleal injuries. ...