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People v. Maas

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

June 5, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RONALD Q. MAAS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 14-CF-3239. Honorable George D. Strickland, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Birkett and Justice Zenoff concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          BURKE JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Police initiated a traffic stop of defendant, Ronald Q. Maas, who was 18 years old and driving a Ford Fusion, with his 15-year-old girlfriend, Elizabeth Zoph, as a passenger. Defendant sped away, and the car crashed and rolled over. The couple fled on foot and stole a Ford F-350 pickup truck. Defendant rammed the vehicle through a police roadblock and was shot in the face by an officer. Defendant sped away and police followed, but the chase ended when defendant crossed into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with a subcompact car, seriously injuring its two occupants, Helen Pecoraro and Richard Clark. The pickup rolled over and caught fire. Defendant abandoned Zoph, who was injured and unconscious, and hid behind a barn of a nearby residence.

         ¶ 2 Police discovered defendant behind the barn, attempting to drive away in a Ford F-550 dump truck. Defendant was arrested and transported to a hospital, where he tested positive for cocaine and heroin and had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.13.

         ¶ 3 After a jury trial, defendant was convicted of aggravated possession of a stolen motor vehicle (aggravated PSMV) (625 ILCS 5/4-103.2(a)(7)(A) (West 2014)), aggravated driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more (aggravated DUI) (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(C) (West 2014)), failure to report a motor vehicle accident involving personal injury (625 ILCS 5/11-401(b) (West 2014)), attempted theft (720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 16-1(a)(1)(C) (West 2014)), two counts of aggravated assault (720 ILCS 5/12-2(c)(8) (West 2014)), and criminal damage to government supported property (720 ILCS 5/21-1.01(a)(1) (West 2014)). The trial court imposed an aggregate sentence of 22 years' imprisonment.

         ¶ 4 On direct appeal, defendant argues that (1) he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of failing to report a motor vehicle accident involving personal injury, (2) the trial court erroneously admitted the hospital's chemical test results as records of emergency medical treatment under section 11-501.4 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Vehicle Code) (625 ILCS 5/11-501.4 (West 2014)), (3) the convictions of both aggravated DUI and aggravated PSMV violate the one-act, one-crime rule; and (4) the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences for aggravated DUI and aggravated PSMV. We affirm.

         ¶ 5 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 6 A. The Traffic Stop

         ¶ 7 At trial, Round Lake police officer Rick Tinsley testified that he observed the Fusion drive past him at a high rate of speed at 10:45 p.m. on November 13, 2014. Officer Tinsley tried to pull over the car. Defendant stopped but refused orders to exit the car and then sped away. Officer Tinsley was eventually directed to stop his pursuit of defendant. Eric Anderson testified that he owned the Fusion and that the car had been stolen.

         ¶ 8 Round Lake police officer Kurtis Schultz corroborated Officer Tinsley's testimony regarding defendant's fleeing the traffic stop. After pursuing defendant for awhile, Officer Schultz was ordered to stop the pursuit. Soon thereafter, Officer Schultz learned that the Fusion had been reported stolen and that it had crashed.

         ¶ 9 Officer Schultz was notified via radio that another vehicle, the F-350 pickup, had been reported stolen near the site of the crash of the Fusion. Elzbieta Jakubiak testified that her husband, Roman, owned the F-350 pickup. She observed someone stealing the pickup around 11:30 p.m. on November 13, 2014, and woke Roman, who corroborated his wife's testimony at trial.

         ¶ 10 Officer Schultz went to the crash site, saw the F-350 pickup, and reported it to dispatch. Officer Schultz activated his emergency lights and siren and attempted to stop the pickup, but defendant sped away. Officer Schultz deactivated his emergency lights and siren, according to department policy not to engage in high speed chases relating to property thefts.

         ¶ 11 Officer Schultz continued to follow the F-350 pickup, which doubled back and almost struck his patrol car. The officer reactivated his lights and siren but deactivated them again after defendant failed to stop. The pickup cut across a lawn.

         ¶ 12 B. The Roadblock

         ¶ 13 The jury saw a video recording of part of the pursuit of the F-350 pickup, including as it approached the police roadblock at an intersection. The police vehicles had their lights activated, and the officers were on foot. Officer Schultz testified that he saw defendant back up near Officer Shane Page. Defendant then pulled forward, pushed aside a red pickup truck, and sped away.

         ¶ 14 David Ashbacher testified that he was driving the red pickup around 11:10 p.m. on November 13, 2014. The F-350 pickup came "at a high rate of speed through the police blockade, and turned left, and then hit [him] head-on." The F-350 pickup pushed back Ashbacher's pickup and then backed up "a significant distance." The F-350 pickup accelerated again, rammed Ashbacher's pickup, and "pushed [it] down the highway." Ashbacher was dazed but remembered the sound of gunfire followed by silence. Ashbacher was diagnosed with a concussion, and his pickup was "totaled."

         ¶ 15 Officer Page testified that, at the roadblock, the F-350 pickup struck the squad car of Lake County sheriff's deputy Michael Kuvales. It also struck and moved Ashbacher's pickup. Officer Page drew a number of diagrams relating to how the F-350 pickup struck various other vehicles.

         ¶ 16 Officer Page testified that, after defendant backed into Deputy Kuvales' vehicle, defendant started to drive straight toward Officer Page. Defendant did not heed Officer Page's order to stop. Officer Page ran toward the side of the F-350 pickup and fired two shots from his pistol. The F-350 pickup struck Asherbach's pickup again. Officer Page knew that defendant had been wounded by his gunshots. Officer Page saw the reverse lights of the F-350 pickup and jumped over the guardrail. Officer Page believed that defendant intended to harm or kill him and the other officers.

         ¶ 17 Deputy Kuvales corroborated Officer Page's testimony. Deputy Kuvales pursued the F-350 pickup and attempted to pull it over by activating his lights and siren. Defendant did not pull over. Deputy Kuvales was traveling 80 miles per hour, but defendant was pulling away from him.

         ¶ 18 The jury was shown a surveillance video of an attempt to pull over defendant. Deputy Kuvales observed the F-350 pickup cross over the center line and drive directly toward a marked Lake Villa squad car that had its emergency lights activated. The squad car had to brake and swerve to avoid being struck. Deputy Kuvales and other officers positioned their cars at an intersection to protect civilians. He was forced to move his car from defendant's path to avoid being struck. Deputy Kuvales also saw Officer Sciarrone move his vehicle to avoid being struck. Deputy Kuvales observed the F-350 pickup strike Ashbacher's pickup. The deputy identified pictures of the damage to his squad car.

         ¶ 19 Deputy Kuvales was forced to scramble out of his squad car with the aid of another officer, because the F-350's reverse lights came on and he believed that defendant would try to strike his squad car again. Deputy Kuvales observed the F-350 pickup hit Ashbacher's pickup a third time and push it aside as the F-350 pickup accelerated away from the intersection.

         ¶ 20 C. The Collision With Pecoraro and Clark

         ¶ 21 Pecoraro and Clark were on their way to pick up her daughter from a hospital in Libertyville on the night of November 13, 2014. Clark was driving Pecoraro's Chevy Spark, a subcompact car. Traveling south, she suddenly saw the headlights of a truck approaching them head-on in their lane. Pecoraro testified that they were hit, her car spun around, and she was very sore. She asked Clark if he was okay and he said "no." Pecoraro stepped out of the car, but Clark was pinned inside. The next thing Pecoraro remembered was waking up in a health care facility in Libertyville. She did not remember first being at a hospital.

         ¶ 22 Pecoraro testified that her sternum, some ribs, and both feet were broken. She was confined to a wheelchair and needed diapers for four months. Two screws were placed into her toes, and she required extensive physical therapy. Pecoraro did not see Clark for several days. She had to purchase and move into a different home because she and Clark could no longer climb stairs. She could no longer work as a housekeeper.

         ¶ 23 Clark corroborated Pecoraro's description of the collision. He had worked as a foreman for a structural steel fabricator shop for 17 years but had been unemployed since the collision. Clark testified that he woke up in a hospital "with everything broken." Among his 27 broken bones were his jaw, eye socket, nose, arms, sternum, and multiple ribs. His leg "popped out" from the left side, and his right foot was crushed under the gas pedal. Clark noted scars on his jaw, over both eyes, on both arms, and on his left knee. He also had a plate with 13 screws in his left arm. His "collar" was "severed in half," and he had a plate and screws there as well. Clark underwent five surgeries on his right foot. He could not move his toes, and screws held his foot together. Clark incurred more than $400, 000 in medical expenses.

         ¶ 24 Officer Eric McNeil testified that he responded to the incidents "occurring throughout the county." Officer McNeil joined the roadblock and activated his emergency lights. The F-350 pickup approached and did not stop. Officer McNeil and an officer in another vehicle traveled 80 miles per hour in pursuit of the F-350 pickup, but the truck was pulling away from them.

         ¶ 25 The F-350 pickup accelerated toward a curve in the road, and the officers decelerated as they approached. Officer McNeil recalled passing through the curve and driving through a cloud of debris and smoke. As he cleared the debris, Officer McNeil saw the F-350 pickup upside down with the engine on fire. The Spark was off to the side and appeared heavily damaged.

         ¶ 26 Officer McNeil helped Zoph crawl from the F-350 pickup. Pieces of both vehicles were strewn on the road. Clark had to be ...


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