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People v. Morocho

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District

June 10, 2019

WILSON MOROCHO, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal Division. No. 14 CR 16584 Honorable Matthew E. Coghlan, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE GRIFFIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Mikva and Justice Pierce concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 After a bench trial, defendant Wilson Morocho was convicted of three counts of aggravated stalking. 720 ILCS 5/12-7.4(a)(1) (West 2014). The trial court merged the offenses and sentenced defendant to four years in prison. On appeal, defendant challenges the facial constitutionality of the offense upon which his conviction was predicated.

         ¶ 2 Defendant's conviction was predicated upon a violation of section 12-7.3(a)(2) of the Criminal Code of 2012 (Stalking Statute) (720 ILCS 5/12-7.3(a)(2) (West 2014)), which defines the offense of stalking as follows: a person commits stalking when he or she knowingly "threatens" a specific person two or more times and knows or should know the threats would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress. The offense is aggravated if the defendant causes bodily harm to the victim. 720 ILCS 5/12-7.4(a)(1) (West 2014).

         ¶ 3 Defendant argues that subsection (a)(2) is overbroad in violation of the first amendment (U.S. Const., amend. I) and criminalizes wholly innocent conduct in contravention of the guarantees of substantive due process. For the following reasons, we agree and find subsection (a)(2) facially overbroad and unconstitutional.

         ¶ 4 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 On August 25, 2014, Beatriz Avila was working the morning shift at a franchise in the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. Throughout her shift she received a series of text messages from defendant, the father of her son. After she viewed a message and burst into tears, the victim's coworkers asked her what was wrong. What she told them prompted one of her coworkers to contact an Illinois State Police officer.

         ¶ 6 The victim was met by an officer and escorted to the second floor of the Thompson Center to file a police report. She alleged in the report that defendant sent her threatening text messages. After the report was filed, Illinois State Police officers told the victim to text defendant and ask him to come to her workplace. She sent the text and defendant showed up. He was immediately arrested.

         ¶ 7 Upon arrest, police recovered a knife wrapped in aluminum foil from defendant's person. They took pictures of the text messages defendant sent to the victim and photographed a bruise on her arm. Defendant waived his Miranda rights (see Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)) and participated in a police interview.

         ¶ 8 Defendant confessed verbally and in writing to sending the threatening text messages to the victim on August 25, 2014, and possessing a knife on his person at the time of his arrest. He stated, however, that he did not intend to harm the victim.

         ¶ 9 Defendant was charged with three counts of aggravated stalking (720 ILCS 5/12-7.4(a)(1) (West 2014)) and 21 other offenses of which he was acquitted. We discuss here only the facts that relate to the relevant aggravated stalking (id.) offenses.

         ¶ 10 Defendant waived his right to a jury, and the parties tried the case before a judge. The State called the victim as its first witness. She testified that defendant sent her a series of threatening text messages in Spanish on August 25, 2014. The State introduced into evidence a series of photographs of the victim's cell phone screen that depicted text messages sent by defendant to the victim on the date in question.

         ¶ 11 One of the photographs showed defendant texted the victim, "[o]h, good, I have three knives. Let's see who I can kill in your house, hon." When the victim sent a message asking defendant where he was, defendant replied, "[a]t your job[.] But You are not coming out *** where are you?"

         ¶ 12 Another photograph showed that defendant sent a message telling the victim that her "mom arrived from work." When the victim messaged defendant and asked "[h]ow do you know that she arrived," he replied, "I know a lot of things. Will you go to my house today *** Or do you want problems with you father *** [s]o what, Hon, do you want problems or not."

         ¶ 13 The State also introduced into evidence a photograph defendant texted to the victim that depicted a knife wrapped in aluminum foil in his waistband. Defendant wrote below the photograph, "Yes, my love."

         ¶ 14 The victim further testified that defendant bruised her arm, on August 21, 2016, when he tried to pull her into a room in his house. She identified a photograph of ...

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