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People v. Grant

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

July 11, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
WILLIAM GRANT, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois. Circuit No. 16-CF-264 The Honorable John P. Vespa, Judge, presiding.

          JAMES E. CHADD, PETER A. CARUSONA, AND MATTHEW LEMKE, OF STATE APPELLATE DEFENDER'S OFFICE, OF OTTAWA, FOR APPELLANT.

          JERRY BRADY, STATE'S ATTORNEY, OF PEORIA (PATRICK DELFINO, THOMAS D. ARADO, AND RICHARD T. LEONARD, OF STATE'S ATTORNEYS APPELLATE PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE, OF COUNSEL), FOR THE PEOPLE.

          CARTER JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Schmidt and Justice Lytton concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          CARTER JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 After a jury trial, defendant, William Grant, was convicted of home invasion (720 ILCS 5/19-6(a)(1) (West 2016)) and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence, arguing that the trial court erred in (1) granting the State's midtrial request to remove the lone African American juror from the jury for cause and (2) considering a fact inherent in the crime of which defendant was convicted as a factor in aggravation in defendant's sentencing. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 In April 2016, defendant, who is African American, was charged with home invasion (two counts), attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault, and certain other related offenses for allegedly breaking into a home in Peoria, Illinois, and attempting to sexually assault a person who was staying at the residence. Four months later, in August 2016, defendant's case proceeded to a jury trial. The jury was selected with one African American juror, Juror B., on the jury.

         ¶ 4 Following opening statements, outside the presence of the jury, the trial court noted that two of the jurors were starting to fall asleep. The trial court stated:

"Okay. I'm gonna make a record of this then too. It's 10:00 in the morning. At 9:40, less than one half an hour of-of time being on the-being in the jury box I noticed a juror starting to nod off, starting to fall asleep, and I told the lawyers about it, indicated which juror it is, and it is Juror [B.].
And I see his eyelids going more and more towards closing, and as-as that's happening, his head starts lowering. That whole thing is only maybe five seconds, and I cannot say that he ever fell asleep.
And, in fact, I don't think he did ever fall asleep, but I'm thinking at 9:30 in the morning he's like that, it worries me then about his ability to stay awake the entire morning.
And by the way, the juror sitting right in front [Juror C] was doing the same thing, but nowhere near as much as [Juror B.] so I'm gonna be keeping my eye on-on both of them."

         ¶ 5 After the testimony of the State's first witness, the alleged victim of the attempted sexual assault, the trial court took a recess. Outside the presence of the jury, the prosecutor informed the trial court that he had asked a victim witness advocate who was employed by the Peoria County State's Attorney's Office to watch Juror B. during the victim's testimony. According to the prosecutor, the advocate indicated that Juror B. was sleeping for a large and significant portion of the victim's testimony. The trial court stated that it had been "keeping an eye" on Juror B. during the testimony but it had not noticed him sleeping. The advocate told the trial court that Juror B. was nodding off and that he had lowered his head down and jolted awake during the testimony. The advocate stated further that Juror B.'s tablet had slid off his lap onto the floor two or three times and had attracted the attention of other jurors. Defendant's attorney indicated that he did not see Juror B.'s conduct because he was paying attention to the witness and commented that, before the trial court considered removing Juror B., it was important for the court to actually establish that Juror B. was sleeping. The trial court stated repeatedly that it had complete faith in the advocate's credibility and noted that there easily could have been times where Juror B. had done what the advocate claimed but the trial court had not seen it because the trial court was watching the witness testify a lot of the time and was also watching the lawyers and all of the jurors. The trial court checked to see if the courtroom security cameras had recorded the complained-of conduct but was told that the security cameras did not record the jurors. After some further discussion, the trial court found that Juror B. had been sleeping.

         ¶ 6 On the State's motion and over defendant's objection, the trial court dismissed Juror B. from the jury for cause. Defendant moved for a mistrial, and the trial court denied that request. In denying defendant's request for a mistrial, the trial court stated that, based upon its own observations coupled with the observations of the advocate, ...


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