from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit, Hancock
County, Illinois. Circuit No. 14-CF-41 Honorable Rodney G.
Clark, Judge, Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the
court, with opinion. Justices Carter and McDade concurred in
the judgment and opinion.
SCHMIDT, PRESIDING JUSTICE
1 The State charged defendant, Roger D. Tondini II, with
three counts of aggravated battery. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(a)(1),
(c)(1), (f)(1) (West 2014). Before trial, defendant filed a
motion to qualify an expert witness, which the trial court
denied. The case proceeded to voir dire.
Defendant's attorney made a challenge for cause to remove
juror James Little, asserting his wife Sandy Little was an
employee of the Hancock County State's Attorney's
office prosecuting defendant's case; therefore, James was
presumed biased. The trial court denied the challenge.
Defendant's attorney subsequently used his last
preemptory challenge to remove juror Harry Douglas. At trial,
the jury found defendant guilty of aggravated battery.
Defendant filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the
verdict (judgment n.o.v.) and motion for a new
trial, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in
denying his challenge for cause and motion to qualify an
expert witness. The court denied the motion. Defendant
appeals. We affirm.
2 I. FACTS
3 The State charged defendant with three counts of aggravated
battery following a fight during which he stabbed Amanda
Delgado. He asserted the affirmative defense of self-defense
and sought by motion to qualify Marc MacYoung as an expert
trial witness "to deal with issues concerning use of
force." Defendant attached to the motion a copy of
MacYoung's resume detailing his training and experience.
Mac Young's resume purported that he had worked on
multiple court cases as a knife and violence reconstruction
expert. In particular, MacYoung listed "Illinois v.
R.D. Tondini 2014 (Knife, violence
reconstruction)". In addition, he claimed to have
authored several books and articles on the subjects of
self-defense, martial arts, and violence, performed in
multiple instructional videos on street knife fighting and
self-defense, made various radio and television appearances,
and taught multiple seminars on martial arts and
4 At the hearing on the motion, MacYoung testified that he
teaches "violence dynamics" in which people learn
the parameters of self-defense such as how to recognize
threats, recognize patterns, use appropriate force, and deal
with the aftermath. He also teaches police officers the
professional use of force and how to control subjects without
causing injuries. He instructs the military how to neutralize
opponents. When he assesses court cases, "what I do is
I'll review the case, I take all the evidence that is
presented to me, and I try to assess what is most likely to
have occurred. *** And I compare those with established
patterns of violence that I look at and go, okay, was this
self-defense or not? And if-if it is not self-defense, I will
generally turn the case down."
5 He stated that violence dynamics is not accredited by any
university. Despite claiming he instructed both civilians and
professionals in the use of force, he averred that teaching
people how to handle violence cannot be taught in academia
because it is difficult to simulate placing someone in
danger. He worked in security and at a correctional facility.
He admitted that violence dynamics is not a scientific field
and he received his expertise in the matter through personal
experience, i.e., witnessing violent altercations as
a young child, personal experience, and reading multiple
sources on related topics. He stated that "most people
are really either misinformed or just flat-out ignorant about
how violence happens, especially professional criminal
violence." He admitted that he could not "speak to
the mindset of any individual involved in this
situation" or know what any person believed or felt at
the time of the incident.
6 He did not have a college degree but had attended two
community colleges. Mac Young had never been a police officer
and had never received training at a police academy. He has
no education in sociology, psychology, or biomechanics, and
did not know whether his expertise was generally accepted in
those areas. He also confirmed that he was not a medical
doctor or an expert in deception. MacYoung and two other
individuals created violence dynamics as a field of study. He
denied being an "expert" but explained that he and
his cohorts were "knowledgeable" on the topic and
were continuing to do research in the area.
7 The trial court denied the motion, determining that:
"[I]n the instant case Mr. MacYoung can point to no
source by which he obtained information regarding violence
dynamics. His highest level of completed education is a high
school diploma. He had no post high school studies in the
area of violence dynamics and appears to have, from his
testimony, developed the theory. At one point he indicated
that he had developed it by a solo study in the 1970's
[sic]. He then later indicated that the theory of
violence dynamics was created in conjunction with two
colleagues. *** In creating the theory to which he proposed
to testify, he considered no scientific reports or studies.
The theory's [sic] never been subject to peer
review or accepted in a scientific community.
*** And the motion to qualify Mr. MacYoung as an expert in
the case is denied."
8 Defendant filed a motion to reconsider, claiming that
MacYoung's opinion was not a scientific methodology or
principle and, therefore, the trial court improperly relied
on its conclusions that MacYoung's expertise had not been
subject to peer review or accepted in a scientific community.
At the hearing on the motion to reconsider, the following
"THE COURT: I noticed you mentioned Frye. And Frye
applies only to a scientific principle, process or technique,
or test applying the principle. And didn't Mr. MacYoung
indicate several times while he was testifying that his
testimony was not scientific? MR. ...