It is crucial to retain an experienced attorney to defend you if you’re charged with domestic battery or aggravated domestic battery in Illinois. In a recent Illinois appellate case, the defendant was convicted of aggravated domestic battery after a bench trial. The couple had met in 2011 and started an intimate relationship. The woman gave birth to their child. She had no permanent place of residence, so she stayed with the defendant at his house. They frequently argued, which caused her to leave for a certain period before coming back.
In 2012, during a fight, the defendant threatened to kill her and put her in a chokehold. Their son was in a car seat on the floor. The mother flipped the defendant onto the floor, but he kept choking her for about two minutes until she had to stop. She left and called the cops, but she didn’t want medical treatment when an officer offered to call an ambulance. She filed an order of protection against the defendant, but she had no way to go back to court to make sure the order continued to be in effect. After that, she lost custody of the child.
The couple continued to argue. On the last occasion, the defendant stabbed the victim. She didn’t realize she’d been stabbed until she saw the blood, and then she panicked. He told her to run, and she did. She passed out on the street, and when she woke, the police were there and asked who’d stabbed her. She had to have an emergency surgery to fix the wound.
At the bench trial, she was asked if she’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The trial court sustained the prosecution’s objection. In a side bar, the defense attorney argued that she’d stabbed herself, and proving she’d been treated for bipolar disorder using her medical records would show her state of mind and establish their theory.
On cross-examination, the victim acknowledged the defendant’s deformities and testified that the defendant could use a knife to cut vegetables for dinners. There was a video taken from a camera next to their house. She was shown holding a jacket, leaving the house after being stabbed. She went back toward the house but then came back, holding two jackets. She admitted she’d drunk alcohol and smoked pot that day. Minutes later, the defendant was shown on the video leaving his house and getting into his cousin’s car, walking with a limp. A genetic profile was taken from blood found on the sidewalk, and it matched the victim.
The defendant was sentenced to five years in prison and four years of mandatory supervised release. He appealed, arguing the prosecution hadn’t shown he was guilty of aggravated domestic battery beyond a reasonable doubt. He argued that he was severely deformed in his hands and arms and therefore was not strong enough or flexible enough to stab the victim. He asked for a new trial, arguing that the trial court had rejected his defense before allowing his experts to testify. He also argued he was denied the right to fully defend himself because the victim’s mental health records weren’t submitted.
After reviewing her mental health records, however, the trial court had not found them relevant. It noted that the records were from 2009 and based on an event that happened four years before the allegations before the court.
The appellate court noted that a doctor had testified that it was possible the wound was self-inflicted, but it also could have been inflicted by somebody else. A physical therapist testified the defendant didn’t have a significant range of motion or strength in the stabbing hand, and it was unlikely the defendant could raise his arm to stab the victim or choke someone. However, she hadn’t reviewed prior medical records and didn’t know the defendant could cut vegetables and perform other tasks.
The appellate court explained that the physical therapist hadn’t concluded that it was impossible that the defendant stabbed the victim. The trial court had found the victim’s testimony more credible than the defendant’s testimony, and it also commented the victim didn’t have the intelligence to frame the defendant for the stabbing. The lower court’s ruling was affirmed.
Although this defendant didn’t prevail, you should not assume that your defense strategy will be similarly unsuccessful. James Dimeas is an award-winning Chicago domestic violence attorney and author with more than 24 years of experience aggressively representing his clients in Domestic Battery and Violation of Order of Protection cases. If you have a Domestic Battery or Violation of Order of Protection case in Illinois, contact me in Cook (312-229-5500), DuPage and Kane (630-504-2096), or Lake (847-696-6458) County for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.
More Blog Posts:
Can I Be Guilty of Domestic Battery If I Didn’t Hit Anyone, January 29, 2017
The Kane County Domestic Diversion Program, December 1, 2016