People v. Munz

Decision Date23 October 2018
Docket NumberNo. 2-16-0159,2-16-0159
Citation2018 IL App (2d) 160159 -U
PartiesTHE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. DONALD MUNZ, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

NOTICE: This order was filed under Supreme Court Rule 23 and may not be cited as precedent by any party except in the limited circumstances allowed under Rule 23(e)(1).

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County.

No. 13-CF-1365

Honorable Randy Wilt, Judge, Presiding.

JUSTICE BIRKETT delivered the judgment of the court.

Justices Hutchinson and Jorgensen concurred in the judgment.

ORDER

¶ 1 Held: We upheld defendant's conviction for stalking on two constitutional portions of the stalking statute that our supreme court did not strike down in People v. Releford, 2017 IL 121094, specifically, that defendant both monitored and engaged in non-consensual contact with the victim when he knew or should have known that his conduct caused the victim emotional distress. Also, the trial court properly allowed in evidence of defendant's prior bad acts as relevant to show his motive in stalking his current victim. Finally, the defense counsel's decision to agree with the State to admit evidence of the victim's no-contact order against defendant was trial strategy and not error. Therefore, we did not need to address defendant's arguments of plain error or ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, we affirmed the trial court.

¶ 2 After a jury trial, defendant, Donald Munz, was found guilty of stalking. 720 ILCS 5/12- 7.3(a)(2) (West 2012). He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, which was later reduced to a two-and-a-half year term. On appeal, defendant argues: (1) his conviction should be vacated since our supreme court recently found that the section of the stalking statute he was convicted under was unconstitutional in People v. Releford, 2017 IL 121094; (2) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of his prior bad acts when the evidence was only offered to show that he had a propensity to commit stalking; and (3) the trial court erred in admitting evidence that the victim subsequently obtained a civil no-contact order against him where such evidence was not relevant to the elements of stalking. For the following reasons we affirm.

¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 4 The record reflects that defendant was charged with two counts of stalking. Count one charged defendant with stalking pursuant to section 12-7.3(a)(2) of the Criminal Code of 2012 (Code):

"in that the defendant knowingly engaged in a course of conduct directed at a specific person and knew or should have known that this course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to suffer other emotional distress, in that defendant left notes on the vehicle of Elizabeth Wassner and sent harassing emails and messages to Elizabeth Wassner***." 720 ILCS 5/12-7.3(a)(2) (West 2012).

¶ 5 In count two defendant was charged with stalking based upon the violation of a no-contact order in that he made indirect contact with Elizabeth Wassner after a no-contact order had been entered, in violation of section 21/125 of the Stalking NO Contact Order Act. 720 ILCS 21/125 (West 2012).

¶ 6 Prior to trial the State filed a motion in limine to present evidence of prior bad acts at defendant's trial. Specifically, the State wanted evidence of defendant's unwanted contact withanother woman, Laura Allman, admitted at trial. Over defendant's objection, the trial court granted the State's motion. Specifically, it found that the evidence of prior bad acts was highly relevant because it was showed that when defendant felt he had somehow been wronged, he did things to retaliate.

¶ 7 On the State's motion to nolle pross, the trial court dismissed the violation of the no-contact order charge. Based upon that dismissal, defendant initially moved to prevent the State from presenting evidence that a no-contact order was issued to Wassner. The State argued that the no-contact order was relevant: (1) to show the lengths that the victim went to in order to protect herself from defendant's conduct; and (2) because defendant violated the no-contact order after it was entered. Defense counsel later stated that he wanted to use the evidence of Wassner's no-contact order because he wanted to impeach the victim's testimony with her typewritten addendum that she filed in support of her request for an order of protection. For that reason, defense counsel agreed that the State could present such evidence as long as it was not referred to as a "no stalking order."

¶ 8 At trial, Elizabeth Wassner testified that in April 2013 both she and defendant were members of a running club at the Rockford YMCA. While running with the group, Wassner told defendant that she worked for the City of Rockford. However, she never gave him information regarding which building she worked in and she did not give him her phone number or email address.

¶ 9 While they were running defendant asked her out on a date. Wassner did not want to hurt defendant's feelings so she just changed the subject. On another occasion defendant approached Wassner and gave her his phone number while she was talking to a male friend. About a week later, defendant again asked her out for a date and she told him that she was seeing someone else.

Defendant responded by becoming very angry and said, "I think that's a bunch of bullshit." Wassner said to him, "[w]ell, I'm sorry you feel that way, but it's not." Defendant then said, "You're lying. I don't think you're telling the truth. You're not seeing anyone." Then instead of going running he just stormed off and left the YMCA. Later, Wassner found an internet article on her car entitled, "Being a Jerk is Contagious." About a week after that incident Wassner was with her 10-year-old daughter at the YMCA when defendant approached her and apologized.

¶ 10 Wassner testified that she subsequently found a letter on her car from defendant in which he asked her to give his contact information to any of her girlfriends who might be interested in dating him. He also left Wassner a packet of information about future races along with his name, phone number and email address. The packet was left on her car, which was parked at her place of employment at that time. Again, Wassner had never told defendant the exact location where she worked.

¶ 11 On April 17, 2013, Wassner was at her office when she received an email from defendant that read, "[i]s this the same Liz that goes for group runs at the Y at 5:30? Didn't see you Tues night." Wassner was shocked that she had received an email from defendant at work because she had not given him her work email address. She responded to the email and said, "I don't appreciate you emailing me at work. I have told you that I'm not interested, and after receiving your notes on my car and now this email, I don't want to be friends either. Please leave me alone and do not talk to me in front of my child either."

¶ 12 The next day, defendant emailed her again and said that he would not talk to her if she did not talk to him and asked if that was a deal. Wassner responded and said it was a deal and that she never would have said yes to going out with him. Defendant replied and said, "[t]hatcomes from someone [who] had their house foreclosed on in 9/2012, right!" Wassner testified that she had a house that had been subject to foreclosure proceedings. She had never told defendant about the foreclosure and at that time none of her friends that she ran with at the YMCA knew about the foreclosure, either. Defendant left two voice messages around 6:00 a.m. the next morning at Wassner's work. In both voicemails he asked if Wassner if she had received his email.

¶ 13 A week or two after those email exchanges, Wassner's longtime neighbor and babysitter contacted Wassner because she found a piece of paper taped to a pole in Rockford that contained information about the foreclosure of Wassner's house. Wassner described the paper as something that was printed online and that had Wassner's name, the name of the bank that had foreclosed on her property and the foreclosure order on it. On the bottom of the paper Wassner's name was written in large letters in black marker. Later, her ex-husband received an envelope in his mailbox with her name and his address on the front of it. In the envelope was the same foreclosure information about Wassner's house. Wassner had never resided with her ex-husband at that house.

¶ 14 On May 1, 2013, Wassner sought and received a court order prohibiting defendant from having any contact with her. The next day, defendant was personally served with that order by Detective Mary Ogden. After the no-contact order was issued Wassner did not see any foreclosure fliers until she had to go back into court and extend the no-contact order. After the trial court extended that order, the mother of a girl in Wassner's daughter's class contacted Wassner one morning and said that there was a hot pink colored flier posted on a pole at Spring Creek and Spring Book Roads. The mother told Wassner that she was driving to school and herdaughter saw something that had Wassner's name on it. The mother dropped off her daughter at school and drove back and took it down.

¶ 15 Wassner subsequently found three other fliers on poles. A running friend found a couple more fliers and three hot pink fliers were found sitting on a table in the foyer of the YMCA. All the fliers had Wassner's foreclosure information on them. Wassner identified the fliers, which had "foreclosure" written at the top and her name at the bottom of the fliers. Her handwritten name and the word "foreclosure" were written much larger than the other printed information. Wassner said that she was shocked and humiliated by the foreclosure fliers that had been posted all around town. There was even one flier that was not collected because it was on the marathon route. People were running the marathon so they did not stop to take it down.

¶ 16 Wassner testified...

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