People v. Radford

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Citation181 N.E.3d 78,450 Ill.Dec. 78,2020 IL 123975
Docket NumberDocket No. 123975
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Tavarius D. RADFORD, Appellant.
Decision Date18 June 2020

2020 IL 123975
181 N.E.3d 78
450 Ill.Dec.

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
Tavarius D. RADFORD, Appellant.

Docket No. 123975

Supreme Court of Illinois.

Opinion filed June 18, 2020
Rehearing denied September 28, 2020

181 N.E.3d 80

James E. Chadd, State Appellate Defender, Peter A. Carusona, Deputy Defender, and Steven Varel, Assistant Appellate Defender, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, of Ottawa, for appellant.

Kwame Raoul, Attorney General, of Springfield (Jane Elinor Notz, Solicitor General, and Michael M. Glick and Gopi Kashyap, Assistant Attorneys General, of Chicago, of counsel), for the People.


JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

450 Ill.Dec. 80

¶ 1 Following the death of his 26-month-old daughter, M.R., from traumatic brain injuries, defendant Tavarius D. Radford was found guilty of endangering the life or health of a child ( 720 ILCS 5/12-21.6(a) (West 2010)) after a jury trial in the circuit court of Kankakee County. On appeal, defendant's conviction and sentence were affirmed. 2018 IL App (3d) 140404, 427 Ill.Dec. 1, 117 N.E.3d 386. The appellate court found, inter alia , that the trial court did not violate his right to a public trial by partially closing the courtroom during jury selection and that no error occurred when the jury was instructed. Id. ¶¶ 47, 60. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the appellate court.


¶ 3 On December 5, 2011, defendant was charged by indictment with first degree murder ( 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 2010)) and endangering the life or health of a child (id. § 12-21.6(a) ).

¶ 4 Two years later, this case proceeded to a jury trial. On November 18 and 19, 2013, jury selection occurred. Prior to voir dire , the trial court recognized that jury selection is a public proceeding but that the courtroom could not accommodate all the potential jurors and spectators present for the proceeding.1 The trial court explained:

"What I'm go[ing to] do during jury selection, it's go[ing to] be difficult—it's a public proceeding, jury selection, but here's the problem. There's only so many seats * * *. * * * [The] courtroom appears to be divided * * * between perhaps people here in support of the defendant and individuals here more or less * * * not in support of the defendant, and I will allow two individuals from the victim's family and two individuals from the defendant's family to be present during jury selection and there may not even be room for you, but you cannot talk to any particular * * * jurors. You'll have to sit at the back of the courtroom, not as an insult to you, but in recognition of the fact that we are about to go into jury selection and the emphasis is going to be on the jurors. Okay?

Also, if you are behind the jurors * * * there's less risk that you might inadvertently * * * you wouldn't have
181 N.E.3d 81
450 Ill.Dec. 81
like some sort of facial expression to something that's said that could potentially influence the jurors. We don't want that to happen. Okay?

* * * I want to commend everybody in the courtroom * * * for your patience * * * and your demeanor, and I'm go[ing to] ask that throughout the trial which could involve, obviously, considering the nature of the case emotions running high. I'm go[ing to] appreciate it if you remember that it's inappropriate to display those emotions because that can have an [e]ffect on the jury and it can * * * affect * * * whether or not the trial is ultimately able to even take place or whether or not a mistrial would have to occur, and nobody wants to see that happen. Okay?

So at this time we're go[ing to] bring the jurors up. I am going to clear the courtroom with the exception of the two people from each side * * *."

¶ 5 Neither party objected to the trial court's approach. Both parties complied with the trial court's request and chose the two family members who were allowed to remain in the courtroom while the jury was selected.

¶ 6 On the second day of jury selection, before bringing out the second panel of prospective jurors, the trial court reminded the members of the public who were present of its prior decision to permit only two individuals associated with each side to sit in the courtroom.

¶ 7 The trial court also informed the parties and the prospective jurors of the following:

"I do want to point out, ladies and gentlemen, that this is a case in which * * * a request for media coverage was granted and you may or may not notice that there is a camera in the courtroom. Under the rules in which the media have—are allowed to film and photograph proceedings, jurors are not permitted to be photographed or filmed. Okay. Just want you to know that."2

¶ 8 After jury selection was completed, the trial court informed the jurors again of its decision to grant media coverage. The court allowed both family members and members of the general public to be present in the courtroom for the remainder of the proceedings.

¶ 9 The trial evidence showed that on October 26, 2011, at approximately 10 a.m., Kayleigh Reardanz found her daughter, M.R., unresponsive in the apartment that she and defendant shared with Cheryl and David Heather and Kimberly and Echo Brewington. David attempted unsuccessfully to resuscitate M.R. while they waited for an ambulance. At the hospital, M.R. was pronounced dead. Dr. Valerie Arangelovich, a forensic pathologist, performed the autopsy. She opined that M.R.'s death was caused by cerebral injury due to blunt head trauma from child abuse.

¶ 10 In early 2011, M.R. had fallen and hit her head while defendant was babysitting. He took M.R. to the emergency room. M.R.'s CAT scans were negative, and she was discharged. Kayleigh testified that weeks later, while her friend was babysitting, M.R. fell and "split her eyebrow open." Thereafter, in April 2011, M.R.

181 N.E.3d 82
450 Ill.Dec. 82

slipped in Kayleigh's mother's bathtub and "busted her chin." Each time, M.R. was taken to the hospital for medical treatment.

¶ 11 On October 22, 2011, M.R. and Kayleigh were outside playing when M.R. fell and hit her head on the pavement. She examined M.R.'s head but saw no injury. Kayleigh further testified of a second fall prior to M.R.'s death. During a tantrum, M.R. threw herself backward and hit her head on the parking lot pavement. Kayleigh testified that while M.R. was later getting her hair styled, she complained of pain in the back of her head. She examined M.R.'s head but did not see any sign of injury. Kayleigh testified that the second fall occurred the day prior to M.R.'s death but later testified that she was uncertain as to the exact date, while Echo testified that it was three days prior to the death.

¶ 12 Defendant was 17 years old at the time of M.R.'s death. He did not testify at trial. The jury, however, viewed his videotaped police interview. He told police that on the afternoon of October 25, 2011, he tucked M.R. into a daybed to take a nap. A few minutes later he checked on her and discovered that, instead of sleeping, she was playing with a wooden unicorn plaque. Defendant was upset that she was not sleeping and tucked her back into bed. He grabbed her by the arms and pushed her from a sitting position onto her back. He speculated that she may have hit her head on the wooden plaque. Using a stuffed bear, defendant demonstrated for police how he forcefully tucked her back into bed. He told police that the demonstration was less aggressive than how he actually tucked M.R. back into bed.

¶ 13 Kayleigh testified that she returned home from work around 11 p.m. on October 25. She later noticed M.R. whimpering and rubbing her feet together. M.R. indicated to her mother that she was not in pain. Kayleigh discovered M.R. unresponsive the next morning.

¶ 14 Two experts presented conflicting testimony regarding the manner of M.R.'s death. Dr. Arangelovich opined that M.R.'s death was caused by blunt head trauma from child abuse. Dr. Arangelovich observed subgaleal and subdural hemorrhages in the back of M.R.'s head. She testified that the accidental falls M.R. experienced prior to her death could have caused the subgaleal hemorrhages but that those hemorrhages did not cause the baby's death. According to Dr. Arangelovich, the fatal injury was the subdural hemorrhage, which she opined occurred within 24 hours of M.R.'s death.

¶ 15 Dr. Shaku Teas, a forensic pathologist, believed that M.R.'s head injuries were consistent with the accidental falls she experienced prior to her death and opined that the injuries she sustained in those falls caused her death. Like Dr. Arangelovich, she believed that the subdural injuries directly caused the death. According to Dr. Teas, however, M.R.'s subdural hemorrhage was caused by an injury that she sustained more than 24 hours prior to her death.

¶ 16 Following closing arguments, the trial court instructed the jury, inter alia , that the offense of endangering the life or health of a child required proof that defendant had care or...

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2 cases
  • People v. Martinez
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 16, 2021
    ...that do not belong solely to a defendant, including the general public and the press ( People v. Radford , 2020 IL 123975, ¶ 25, 450 Ill.Dec. 78, 181 N.E.3d 78 ). For example, the "[o]penness in court proceedings may improve the quality of testimony, induce unknown witnesses to come forward......
  • People v. Robinson
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • June 18, 2020 Thomas. The defendant does not explain why the jury would completely disregard his own words detailing his participation in the 181 N.E.3d 78450 Ill.Dec. 78 crime in favor of Williams' testimony to the contrary. Such a proposition is unreasonable. Clearly, even if the jury were presented......

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