People v. Reber

Decision Date16 April 2019
Docket NumberNO. 5-15-0439,5-15-0439
Citation2019 IL App (5th) 150439,429 Ill.Dec. 845,125 N.E.3d 551
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Jarod C. REBER, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

James E. Chadd, Jacqueline L. Bullard, and Amanda S. Kimmel, of State Appellate Defender’s Office, of Springfield, for appellant.

Michael M. Havera, State’s Attorney, of Taylorville (Patrick Delfino, Patrick D. Daley, and Kelly M. Stacey, of State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, of counsel), for the People.

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

¶ 1 Defendant, Jarod C. Reber, was found guilty of three counts of child pornography and one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. The court sentenced defendant to consecutive sentences totaling 70 years in prison. The primary victim was the 12-year-old sister of defendant's wife.

¶ 2 Defendant timely filed this direct appeal on October 20, 2015. This court has jurisdiction pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rules 603 and 606, as well as article VI, section 6, of the Illinois Constitution. Ill. S. Ct. Rs. 603, 606 (eff. Feb. 6, 2013); Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 6.


¶ 4 On December 11, 2013, the State charged defendant with the following two charges: one count of child pornography in violation of section 11-20.1(a)(1)(vii) of the Criminal Code of 2012 (Code) ( 720 ILCS 5/11-20.1(a)(1)(vii) (West 2012) ) (Class X felony for allegedly videotaping a child under 18 while the child was unclothed, showing her exposed genitals and breasts on or about June 12, 2013, in Taylorville, Illinois (count I) ) and one count of child pornography in violation of section 11-20.1(a)(1)(vii) of the Code (id. ) (Class 1 felony for allegedly photographing a child under 18 in which her unclothed pubic area was exposed (count II) ). On January 13, 2015, the State charged defendant with a third charge: one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child in violation of section 11-1.40(a)(1) of the Code (id. § 11-1.40(a)(1) ) (Class X felony for digitally penetrating the vagina of a child under the age of 13 between May 1, 2013, and September 30, 2013, in Taylorville, Illinois (count III) ). On June 16, 2015, the State charged defendant with one count of child pornography in violation of section 11-20.1(a)(6) of the Code (id. § 11-20.1(a)(6) ) (Class 3 felony for possession of a photograph of a child that defendant should have reasonably known to have been under 18 engaged in an act of sexual conduct (count IV) ).1

¶ 5 Hearing on Intent to Offer Evidence of Other Crimes

¶ 6 Prior to trial, the State filed its notice of intent to offer evidence of other crimes. The trial court held its hearing on the State's notice on June 18, 2015. The trial judge thoroughly outlined the requirements of the applicable procedural statute at the beginning of the hearing. 725 ILCS 5/115-7.3 (West 2014). The State presented testimony and evidentiary documents to support its request that it be allowed to introduce the testimony of H.S., introduce multiple photographs and videos, and introduce the testimony of Caleb Reber, whose daughter is depicted in some of the photographs.

¶ 7 H.S. was the first to testify. She stated that she was currently 28 years old. She alleged that defendant began sexually abusing her in 1988 when she was 11 or 12 years of age. She met defendant when she was 10 and he was 17. Her involvement with defendant lasted until she was 13. Defendant began spending nights at H.S.'s home and eventually moved in with her family. Defendant followed H.S. and her family to Michigan after they moved there.

The first sexual encounter occurred in Illinois while they were sitting on a couch watching a movie. She kept falling asleep and felt something pushing against her. Defendant then announced to her, "We did it." After that initial encounter, she began having sexual intercourse with defendant several times each week. She denied initiating contact but testified that she did not resist. She described the situation as confusing both because of her age and defendant's claim that he loved her. She never told her mother or friends and never reported what defendant did to the police. H.S. claims that her brother was aware of the abuse. She told her mother about the abuse in recent years. H.S. testified that she suffered from physical symptoms resulting from the sexual abuse.

¶ 8 Detective Daniel Marron, employed by the Christian County Sheriff's Department, next testified. He explained that the case began when his department was contacted by defendant's employer about pornographic images found on the laptop that had been assigned to defendant. Detective Marron contacted the Illinois Attorney General's Office for investigative assistance. The laptop was turned over to the attorney general's office, and they found numerous potentially pornographic images of underage girls. Detective Marron obtained a search warrant for defendant's home. He participated in defendant's interview, after which defendant gave the sheriff's department authorization to search his cellular phone. Additional images were located on the phone. Many images were of the two suspected victims, while other images included what appeared to be underage girls with older men, as well as women purportedly engaged in sexual activities with animals.

¶ 9 Caleb Reber testified that the defendant is his brother. He testified that his nine-year-old daughter spent nights at defendant's house (between 20-30 times) when she was four or five years of age. Reviewing some of the photographs, Caleb identified his brother's couch and hand, as well as his daughter's Hello Kitty underwear and body. He provided the pair of underwear depicted in the photographs to the sheriff's department.

¶ 10 C.L., the victim of three of the charged crimes, testified. She was 14 years old on the date of the hearing. Her older sister, Breanne, is defendant's wife. C.L. began spending the night at defendant's house when she was 11 or 12. She stopped sleeping over when she turned 13 as she began spending more time with her friends. When C.L. spent the night at defendant's house, she always slept on the couch. She and defendant would watch movies and play PlayStation. C.L. identified herself in numerous photographs. She explained her self-identification as being based on her recognition of various articles of clothing shown in the photographs: her underwear with a heart-shaped design, her orange shorts, her black shorts with white line detail, the shorts with stars on them, and her black Danskin-brand shorts. She also identified the mole on the inner part of her right thigh. She testified that she used to suffer headaches when she woke up on Sunday at defendant's house, and that after she stopped sleeping over, the headaches ceased. C.L. also testified that defendant frequently would not let her use his bathroom until he went in first. Then after she exited the bathroom, he would go back into the bathroom.

¶ 11 The trial court compared the videos and photographs that were the foundation for the four charges against defendant with the photographs the State sought to introduce as evidence of other acts and/or crimes. The court explained that the goal was to ensure that defendant received a fair trial and that the court was responsible to prevent the hearing from becoming a mini-trial. The court noted that this was necessary to minimize against any danger that the defendant could be convicted because of other acts or other crimes evidence rather than because of the actual charged events.

¶ 12 After announcing the law to be followed, the trial court concluded that the testimony of H.S. would be allowed but only as to the first sexual contact. Although many years had passed, the court noted that there was no bright-line rule on how many years were proper between the charged events and the offered other acts and/or crimes evidence. The court commented that although H.S. did not testify about digital penetration, other factors were similar: the victims were roughly the same age and female, the sexual abuse occurred late at night when the victims were alone with the defendant, and the victims were either living with or had a significant family relationship to the defendant. The court concluded that it did not find that the probative value of H.S.'s proposed testimony was outweighed by prejudice to defendant.

¶ 13 The majority of the photographs depicted one of the two suspected victims, and thus the trial court found no concern with proximity in time issue. The victim-based photographs were allowed. Some of the photographs offered by the State were of other males with possible underage girls. The trial court allowed the usage of some of those photographs and disallowed all photographs that depicted sexual acts other than digital penetration. The court also disallowed all bestiality photographs because those photographs were inconsistent with section 115-7.3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 in that the other acts or crimes evidence must be of "evidence of the defendant's commission of another offense" as that with which he was charged. Id. § 115-7.3(b).

¶ 14 Bench Trial

¶ 15 The bench trial was held on June 24 and June 25, 2015. Several witnesses testified. The audiotape of defendant's interview was brought into evidence. The approved other acts and/or crimes photographic evidence was received into evidence. Defendant did not testify.

¶ 16 Bryan Booth

¶ 17 Bryan Booth is employed at Bob Ridings, an automobile dealership, in its Pana store as its business manager and finance director. Defendant worked in the Pana store from June 29, 2013, to October 31, 2013, as a salesperson. He was issued a laptop for work. Booth testified that he saw defendant's personal cellular phone plugged into the laptop on multiple occasions. After October 31, 2013, defendant was moved to the Decatur store and the...

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3 cases
  • People v. Muraida
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • February 10, 2021
    ...60 Psychological trauma to a victim can be considered as an aggravating factor even without direct evidence of trauma. See People v. Reber, 2019 IL App (5th) 150439, ¶ 94, 125 N.E.3d 551 (favorably citing this court's decision in Burton, 102 Ill. App. 3d at 154). When the court in Bunning d......
  • People v. Wolfe
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • April 29, 2021
    ...Psychological trauma to a victim can be considered as an aggravating factor even without direct evidence of trauma. See People v. Reber, 2019 IL App (5th) 150439, ¶ 94, 125 N.E.3d 551 (favorably citing this court's decision in People v. Burton, 102 Ill. App. 3d 148, 154, 429 N.E.2d 543, 547......
  • People v. Rice
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • April 16, 2019

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