Woman and Her Boyfriend Denied Appeal After Abuse of Children
A woman and her boyfriend were denied an appeal after being sentenced to an aggregate term of 50 years for heinous conduct toward a minor child. The defendant appealed her conviction on the grounds that the court issued conflicting instructions to jurors regarding parental responsibilities. Her appeal was denied. Below, we will take a look at the decision.
The defendant and her boyfriend are alleged to have caused the victim, her own child, extreme bodily harm in an attempt to subdue the child. The defendant is further alleged to have caused the child permanent disfigurement by burning him. The defendant was charged with aggravated battery of a child.
The child was found by a third party wandering down the street. The third party observed facial scars on the victim’s face. He was also limping. When the third party asked how he got those wounds, the 7-year-old boy told them they were punishment for bad behavior. The third party then called police to intervene on the boy’s behalf. The defendants were charged with aggravated battery of a child among other charges. The boy told police that they would beat him with a black baseball bat, a black belt, and a wire rod. The officers were able to confirm the boy’s story due to scars left on his body.
After officers intervened they took the boy to the hospital. The boy reported that he had been punished by his parents and outlined the various forms of punishment they used on him. The pair were subsequently charged.
The defendant attempted to argue that the jury instructions issued to the jury were not a harmless error and directly resulted in the unfair conviction of the defendants. The appellate court denied the defendant’s motion because they argued the defendant would have been convicted regardless of whether or not the error in jury instructions was made or not.
Why was this case appealed?
According to Illinois rules of legal procedure, a defendant must be given a fair trial. To get a fair trial, the judge must issue instructions that are commensurate with the rules of legal procedure. In cases where jury instructions confound the jury, it can have a detrimental impact on the defendant’s ability to get a fair trial. However, on appeal, the defendant must be able to establish that the improper jury instructions actually impacted the outcome of the trial. In other words, they have to cause some form of harm to the defendant. In this case, two appeals courts found that the jury instructions did not cause any actual harm and did not influence the jury’s decision to convict. In other words, the defendant would have likely been convicted regardless of whether or not the jury instructions were issued accurately.
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