Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed November 15, 2013

People v. Trzeciak, 2013 IL 114491
Appellate citation: 2012 IL App (1st) 100259.


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

Chief Justice Garman and Justices Freeman, Thomas, and Kilbride concurred in the judgment and opinion.
Justice Theis specially concurred, with opinion, joined by Justice Karmeier.

A Cook County jury convicted this defendant of the murder of a man who was found shot to death in his trailer in the Hegwisch area of Chicago in 2004. The defendant, then a resident of Hammond, Indiana, was arrested at his home there, where he lived with his wife. Her testimony is the subject of this appeal because the appellate court reversed on the theory that use of certain items of her testimony violated the marital privilege and were prejudicial.

The trial evidence indicated that these three individuals all knew each other, that they were all drug users at the time, and that the defendant was a drug supplier whose home was set up in a fortified manner. There was also evidence of the defendant's physical abuse of his wife and his jealousy as to her concerning both the victim and others. The evidence which the appellate court ruled should not have been admitted, and which was the basis for its reversal, was the wife's statement in which she said that the defendant had threatened to kill both her and the victim. This threat had been made at the same time that he was beating her.

In Illinois, the marital privilege is codified in section 115-16 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963. No court in Illinois has yet defined what "confidential" encompasses. However, other jurisdictions have. In this decision, the supreme court held that the privilege did not apply to the communication made while the defendant was physically abusing his wife because it was not confidential. The appellate court was incorrect on this point and its judgment was reversed.

Because the appellate court had reversed on this single issue and had not reached other claims raised by the defense, the cause was remanded to that court for its consideration of those other claims.