Murder Conviction After a Violent Crime Victim Choked to Death (While Eating) a Few Days After the Attack

In People v. Brackett, 117 Ill. 2d 170, 176, 510 N.E.2d 877, 109 Ill. Dec. 809 (1987), the supreme court held the State sufficiently proved the defendant's acts of raping and beating the 85-year-old victim contributed to her choking death five days later. Expert testimony established the victim choked because her ability to dislodge food from her trachea had been compromised by a broken rib she suffered during the attack, which affected her ability to breathe deeply. Further, the victim could not be fed in a manner to avoid the possibility of choking, such as through a nasal feeding tube, because of the significant facial injuries she suffered in the attack. Expert medical testimony established that "the victim's depressed, weakened, debilitated state was the direct result of the trauma associated with the attack upon her." Brackett, 117 Ill. 2d at 178. The court noted that "so long as the defendant's acts contributed to the death there is still sufficient proof of causation, despite the preexisting health condition." Brackett, 117 Ill. 2d at 178. The defendant's murder conviction was affirmed.