In this case, Dr. Jones opined that Ruiz's death resulted
from "pneumonia due to quadriplegia due to a gunshot wound to the
neck." In her expert opinion, Ruiz's quadriplegia, a direct
result of the shooting, weakened his immune system and
compromised his ability to expel air, thereby increasing his risk
for pneumonia. Her testimony established a direct relationship
between the gunshot wound and the pneumonia that ultimately took
his life. Ruiz's paralyzed state made it difficult for him to
breathe completely and weakened his immune system, thereby making
him more susceptible to the pneumonia that a "normal" 22 year old
would have survived. Here, as in Brackett, the evidence
established the defendant, through his criminal acts, "set in
motion a chain of events" culminating in Ruiz's death. Brackett,
117 Ill. 2d at 176.
Unlike in Brown, there is no evidentiary gap between the
cause of death and the defendant's criminal act. The defendant's
act of shooting the victim rendered the victim a quadriplegic.
Dr. Jones's opinion, taken in the light most favorable to the
State, established that but for the victim's quadriplegia, the
victim would not have succumbed to pneumonia. At autopsy, Dr.
Jones viewed Ruiz's gunshot wound and the resulting damage to his
spinal column, including the area that controlled his breathing.
She also observed that Ruiz experienced muscle wasting due to his
quadriplegia. Her testimony was not speculative as to the link
between the quadriplegia and the community-acquired pneumonia.
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