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People v. Haun

JUNE 6, 1966.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. HOWARD L. WHITE, Judge, presiding. Reversed and remanded for a new trial.


The defendant-appellant was convicted of attempted murder and aggravated battery, by a jury, and sentenced to a term of a minimum of eight years and a maximum of fourteen years in the penitentiary. This appeal is from that judgment and sentence. In his appeal the defendant alleges seven separate errors. The mixed issues of the defendant's sanity and waiver of counsel, in light of the facts disclosed in this record, are, however, the controlling questions in this appeal.

The facts of this case are somewhat unique. The defendant was indigent at the time the court appointed his first legal counsel, the public defender. Thereafter, the court dismissed the public defender at the defendant's request. The defendant, at that time, stated he wished to retain private counsel. The defendant appeared at a later date and informed the court he did not have the funds to employ private counsel and the court then appointed an attorney of the Sangamon County Bar.

The trial began with the second appointed counsel representing the defendant. In the opening statement for the defendant, it was stated that the defense to the charges presented would be insanity.

Marilyn Haun, the defendant's 26-year-old wife, was the victim of the alleged offenses and appeared as a witness for the People. Mrs. Haun testified that she and her husband were at Reverend Harold Elijah Harrison's home, in Springfield, in a meeting, attempting to resolve their marital difficulties. She stated that, after some time, they left the Harrison home together and both walked to a car parked in front of the house; then the witness stated the defendant struck her, that she felt a cutting, although she did not see a knife. The witness stated she ran and called for help from Reverend and Mrs. Harrison who, together with a third woman, helped the witness to the hospital. She testified she had thirteen separate wounds. She was pregnant at the time of the attack.

After a brief cross-examination, the defendant announced to the court, outside the presence of the jury, that he wished to excuse counsel because of the disagreement with his attorney's method of cross-examination. The court admonished the defendant that he must represent himself or hire a private attorney if he again dismissed counsel. The court further warned the defendant that he would not interrupt the progress of the trial. After the defendant indicated that he intended to proceed with the defense of his case without the services of counsel, the court then directed counsel to assist the defendant through his presence and advice. Thereafter the defendant assumed the trial of his own case.

Marilyn Haun was then recalled and the defendant asked her about certain conversations occurring on July 26, 1963. Upon objection, the court limited the cross-examination to the date of December 23, 1963, the date of the offense, the only date testified to on direct examination.

The People then called Reverend Harold Elijah Harrison, who testified that the defendant and his wife were at his home on the night of December 23, 1963, attempting to effect a reconciliation. He stated that after hearing screams he saw the defendant approach him, without speaking, and hand him a paring knife which belonged to Reverend Harrison and came from his kitchen. On cross-examination the court, after objection of the state's attorney, narrowly limited the scope of inquiry to the night of December 23. The court further excluded testimony of the emotional "state or condition" of Charles Haun when he came to Reverend Harrison's home at an earlier date as beyond the scope of direct examination.

Further testimony for the State established that the defendant admitted the stabbing on several occasions and that the victim suffered twelve separate wounds.

The defendant then recalled his wife as a defense witness and attempted to show that when he met his wife in July of 1963, she was pregnant by another man. The court, upon objection, refused to allow the testimony. It was held to be immaterial and too remote.

After conferring with his counsel-advisor and after advice from the court that he had a record of prior convictions, the defendant took the stand in his own behalf. He testified, in narrative form, that he had been in a mental institution for eighteen months to two years, at Warren State Hospital, in Pennsylvania. The specific date was not established. Further, he had pleaded guilty to two offenses in the State of Pennsylvania. He came to Decatur to start a new life, obtained a job, and met and married his wife. He further stated that his wife was pregnant by another man before they were married. This portion of the testimony was stricken and the jurors instructed to disregard it on motion by the People. The defendant related that he and his wife lived together and were buying a home when his wife started "running around" with the man who fathered her as yet unborn child. He testified that he made several attempts to convince her to return to him but that she continued to see the other man.

On the night of the stabbing, the defendant claimed he was attacked by his wife with a knife and that he then disarmed her. Thereafter he testified:

"`At that time, and it's the God's truth, a sharp pain run across my head right here, just like water, and hot water, it get hot and it get cold, run down the side of my face and, like a lot of needles, ever'thing all runnin' down the side of my neck all the way down, and my body started vibratin', and I struck at her, I remember strikin' at her, but how many times, I don't know, because I don't remember how many times I hit her, all I remember was when Rev. Harrison called me.'"

On cross-examination, the state's attorney impeached the defendant with a prior statement wherein he admitted to the police that he ...

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