APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Williamson County; the Hon.
JOHN H. CLAYTON, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE KLUCZYNSKI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
This is an appeal from an order of the circuit court of Williamson County affirming the decision of the Industrial Commission awarding compensation for injuries and death sustained by James L. Feezor as a result of a felonious assault upon him.
The sole question presented on review is whether the assault and resultant injuries and death arose out of Feezor's employment. The evidence before the commission indicates that for a number of years Feezor, as an automobile salesman, sold new and used cars and trucks for the Brewster Motor Company in Herrin, Illinois. From time to time he had business dealings in buying and selling automobiles with Dewey Thompson, a coal miner, who resided with his wife in a trailer at Johnston City, Illinois. The first transaction was in 1958. Thereafter, Thompson purchased three or four other cars through Feezor, the last one a Mercury, and a used truck on March 30, 1963, about one year prior to the altercation (March 19, 1964) that resulted in the death of both Feezor and Thompson. At the time of the incident Feezor was 45 years of age, married and had two minor children.
In February or early March, 1964, Thompson decided to look into the possibilities of purchasing a "pick-up" truck and a "camper" combination. He tried several automobile agencies including Brewster and on two or three occasions met with Feezor at Brewster's place of business, the last being a week prior to the fatal shooting.
The Thompsons, at this time, were experiencing some family discord which Mrs. Thompson described as a personal problem involving the daughter and her father, Dewey Thompson. She testified that he had been placed under a peace bond and "spent half of his time staying at his parents' home which was on the next corner" and that "for a week or ten days before he died we had been trying to solve our problems and decide what to do and he did more or less stay there at the trailer with me and my son." She also testified that her daughter, who evidently did not live with them, had an accident with the Mercury car and, while it was being repaired at Brewster's, Feezor allowed her (Mrs. Thompson) the use of his private automobile to go back and forth to the court house in connection with her "husband and daughter".
On the morning of March 19, 1964, Thompson arose at the usual time and prepared to go to work at 7:30 a.m. He returned at 8:00 a.m., saying he did not think that he wanted to work that day as he wasn't feeling well. He stayed home 5 or 10 minutes, then left. He returned an hour and a half or two hours later carrying a brown bag which, it developed later, contained a spiral type note book in which he had written a "murder suicide note." Thirty minutes later he ordered his wife to call Feezor at Brewster's. She did but Feezor was not in and she left word that he call back. When Feezor called, she, under instruction of Thompson, told him to come over "to talk to us" and hung up. During the half hour before Feezor's arrival at the trailer she tried to talk to Thompson as she had done "before." He was talking but wasn't making good sense. He also had two guns on the coffee table and one shoved in the back part of his pants.
Feezor arrived with his son Jimmy in a "pick-up" truck of the type and color Thompson had previously viewed and discussed at Brewster's. The son remained in the truck and Feezor, after knocking, entered the trailer. He said: "Are you kids ready to trade?" Thompson swore and told his wife "get my dog and get out of here." She heard nothing more but saw Thompson kick Feezor and when she was leaving the trailer she heard shots. Feezor's son ran into the trailer and saw blood on his father's face and both men grappling over a shot gun. When Feezor yelled at his son to kill "him" the son knocked Thompson down and killed him with a shot from the gun. Feezor had suffered several bullet wounds and died a few minutes later in the trailer.
Thompson's murder-suicide note discovered at the scene of the killings, read as follows:
"To Emma Lou Thompson or McAlpin
This is the end. As you know I have written letters saying one thing and another. I have truly meant everything I have ever said or written. Which is my true self? To Thine Own Self Be True. I don't know how! The world would, as I say, call me a mad man. I really don't know myself. I sought your help first because I love you most. I truly gave my heart and soul to God our maker to love him and beg forgiveness of my sins and yours. When I take my troubles and sorrows and hurts to the supreme one and he can not blot out my hurt and sorrow. What can I do. I am back to depending on my own judgment to try to think what to do. As I have told you. I can not hurt you any more. I surely can not end your days on this earth as you know, and why. I know you are prepared to go but the Love for God, I misplaced in you.
I must in my own mixed up way deal with Feezor. Surely you do understand that. We male mortals from the beginning, did not try, but did take away from God All Mighty the right and power to deal with such a terrible hurt and Pride.
I am, I know, Damning my self to Hell for the love and Trust I put in you. I know it is not worth it, but I can not help myself.
Go, I Beg You to Heaven above and you know how ...