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People v. Lono

APRIL 5, 1973.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. LOUIS B. GARIPPO, Judge, presiding.


The trial court found Donald Lono guilty of the murder of Guy Thompson and sentenced him to the penitentiary for a term of 14 to 20 years. He contends that unrebutted evidence of insanity created a reasonable doubt of his guilt.

The events preceding Lono's indictment occurred around 8:30 P.M. on August 25, 1969. As Lono walked along a Chicago street, he approached Thompson who was drunk and lying in the doorway of a vacant building. Lono paused at the doorway and without words or apparent provocation, produced a gun, shot Thompson in the head, and walked away at a faster pace.

Carole Piets, a high school student, was the only witness to the shooting. She was standing in front of her house with her mother and the janitor of the building, William Martin, when Lono, previously unknown to her, came by waving a newspaper. Carole's dog, which was on a leash, jumped at Lono. A conversation ensued between Lono and Martin which Carole did not hear. Lono then continued down the sidewalk and was soon followed by Carole and her dog. Half a block from her home, she saw Lono, who was about six feet in front of her, take a gun from his pocket and shoot Thompson. He said nothing to her as he hurried away. After looking at the victim, Carole returned to her mother and Martin and told them what she had seen.

Mrs. Piets corroborated her daughter's testimony as to what transpired when Lono approached them. She did not participate in the conversation between Lono and Martin but she observed that nothing appeared to be wrong; Lono talked in a low voice, was pleasant, and smiled. As the colloquy ended, she heard him say something about karate and tell Martin, "I see you take care of your wife." She did not hear the shot, but after talking to her daughter she went to the doorway, saw Thompson's body, and returned home and called the police. No other people were around. In about ten minutes, a squad car arrived and an ambulance came for Thompson. In the meantime, a crowd had gathered and she testified, as her daughter did, that Lono was in its midst. She did not tell the police of Lono's presence. Her explanation for not having done so was that she had been instructed not to say anything.

William Martin testified that Lono started waving his arms and kicking his feet after the dog lunged at him. The conversation began with Lono's mumbling something which wasn't clear to him. He guessed that Lono was talking about karate or judo because he thought that was what he had been demonstrating. During the conversation Martin understood Lono's words but had no idea what he was talking about. Although Lono's motions to the dog did not appear normal, he walked away in a straight manner. After the authorities removed Thompson, Martin saw Lono walking at a fast pace on the other side of the street; a group of children were chasing him and throwing things at him.

Shortly thereafter, police officers, responding to a radio message concerning a man with a gun, saw Lono enter a building with a revolver in his hand. They pursued him to the third floor and into an apartment. He ran through the apartment, opened a door and threw the revolver onto a balcony before they apprehended him. Although an odor of alcohol was on his breath an officer testified that, in his opinion, Lono was sober. The apartment, which was occupied by Lono and his mother, was not far away from where Thompson was killed.

Lono testified that he was 31 years old, single, a high school graduate and had spent 16 weeks at a school for computer operators. He was employed as an assembler of door adjusters and had been working for the same employer for approximately two and a half years. He said that occasionally he had to be re-taught how to do his work. His parents were separated and he lived with his mother. In 1964 he was hit on the side of the head with a large beer bottle, suffered a concussion and was hospitalized for two weeks. Glass from the bottle cut his lip and a scar resulted. In 1956 he fell while he was hopping freight trains, hit his head on a steel girder and was taken to a hospital. He said he remembered nothing about the day of the shooting except that he talked to some police officers.

The defendant's brother-in-law testified that Lono acted normally most of the time; however, he was not rational on two occasions. In 1956 he suddenly started talking about becoming an astronaut. The conversation lasted ten or fifteen minutes but when he was questioned a few moments later about the possibility of entering the space program he did not know that the conversation had taken place. In 1967 he asked the witness, who was driving him home about 1:30 A.M., to drive him to his bank so that he could withdraw his money for the purpose of taking an extended international trip. Afterwards, he denied having money in the bank and when asked if he was serious about taking a trip said, "What trip?" The witness said that during the two conversations, Lono looked as if he were staring beyond him and talking to somebody else.

The defendant's sister observed him talking to himself on many occasions and, when she addressed him, he did not seem aware that he had been spoken to. She had written to her father about him and had contemplated taking him to a social worker because of the frequency of his self-conversations.

A second sister testified that her brother didn't make sense at times, was erratic in conversation and mumbled to himself. He was a placid person, slow to anger but easily frustrated and depressed. She had seen him intoxicated but did not think he drank excessively. At one time, during a phone conversation, he remarked that his sisters and mother had bad marriages and that he should have been more of a man and should have taken care of them. During the same discourse he wondered if he could fly out of the window; when reminded that he was on the third floor, he remarked "with my luck I would probably break a leg."

His mother stated that her son worked the day of the homicide at his regular place of employment. Almost daily he would go to the mirrors in their apartment, look at his scar and feel it. She did not know the substance of his words when he talked to himself but when she confronted him he said everything was fine and not to worry about him. He did not drink much but when he did he drank cheap wine and frequently locked himself in his room.

Before the trial Lono had been examined by psychiatrists and a competency hearing had been held. The psychiatrists reported that he had a sociopathic personality disturbance, knew the nature of the charge and was able to cooperate with counsel. He was found to be competent. Lono did not give notice that he would rely on the defense of insanity at his trial, the evidence, insofar as it was known to the State, did not indicate that such a defense would be raised and the State did not request that he submit to a psychiatric examination. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 38, par. 115-6.) At his trial, the defendant presented neither expert nor medical testimony as to his mental condition at the time of the homicide and none of his lay witnesses was asked to express an opinion as to his sanity. Thus, there was a total absence of medical conclusions or lay opinions either couched in the terms of the statutory definition of insanity or in language even approximating that definition.

The trial judge, after reviewing the law and analyzing the evidence at the end of the trial, said that he did not believe there had been a real attempt to raise the issue of insanity and that the presumption of sanity had not been overcome. He said there was no real evidence that the ...

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