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People v. Ward

MAY 22, 1974.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

FRED WARD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. SAUL A. EPTON, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE JOHNSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, Fred Ward, was charged by indictment with the murder of Thomas Brown, age 14. In a bench trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to a term of 14 to 22 years in the penitentiary.

On appeal, defendant presents the following issues for review:

(1) Whether the finding that he was sane at the time of the offense should be set aside;

(2) Whether a psychiatric report which gave an opinion of the defendant's sanity was properly admitted into evidence;

(3) Whether the trial court erred in excluding testimony offered by the defendant to support his defense of insanity.

At trial, Otis Diggins and Cornelius Wright were called by the State to testify concerning the incident which led to defendant's arrest. The testimony of both witnesses was identical in all material respects and may be summarized as follows. At approximately 3 P.M. on March 18, 1970, Diggins and Wright were walking down 44th Street when they saw a man, later identified as Fred Ward. Diggins testified that when Ward was about 20 feet away from them, he saw defendant pick up a stick from a yard. According to Diggins, Ward continued to advance toward them, grabbed him by the collar and asked if he were a member of "P Stone." When Diggins replied that he was not, defendant tried to hit him. The witness avoided the blow and ran away.

Cornelius Wright testified that he was walking with Diggins after school on March 18, 1970, when he saw the defendant fighting with Eric Weatherspoon on 44th Street. When the fight ended, Diggins and Wright continued walking in that direction. According to Wright, defendant then picked up a one-by-one club and approached Diggins. Defendant grabbed Diggins by the collar and asked whether he was a member of the "Black Stones." Diggins answered "no" and, after a moment, defendant turned and swung at Wright with the stick.

Both Diggins and Wright testified that defendant then walked down the street, approached another young boy and struck him with the stick. Wright testified that defendant then crossed the street and attempted to strike another young boy. Diggins watched defendant cross from side to side of the street, hitting people on the head. Defendant then approached the deceased, Thomas Brown. Brown was standing on the street with a girl. Defendant struck Brown on the head. When Brown fell to the ground, defendant hit him three or four more times and then walked away. Neither Diggins nor Wright heard defendant say anything to Brown.

The defense attempted to ask Otis Diggins if it appeared to him that defendant was acting as if he were "crazy." The court, however, sustained the State's objection to the question.

Diggins and Wright testified that they helped get Thomas Brown to the hospital. Simon Brown, the father of the deceased, testified that he received a call from the hospital that Thomas was dead. Brown testified further that his son, Thomas, was 14 years old and a high school student at the time of the occurrence.

Mrs. Mamie Ward, the defendant's mother, testified on his behalf. She stated that the defendant was the oldest of five children and that he lived with her at the time of the offense. Mrs. Ward testified further that Fred "did not have a father" but had been close to his maternal grandfather. When defendant was 4 years old, his grandfather died. According to Mrs. Ward, Fred would look for his grandfather at night and run off calling his name.

Mrs. Ward testified further that Fred never had any friends and would not play with his brothers and sisters. He preferred to stay in his room alone. Sometimes he had temper tantrums and would not talk to his mother. Mrs. Ward stated that when Fred was about 5 years old, he began to have seizures during which he would break out, foam at the mouth, and turn "real white." The seizures lasted 2 or 3 minutes, and occurred about twice a month. According to Mrs. Ward, Fred's last seizure occurred in 1963.

Mrs. Ward stated that Fred was sent to the Audy Home for "ditching school" in 1962 or 1963. Subsequently, he was transferred to St. Charles and to Chester for reasons she did not know. When Fred returned from Chester in 1967, a doctor told Mrs. Ward that he may have suffered a ...


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