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People v. Muskgrove





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. ROBERT R. BUCHAR, Judge, presiding.


Defendant Herman Muskgrove appeals from a judgment of the Circuit Court of Will County, following a jury trial, in which he was found not guilty of attempted murder but guilty of armed violence. The trial court sentenced him on the armed violence conviction to a term of from 18 to 54 months in the penitentiary. The charge originally was attempted murder by slashing James Neiles with a knife, in violation of sections 8-4(a) and 9-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, pars. 8-4(a) and 9-1(a)(1)), and with armed violence for having committed an aggravated battery upon Neiles on the same date while armed with a dangerous weapon, a knife, in violation of sections 33A-2 and 12-4(a) of the Criminal Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, pars. 33A-2 and 12-4(a)). Both counts referred to the same occurrence.

It appears from the record that defendant sought to lease certain business premises for use as a restaurant from complainant as a prospective lessor. On March 6, 1974, defendant and an associate were at the premises, cleaning and fixing the interior. Neiles arrived to lock up the premises at the end of the day. Defendant and Neiles were about to discuss arrangements for the proposed lease in Neiles' automobile, when Neiles left the automobile for a few minutes to talk to another tenant. When Neiles returned to the automobile, defendant tendered $500, the first month's rent, but Neiles did not want to accept payment at that time, for the reason that he did not have any receipts available. He noticed that defendant had a roofing or linoleum knife in his hand but was not alarmed because this was a working tool with which defendant had been working at the premises. Defendant insisted upon making payment for the first month's rent, so Neiles reached into his pocket for a pen, with which to write a makeshift receipt on a business card. Defendant then cut Neiles on the face and chest with the tool. Neiles fled from the automobile and defendant pursued him. Defendant forced Neiles to the ground and continued to slash at Neiles' head, neck and back. An unidentified man pulled defendant off of Neiles and Neiles ran away bleeding.

After Neiles had gotten away, police officers chanced upon the scene and observed defendant brandishing the cutting tool and surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. A police officer ordered defendant to drop the cutting tool and defendant then dropped the knife, and himself fell to the ground. Police officers described defendant's conduct at the scene and shortly thereafter as "irrational." Defendant was quoted as saying such things as "Why doesn't somebody kill me, I ain't nothing but a no good mother-fucking nigger and a dope fiend." The police caused defendant to be removed from the scene by ambulance "because of the state of the subject."

After the indictment was returned, defendant moved to dismiss the armed violence count of the indictment on the ground that the statutory scheme permitting the prosecutor to charge either armed violence, a nonprobationable offense, or aggravated battery, a probationable offense, upon the same set of facts is unconstitutional. The trial court denied defendant's motion.

Defendant moved in limine to preclude the use as evidence against him of certain statements he made at the scene, on the ground that they contained prejudicial admissions of unrelated criminal conduct. The trial court also denied this motion.

At the trial it was shown that Neiles suffered severe lacerations requiring 67 stitches. Medical evidence, photographs and the physical appearance at the trial demonstrated the permanent nature of injuries to Neiles.

Defendant did not contest commission of the act of cutting Neiles. Defendant did, however, interpose the affirmative defense of insanity, and did contest whether the instrument used in cutting Neiles was a "dangerous weapon" as charged in the indictment.

At the trial, the prosecution offered two occurrence witnesses, the complainant Neiles and one Albert Longman. Albert Longman was called as a witness and testified that he was a clerk and had lived in Will County for 15 years. At this point defendant objected to Longman's further testimony on the ground his address had not been given. The trial court overruled the objection and Longman proceeded to testify to the occurrence. On cross-examination, defense counsel asked Longman for his present address. The State's objection to this question was sustained.

Certain evidence was introduced at the trial concerning defendant's insanity defense. Mrs. Cox, defendant's sister, with whom he had lived, testified that defendant had not been "himself" for several weeks prior to the incident. As noted previously, defendant's behavior at the scene was described as "irrational," and defendant was removed from the scene by ambulance. Shortly after his arrest, in a hospital waiting room where the police transported him, defendant attempted to strike a stranger with an ash tray, and attempted to disrobe. At that time, defendant referred to a police officer as a dope pusher.

A police officer, called as a defense witness, testified that on March 7, 1974, the day after defendant's arrest, he observed defendant in the lockup when defendant had disrobed and had defecated and urinated other than in the toilet facilities provided in the cell. Mrs. Cox, defendant's sister, testified that she visited defendant at the jail on March 7, 1974, and that defendant then had his clothes off and was talking about preaching to serve God. She testified that defendant was not a minister. Mrs. Cox described defendant's conduct as nervous and unlike his usual self prior to his arrest. Defendant's nephew, Dennis Jones, also testified to defendant's unusual behavior on March 7, 1974.

Defendant was twice admitted as a voluntary patient at St. Joseph's psychiatric unit in March and April 1974. His initial hospitalization lasted for a period of 10 days and the second hospitalization was for a period of 3 days. Defendant's discharge, at the end of each visit, was "against medical advice." Dr. Alex Spadoni was the treating psychiatrist who worked with defendant during both voluntary stays. On March 9, 1974, when defendant was first admitted, Dr. Spadoni found defendant to be demonstrating:

"Symptoms of suspiciousness, distrust, he was suffering from delusion of not a persecution, not only did he feel that people wanted to harm him, wanted to get him, although he did not mention any specific person or group that was after him, but he also displayed what we call delusions, feeling that he was especially appointed by God to be God's messenger here on earth in order to convert other people. He also appeared to be suffering from auditory hallucinations, in other words, hearing voices."

During the treatment, Dr. Spadoni was informed of defendant's history of illicit drug use, but after observing him for a few days became reasonably certain that he was dealing with a truly mentally ill person, rather than somebody who was high on drugs.

The doctor testified that on both admissions to St. Joseph's, defendant was suffering from "a mental illness diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia with an underlying personality disturbance * * * diagnosed as antisocial type personality." He also said "it is very rare for schizophrenia to develop in a matter of hours, or days." In response to a hypothetical question, Dr. Spadoni testified that defendant was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia on March 6, 1974, the date of the incident in question. The doctor, however, was unable to state, with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, whether on that date such mental disease did or did not render defendant unable to appreciate the nature of what he was doing or to conform his behavior to law. Dr. Spadoni did testify that schizophrenia could not have been caused by defendant's participation in the criminal acts charged in the prosecution.

On March 12, 1974, defendant was restrained to his bed with key-locked leather restraints, a precaution not taken with all patients. During both stays at the hospital, defendant received supportive psychotherapy and antipsychotic medication. The medication caused a marked improvement in defendant's initial mental confusion, and considerable improvement in his irrational ideas, ideas of persecution, and ideas about being a messenger of God.

The expert witness for the State, Dr. Meyer Kruglik, who was appointed to examine defendant and interviewed him for two hours on April 20, 1974, testified that defendant was suffering from an inadequate personality structure, which is not a mental disease, but a personality disorder. In Dr. Kruglik's opinion, defendant was legally sane on March 6, 1974, and was not, on that date, suffering from any mental disease or defect causing him to lack substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to adhere to the requirements of law. Dr. Kruglik testified, however, that a treating psychiatrist is in a better position than an examining psychiatrist to give a diagnosis, and also admitted at the time he examined defendant and formed his opinion as to defendant's condition, he was unaware of ...

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