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People v. Deizman

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 16, 1976.

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

v.

THOMAS J. DEIZMAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



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

MR. JUSTICE MCNAMARA DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Thomas Deizman, was indicted for the murder of Thomas Schmidt. He was found guilty of that charge after a trial without a jury. Subsequent to that finding, the trial court granted in part defendant's motion for a new trial and entered a judgment of guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Defendant was sentenced to five to 20 years. The sole issue on appeal is whether the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was sane at the time of the commission of the offense.

For 15 years prior to the occurrence, defendant was a teacher and athletic coach at a high school in Cook County. His attendance at school was regular up to and including the last day of the school year, two days before the shooting. Over the preceding two years defendant had formed a close relationship with the decedent, one of his students. Defendant's wife characterized the relationship as father-son and testified that defendant maintained a deep and constant interest in helping decedent.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on June 16, 1974, defendant went to a lounge in the city of Berwyn where decedent was employed as a cook. At the bar defendant had a number of drinks and spoke with the bartender. The bartender testified that he noticed nothing unusual about defendant and their conversation was nothing out of the ordinary. After about 30 minutes, defendant went to the kitchen to speak to decedent. Defendant followed decedent around the establishment, leaving the bar several times. When decedent went to the basement to obtain supplies, defendant followed him. The pair were in the basement for about 30 minutes.

Upon their return, the bartender heard them conversing animatedly. Although the bartender could not hear the words, he believed that defendant and decedent were arguing. Decedent went to the foyer to make a telephone call. Defendant followed, and the bartender was able to see them through a window. As decedent attempted to place the call, defendant struck him on the head with his hand. The bartender heard five shots, and entering the foyer, saw decedent lying on the floor.

Sometime later, defendant called his wife. He asked whether Schmidt was dead and she informed defendant that he was. About an hour later, defendant again called his wife and told her he was leaving town and needed money. Defendant directed his wife to go to a neighbor's home where he could call her since he was afraid that their home telephone was tapped. She complied with the instructions and received another call from defendant at the neighbor's home. Defendant told his wife the name of the motel and gave the room number where he was staying. He asked her to come and help him and to bring money since otherwise he would kill himself. Defendant's wife informed the police of these events because she wanted her husband found before he came to any harm.

Officer Warren Trucksa of the Berwyn Police Department testified that at 4 a.m. on June 17, after speaking to defendant's wife, he and the other officers went to a motel located in Chicago. They asked the night clerk if a Thomas Deizman was registered in Room 25. The officers were informed that the room was occupied by a Tommie Werd, who had a New York address. Upon being shown a photograph of defendant, the clerk identified him as the man occupying Room 25.

Receiving no answer to his knock, Trucksa used the pass key to enter the room. Defendant was asleep on the bed. The officers awakened him and told him he was under arrest. When asked if he knew the reason for his arrest, defendant replied that he did. Defendant stated that he did not have a gun in the room. Trucksa testified that defendant's responses seemed normal and his speech was not slurred. Detective Edward Pabst testified that he did not notice anything unusual about defendant's condition at the time of the arrest and that defendant's eyes appeared normal.

On the way to the police station, defendant told the officers that his automobile was parked in the vicinity of the lounge and that he had discarded the gun in a garbage can. When asked the location of the garbage can, defendant said that there was no need to worry about the gun being used or harming anyone. The gun subsequently was recovered in Oak Park. The gun was registered to defendant and the clip had been removed. Five spent cartridges previously recovered had been fired from defendant's gun.

Defendant's wife testified that defendant began to drink heavily in February 1974. He voluntarily entered a hospital for his alcoholism. He told his wife that two days after his admission he escaped by tying sheets together and leaving through a second floor window. She testified that defendant's drinking increased, and defendant became obsessed with helping decedent. Defendant would drink all night long and then go to work in the morning without having been to bed. He had no interest in his family and did not know what his children were doing. He continued to drink and babble about nonsensical ideas. She also testified that he had been a very conservative person in both dress and spending habits. However, he began to spend money without caring about the amount. He also began to wear mod clothes and to let his hair grow longer. After school ended on June 14, he began drinking around the clock.

Defendant's wife testified further that defendant and decedent had planned a camping trip for the summer. Defendant told his wife that decedent seemed reluctant to go on the trip and defendant expressed anger at this reluctance. On June 15, the day before the shooting, defendant left home with a gun to look for decedent. He told his wife he just wanted to talk to decedent. Prior to that time, she had heard defendant threaten to kill decedent on several occasions. She also heard him threaten to take his own life.

Defendant called three psychiatrists to testify as to his mental condition at the time he shot decedent. Dr. Jan Fawcett examined defendant on June 25 and July 5, 1974. On June 25, defendant appeared confused. He was hallucinating small animals, picking at his clothes and unable to carry on a conversation. During the second examination, defendant conversed in a logical manner, but his affect was inappropriate. Based upon defendant's speech and his version of the occurrence, personal histories supplied by defendant's relatives, and hospital records, Dr. Fawcett believed that at the time he shot decedent, defendant thought he was under attack and did not appreciate the criminality of his act. On cross-examination, the doctor testified that he stated in his report that defendant suffered from alcoholic hallucinosis. The chronic form of schizophrenia which he believed defendant was suffering was brought on by defendant's drinking.

Dr. Robert Reifman examined defendant on September 12, 1974, and March 4, 1975. He testified that in September defendant was on medication which would disguise his psychosis. Dr. Reifman diagnosed defendant as a schizophrenic suffering from mood swings. While Dr. Reifman doubted that defendant possessed the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his act, he admitted he was uncertain.

Dr. Paul Cherian saw defendant approximately twice a week during the period of June 17 to October 23, 1974. The doctor diagnosed defendant as a schizo-affective schizophrenic with homosexual tendencies. He testified that the psychosis was steered off by the alcohol which causes such an individual to behave abnormally. Dr. Cherian based his diagnosis on his own observations of defendant and statements made to him by ...


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