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People v. Grant





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Logan County; the Hon. JOHN T. McCULLOUGH, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Seth Grant, was sentenced to 3 to 9 years in the penitentiary after a Logan County jury found him guilty of aggravated battery and obstructing a police officer in violation of sections 12-4(b)(6) and 31-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, pars. 12-4(b)(6), 31-1). The court entered judgment on both verdicts, but only sentenced the defendant for the offense of aggravated battery.

On December 13, 1974, the defendant was a patron at a tavern known as the "Watering Place" in the City of Lincoln where he consumed four drinks consisting of whisky and cola during a 2 1/2-hour period. The defendant then witnessed an altercation between another patron and the tavern owner. The Lincoln police were called to the scene and they forcibly escorted the other patron outside where he continued to resist arrest. A hostile crowd of approximately 40 persons accompanied the police and patron as they exited from the tavern and approached the officers' automobile. The crowd was cheering for the patron. Suddenly, the defendant burst through the crowd, and, using a parking meter for leverage, he leaped into the air, striking Officer Raymond Vonderahe twice in the face.

Thereafter, Officer Michael Yarcho placed the defendant under arrest and forcibly led him to the officers' automobile. Yarcho testified that the defendant was very upset and that great force was required to place the defendant in the automobile. Another officer, David Morrow, testified that the defendant was excited, agitated and upset. Morrow also stated that the defendant had not been involved in the altercation prior to his attack on Vonderahe.

The defendant was transported to the Logan County jail and placed in a cell. Approximately one hour after being arrested, one of the jailers discovered the defendant lying on his cot gasping for breath. Defendant's eyes were fixed and his back formed a rigid reversed arch, typical symptoms of a grand mal convulsive seizure. The defendant was immediately transported to a Lincoln hospital by the Lincoln fire department, and then to a Springfield hospital where the defendant remained until December 23, 1974.

The record on appeal reflects that the defendant has a complicated legal and medical history. The defendant suffers from an illness known as psychomotor epilepsy. This history includes a number of violent attacks on other persons which have varied in severity. In some, physical assistance from others was required to subdue the defendant. One, a knife assault in a hospital, was of such violence that a police officer seeking to restrain the defendant was forced to use a weapon. The affray ended only when the defendant was shot in the pelvis and kidney. His past history is replete with emotional outbursts and he has been convicted on separate occasions of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.

On appeal, the defendant alleges: (1) that his sanity was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) that the court erred in giving the usual insanity instruction when his defense was that he suffered an epileptic seizure at the time the offenses were allegedly committed; (3) that his two convictions are for multiple offenses committed during a single course of conduct; and (4) that the sentence imposed by the court is excessive.

• 1 There was no insanity defense at early common law, although courts> often entered judgments of guilt with a recommendation that the King pardon a defendant who committed an offense in self-defense or while of unsound mind. (2 F. Pollock & F. Maitland, The History of English Law 479-80 (2d ed. 1898).) Today in Illinois, all men are presumed sane, yet when the evidence raises a reasonable doubt as to a defendant's sanity at the time an offense is committed, then the affirmative defense of insanity is placed in issue for resolution by the fact finder. (People v. Redmond (1974), 59 Ill.2d 328, 320 N.E.2d 321.) Once the defense is raised, the presumption of sanity ceases and the State must establish the defendant's sanity beyond a reasonable doubt. (People v. Ellis (1976), 39 Ill. App.3d 373, 350 N.E.2d 326.) A reviewing court cannot disturb a jury's finding of sanity unless it is so manifestly against the weight of the evidence as to indicate that the verdict was based on passion or prejudice. People v. Ford (1968), 39 Ill.2d 318, 235 N.E.2d 576.

The defendant in the instant case argues that his sanity has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendant relies on his testimony that his mind went blank at the "Watering Place" and that he remembered nothing until he awoke three days later. He stated that he has had previous blackouts and that he takes medicine for epilepsy. Defendant also relies on Dr. Albert Ludin's testimony that defendant has temporal lobe epilepsy with symptoms described as psychomotor and grand mal seizures. Dr. Ludin expressed his opinion that, at the time the offenses were committed, defendant was suffering from a psychomotor seizure which prevented his conscious mind from controlling his actions.

• 2 The jury is not required to accept the conclusions of a psychiatrist (People v. Greenfield (1975), 30 Ill. App.3d 1044, 333 N.E.2d 36), and the weight of the psychiatrist's opinion is to be measured by the reasons given for the conclusion and the factual details supporting it. (People v. Burress (1971), 1 Ill. App.3d 17, 272 N.E.2d 390.) Here, Dr. Ludin stated that his opinion would be different if the defendant was not telling the truth. Analysis of the record on appeal discloses facts on which the jury could base their opinion that the defendant was being untruthful.

First, defendant alleges that he cannot remember anything that occurred during the three-day period following his arrest. The doctor, however, testified that on December 14, 1974, defendant was alert, awake and in contact with reality. Officer Yarcho also stated that the defendant was alert and not confused when he was arrested. The defendant also responded in an appropriate manner when questioned about his personal history. Next, is Officer Yarcho's troubling testimony that defendant's arrest required a great deal of force. Such testimony coincides with Dr. Ludin's statement that a person having a psychomotor seizure exhibits a great deal of strength. This testimony, however, as the State points out, must be contrasted with Officer Yarcho's later testimony that it took four men to place the defendant in an ambulance at the jail, while he initially took the defendant into custody by himself. Furthermore, Officer Yarcho testified that defendant was much stronger during the jail incident than he was during the arrest. Finally, Officer Yarcho stated that in his opinion the defendant was in possession of his "complete faculties" and "normal" at the time of his arrest. The evidence showing that the defendant had a grand mal seizure at the jail does not necessarily reflect that the defendant also had a psychomotor seizure a short time before. While Dr. Ludin did say that sometimes a grand mal seizure is preceded by a psychomotor seizure, he did not say that this always occurs.

• 3 We accordingly hold that the jury's finding of sanity was not against the manifest weight of the evidence.

The trial court instructed the jury on the question of the defendant's sanity by giving the following instruction which is taken from the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, Criminal, No. 24.01 (1968):

"A person is insane and not criminally responsible for his conduct if at the time of the conduct, as a result of mental disease or mental defect, he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law.

Abnormality manifested only by repeated criminal or otherwise anti-social conduct, is not mental disease or mental defect." (People's Instruction No. 9.)

This instruction employs language similar to the language contained in section 6-2 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 6-2). This instruction, however, fails to distinguish behavior by a person lacking "* * * substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law * * *" (Ill. Rev. Stat. ...

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