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People v. Manning

OPINION FILED MAY 19, 1978.

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

v.

CHRISTOPHER MANNING, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. ROBERT L. GAGEN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE KARNS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

In a jury trial in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Christopher Manning was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of five to 15 years. On appeal, he assigns as error the denial of a jury determination of the restoration of his fitness to stand trial; the exclusion of certain testimony on the issue of his sanity; the denial of the effective assistance of counsel; and the severity of his sentence. We need only consider the first two issues.

Defendant was first tried and convicted after a jury trial on February 18, 1975, after being adjudged fit to stand trial after a competency hearing before the court. Prior to trial, a hearing was held on defendant's motion to suppress his confession. The trial court suppressed the confession on belief that defendant was unable, because of low intelligence, to understand the Miranda warnings.

After conviction, the defendant requested another competency hearing to determine whether he had been fit to stand trial or was fit to be sentenced. Dr. Robert Deitchman, a psychiatrist licensed in Missouri but not Illinois, examined Manning and reviewed his medical history. Dr. Deitchman reported that as the result of being struck by an automobile at age five, Manning had suffered a crushed skull and had lost 50 to 60 grams of cortex brain tissue, requiring the implantation of a plate in his head. Dr. Deitchman's conclusion was that Manning "should be adjudged" incompetent. Based on Dr. Deitchman's testimony, the trial court vacated the verdict and adjudged Manning incompetent to stand trial and in need of medical treatment. The court did not limit its finding to defendant's fitness to be sentenced. (Cf. People v. Pierce, 50 Ill. App.3d 525, 365 N.E.2d 988 (1st Dist. 1977).) The defendant was committed to the Illinois Department of Mental Health.

On September 3, 1975, a hearing was held in Randolph County at which it was determined that Manning was not in need of treatment and he was ordered released to the sheriff of St. Clair County. The trial court then ordered additional psychiatric examinations of defendant in preparation for his pending trial.

Because the first trial had proceeded to verdict, and the request for an additional fitness hearing had been requested after the commencement of the trial, the trial court denied the defendant's motion for a jury hearing to determine if Manning's fitness had been restored. The restoration hearing was held on February 4, 1976, without a jury. The State called Dr. Clifford Gilpin, who testified that Manning was competent to stand trial despite his low I.Q. The defendant called the principal and assistant principal of Manning's junior high school, both of whom testified that Manning, when in school, had presented a difficult discipline problem.

Also testifying for the defense was Cheryl Shimkus, the court psychologist. She spoke of the tests she had administered to the defendant. She testified that his I.Q. as measured by the Stanford-Binet Intelligence test was 49, and that his mental age was eight years and six months. Her conclusion was that Manning would have great difficulty assisting his counsel and was incapable of understanding the proceedings.

The court also received into evidence a deposition of Dr. Deitchman in which the psychiatrist reiterated his opinion that Manning was not fit to stand trial and needed custodial care. The trial court adjudged Manning fit to stand trial.

The second trial began March 10, 1976, with the State presenting evidence that defendant had entered an East St. Louis dry cleaning store on a Saturday morning, armed with a gun, and robbed the two women behind the counter. Another State's witness, who knew Manning, placed him at the scene immediately before the robbery.

The defendant presented an insanity defense. He called Leroy Howell and Phillip Beck, principal and assistant principal of defendant's junior high school, both of whom spoke of Manning's discipline problems. Howell testified that Manning was an "under achiever" who had been on waiting lists for special education classes. Beck testified that Manning seemed to him incapable of distinguishing conduct which is within the law from that which is not. Beck also stated that he did not believe that Manning could have improved in this respect in the time between his departure from junior high school and the offense.

The prosecutor then made a motion in limine to exclude the deposition of Dr. Deitchman which the defense intended to introduce. The grounds for this motion were that the deposition referred only to fitness, not sanity, that the prosecutor had not attended the deposition because the defense attorney told him that its only purpose was to determine defendant's competency, and that because Dr. Deitchman was not listed as a possible defense witness the State had not secured the attendance of its expert witnesses, namely, three psychiatrists who had found defendant not only fit, but sane. In response to defense counsel's claimed surprise that the deposition might not be admitted, the prosecutor reminded her that he had told her several times that he believed it would be inadmissible. Defense counsel stated that she had not secured Dr. Deitchman's presence at trial because she had believed that his deposition would be admissible.

The trial court sustained the motion and declined to grant a continuance that afternoon for the purpose of allowing the defense to obtain Dr. Deitchman's deposition concerning Manning's sanity. The trial court also denied defense counsel's offer of proof that Dr. Deitchman would have testified that in his opinion the defendant was legally insane.

The prosecutor also objected to permitting court psychologist Cheryl Skimkus to testify because she had not attained a Ph.D. in psychology. The trial court indicated that her testimony would be inadmissible unless her tests formed the basis for a psychiatrist's opinion as to the defendant's sanity. Defense counsel replied that inasmuch as the defendant was arguing that insanity was caused by a low I.Q., Skimkus would not be asked her opinion of Manning's sanity. In an offer of proof, the defense counsel stated that Cheryl Skimkus held a master's degree in psychology and had been a court psychologist for five years. She further stated that Skimkus would testify that according to the Wechsler test the defendant's I.Q. was 68, that according to the Stanford-Binet test his I.Q. was 46, and that his reading ability was that of one in the second grade. The trial court refused to allow Cheryl Skimkus to testify.

The trial court also refused the defense's tendered insanity instruction. Then, on the State's motion, the trial court struck the testimony of Leroy Howell and Phillip Beck as being insufficient to raise the issue of insanity and otherwise immaterial. The ...


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