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People v. Hammock





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Franklin County; the Hon. BRUCE SAXE, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Dixie Lee Hammock, appeals from a sentence of 6 to 18 years imprisonment and from a conviction entered on a jury verdict of voluntary manslaughter in the Circuit Court of Franklin County.

Defendant was charged with murder. Defendant raised three affirmative defenses of insanity, intoxication or drugged condition, and use of force in defense of person pursuant to sections 6-2, 6-3, and 7-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, pars. 6-2, 6-3, and 7-1). Over defendant's objections, the jury was instructed on a modified Illinois Pattern Instruction, IPI Criminal No. 7.06 (1968) ("Issues in Voluntary Manslaughter-Intentional-Belief of Justification"); a modified IPI Criminal No. 7.04 ("Issues in Voluntary Manslaughter — Provocation"); IPI Criminal No. 7.05 ("Voluntary Manslaughter-Intentional-Belief of Justification"). After the court overruled defendant's objections, defendant tendered IPI Criminal No. 7.03 ("Voluntary Manslaughter-Provocation"). During jury deliberations, the court, with counsel present and on record, answered the jurors' questions concerning the multiplicity of manslaughter instructions. On appeal, defendant initially contends that she should have been found not guilty by reason of her intoxicated or drugged condition. In the alternative, defendant contends that the voluntary manslaughter instructions should not have been given, because there was no evidence to support such instructions and that the court abused its discretion in denying probation and imposing an excessive sentence.

The evidence is undisputed that at approximately 9:20 p.m. on October 5, 1975, defendant shot Harold E. Claybrook four times in her home in Clebourne, Franklin County, Illinois. Defendant, age 38, had been Claybrook's mistress for approximately 15 years and had borne him a daughter, Lisa, age 13. Evidence was introduced that for the last 7 or 8 years of this relationship, Claybrook had on numerous occasions severely beaten and choked defendant. The four worst results of these beatings were a broken arm, broken noses, a miscarriage, and an aggravation of a prior spinal injury. In the six months prior to the shooting, Claybrook's behavior had become more violent and culminated in his firing a shot at defendant. Defendant had been an alcoholic for a number of years, consuming a fifth of vodka a day. As Claybrook had accused her of having affairs with other men, she seldom left the house, spending her days cleaning the house, watching television, and drinking vodka. Defendant had twice attempted to commit suicide and twice had been voluntarily admitted to Illinois mental health centers. Claybrook, a construction worker, traveled about the country, his "home" being in Tulsa. It was not unusual for defendant and her daughter and Claybrook's wife and legitimate daughter to accompany him on these moves. Claybrook provided an apartment for the defendant. At the time of the shooting, Claybrook had decided to return to Tulsa and had expressed a desire for defendant and her daughter to accompany him. Defendant decided to leave Lisa with relatives and enter an alcoholic treatment center in New Orleans, Louisiana. After completion of treatment, she did not intend to return to Claybrook. Defendant had left deceased twice, but she returned to him each time upon his promise that things would be like they were when their relationship was initiated. It is against the foregoing background that we discuss the events of October 15, 1975.

On October 15, 1975, defendant conducted her routine activities until 6:30 p.m. Then she became drunk and drove Lisa to relatives in order for Lisa to attend church services. When drunk, defendant did not manifest the characteristics of a person under the influence of alcohol for she would talk distinctly and walk straight. However, people who knew defendant could tell when she was under the influence of alcohol. When she arrived back home, Claybrook, who was drunk, was there. They became engaged in an argument involving a heated discussion of her admittance to an alcoholic rehabilitation center. After being informed that defendant would not rejoin him in Tulsa, Claybrook insisted that she get Lisa, who had planned to spend the night with a relative. When defendant refused to do his bidding, Claybrook threatened to beat her and shoved her as she watched television.

After approximately a half hour, Claybrook left but returned within a short time, and they continued their argument. He then left for a second time, returning shortly, at which time he continued to argue and shove defendant. At approximately 9:15 p.m., defendant emptied the garbage, and Isadore Grisko, a neighbor of defendant's, heard Claybrook holler, "you son of a bitch, I'll kill you." Although the Griskos had previously heard Claybrook threaten defendant, they had never heard her threaten him. When she got up to go to the bathroom, Claybrook shoved her against the door frame causing a knot on her arm. After she returned from the bathroom, Claybrook stated he was going to rest. He also made remarks which indicated to defendant that when he awoke, he would get Lisa, take her to Herrin and rape her. Claybrook had a habit of pretending he was asleep, and he was also a light sleeper. During this 2-hour period of argument, both Claybrook and defendant continued drinking.

Defendant got the gun from the bedroom and shot Claybrook. She did not remember how many times she fired the gun. Claybrook made no effort to get up if he did see her. While shooting Claybrook, defendant felt an explosion of rage and characterized her conduct as:

"I had this tremendous feeling and I was, inside my head I was arguing, it was like, like, [sic] detached, I wasn't, I was, and then I wasn't, it seemed like my body wasn't mine.

I did not decide to do anything. I just went [to get the gun]. This awful, this feeling just went all over me.

I was walking towards the bedroom and my head, I don't know how to explain it, but I was, in my head I was arguing, yet I was detached from the whole thing.

I had a feeling come over me like I never had before, and I knew in my head, I said, no, I was moving and I was picking up the gun and I shot him."

She then called the operator and asked for the police, an ambulance, and her brother-in-law, Bill Freeman.

The Franklin County sheriff's office responded to the call and found defendant watching television. After asking defendant if the call of a shooting had been correct and being advised that it was, the officers were admitted to the house, and defendant was advised of the Miranda warnings. She appeared to be in a mild state of shock and would lapse into periods of crying and hysteria. At 1:30 a.m. on the morning of October 16, 1975, defendant gave a statement to the Franklin County State's Attorney's Investigator which was substantially the same as the one she gave to the officers at the scene. No weapons were found on or about Claybrook, and the house was neat and clean. Defendant did not appear drunk nor under the influence of drugs. At the officer's request, she successfully walked a straight line. A half-full bottle of vodka and a mixed drink was found in the house. At the officer's request, defendant produced the gun from a desk in the bedroom. The gun was a nine-shot, 22-caliber Harrison and Richardson pistol which contained four expended casings and five live casings, one of which appeared to have misfired. Defendant stated that she placed the gun close to Claybrook's face when she fired the first shot and did not remember how many times she shot him. She stated that she and Claybrook had become involved in an argument over her admittance to the alcoholic rehabilitation center, and he stated that he would take a nap and upon awaking would give her a good beating. When her relatives arrived, she stated to them, "I loved him [Claybrook], but I had to kill him."

Dr. Leonard Horecker, a psychiatrist, diagnosed defendant as having "an emotional structure that can be labeled under the heading of personality disorder, passive aggressive personality and with some antisocial factors entering into the personality, but a major passive aggressive personality." A passive-aggressive personality is a mental disease, but he was of the opinion that defendant did not lack substantial capacity to appreciate her behavior on the ...

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