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People v. Clemons





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. BENJAMIN S. MACKOFF, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied June 29, 1979.

John Clemons and his brother, Leroy Clemons, were indicted for the murder of Clarence Phennesse (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 9-1) and the armed robbery of Glenda J. Browne and Freddie Andrews (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 38, par. 18-2). Leroy Clemons was tried separately. John Clemons was examined by the Psychiatric Institute of the Circuit Court of Cook County on April 19, 1973. He was diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia, paranoid type with severe depression, and was not competent to stand trial at that time. Periodic re-examinations of the Psychiatric Institute resulted in similar conclusions. On May 27, 1975, he was found mentally fit for trial. Following this report, the State proceeded to trial.

Clemons was convicted by a jury of murder and of two counts of armed robbery. He was sentenced to terms of 14 to 30 years in the penitentiary on the murder charge and of 4 to 14 years on each of the armed robbery charges, with the sentences to run concurrently. Clemons now appeals his convictions, raising two issues for review: whether the trial court committed reversible error in preventing his medical witnesses from testifying as to the contents of reports prepared by other persons, and whether the trial court erred in limiting his cross-examination of the State's medical expert witness and in denying the defendant access to the reports which this witness had in his possession.

The evidence introduced by the State at trial showed that on January 5, 1973, at approximately 11:30 p.m., John Clemons and his brother, Leroy, were at a cocktail lounge in Chicago. Suddenly John Clemons, holding a revolver, confronted Freddie Andrews, the security guard at the lounge, and announced a robbery. John Clemons took the guard's revolvers and wrist watch and forced him to lie on the floor. At this time, Leroy was standing near the air-conditioner, holding a gun. There was a shot and Clarence Phennesse, a customer who had been sitting in a booth near the air-conditioner, stumbled from the bar out to the street. Phennesse later died from "multiple pellett or bebe shots that * * * penetrated the right chest wall causing laceration or penetration of the heart and right lung."

Following the shooting, John and Leroy fled. On a nearby street they encountered Glenda Browne, who was parking her automobile. John and Leroy commandeered the car and drove off.

At approximately 5:18 p.m., on January 7, 1973, Officer Elmer Atkinson of the Chicago Police Department, arrived at the scene of an automobile accident in the vicinity of 87th Street and Ingleside Avenue in Chicago. The officer found Browne's automobile resting against the center post of a railroad viaduct. Recognizing the car as the subject of a January 5th police broadcast, the officer arrested Clemons and the other five individuals who were at the scene of the accident.

Following his arrest the defendant made both an oral and written statement to an assistant State's attorney. In these statements, he admitted participating in the events at the lounge and in the subsequent robbery of Browne's car. He also admitted that he was in Browne's automobile at the time of the accident.

The defendant offered an insanity defense. Celita Clemons, the defendant's mother, testified as to the events of his youth. She stated that he entered the Marine Corps at the age of 17. He served with the Marines in Viet Nam and was wounded in the leg. His mother testified that when he left the Marines in 1970 he was depressed and unable to hold a job. He married in February 1972, but he and his wife lived together periodically for only about 8 months.

Celita Clemons also related that on October 16, 1972, the defendant fainted in the bedroom of her home. He was taken to the hospital where he remained for approximately three hours. Following the incident, he lived with his wife for several more weeks but then left to reside with his brother, Leroy. During December 1972, the defendant attempted to secure enough money to rent an apartment for himself and his wife. When his mother saw him around January 4, 1973, he appeared to be depressed and she suggested to him that he consult a doctor.

The defendant's wife testified that during their marriage he was excessively jealous and constantly accused her of being unfaithful. On Christmas Day, 1972, she met her husband at her mother's home. She stated that she was pregnant at the time and she lied to the defendant, telling him that he was not the child's father. She saw the defendant again on January 4, 1973, at which time she refused a reconciliation with him.

Michael Radd testified that he was in the Marine Corps at the same time as the defendant and that he observed the defendant in three combat situations. On each occasion, the defendant acted with complete disregard for his own safety.

The defendant also presented the testimony of psychiatrists, psychologists and physicians. Dr. William Hamby testified that he was the associate director of the intensive care unit at South Shore Hospital on October 16, 1972, when the defendant was admitted for emergency treatment. Dr. Hamby identified the records complied pursuant to Clemons' visit and stated that he had no independent recollection of the incident. However, since only a portion of the entries in these records were entered by Dr. Hamby, he was permitted to testify only that he had recommended treatment for Clemons based upon a diagnosis of drug abuse.

Dr. Donald Paull, an assistant public defender and a clinical psychologist, testified that on February 25, 1974, he examined Clemons. At that time, Dr. Paull was employed by the Psychiatric Institute of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Based on the facts contained in a report of the examination, he stated that it was his opinion that on the ...

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