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People v. Rockamann





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. JOHN J. HOBAN, Judge, presiding.


Defendant was charged by indictment with four counts of indecent liberties with a child. After a bench trial, defendant was found guilty of two of the four charges and was sentenced to two concurrent 15-year prison terms. On appeal, defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in finding him competent to stand trial; (2) that the trial court erred in finding that he possessed the requisite mental capacity to commit the alleged crimes; and (3) that the trial court erred in ruling on certain evidentiary objections. For the following reasons we disagree and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Defendant was accused of taking indecent liberties with his 10-year-old daughter. The occurrence of these incidents, the sordid details of which need not be recounted, was never disputed. The indictment focused on the events of December 24, 1977, and July 7, 1978, although the evidence showed that such happenings had transpired for over a year prior to a criminal complaint being filed on July 21, 1978.

On September 1, 1978, defense counsel filed a "Petition to Hold Competency Hearing" pursuant to section 5-2-1 of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-1). The trial court granted the petition. The court also granted the State's motion to have defendant examined by Dr. Peter Heinbecker, a psychiatrist, which examination was held on October 20 and 25, 1978. The fitness hearing was held on November 21, 1978.

The State's only witness at the hearing was Dr. Heinbecker. He testified that after approximately three hours of interviews, he determined that defendant's I.Q. was 84, placing him on the borderline of mental retardation, since 85 is the low level of normal functioning. He also diagnosed the defendant as having chronic depression and possibly a drug or alcohol problem.

Dr. Heinbecker admitted that it was difficult to obtain a medical history from defendant, that defendant's general fund of knowledge was poor, that he did not know the capital or president of the United States, that he could spell "dog" but not "cat", that he could read and write only the simplest of sentences, that he had difficulty in understanding some of the questions on the I.Q. test, and that he could not interpret simple proverbs. Dr. Heinbecker also stated that chronic depression such as defendant's could affect one's memory and ability to concentrate, and that this could affect one's ability to cooperate with counsel. But he testified that he did not feel defendant was experiencing significant depression at the time of the interview. Furthermore, he felt that defendant had a certain degree of past paranoia and that this too could affect one's ability to cooperate with counsel. But Dr. Heinbecker did not find the paranoia present at the time of his interviews of defendant.

Nonetheless, Dr. Heinbecker rendered an opinion that defendant was fit to stand trial because he understood the nature of the charges against him and could assist his attorney with his defense. He did not feel defendant's fund of knowledge was so inadequate that he did not understand the criminal situation he was involved in. This was so because defendant cooperated with him during the interviews, admitted that he "shouldn't have been messing with her [his daughter]," and admitted having sexual relations with her. Finally, Dr. Heinbecker opined that defendant was not so depressed that he was out of touch with reality.

The defense's only witness at the fitness hearing was Dr. Julius Clyne, a board-certified psychiatrist, who was defendant's treating physician. Dr. Clyne generally testified in accordance with Dr. Heinbecker as to defendant's borderline mental retardation, informational inability, depression and paranoia. However, he disagreed with the method by which Dr. Heinbecker administered the I.Q. test, stated that defendant could not read or write, opined that defendant had a more severe depression than Dr. Heinbecker hypothesized, believed that defendant's paranoia possibly involved schizophrenia, and stated that defendant was so nonfunctional and had such severe mental illness that he was not competent to stand trial.

After Dr. Clyne had first interviewed defendant on July 22, 1978, the day after the criminal complaint was issued against defendant and he was arrested, defendant was hospitalized for a period of approximately 2 1/2 weeks. He was treated with medication which, in Dr. Clyne's opinion, was helping to bring his depression to a partial remission. Dr. Clyne last saw defendant before the hearing on October 12, 1978, and stated that he was "very, very nice, like a little boy about four years old." Yet he did mention that defendant knew he had charges pending against him and he was "very, very anxious and very uptight" about his court appearance. Still, Dr. Clyne testified that defendant was not capable of understanding the nature of the proceedings against him or assisting his own defense.

The trial court found defendant fit to stand trial and a bench trial was held on March 19 and 20, 1979. Defendant's daughter testified that she did not inform anyone of the events in question at first because the defendant told her not to and she was scared. Finally, however, she informed her mother, who did nothing for over one year but keep a record of the episodes in pocket calendars, based on the complaints of her daughter and her actual witnessing numerous incidents. The mother finally went to the police because she said she was afraid her daughter might become pregnant. Doctors Heinbecker and Clyne testified in accordance with their testimony at the fitness hearing. However, as to the defense of insanity, Dr. Clyne testified that defendant suffered from a mental defect, probably schizophrenia, which caused him to lack substantial capacity to either appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the law, while Dr. Heinbecker testified to the contrary.

After the testimony was completed, the trial court took the case under advisement. On March 31, 1979, the trial court found defendant guilty of the first two counts of the indictment. Defendant was found not guilty on the other two counts. Defendant was sentenced as aforesaid on April 27, 1978, and from that final judgment defendant appeals.

Appellant first contends that he was not competent to stand trial and that the trial court erroneously found otherwise. Section 5-2-1 of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-1) defines fitness to stand trial and procedures to be followed in making that determination. Section 5-2-1(a) provides:

"(a) For the purposes of this Section a defendant is unfit to stand trial or be sentenced if, because of a mental or ...

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