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People v. Smith





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Stephenson County; the Hon. DEXTER KNOWLTON, Judge, presiding.


LaQuan Love Smith, the defendant, was convicted of armed robbery in a bench trial and sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment. He appeals, contending that the testimony of the psychiatrist who had previously examined him for competency to stand trial violated his patient-therapist privilege; and also that the psychiatrist was erroneously permitted to base his opinion upon hearsay. He also claims ineffective assistance of counsel.

On March 20, 1978, the defendant was charged in a Stephenson County information with the offense of armed robbery of Baker's West Motel on February 7, 1978. Also filed on that date was defendant's petition for a psychiatric examination. A competency hearing was held on June 26, 1978, after which the court found the defendant unfit and remanded him to the Illinois Security Hospital at Chester.

On March 1, 1979, a new hearing was ordered to determine the fitness of the defendant to stand trial, wherein the defense counsel stipulated that defendant was at that time fit to stand trial.

At trial, Mrs. Baker testified that the defendant and his co-defendant checked into the Baker's West Motel at approximately 7 a.m. on February 7, 1978. The defendant signed the registration card with an assumed name and placed upon that card the license number of his car. The car was an orange Gremlin. At approximately 10 p.m. on that night, the two men came in and requested their bill. At this time, defendant grabbed Mrs. Baker and put a knife to her neck. His co-defendant also brandished a knife and demanded the office money. Mrs. Baker gave the two men the money in the drawer as well as the yellow bank envelope. The foregoing was observed by Baker's daughter, who told her father and thereafter called the police. Mr. Baker ran to investigate but was told by the co-defendant to "play it cool." Mr. Baker, however, observed both men in possession of knives. He then ran back to obtain a rifle.

After Mrs. Baker had given the defendant the cash, the defendant forced Mrs. Baker out of the door after the co-defendant. At some point, Mrs. Baker broke loose and ran back to the motel office. At the doorway she met her husband, who was then in possession of his rifle. Mr. Baker and the daughter observed the two fleeing from the motel in the orange Gremlin headed west.

Three police officers testified to the chase and interception of the vehicle. One, Officer Peterson, testified that he observed two objects fly out of the car just before the car was stopped. The items thrown out of the window of the car included two knives later identified by Mrs. Baker as the knives used in the robbery, and a money bag containing checks taken in the robbery. Another officer testified that he observed the red mark on Mrs. Baker's throat where the defendant had held his knife.

The defendant began his defense with the testimony of Dr. William Gould, a certified psychologist who examined the defendant on May 3, 1978, to determine the defendant's fitness to stand trial. Dr. Gould examined the defendant for approximately an hour to an hour and a half, during which time he conducted several psychometric tests. Dr. Gould testified that the defendant performed poorly on all of those tests. He also testified that defendant was hearing voices during the interview. He concluded that the defendant was a schizophrenic individual.

A second psychologist, Dr. Graybill, testified that he examined the defendant on three separate occasions pursuant to court order in order to determine whether or not the defendant was fit to stand trial. On the first date, the doctor found the defendant to be grossly delusional and hallucinating. Dr. Graybill also interpreted the results of the tests performed by Dr. Gould to indicate that the defendant had no reality boundaries at all. Dr. Graybill did not believe that the defendant was faking the results of these tests. After the first interview, Dr. Graybill diagnosed the defendant as a "deteriorating schizophrenic." Dr. Graybill noted that the defendant had made an attempt to commit suicide while in jail. After the second interview, Dr. Graybill still maintained that the defendant was unfit to stand trial. The doctor ultimately determined that the defendant was legally insane at the time he committed the crime.

The defendant was also interviewed by Dr. Hamann, who also testified at trial concerning the defendant's sanity. This doctor concluded that the defendant was suffering from "schizophrenic psychosis." Dr. Hamann first concluded that the defendant was not fit to stand trial. He also concluded that the defendant was legally insane at the time he committed the crime.

The State then called Officer William Bland as a rebuttal witness. Bland testified that he had a contact with the defendant during the course of the investigation and that during this time he did not perceive any sort of mental problem. On cross-examination, however, Bland did admit that when the defendant was read his rights on February 9, 1978, he spoke some words "that sounded like French." Officers Lou Palmeri and James Teasdale, as well as Walter J. Smith, the day supervisor for the Winnebago County jail, also testified that the defendant had not engaged in any unusual behavior during the time they had contact with him.

The State then offered the testimony of Matthew D. Parrish, the superintendent of the Singer Mental Health Center, who was asked to interview the defendant by jail authorities on May 31, 1978, prior to the first competency hearing, in order to determine whether the defendant would be appropriate as a patient for either the Singer Center or some other institution operated by the Department of Mental Health. Parrish testified that he first informed the defendant of his rights before conducting his examination. Dr. Parrish came to the conclusion that the defendant was exaggerating his condition and that his mental disturbances may have been caused by certain drugs. He saw no evidence that the defendant was schizophrenic. Dr. Parrish testified that the best evidence of the defendant's state of mind at the date of the offense would be evidence as to the defendant's conduct at the time he committed the crime. The doctor testified that he had read the police reports and the statements of witnesses. From these he concluded that the defendant was not psychotic at the time of the crime and that he was legally sane. At this time, the defense counsel objected to the doctor's testimony on the ground that the doctor had never been ordered by a court to determine the sanity of the defendant. The counsel's objection was overruled.

In his closing argument, the prosecutor emphasized the opinion given by Dr. Parrish and the fact that that opinion was based on the police records. On May 21, 1979, the court found that the defendant was legally sane beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore found the defendant guilty of armed robbery.

• 1 We must first consider an issue of waiver raised by the State. A specific objection to Dr. Parrish's testimony was not made until the witness had given his conclusion that defendant was not insane at the time of the commission of the crime. Counsel for the defendant then stated that he was objecting to the conclusion of the witness because he was never "ordered or asked" to determine defendant's fitness to stand trial but merely to determine the best place for treatment. The question of privilege now raised on appeal was not referred to at trial and defendant filed no post-trial motion. Issues not raised in a post-trial motion "are effectively waived for appellate review." (People v. Tannenbaum (1980), 82 Ill.2d 177, 181.) Generally, the failure to object at trial operates as a waiver of consideration of the issue on appeal. (People v. Carlson (1980), 79 Ill.2d 564, 576.) In absence of objection a reviewing court may consider the issue if it amounts to "plain error." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 110A, par. 615(a).) However, the doctrine of "plain ...

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