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People v. Queen

OPINION FILED JULY 13, 1982.

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

v.

PAUL S. QUEEN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Perry County; the Hon. William B. Starnes, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE WELCH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On January 4, 1979, Lida Belle King was found dead in her DuQuoin, Illinois, apartment. The results of an autopsy indicated that she had been strangled. In March of that year, the defendant, Paul S. Queen, was charged by a Perry County indictment with the murder of Mrs. King. Following a bench trial in July of 1979, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment. He appeals to this court, and argues that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to order an examination into his fitness to stand trial, and that the State's evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt. We agree with the first of his contentions.

The defendant first appeared before Judge Robert Bastien on March 29, 1979, for purposes of his arraignment. As a preliminary matter, the court inquired about the defendant's educational background, to which he replied that he had gone to eighth grade, had some additional training in high school and then "took college and law school." When asked where he went to college, the defendant answered that he "took it in law school." Judge Bastien then asked him where he studied law, and the defendant responded, "Perry County and with the Army." The defendant also told Judge Bastien that he had a bachelor's degree and that, in fact, he had "two or three of them some place," but he didn't know where they were.

In order to determine the defendant's eligibility for the services of the public defender, the court asked if the defendant owned any real estate. The defendant said that he was "supposed to," but "the real estate company has changed around" on him. He further stated,

"I don't know what they did since they started changing the highways and the electric around because I called and they were getting me into public housing and all."

During the course of the arraignment, the defendant informed the court that he "just came back from spending 2 1/2 years in Quincy, but I had the Advocate General up there."

The defendant's next appearance before Judge Bastien came on May 15, 1979, when the defendant sought to waive his right to a jury trial. In this hearing, the State's Attorney suggested to Judge Bastien that, upon his investigation, it appeared that there was a bona fide doubt of the defendant's fitness to stand trial. The State's Attorney read the appropriate statutory provision (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-1) to require that, once the issue of the defendant's fitness has been raised, the court must hold a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a bona fide doubt of the defendant's fitness, and, if so, then a full fitness hearing would be needed. The court stated that once a bona fide doubt of the defendant's fitness is raised, the full fitness hearing must be held, without the necessity for any sort of preliminary hearing. Judge Bastien then terminated the jury waiver proceedings and ordered the State to file a motion raising the question of the defendant's fitness to stand trial.

On May 16, the State's Attorney orally requested the court to reconsider the order directing him to file a motion concerning the defendant's fitness. This motion was denied, and, on May 17, the State filed a petition to hold a fitness hearing. This was accompanied, on the following day, by a motion to withdraw that petition.

Attached to the State's petition were several written statements from law enforcement personnel which had given rise to the State's Attorney's doubts of the defendant's fitness to stand trial. DuQuoin Police Chief Walter Minton had gone to the defendant's residence to arrest him. According to Chief Minton, the defendant told him, "You can't arrest me." He further stated that "the court can't arrest me, the county can't arrest me and the State can't arrest me. The only guy that I take orders from and the only guy that can arrest me is General MacArthur." The defendant indicated to Minton that he was aware of what murder was, but that no one in this world could put him in jail.

The defendant professed to Minton to have once been a lawyer, doctor, and the owner of a large construction company. He said that he "didn't think the world was all together" and warned that it "wasn't safe to keep driving." The defendant told Minton that he thought the world was flat and that "there was a red light up there to stop you and keep you from driving off."

In his report, Chief Jerry Minton opined that the defendant could not "keep on the same track" when he was questioned. He would answer him in "an unrelated way." Minton offered examples of the defendant's responses to his inquiries.

"QUESTION: Do you drink?

ANSWER: I didn't do anything.

QUESTION: Have you ever spent time ...


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