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People v. Jones





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Frank B. Machala, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Earl Jones, was convicted at a bench trial of the murders of his wife and two-year-old stepdaughter. He was sentenced to two concurrent terms of 50 to 100 years' imprisonment.

On appeal, the defendant argues that he was not proved sane beyond a reasonable doubt and that the trial court erred in failing to order fitness hearings at the preliminary hearing and arraignment, on the date of trial and before sentencing.

On July 16, 1976, at approximately 3:30 p.m., Florence Jones, the defendant's neighbor, saw the defendant carry a sawed-off shotgun into his house. At about 3:45 p.m., she heard two firecracker-like noises. Approximately 35 to 40 minutes later, she saw the defendant, who was carrying the shotgun and a dufflebag, come out of the house and walk down the street with his three-year-old son.

Dan Wallace, the defendant's stepfather, testified that he saw the defendant at approximately 6 p.m. on July 16. The defendant told him to call the morgue because "he had some corpses." In Wallace's opinion, the defendant appeared calm and normal. Wallace further testified that the defendant had been hospitalized on several occasions for mental illness but appeared normal after his discharges.

Several Chicago police officers also testified concerning the defendant's behavior on the day of the murders. Officers Leon Cammon and Melvin Malcolm testified that they arrived at the defendant's apartment at about 10:25 p.m. and that the defendant admitted the shootings and showed them the corpses in a partially filled bathtub covered with sheets, bed articles and towels. As the officers walked through the apartment to the bathroom, they noticed bloodstains on the dining room walls and floor. Blood on the dining room floor had been wiped with a dry mop. A dismantled sawed-off shotgun and several shotgun shells were found on the floor. The officers stated that they stayed with the defendant for about 15 to 20 minutes and that during their questioning of him, the defendant appeared very calm, rational, placid and relaxed. The defendant gave no reason for shooting his stepdaughter but told Officer Cammon that he killed his wife because she wanted to engage in sex with him.

Officer James Stephens, who transported the defendant to the police station, testified that the defendant's responses to questions were rational, cooperative and coherent. The defendant stated that he killed his wife because she was "messing around." Officer Stephens said that the defendant gave some irrational responses to questions at the police station when he said to ask his son why he had committed the crime and when he claimed that "the radio static told him to do it." Stephens believed that these latter responses were made by the defendant after he had second thoughts about being cooperative.

Investigator Paul Parizanski, who interviewed the defendant for about 15 minutes at the station, stated that the defendant refused to discuss the murders without first talking to an attorney. Investigator Parizanski said the defendant acted in a sane manner and that his answers to general questions were responsive, straightforward and coherent.

All four officers testified that they believed the defendant appreciated the criminality of his conduct and that he could have conformed his conduct to the requirements of the law.

The final witness for the State was Abdul Rockman. Rockman had known the defendant for 15 years and testified concerning the marriage of his sister to the defendant. Rockman stated that the defendant was a devout Hebrew Israelite and obeyed the scriptures and religious requirements. He found the defendant to be responsive and coherent at frequent family gatherings and saw nothing unusual about the defendant's behavior during June and July 1976. Rockman further testified that on July 13, 1976, the defendant spoke with him about his marital problems. The defendant stated that he was displeased with his wife's treatment of the children and himself. When the defendant left Rockman's apartment, he said he was "not going to be responsible for whatever happens." Rockman testified that he believed that the defendant realized the difference between right and wrong and that he could appreciate the criminality of his actions and that he could conduct himself according to the law.

On defense, Doctor Edward Kelleher, a psychiatrist, testified concerning his six examinations of the defendant from 1973 to 1977. He also reviewed the defendant's medical records and history of mental illness. According to those records, the defendant exhibited psychotic symptoms in 1968 while in an army hospital after serving a few months in Vietnam. At that time, the defendant possessed an abnormal attitude and an extreme fervor toward his religion and suffered delusions about things happening to his body. The defendant also received treatment in a veteran's hospital in Pennsylvania; and in 1969 and 1970 the defendant was diagnosed as mentally sick and unfit to stand trial after a shooting incident in Arkansas. The defendant was hospitalized in Chicago in April 1972 at which time he was diagnosed as acutely psychotic. The defendant was transferred to a veteran's facility and was discharged against medical advice that same year.

Doctor Kelleher further testified that the defendant's records showed that in 1973 he was sent to the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute for a court-ordered psychiatric examination after having been charged with aggravated battery. The defendant was hallucinating and was diagnosed as having a paranoid type of schizophrenia and was found unfit to stand trial. Doctor Kelleher examined the defendant in November 1974 and found the defendant had improved sufficiently and could stand trial. Doctor Kelleher testified at that trial, and the defendant was acquitted by reason of insanity and received medical treatment until he was discharged in December 1975.

On September 2, 1976, Doctor Kelleher examined the defendant to determine his fitness to stand trial for the instant homicides. At that time, the defendant spoke rapidly and had poor contact with reality. He became delusional and disorganized in his thought processes. He showed no emotion when he discussed the shootings and stated that he shot his wife because she vexed him and that his three-year-old son instructed him to place the bodies in the bathtub and to clean up. Doctor Kelleher diagnosed the defendant as paranoid schizophrenic and found him unfit to stand trial. The defendant was again examined by Doctor Kelleher on September 21, 1976, and he made the same diagnosis.

Based on his personal interviews with the defendant as well as his review of the defendant's medical records and staff reports of interviews with the defendant's relatives, Doctor Kelleher concluded that on July 16, 1976, the defendant was suffering from a paranoid type of schizophrenia. He testified that in layman's terms, the defendant's condition could be described as crazy, psychotic or insane. Doctor Kelleher also concluded that as a result of that mental illness, the defendant was not able to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or conform his conduct to the ...

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