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People v. Turner





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. John Layng, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied January 28, 1983.

Henry L. Turner was charged with attempted murder, home invasion, and burglary. On his motion, the trial court ordered that Doctors J.G. Graybill and Carl H. Hamann examine him to determine his fitness to stand trial and his sanity at the time of the offense. After a hearing at which Doctors Graybill and Hamann, as well as defendant and his mother, testified, the trial court found the defendant fit to stand trial.

Subsequently, Turner entered a negotiated plea of guilty to the attempted murder charge, in return for dismissal of the home invasion and burglary counts and dismissal of several unrelated charges. After admonishing the defendant, the trial court found that the plea was knowing and voluntary. The trial court entered a judgment of conviction for attempted murder. At the defendant's request, the trial court ordered a physical and mental examination of the defendant before sentencing. Subsequently, the defendant was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment, from which sentence he appeals raising two issues: (1) whether the trial court erred at the fitness hearing by deferring to the psychiatric opinions as to the defendant's fitness and (2) whether the defendant's guilty plea was entered intelligently and voluntarily.

• 1 Initially, we note a possible waiver of the first issue due to the defendant's guilty plea. A voluntary guilty plea waives all errors, defects, and irregularities, including constitutional violations, which are not jurisdictional. (People v. McKean (1981), 94 Ill. App.3d 502.) However, resolution of this issue may be considered jurisdictional as a defendant's unfitness could render the proceedings void. (See People v. Rockamann (1979), 79 Ill. App.3d 575.) Further, as resolution of this issue may affect the determination as to whether the defendant's guilty plea was voluntarily made, we address this issue.

• 2 A criminal defendant has a constitutional right not to be tried or convicted while he or she is incompetent to stand trial. (People v. Lang (1979), 76 Ill.2d 311, cert. denied (1979), 444 U.S. 954, 62 L.Ed.2d 326, 100 S.Ct. 433; People v. Murphy (1978), 72 Ill.2d 421; People v. Turner (1980), 88 Ill. App.3d 793.) The defendant is unfit if, because of a mental or physical condition, he or she is unable to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings or to assist in his or her defense. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 104-10; People v. Lang (1979), 76 Ill.2d 311; People v. Murphy (1978), 72 Ill.2d 421.) In making this determination, the court should consider whether the defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with defense counsel with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and whether the defendant has both a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings. (People v. Turner (1980), 88 Ill. App.3d 793.) The same standards are used to determine whether a defendant is fit to enter a guilty plea; i.e., the defendant must understand the nature of the charges and the purpose of the proceedings and must be able to assist in his or her defense. People v. Heral (1976), 62 Ill.2d 329; People v. Ryan (1979), 74 Ill. App.3d 886; People v. Perkins (1977), 53 Ill. App.3d 412.

The law presumes that the defendant is fit to stand trial or to plead guilty. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 104-10; People v. Barnard (1981), 95 Ill. App.3d 1132.) However, where a bona fide doubt of the defendant's fitness has been raised, the State has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant is fit. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 104-11; People v. Bilyew (1978), 73 Ill.2d 294; People v. Turner (1980), 88 Ill. App.3d 793.) Both the initial determination as to whether a bona fide doubt as to the defendant's fitness exists and a finding of fitness after a hearing are matters for decision by the trial court, reversible only upon a showing of abuse of discretion. People v. Dominique (1980), 86 Ill. App.3d 794; People v. Rockamann (1979), 79 Ill. App.3d 575.

Here, the trial court ordered a fitness hearing on the defendant's motion. Doctors Hamann and Graybill, two psychiatrists, examined the defendant on October 4, 1980. Each examination consisted of an interview with the defendant. Both doctors found the defendant to be cooperative and oriented in time, place, and person. Although the defendant was slightly lethargic with Doctor Hamann, he answered the doctor's questions readily and in a responsive manner, appeared alert, and displayed no unusual behavior. The defendant's speech was regular and his motor activity displayed no abnormality. While his thought processes were slow, with slight prodding, the defendant proceeded logically towards a goal. The defendant looked around frequently during Doctor Hamann's examination, but not to an extreme degree. During the interview with Doctor Graybill, the defendant was attentive; however, the defendant's demeanor was jocular, which Doctor Graybill attributed to a low intellectual capacity. The defendant told each doctor about his background and his family and their activities. He reported to both psychiatrists that he had been expelled from school in the eighth grade for running in the halls. He told Doctor Hamann that he had been charged with auto theft in the past.

Doctors Hamann and Graybill agreed that the defendant was of dull normal intelligence. Doctor Graybill characterized the defendant as not "playing with a full deck." He noted that the defendant was operating at a level of a 13 to 14-year-old and was not developed intellectually to the level that one would expect given the defendant's age, 19 years. However, both psychiatrists found no evidence of major thought or perceptual disorder or of major mental illness. Doctor Hamann stated that he had found no history of past major mental illness. Both doctors concluded that the defendant understood the nature and purpose of the charges and could cooperate with his attorney. According to the doctors, the defendant was generally able to observe, recollect, and relate the events leading to the crime, although he could not do so in minute detail and his memory was a bit hazy. Doctor Graybill felt that the defendant's memory was sufficient that he could take the witness stand, relate his version of the facts, and testify consistently with what he had told his attorney. The defendant knew that he was in trouble and that his conduct was illegal. He told Doctor Hamann that he might be imprisoned for 14 years. The defendant knew that he was charged with burglary and attempted murder and that he had been arrested for invading a home. He described to the doctors his entry into the house, his fight with one of the occupants, and his use of a knife in the fight. The only inadequacy Doctor Graybill found in the defendant's version of the event was that the defendant characterized the knife he used as small and he did not know how often he had cut the victim. In fact, the knife blade was 5-6 inches long, and the victim sustained 19 stab wounds.

Both psychiatrists noted that the defendant seemed somewhat preoccupied with the fact that a gun had been stolen from him and with a fear of retaliation by his brother, appearing more concerned with that than with the charges. The defendant's stated motive for the offense was a need to obtain money to cover the cost of the stolen gun. Doctor Graybill felt that the defendant did not seem to recognize the seriousness of the charges, as his affect was inappropriate and his emotional responses were immature. The defendant was not well informed as to the functions and responsibility of various courtroom personnel, such as the court reporter, the clerk, and the bailiff. This caused Doctor Graybill to have some reservation as to the defendant's ability to fulfill all the fitness requirements if counsel were not present. The defendant also did not know his attorney's name and claimed not to have seen his attorney. However, the defendant did know that there was a prosecutor, a defendant, defense counsel, and a judge, and he could identify these persons. He roughly understood that the prosecutor presented a case and that the defense counsel would help to minimize the charges.

The defendant's mother, Annie Turner, testified that the defendant had been treated for mental illness in the past, having spent two months in the Singer Mental Health Center when he was 17 years old. According to Annie Turner, the defendant was sent to Singer pursuant to a court order after an incident in which the defendant had stabbed his sister. At the time, the defendant had been acting quite strange, claiming to see things, such as white people turning black, or one man jumping into the body of another man. The defendant's hospitalization was approximately two years prior to the fitness hearing, and the defendant had not been hospitalized within the six months prior to the hearing. Similarly, the defendant's mother had not heard the defendant report seeing people change within the six months prior to the hearing. However, the defendant did tell his mother that while in jail, he had spoken with his uncle and girl friend, both of whom were in Arkansas. The defendant also told his mother that people were bothering him in his cell and taking things from him, but he could not see them. According to the defendant's mother, the defendant did not seem to know exactly what happened which led to the charges. The defendant told her that a woman had spoken to him about the case and was going to help him get out of jail, but he claimed not to have a lawyer. The defendant's mother stated that she had seen the defendant regularly since he was put in jail, but she was unable to converse with him as he was constantly looking around. She reported that the defendant was literate and had finished grade school. The defendant had begun high school, but attended for only a short time and frequently was in trouble.

The defendant testified. He was not under the influence of medication, and he was not in pain at the time of the hearing. He recalled talking to two doctors in jail, but did not remember their names. He claimed to know their faces. However, when asked if the men in court were the men he had talked to, the defendant only remembered Doctor Hamann. The defendant knew that Doctor Hamann had spoken with him because Doctor Hamann was a doctor and wanted to see if the defendant had any problems. The defendant and Doctor Hamann discussed the fact that the defendant was in trouble. The defendant stated that he had answered and understood the doctor's questions. While remembering some of the questions, e.g., the charges, the identity of defense counsel, the defendant did not recall Doctor Hamann asking questions about the court or its personnel.

The defendant stated that the court reporter was a lady, but he did not know a court reporter's function. According to the defendant, the clerk was "just like the judge" and handled papers. The defendant testified that he knew what a prosecutor was and what function the prosecutor performed. He knew that defense counsel's job was "talking to" the defendant. While not knowing what a jury was, the defendant stated that he knew what a trial was. According to the defendant, what happened in a trial was "[s]entence, what the sentence." The defendant indicated that he knew what the judge did, i.e., "[g]ive me time." The defendant thought the possible outcome of his case would be that he would get a sentence, but he did not know how long the sentence would be. He testified that he could be cooperative with his attorney and that he understood that he faced serious charges.

The defendant reported that he told his mother that he had spoken to his grandfather while in jail, but defendant testified that he had not spoken to his grandfather recently. He further indicated that while he was in jail, he had not seen anyone jump out of anyone else. When asked by the court as to the identity of a baby his mother was holding, the defendant responded "I guess my sister," but did not ...

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