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People v. Marshall





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. Gordon D. Seator, Judge, presiding.



Insanity defense.

Bench trial.

Guilty but mentally ill.

Sentence: 20 years.

We affirm.

First of all, this court is apologetic for the length of this opinion. But since defendant asserts that she was insane at the time of the murder, virtually all of the prolix evidence in this cause is relevant to some measurable extent.


On the morning of February 4, 1981, after eating breakfast, defendant drank about a pint of whiskey and two cans of beer. She was also taking medication for a cold at that time. Sometime that morning, Marvin Smith told defendant that her van — which she had left in a garage at the home of her brother, Virgil Marshall, for the purpose of being repaired — had been moved out of the garage. This information made defendant angry, because the van bore expired license plates, and she feared that if the police saw the plates they might tow the van away. In the late morning or early afternoon of that day, Smith gave defendant a ride to the home of another brother, Dexter Marshall, which was about 1 1/2 blocks from Virgil's home. Defendant subsequently proceeded to Virgil's residence and found Virgil in his garage in the company of Tom Brooks. The two men were attempting to repair an automobile, and defendant's van was parked in the driveway leading to the garage.

The accounts of Brooks and defendant as to what happened after defendant entered the garage differ in some respects. According to Brooks, the defendant, after entering the garage, asked Virgil why her van was outside. Virgil replied that he and Brooks had temporarily moved the van out of the garage so that they could work on someone else's car, and that they would move it back when they were finished. Brooks began to elaborate on Virgil's explanation of the reasons for the van's removal from the garage, but defendant told him to shut up. The defendant then pulled out a gun and fired three shots, one of which hit her brother, Virgil. After the shots were fired, Brooks hit the floor and remained there until defendant exited from the garage. As Brooks was leaving the garage, he confronted defendant in the driveway. She told him that she was going to "blow his [Brooks'] brains out." Brooks did not remember whether Virgil had anything in his hand at the time of the shooting.

Defendant testified that when she arrived at Virgil's home, she felt "kind of bad" because the van, which was unlocked, was sitting outside in the driveway. When she began to discuss this situation with Virgil, he got angry and started arguing with her, but defendant could not recall exactly what was said. Virgil subsequently picked up the ratchet part of a ratchet wrench and started toward defendant with the ratchet in his hand. At the same time, Brooks grabbed one of defendant's wrists. Defendant told Brooks to let her go, which he did, but Virgil then "let the wrench go" and defendant had a scuffle with him. Virgil later came toward defendant again, and she thought that he was going to hit her head with the ratchet, whereupon she fired two shots from a gun that she had brought with her. The first shot hit a wall; the second hit Virgil. After the shooting, defendant returned to Dexter's home and asked him to call an ambulance for Virgil. The defendant further testified that approximately two weeks prior to the shooting, Virgil kicked her in the stomach.

On cross-examination, defendant stated that she frequently carried a gun with her, primarily for the purpose of protecting her house, and preventing people from stealing things from her. She also acknowledged that one of the reasons for her concern as to whether her van bore the proper license plates was that she was trying to make sure that her conduct conformed to the requirements of the applicable law. She admitted that on the day of the shooting, she was not angry at anyone else, and that on that day she knew that it would have been unlawful for her to pull out her gun and shoot someone at Dexter's home.

The only unusual thing that Dexter Marshall noticed about defendant on the day of the shooting was that she was a little quieter than usual. According to Marvin Smith, defendant appeared calm and he noticed nothing unusual about her during the ride from her residence to Dexter Marshall's home. Cleo King, who was at Dexter's residence at the time of the shooting, stated that defendant said that she shot Virgil because "she was just tired of people messing with her," and that defendant said that she hoped Virgil was dead. He further stated that following the shooting, defendant looked very upset, and in King's opinion defendant's conduct on the day of the shooting was different from her normal conduct.

According to James Zimmerman (one of the police officers who transported defendant to the police station) the defendant kicked him in the knee several times while being taken to the prisoner transport van at the scene of the shooting. During the trip to the station, the defendant was "very combative, both verbally and physically." She stated that she "shot him [Virgil] and hoped that he [Virgil] was dead" and that "she would do it to us [the police officers], too, if we didn't let her go." The defendant was still combative when she arrived at the police station, but calmed down when a police officer engaged her in a conversation about fishing, which is apparently a favorite avocation. Zimmerman testified that it is not unusual for persons placed under arrest to be combative, and that there was nothing in defendant's behavior that he had not seen before.

Pat Ford, a female police officer, participated in the booking of defendant. When Ford first saw the defendant, she was "mad or angry and excited" and was yelling that "she would teach her brother from messing around with her and she hoped he was dead," but she later calmed down. In Ford's opinion, the defendant was coherent and was acting logically on the day of her arrest. Ford also stated that the defendant's conduct on that day was not substantially different from that of many other arrestees whom she had previously seen.

Officer Flavian Hughes similarly testified that defendant was combative when she first arrived at the police station, but that she calmed down when he and other officers started talking to her about fishing. The defendant and a group of police officers then carried on a logical, coherent conversation for about 20 minutes.

The defendant presented the testimony of two expert witnesses. The first, Dr. Nieves Tan-Lachica, a psychiatrist, was Marshall's treating physician at McFarland Zone Center from April 9, 1981 (when defendant was committed to McFarland following a finding that she was unfit to stand trial), until May 31, 1981. From the latter date until shortly before the date that defendant's trial commenced (January 25, 1982), Dr. Tan-Lachica supervised the physician who was directly responsible for defendant's treatment. Dr. Tan-Lachica had extensively discussed the events of February 4, 1981, with defendant, and defendant's accounts of events on that date were very consistent. She believed that defendant truthfully related to her, defendant's perception of what occurred on the day of the shooting.

During her stay at McFarland, the defendant was treated for paranoid schizophrenia. When first committed, she was preoccupied with much paranoid thinking and "thought that a lot of people had messed up her life." With the exception of one temporary relapse, her condition thereafter consistently improved as a result of medication. Following her discharge to the custody of the Sangamon County sheriff's office for the purpose of standing trial, the defendant was continued on the same medication which she had been receiving at McFarland. The purpose of the medication was to control defendant's psychosis and depression.

The defendant's second expert witness, Dr. Philip Bornstein, also a psychiatrist, first saw the defendant in the spring of 1976, shortly after she gave birth to a daughter. The reason for the initial consultation was that defendant's attending physician was concerned about her mental state and her ability to care for her newborn daughter. At that time, Bornstein made a diagnosis of chronic schizophrenia, probably of the paranoid type. The second period of Dr. Bornstein's contact with defendant occurred between January and April 1977, when defendant was incarcerated in the Sangamon County jail. She was referred to Bornstein by the jail physician for treatment of a psychiatric problem. Following three or four weeks of treatment, Bornstein diagnosed defendant as suffering from chronic paranoid schizophrenia.

In 1978, defendant voluntarily entered St. John's Hospital in Springfield for psychiatric treatment, and Dr. Bornstein was her treating physician. At the time of defendant's admission, "[s]he was very upset and worried because she felt that her parents had cut a hole inside her." Bornstein again diagnosed defendant's condition as paranoid schizophrenia. Dr. Bornstein also saw defendant on one occasion in 1979, and at that time she was still suffering from schizophrenia.

On both February 24, 1981, and October 20, 1981, Dr. Bornstein examined defendant for 1 1/2 to two hours in an effort to ascertain her state of mind on the day that she shot Virgil. At both interviews, defendant indicated that she shot her brother because she thought that he was going to hit her with a wrench.

Dr. Bornstein described defendant's conduct and state of mind at the time of the first interview as "hostile, belligerent, profane, yelling, disorganized, she couldn't concentrate, mad at everyone, no one wanted to help her, everyone was out to get her." At the second interview, defendant "had many of the same kinds of thoughts [as at the time of the first interview] but with much less intensity," and she was able to engage herself in an organized conversation "with less suspicion."

Dr. Bornstein testified that based on his total knowledge of the defendant, there were two possible explanations for her conduct on the date of the shooting: first, that Virgil did in fact come at her with a wrench; second, that she merely perceived that Virgil had a dangerous object in his hand, and that she was in danger from him. The second explanation was a possibility because a perception on the part of defendant that she was in danger from Virgil would have been compatible with her prior history.

Dr. Bornstein opined that the defendant was — to a reasonable degree of medical certainty — suffering from paranoid schizophrenia on the date of Virgil's death. Furthermore, he believed that on that date, defendant knew that it was against the law to shoot another person, except in self-defense. The defendant did not feel that she was breaking the law in shooting Virgil, however, because of her feeling that she was indeed acting in self-defense.

In Dr. Bornstein's view, the defendant, at the time of the shooting, lacked substantial capacity to conform her conduct to the requirements of the law because "[s]he has done what she felt she had to do — her feelings and her thoughts were being influenced by psychiatric disease, regardless of what the law exactly was. This has been her behavior then; it was her behavior in the past. She's not always able to do what the law requires of her." As further reasons for his conclusion that at the time in question the defendant was unable to conform her conduct to the requirements of the law, Dr. Bornstein stated that defendant had every known symptom of paranoid schizophrenia, that she is hostile, unstable, threatening and violent when she is not receiving treatment for her schizophrenia, and that to his knowledge, she was not receiving treatment at the time that she shot Virgil.

Based on his long period of acquaintanceship with defendant, Dr. Bornstein also believed that she told him the truth as to events on February 4, 1981, as she perceived them.

On cross-examination, Dr. Bornstein admitted that a third possible explanation for defendant's shooting Virgil was that she just did not like him and decided to kill him. The following exchanges subsequently occurred between the prosecutor and Dr. Bornstein:

"Q [Assistant State's Attorney Shiffman]. Now, you also indicated it's your opinion that Miss Marshall lacked substantial capacity to conform her conduct to the requirements of the law, but you've indicated by your testimony that she was in reality acting in self-defense, and so then she did not lack that capacity, is that your testimony?

A [Dr. Bornstein]. I don't think she cared about the law. I think maybe that's a more accurate way to put it.

She perceived herself to be in danger, felt she had the right to shoot her brother because she thought she was going to get herself hurt.

If there was something there, a wrench there — I think someone else had to decide whether that is right or wrong. But if there wasn't a wrench there, it was much more of a paranoid ideation, the ones she's always had.

Q. But Doctor, isn't it correct to say that if there was in fact a wrench there, and she had the legal right to act in self-defense, that at that point in time she did have the legal capacity to conform her conduct to the law — isn't that correct?

A. * * *

I really don't think that, whether or not she was acting in self-defense, has anything to do with her perception — I mean of her ability to conform her conduct. I think she would have shot him either way ultimately, because she was so afraid of him. You know, I think she could have had a policeman standing there and she would have done it.

Q. Doctor, is what you're saying to the Court then, if she actually committed murder, she's innocent; but if she actually acted in self-defense at the same time, she is insane?

A. No, I didn't say that. I think she — either one is ...

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