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People v. Mueller

OPINION FILED JANUARY 30, 1985.

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

v.

NEIL MUELLER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cass County; the Hon. Cecil J. Burrows, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Concealment of homicidal deaths.

Tried at bench — guilty — 30 months' probation.

We affirm.

Neil Mueller shot and killed Art Pierson and his son, Roscoe Pierson, on April 17, 1982, in Scott County.

Immediately after the shootings, Mueller placed the bodies in his pickup truck, drove to his farm in Scott County, and put the bodies in a hogpen. Upon returning to the farm after dinner, Mueller waited for his wife to retire and go to sleep. He then loaded the bodies back in his truck, drove into Cass County, and dumped the bodies off a bridge over Clear Creek.

Several days later, Mueller voluntarily told the police that he shot the Piersons and put their bodies in Clear Creek. Both bodies were subsequently recovered from Indian Creek, which is downstream of Clear Creek.

The Scott County State's Attorney charged defendant with the murders of Art and Roscoe Pierson. The murder trial was held in Sangamon County after Mueller moved for a change of place of trial. At the murder trial, he admitted to shooting Art and Roscoe Pierson. He testified that, prior to the shooting, Art Pierson had threatened him on several occasions by stating he would "blow [defendant's] head off." On one occasion, Art Pierson, while driving a logging truck, had forced defendant's car off the road into a ditch.

Mueller further testified that on the day of the shootings he was helping his brother check the condition of some cows which had been recently attacked by coyotes. Mueller was carrying a shotgun at that time. As he was chasing a calf, he came upon Art and Roscoe Pierson. He testified that Roscoe was armed with a pistol and "shot once or twice." Mueller returned fire with his shotgun. Art Pierson then came at Mueller with a chainsaw and Mueller shot him also.

The Sangamon County jury found Mueller not guilty of the murders of Art and Roscoe Pierson. On January 31, 1983, about 10 days after Mueller's acquittal for the murders, the Cass County State's Attorney filed charges against him for the concealment of the homicidal deaths of Art and Roscoe Pierson. (An amended information charged that Mueller concealed the Piersons' deaths by placing their bodies in Clear Creek.)

Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charges of concealment on the grounds that the prosecution was barred by defendant's acquittal in the former murder prosecution. At the hearing on the motion to dismiss, the parties stipulated that prior to defendant's trial for murder the Scott County State's Attorney agreed with the Cass County State's Attorney that defendant would be prosecuted in Scott County for murder only and that the Scott County State's Attorney would not pursue prosecution for the concealment of the deaths.

Defendant's motion to dismiss was denied. After waiving a jury trial on the concealment charges, all of the evidence was stipulated to, defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 30 months' probation, 100 days of work release, and fined $20 pursuant to the Crime Victims Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 70, par. 71 et seq.).

I

Defendant argues that the prosecution for the concealment of the homicidal deaths was barred under section 3-4(b)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, ...


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