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People v. Cisewski

OPINION FILED MAY 15, 1986.

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

v.

MARY O. CISEWSKI, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James J. Heyda, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MCMORROW DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied June 9, 1986.

Following a jury trial, Mary O. Cisewski (defendant) was convicted of the voluntary manslaughter of her husband, Donald, and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, pars. 9-2(b), 1005-8-1(a)(4).) Defendant appeals from her conviction, raising the following questions for our review: 1) whether the State's failure to disclose prior to trial a supposed inculpatory statement allegedly made by the defendant constituted reversible error; 2) whether the prosecution's statements during rebuttal closing argument deprived defendant of a fair trial under the sixth and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution (U.S. Const., amends. VI, XIV) and article I, section 2, of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, sec. 2). We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Evidence produced at trial established that commencing in the early 1970's, defendant began to suffer from paranoid beliefs that she was being harassed by police, tenants, lawyers and others whom she believed were part of a conspiracy against her. In 1979 or 1980, she purchased and registered a firearm in order to protect herself.

Defendant and Donald were married in 1981. Donald was aware of defendant's "harassment" beliefs at the time of the marriage. Sometime thereafter, defendant began to suspect that her husband was part of the conspiracy against her. In early 1982, her fears had magnified to the point where she believed that there was a plot to have her killed and she suspected that Donald would attempt to kill her.

On February 9, 1982, defendant came home from work and discovered that the gun was missing from the location in the house where she had previously placed it. Her husband claimed he did not know where she had put the weapon.

The following evening Donald produced the box of bullets to the gun. Defendant became frightened and believed that if he had taken the bullets he also must have taken the firearm. She found the loaded weapon upon a search of Donald's automobile later that day.

Within the next few days, defendant's mental condition deteriorated and her fears of Donald's plan to kill her intensified. By Friday night she was hysterical. When Donald came home from work late that evening, he and defendant began to argue. Donald went into the dining room of the house and sat down. Mary took the loaded gun from a drawer in the living room where she had hidden it a few days earlier, and went into the dining room with the gun in her hand. She testified at trial that she intended only to scare her husband and that she did not intend to harm him. Defendant showed the weapon to Donald and asked him if he thought this was funny. She said to him, "Your problem is you think everything is funny." Defendant then shot her husband in the head and abdomen. She had no memory of having fired any shots. She testified that she apparently fainted and that when she came to, she realized that the gun had been fired. She walked into the kitchen, put the gun down, and called the police.

Defendant's defense at trial was that she either had an unreasonable belief in self-defense (voluntary manslaughter) or that she acted with reckless disregard for Donald's safety (involuntary manslaughter). She testified at trial on her own behalf. A psychiatrist called by the defense testified that defendant suffered from paranoia.

The jury found defendant guilty of voluntary manslaughter. The trial court entered a finding of guilty as to that charge and sentenced defendant to five years' incarceration. Defendant's timely appeal followed.

OPINION

I

Defendant argues that the trial court erred in its denial of defendant's motion for a mistrial based upon the State's failure to disclose prior to trial a statement allegedly made by defendant. Defendant claims that the State should have disclosed an alleged telephone call by defendant to her deceased husband's ...


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