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People v. Gurga





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas J. Maloney, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied January 6, 1987.

Defendant, Jeffrey Gurga, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of murder, attempted murder, and home invasion. Following a bench trial, the court found defendant guilty of those crimes, and it sentenced him to concurrent terms of 40, 30, and 20 years. Defendant appeals.

On August 9, 1982, around 2 a.m., defendant went for a walk in his neighborhood. He saw a light and heard female voices coming from an apartment that he passed. He returned to his home. He went out again at 3:30 a.m., wearing gloves on his hands and blacking substance on his face, and carrying a screwdriver, pliers, a knife, and a knotted necktie. He broke into the second-floor apartment from which he had earlier heard voices. This was the apartment of Kathleen and Janine Pearson, who were complete strangers to the defendant. Defendant put down the screwdriver, pliers, and necktie near the patio door. He took a picture of Janine from the piano and placed it near the tools.

Defendant went into one of the bedrooms, carrying his knife. He stabbed Janine three times in the back before she woke up. She struggled briefly, then she let her body go limp and she held her breath. Her mother, Kathleen, woke up and opened her bedroom door. Defendant left Janine's room and attacked Kathleen in her bedroom, stabbing her repeatedly while she struggled. Janine called 911 and ran into the hallway of the apartment building, knocking on doors. She went back to her apartment.

Charles and Betty Armstrong, who lived in the apartment one floor down from the Pearson's apartment, came upstairs. Charles went to Kathleen's bedroom, where he saw defendant kneeling over Kathleen, holding a bloody knife. He told defendant to "drop the fucking knife." Defendant dropped the knife and said, "[M]y God, I went bananas." Armstrong told defendant to lie face down on the living room floor. Defendant cooperated. Several times defendant said, "[W]here are the paramedics, where's the ambulance?" He remained on the floor until the police arrived.

Kathleen Pearson died that morning. Janine was severely injured, but she survived.

At trial police officer Joseph Maraffino testified that when he entered the Pearson's apartment defendant was lying on the floor. He asked defendant his name, and defendant said, "Help these women. I don't know these women. Call an ambulance." Maraffino placed defendant under arrest and read him his Miranda rights. He asked defendant if he understood each of these rights and defendant replied, "Yes." Maraffino testified that he then asked, "Do you wish to answer questions at this time?" and defendant did not answer. Defense counsel objected, and the court overruled the objection.

Police detective Raymond Kruel testified that he searched defendant's apartment on August 9, 1982. The apartment was extraordinarily messy. He removed a diary from the apartment along with many papers on which defendant had written notes.

Jacqueline Tashchner, a cryptologist, testified that she deciphered part of defendant's diary and the notes on some of the papers which Kruel found crumpled near a tool box. The diary was written in a cipher alphabet. The passages she deciphered referred to jobs and resumes. One of the papers contained a tree diagram of the kind commonly used in studies of probability. It showed possible outcomes for an encounter between a man and a woman, including such possibilities as, "They become lovers," "They part," and, "He forgets about her." One vertex was labeled, "He kills her." There were two possible outcomes following from that vertex. Tashchner testified that the notation indicated that defendant assumed that there was a 20% chance of the result being "He is caught and sent to prison," and an 80% chance of the result being "He escapes undetected."

A partner in the law firm which employed defendant testified for the defense that defendant was a "highly competent" attorney. On August 2, 1982, defendant told the partner that he was leaving his job with the firm in three weeks because he felt "burned out." Defendant represented one of his clients at a hearing in court on August 6, 1982. The partner testified that he had never seen defendant act in a bizarre manner.

Dr. John Adams, a psychiatrist, testified for the defense that in his opinion defendant was suffering from schizophrenia, a mental disease, and that due to that disease he was unable to conform his conduct to the requirements of law on the morning of August 9, 1982. Dr. Robert Reifman, also a psychiatrist, testified for the State that in his opinion, defendant suffered from an obsessive compulsive disorder with a schizoid personality. He testified that this was not a mental disease or defect, within the legal meanings of those terms, and in his opinion defendant was capable of conforming his conduct to the requirements of law when he stabbed Kathleen and Janine Pearson. The psychiatrists used essentially the same information regarding defendant's psychiatric history in forming their opinions, and each psychiatrist conducted several interviews with defendant.

In explanation of his diagnosis, Dr. Adams emphasized defendant's extensive history of mental illness. In 1966, while defendant was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, he attacked a female student, a stranger to him, with a penknife. He inflicted a superficial injury before he ran out of her room. The day after the incident, a psychiatrist at the University interviewed defendant and diagnosed him as having a "[s]chizophrenic reaction — chronic undifferentiated type." Defendant was hospitalized for 3 1/2 months, and he continued as an outpatient for a year after his release. Dr. Adams largely agreed with the assessments made by the psychiatrists who treated defendant in 1966 and 1967, although their terminology was different from his because of varying diagnostic considerations and variations in standard terminology.

Dr. Adams said that defendant again struggled to control his impulses in 1970, at the end of his first year of law school, when he became absorbed in his fantasies to the extent that he did not take his final examinations. Defendant dropped out of school and joined the National Guard. In 1971 defendant enrolled at the University of Illinois Law School. The psychiatrist who evaluated defendant prior to his ...

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