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08/04/87 the People of the State of v. Herschel Jackson

August 4, 1987





522 N.E.2d 577, 170 Ill. App. 3d 77, 118 Ill. Dec. 907 1987.IL.1112

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. James M. Bailey, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE SCARIANO delivered the opinion of the court. STAMOS and HARTMAN, JJ., concur.


Defendant Herschel Jackson (Jackson) was indicted for murdering his mother, stepfather, and his six-year-old stepbrother. In December of 1982 he was found mentally unfit to stand trial, but on April 10, 1984, following a bench trial, Jackson was found guilty but mentally ill. Subsequently, he was found unfit for sentencing until January 21, 1985, when he was sentenced to natural life in prison.

Jackson's indictment was returned on July 2, 1982, and on July 28, 1982, his attorney, assistant public defender Dennis Tobin (Tobin), requested a Behavioral Clinic examination in order to determine Jackson's fitness for trial. The trial court granted the request and Jackson was examined by Dr. R. A. Reifman (Reifman), director of the Psychiatric Institute of the Circuit Court of Cook County, who found Jackson unfit to stand trial. In a fitness hearing held December 20, 1982, Reifman testified that he believed Jackson was "unable to assist counsel in his own defense because of a mental condition, schizophrenia, and as such [was] not mentally fit to stand trial." The court agreed and custody of Jackson was given to the Illinois Department of Mental Health .

In a DMH progress report submitted March 10, 1983, Dr. Sklan opined that with psychotropic medication Jackson would be ready for a fitness evaluation. Accordingly, Dr. Gilbert Bogen (Bogen), staff psychiatrist of the Psychiatric Institute, examined him, but concluded that he was still unfit for trial. After a DMH progress report was issued on October 3, 1983, which stated that Jackson was once more ready for evaluation, Bogen again examined Jackson and concluded that he was "Mentally Fit for trial with medication."

At the trial, which began on April 10, 1984, detective Paul Carroll (Carroll) testified that on July 2, 1982, he received a report that three bodies had been found in a car parked on Chicago's North Avenue beach. When Carroll arrived at the scene, he encountered other policemen and observed a bloodstained station wagon that contained what were later identified as the bloody corpses of Matthew Behm, his father, and his stepmother. During a search of the car, the officers discovered papers bearing the Behms' address.

The police officers proceeded to the Behm residence and were admitted by Jackson. During a consensual search of the apartment, the officers observed that the floors throughout the apartment were bloody and that there was blood on Jackson's hands, feet, fingernails and toenails. Carroll also noticed buckets containing bloody water in the kitchen sink. He read Jackson his Miranda rights and Jackson said that he understood them.

Jackson then told Carroll that he had come home two nights earlier and interrupted a home invasion by three men, that he chased the men out of the apartment and returned to find his stepfather, mother, and stepbrother stabbed to death. Jackson said that he put the three bodies in the car, cleaned up the apartment, and drove the car to the North Avenue beach. He asserted that he did not call the police because he was afraid that they would think he had murdered his family.

In the squad car on the way to the police station, Carroll pointed out to Jackson numerous inconsistencies in his story. Jackson then stated that about two weeks earlier he had come home late and his stepfather had evicted him from the house. When he returned home the following day his stepfather told him that he could not go out and that he would have to help him wallpaper a room the following night. Jackson stated that he stabbed his stepfather to death while they were wallpapering, then proceeded to stab his stepbrother to death. He waited several hours for his mother to return home, and when she did, he had a brief conversation with her, after which he stabbed her to death.

Jackson recounted to Carroll that he cleaned up the apartment, put the bodies in the car, covered the bodies with a newspaper and a box, and then left the car at 63rd and Stony Island Avenue in Chicago. He indicated that the following day he drove the car from 63rd and Stony Island Avenue to the North Avenue beach. When Carroll asked Jackson where the knife was, he replied that it was in the back room of the apartment in a pile of dirty clothes. Carroll called the apartment from the police car, and an officer who was there to investigate the alleged crime retrieved the knife from the pile of clothes.

The following stipulations were had at trial: that Officer Whelan would testify that he recovered the murder weapon from the Behm residence and that Dr. Stein would testify ...

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