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10/05/87 the People of the State of v. Mary O. Cisewski

October 5, 1987





514 N.E.2d 970, 118 Ill. 2d 163, 113 Ill. Dec. 58 1987.IL.1499

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. James J. Heyda, Judge, presiding.


CHIEF JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.


The defendant, Mary Cisewski, was convicted by a jury in the circuit court of Cook County of the voluntary manslaughter of her husband, Donald Cisewski (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 9-2(b)). She was sentenced to five years' imprisonment. The appellate court, with one Judge Dissenting, affirmed the conviction (144 Ill. App. 3d 597), and we granted the defendant's petition for leave to appeal. (103 Ill. 2d R. 315.)

The issues presented in this appeal are: (1) whether the State's failure to comply with Supreme Court Rule 412(a)(ii) (107 Ill. 2d R. 412(a)(ii)) entitles defendant to a new trial; and (2) whether the prosecutor's statements during rebuttal closing argument deprived the 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 the defendant's conviction and sentence.

The record in this case reveals that the defendant had suffered for a number of years from paranoid fears. She falsely believed that she was being harassed by police, tenants, lawyers, and others who she believed were part of a conspiracy against her. In 1979 or 1980, in response to her fears, she purchased a .32-caliber revolver to protect herself.

In late 1980, the defendant met Donald Cisewski and the two were married in November of 1981. The record reveals that Donald was aware of the defendant's "harassment" beliefs at the time of their marriage. Sometime shortly after they were married, the defendant began to suspect that Donald was part of the conspiracy against her. She believed that there was a plot to have her killed and that Donald was "being pushed to carry it out."

On February 9, 1982, the defendant came home from work and discovered that her gun was missing from the location where she kept it. Donald claimed that he did not know where the gun was, but the next evening he inexplicably produced the box of bullets to the gun. The defendant became frightened, believing that if he had taken the bullets he also must have taken the gun. She immediately searched his car and found the loaded gun in the glove compartment. The defendant brought the gun into the house and hid it in a drawer in the dining room. The defendant testified that Donald never admitted that he took the gun and she did not tell him that she had found it in his car.

Over the next few days, the defendant's fear that Donald planned to kill her intensified. She talked to her children and made arrangements to move in with one of them within the next few weeks. The couple's arguing continued. According to the defendant, Donald told her that no matter what he did to her the police would arrange to have her death reported as a suicide.

On Friday, February 12, the defendant came home from work and made several telephone calls to her children. She drank a few beers in an effort to calm her heightened feelings of desperation. When Donald came home from work that evening, he and the defendant began to argue in the kitchen. While they were arguing, Donald got up and went into the living room and sat down. The defendant then took the loaded gun from the drawer in the dining room and went into the living room with the gun in her hand. She showed Donald the gun and asked him if he thought it was funny. She said to him, "Your problem is you think everything is funny." The defendant then shot her husband in the head and abdomen.

The defendant testified in her own behalf at trial. She stated that she had no intention of firing the gun, but only wanted to scare Donald. The defendant testified that she had no memory of firing the shots. She said that she fainted and when she regained consciousness she realized the gun had been fired. The defendant then walked into the kitchen, put the gun down and called the police.

The police officer who responded to the call testified that when he arrived at the Cisewski home, the defendant told him that, following an argument, she shot her husband twice. Another investigating officer, who later interviewed the defendant at the police station, testified that the defendant told him that when she pointed the gun at Donald, he said something to the effect of "No, Mary, no." The defendant told the officer that she shot Donald once, but could not recall having fired the second ...

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