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03/16/88 the People of the State of v. Mas

March 16, 1988

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

IRIS THOMAS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SECOND DIVISION

522 N.E.2d 253, 168 Ill. App. 3d 113, 118 Ill. Dec. 798 1988.IL.367

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Sophia H. Hall, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE STAMOS delivered the opinion of the court. HARTMAN, P.J., and BILANDIC, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE STAMOS

In October of 1983, the defendant, Iris Thomas (Thomas), was charged with the murder of Leslie Celleland (Celleland). Thereafter, Thomas was found unfit to stand trial. On May 21, 1985, Thomas was given a discharge hearing wherein the court found Thomas not guilty by reason of insanity. Thomas' commitment hearing took place on August 14, 1985. The court found that an extended term of commitment was appropriate in Thomas' case because the fatal beating of Celleland was brutal and heinous conduct indicative of wanton cruelty. The court then imposed a term of 50 years. The court, however, reduced the period of commitment based upon credit for time served and compensatory time. Therefore, the court concluded that the maximum amount of time that Thomas could spend in the custody of the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities was 24 years, 9 months. Thomas filed notice of this appeal on September 13, 1985.

Thomas was charged with Celleland's murder in October of 1983. Thomas was originally found unfit to stand trial on December 29, 1983. Thomas was then found fit to stand trial on April 19, 1984, but again found unfit on May 8, 1984. Another fitness hearing was held on May 21, 1984; Thomas was again found unfit to stand trial. A discharge hearing immediately followed the May 21 fitness hearing. At the discharge hearing, both parties stipulated to the testimony of Mary Trivette (Trivette), Diana Scott (Scott), Steven Czyzniejewsky (Czyzniejewsky), and various doctors and police officers. The stipulated testimony provided the following evidence.

In October 1983, Trivette owned and operated a boarding house located at 15744 Washtenaw in Markham, Illinois, where the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities sometimes placed patients who were considered not to be in need of medical treatment. At the time, Thomas, Scott, and the victim, Celleland, lived in Trivette's boarding house.

On October 4, 1983, Thomas, Scott, and Celleland were in the living room of the boarding house. Celleland and Thomas began to argue about a haircut that Celleland had given to Thomas. Thomas, extremely displeased with the haircut, left the room and returned with a baseball bat. Celleland was unarmed and made no aggressive movements toward Thomas. Holding the bat over Celleland, Thomas announced that she was going to hit Celleland over the head.

In the meantime, Trivette's son, Czyzniejewsky, who was watching television in another room, heard Thomas and Celleland arguing. He heard Thomas say "bitch you cut my hair." Scott called Czyzniejewsky into the living room and Czyzniejewsky watched as Thomas threatened and then struck Celleland repeatedly around the head and arm with the bat. Czyzniejewsky then ran to a neighbor to call the police.

Trivette, who had left the house earlier, returned at approximately one o'clock that afternoon. She entered the living room and saw Celleland lying on the floor with Thomas standing over her holding a baseball bat. Thomas told Trivette to stay out of the way so that she could finish the job. Trivette tried to seize the bat. During the struggle, the bat was dropped. One of Trivette's neighbors then arrived and called an ambulance and the police. When the police came, Thomas calmly surrendered herself to them.

An ambulance took Celleland to the emergency room at Ingalls Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Doctor Donaghue then performed an autopsy on Celleland. The examination revealed that there were 44 external points of injury on Celleland's head, arms, and upper body. These included lacerations, bruises, and contusions. The internal injuries consisted of a skull fracture, multiple brain contusions, a bite mark on the tongue, and hemorrhages. In Doctor Donaghue's opinion, Celleland had died of cranial cerebral injury due to a beating. After considering all of the State's evidence in support of the murder charge and all of the defendant's evidence in support of her insanity defense, the court found Thomas not guilty by reason of insanity.

Thomas' commitment hearing was held on August 14, 1985. Dr. Edith Hartman (Dr. Hartman), Thomas' treating psychiatrist since January of 1984, testified as to Thomas' condition. Dr. Hartman testified that Thomas' behavior had been very erratic and disorganized over the last three months. Dr. Hartman recalled an incident where Thomas had rolled in her own vomit. Furthermore, in July of 1985, Thomas was found to be suicidal, and in May of 1985, Thomas began hearing voices telling her that she was a killer and that she may kill again.

In Dr. Hartman's opinion: Thomas has a schizophrenic disorder, the chronic undifferentiated type; Thomas is capable of inflicting serious harm on herself and others; Thomas becomes impulsive, threatening and unpredictable if taken off of her medication; and Thomas should be kept in a secure hospital setting. At the Conclusion of the hearing, the court found that because of her illness, Thomas was subject to involuntary admission and that she was in need of mental health services on an inpatient basis. The court held that an extended term of commitment of 50 years was appropriate on the grounds that the fatal beating of Celleland was brutal and heinous conduct indicative of wanton cruelty. After deducting credit for time served and compensatory time, the court remanded Thomas to the custody of the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities for a total of 24 years and 9 months. On September 13, 1985, Thomas filed notice of this appeal.

Following the discharge hearing, the trial court found that Thomas was not guilty by reason of insanity. In addition, the court found that Thomas was subject to involuntary admission.

"'Subject to involuntary admission' means: A defendant has been found not guilty by reason of insanity; and

(i) who is mentally ill and who because of his mental illness is reasonably expected to inflict serious physical harm upon himself or another in the near future; or

(ii) who is mentally ill and who because of his illness is unable to provide for his basic physical needs so as to guard himself from serious harm." (Ill. ...


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