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01/26/89 the People of the State of v. Ricky M. Smith

January 26, 1989





533 N.E.2d 1169, 178 Ill. App. 3d 976, 128 Ill. Dec. 81 1989.IL.82

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. Angelo F. Pistilli, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE SCOTT delivered the opinion of the court. WOMBACHER and BARRY, JJ., concur.


Following a jury trial, the defendant, Ricky Smith, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Prior to trial, the defendant had filed motions to determine his competency to stand trial and to suppress his confession statement, both of which were denied.

On appeal, the defendant first contends that the trial court erred in finding the defendant fit to stand trial where the evidence of fitness was outweighed by the evidence of unfitness and that certain post-arrest statements made by the defendant should have been suppressed as involuntary under the totality of the circumstances. In the alternative, he contends that either the cause should be remanded for resentencing because the trial court erroneously believed the defendant had to be sentenced as an adult or the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing the defendant to 30 years' imprisonment.

The record reveals that the victim, Louis Zamudio, was shot and killed on the evening of June 26, 1986. On that evening, Louis received a phone call from his brother asking him to go to the home of John Dean to deliver a message. Louis and his mother then proceeded to drive by truck to the Dean residence. In the vicinity of the Dean home, Louis and his mother stopped the truck to ask for directions from a group of people standing along the roadway. A short time later Louis and his mother arrived at the Dean residence. They visited briefly with Mr. Dean in front of his house. During the visit, Mr. Dean and Louis' mother heard what sounded like four or five firecrackers going off. They then saw Louis fall to the ground. He had been shot in the back and heart.

On June 29, 1986, based on information supplied by the defendant's acquaintance, Mickey Smith, the defendant was arrested in connection with the shooting murder of Louis Zamudio. Mickey Smith had also retrieved the murder weapon, which contained the defendant's fingerprint.

At the time of the defendant's arrest, Officer Robert Kerwin told the defendant's brother to go home and tell the defendant's mother that the defendant had been charged with murder and that she should come down to the police station as soon as possible. The defendant was then taken to the Joliet police department, where Officers Allen Horvath and Steve Jaeger questioned the defendant concerning the shooting of Louis Zamudio. After the officers read the defendant his rights, he agreed to talk with them further and stated that he shot the victim, but it was an accident. He said that on the evening of the shooting he was standing across from the Dean house with Mickey Smith when an Hispanic male and female in a red pickup truck stopped and asked them directions to Dean's house. The defendant directed them across the street. Mickey then told the defendant that the male in the truck was Adolph, a Latin King gang leader.

After the defendant saw the occupants of the truck enter Dean's house, he walked toward a nearby housing project, where he again encountered Mickey Smith, who was now carrying a .22 caliber rifle. The defendant told the officers that Mickey said he was going to get the Latin King because it was Adolph. Mickey then dropped the gun, picked it up and handed it to the defendant. The defendant told the officers that Mickey then left the area.

The defendant also told the officers that he saw the Hispanic male, who had been in the pickup truck, standing in front of Dean's house. The defendant started to point the gun at the man. The defendant's finger touched the trigger and the gun accidentally fired. He said he heard more than one pop but could not recall how many times the gun fired. He threw the gun in some bushes and walked away.

Prior to trial, defense counsel filed a motion to determine whether the defendant was fit to stand trial. Two qualified psychiatrists were appointed by the court to examine the defendant. Dr. Kruglik, testifying on behalf of the State, said that the defendant was educably mentally retarded. It was his opinion that this mild retardation would not prevent the defendant from observing, recalling and relating past experiences. Dr. Kruglik also testified that he believed the defendant could aid in the preparation of his defense if counsel were patient with him and used basic language. Dr. Kruglik found no evidence that the defendant was schizophrenic. Dr. Guschwan, the defense psychiatrist, testified that the defendant was schizophrenic and that his ability to assist in his defense would be severely limited due to his preoccupation with hallucinations and depression. Dr. Guschwan recommended that the defendant be hospitalized for a few weeks of evaluation and treatment.

After evaluating the testimony, the trial Judge found the defendant fit to stand trial. The Judge found Dr. Kruglik's testimony to be more credible because Dr. Kruglik spent more time with the defendant and was more patient. The Judge determined that Dr. Guschwan had not been patient enough with the defendant. Furthermore, the Judge found Dr. Kruglik's testimony to be supported by the testimony of Officers Horvath and Jaeger, both ...

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