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03/07/89 the People of the State of v. Janet Jean Jackson

March 7, 1989





535 N.E.2d 1086, 180 Ill. App. 3d 78, 129 Ill. Dec. 321 1989.IL.282

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Mercer County; the Hon. Wilbur S. Johnson, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE HEIPLE delivered the opinion of the court. SCOTT and STOUDER, JJ., concur.


Janet Jean Jackson was convicted of murder, conspiracy, solicitation, and armed robbery for her participation in the events which resulted in the death of her estranged husband, Kim Jackson. She was sentenced to natural life imprisonment for murder and received a term of 30 years' imprisonment for armed robbery. The defendant appeals, seeking reversal and retrial or, alternatively, a remand for a new sentencing hearing. We affirm.

Kim Jackson was beaten to death in his unoccupied farmhouse in the early morning hours of November 23, 1986. The defendant, Janet Jackson, originally claimed that she and her estranged husband were attacked by an unknown assailant when they entered the dark house, but the investigation soon focused on the defendant and her two companions, Michael Miller and Tony Royark. The defendant, Miller, and Royark gave detailed statements to the police and admitted participating in Kim's murder. On January 7, 1987, the State charged all three with armed robbery, murder and conspiracy; the defendant herein was also charged with solicitation on grounds that she encouraged or requested Miller and Royark to murder the victim.

The record in this case is extensive and spanned over 2,000 pages. Accordingly, the summation of the relevant proceedings and evidence is, of necessity, somewhat lengthy.

On February 4, 1987, the defendant filed a motion to suppress all confessions and statements she made to the police on grounds that they were not made voluntarily and they were obtained in violation of her right to counsel and her right to remain silent. After a hearing on the motion, the trial court found that the defendant had been given Miranda warnings, that her statements were made voluntarily, and that she had not requested counsel. The motion to suppress was, therefore, denied. On May 6, 1987, the defendant renewed her motion to suppress and alleged additional reasons for finding that her statements were involuntary and should be suppressed. This motion was also denied.

On May 14, 1987, the State filed a motion in limine requesting the court to exclude all testimony of Noble Harrison, a psychologist, regarding his examination of the defendant and precluding references to any opinion formed by him as a result of the examination. The State argued that the testimony would be irrelevant to the defendant's guilt or any issue at trial. The defendant argued that she intended to show that Dr. Harrison's report indicated she suffered from the battered woman syndrome and to use his testimony to explain the emotional characteristics of battered women to the jury. The State's motion was granted.

During the course of the trial, the issue of whether evidence of the battered woman syndrome would be admissible was again raised. After hearing the arguments of counsel, the court reiterated that Dr. Harrison's testimony would be precluded. The defendant inquired whether she should make an offer of proof, and the court stated it would listen to one. During a later Discussion of the matter, the court stated it would not preclude the defendant from making an offer of proof, but indicated the offer would not, in all likelihood, alter its decision. The defendant elected not to make an offer of proof.

Additionally, the State made a motion in limine seeking an order precluding testimony about the victim's abuse of the defendant prior to December of 1985. The court granted the motion, agreeing with the State that the precluded evidence would not be relevant.

Michael Miller, who was 15 years old when Kim was murdered, pleaded guilty to conspiracy (murder) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 8-2(a)) and attempt (murder) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 8-4) and agreed to testify for the State. Tony Royark pleaded guilty to armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 18-2(a)), murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)), and conspiracy (murder) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 8-2(a)).

Michael Miller testified about his relationship with Royark and the defendant and about the events leading up to the murder. Miller began living in the Jacksons' home in December of 1985. The victim and the defendant were living together as husband and wife at this time. Miller admitted that he and the defendant began having a sexual relationship approximately three months after he moved in. He also admitted that he had an ongoing sexual relationship with Royark.

Miller testified that he, the defendant, Royark, and Fay Jackson, the victim's brother, frequently discussed murdering the victim, and they began planning his murder in May of 1986. At that time, the defendant informed them that Kim had insurance policies. According to Miller, the defendant stated that she, Royark, and Miller could use the victim's insurance money to purchase a house to rent out. He testified that Royark contacted a realtor and they viewed a house, but did not purchase it.

In August of 1986, the victim moved out of the marital residence at the defendant's insistence. Miller stated that the first murder attempt took place on August 28, 1986, after the victim moved out. On that date, Royark loosened a gas pipe beneath the trailer in which the victim was living, in an attempt to blow up the trailer. Miller testified that after Royark was arrested for that attempt, the defendant stated that they would have to try something else because Kim was a witness. According to Miller, they had Discussions about killing him with an overdose of drugs, and during September or October of 1986, the defendant gave the victim Valium in vitamin capsules.

Miller testified that in September of 1986, Todd Brown, a clerk at a convenience store, told them that his wife had a boyfriend and that a friend of his was "going to take care of it" for him. Miller stated that the defendant made repeated inquiries about the friend because she wanted him to kill her husband. According to Miller, Brown told the defendant it might cost her $3,000 to $4,000, but the defendant said that money was no object.

Miller stated that the victim secured a job with the Rock Island Post Office in September and the defendant helped him fill out his insurance papers. The defendant told Miller that she convinced the victim to increase the amount of the policy to $100,000 and to list her and the couple's daughter as beneficiaries.

Miller also testified about the final events leading up to the murder. He stated that on Saturday, November 22, he, Fay Jackson, Royark, and the defendant were at the defendant's home, and the defendant stated she had "had it" and that was the day Kim would have to die. She stated she would get the victim to their farm, and Royark stated he and Fay would take care of him. Miller told the jury that Royark suggested beating the victim to death, and that Royark and the defendant wanted to make it look like a robbery. According to Miller, the defendant spoke with the victim by telephone and set up a date with him for later that evening. The defendant also told the victim she wanted him to move home after their date, but that she wanted to go to their farm before they moved his belongings home. Miller stated that the defendant told them that the victim would receive his paycheck that day and might be carrying approximately $800. Royark then stated that he would keep that money as part of his share. Miller testified that he and Royark later went to Royark's house, and he went to sleep there.

Miller told the jury that at 2 a.m. on November 23, Royark awakened him and told him he would have to come along. Miller knew that Royark intended to go to the Jacksons' farm to kill Kim Jackson. Miller stated that before he left, he picked up two pieces ...

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