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06/28/89 the People of the State of v. Christine M. Janecek

June 28, 1989





540 N.E.2d 1139, 185 Ill. App. 3d 89, 133 Ill. Dec. 273 1989.IL.1023

Appeal from the Circuit Court of McLean County; the Hon. Keith E. Campbell, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE GREEN delivered the opinion of the court. LUND and SPITZ, JJ., concur.


On June 28, 1988, following a bench trial in the circuit court of McLean County, defendant Christine Janecek was convicted of reckless driving and felony criminal damage to property. She was subsequently sentenced to concurrent terms of 6 months' and 30 months' probation, respectively, and she was ordered to pay $1,078.96 restitution. Defendant maintains on appeal her conviction should be reversed, because she proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that she was insane at the time she led police on a 24-mile high-speed chase, and that she was unable to appreciate the criminality of her conduct or to conform to the requirements of the law. We reverse.

Prior to trial, defendant was examined by Dr. Robert Chapman and, on June 1, 1987, following a hearing, was found unfit to stand trial. Following hospitalization and treatment, she was subsequently found fit to stand trial.

At trial, the State's only witness, Deputy Sheriff Greg Fillmore, testified that on April 6, 1987, he was in an unmarked squad car on Interstate 74 when a vehicle passed him traveling at a great rate of speed. He said he accelerated to 110 miles per hour, and the vehicle was pulling away from him. He then described the pursuit, which involved three police cars chasing the vehicle for 24 miles at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. He said he saw cars being forced off the road because of the high rate of speed of the car he was chasing. Fillmore indicated that when defendant's vehicle finally got off the interstate and pulled to a stop at a "T" intersection, defendant seemed to be confused. He said he then pulled his car in front of defendant's to block her path, got out of his car, and went to defendant's car to try to get her out. He said she was staring straight ahead, pulled her car forward and struck the squad car. He indicated that the squad car sustained over $1,000 worth of damages.

Fillmore then testified that when he opened her car door, defendant began screaming incoherently and struggling. Fillmore stated he had no reason to believe defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time she was stopped, and he did not notice any odor of alcohol or any sign of motor skill problems or slurring of speech.

Fillmore testified that when he spoke to defendant later that day, she said she was on her way to Peoria, but her "car wanted to go" to Indianapolis. He said she indicated she had not heard the sirens but did see the various lights on the police cars. He said she told him she did not stop because she did not want to, that she ran cars off the road because she had been "drag racing" and that she knew she was breaking the law and driving recklessly. Finally, Fillmore said that defendant did not remember striking his car, but she said that if she did, it was his fault because he jumped out of his car with a gun in his hand. Fillmore admitted on cross-examination that he had drawn his gun from the holster when he approached defendant initially and that she was a "little agitated" when he interviewed her at the police station several hours after her arrest.

Dr. Robert Chapman then testified for the defense. He said (1) he was a psychiatrist and had examined defendant on May 1, 1987, three weeks after her arrest; (2) he had reviewed the charges against her and the various police reports and documents relevant to this incident; (3) he obtained a medical history of defendant including numerous hospitalizations for mental problems in the previous 10 years; (4) based on his examination, he diagnosed defendant as having an "unspecified" psychosis, which was a "major mental disorder that prevents the individual from being able to organize her thoughts, function in day-to-day activity, and presents a break with reality to such a degree that, if unsupervised, unattended or unassisted, [she] would be unable to care for [herself]"; and (5) based on his examination of defendant three weeks after the incident, he was of the opinion that the mental disease or defect was present at the time of the incident, and she was, by the statutory definition (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 6-2), insane.

Chapman indicated he formed his opinion because defendant was having delusions and hallucinations at the time of the incident and was fearful and believed she was in danger. He said she believed she needed to be evasive and get off the highway. He indicated his opinion would not be changed by statements defendant made following her arrest that she believed her activities were unlawful and reckless. He stated that defendant would have been willing to make any kind of statement she believed that those whom she feared wanted her to make. He also said his opinion would not be changed upon learning that defendant remembered seeing squad cars with lights but did not want to stop. He said defendant would be willing to make statements that were not in her best interests, because she was not aware and did not appreciate the circumstances.

David Janecek, defendant's former husband, testified at trial that (1) defendant was hospitalized 18 times between 1973 and 1987 for psychiatric treatment; (2) she was last hospitalized in 1984; (3) one evening, approximately one week prior to the incident, she took the car for a half-hour drive and called six hours later saying she was 150 miles away and out of gas; (4) she would lock herself in a room and play music loudly, while ignoring the couple's three children, who were aged 2, 10, and 12; and (5) in the weeks prior to the incident, she was afraid someone was going to harm her and talked about "pyramids and catching electric rays." He then described the various events which had led to her former hospitalizations.

Defendant then testified that on the day of the incident, she was not feeling well. She said she recalled being on Interstate 74, losing her sense of direction and traveling at a high rate of speed, but she said she did not know why. She said she recalled being at a stop sign and could not decide whether to turn left or right when Officer Fillmore came around the back of his car. She said he called her a bitch and threatened to blow her head off if she did not get out of her car. She said he then threw her to the ground and beat her. She said ...

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