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06/02/95 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. RAYMOND SOJAK

June 2, 1995

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RAYMOND SOJAK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Honorable Thomas P. Durkin, Judge Presiding.

Rehearing Denied July 12, 1995.

The Honorable Justice T. O'brien delivered the opinion of the court: Cousins, P.j., and Mcnulty, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'brien

JUSTICE T. O'BRIEN delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a bench trial, the circuit court found defendant, Raymond Sojak, guilty but mentally ill of the October 10, 1990 murders of his wife and two children. Defendant received three concurrent terms of natural life in prison with no possibility of parole. He now argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that he proved his insanity by a preponderance of the evidence. We disagree and affirm.

BACKGROUND

In the early morning hours of October 10, 1990, defendant took a crowbar and bludgeoned his wife and two children to death while they slept. Two notes, handwritten by defendant, were later found at the house. The shorter note read as follows:

[EDITOR'S NOTE: TEXT WITHIN THESE SYMBOLS IS OVERSTRUCK IN THE SOURCE.]

"It is now 2 o'clock in the morning on Wed. I have just killed my wife & children. Why? I don't know. I was just thinking of killing myself which I should have done but that is too late know now. I never knew it was so hard to kill someone. I never knew it was so hard to kill someone. I thought that 1 or 2 blows from the iron would have done it. If I would have knew [sic] that it was this hard they would still be alive. I [sic] terribly sorry. I thought I would [letter stops.]"

The second note stated the following:

"To whom it may concern

It is now 2 o'clock on Wed. morning and I have just kiled [sic] my wife & children. I would not have done it. I truly regret my actions and I ask God to give them peace in heaven because they had hell on earth with me. I truly tried to be a good father and husband and neighbor I never cheated on my wife in all our years of marriage even though I probably would have if I had a chance but why when they presented themselves I did not take the opportunity Why [sic] did I do it. I really don't know except that at the time I thought I could save them the pain & embarrassment of losing their house and father & husband as I hand [sic] every intention of killing myself by jumping on the El tracks for the insurance money so they could could have enough to stop the forelosure [sic] on the house. But when the news item got in the paper and it was spread around the neighborhood Pat said she could not live & face them people. I never knew it was so hard to kill someone. I thought 1 or 2 swings with the iron and it would have been over. God knows how sorry I really am. These seem like rambling and they probably are but it is hard to be collected when you are a murderer."

/s/ Ray Sojak [in the margin]

Later that morning, at 7:30 a.m., defendant telephoned the principal of the school attended by the two children. He informed her that the children would be absent due to illness. Defendant also left a telephone message with his supervisor at work, stating that his wife had died and that he would explain the details later. *fn1 At 8:00 a.m., defendant received a phone call from Gail Beggs, a family friend. Beggs asked to speak to defendant's wife, Patricia. Defendant informed her that his wife could not come to the phone because she had laryngitis. When Beggs asked if one of the children ...


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