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01/04/96 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. TAMMY L. EVEANS

January 4, 1996

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
TAMMY L. EVEANS, A/K/A TAMMY L. CORBETT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Macoupin County. Nos. 91CF82, 91CF83. Honorable Joseph P. Koval, Judge Presiding.

As Corrected July 25, 1996. Released for Publication January 4, 1996. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied April 3, 1996.

Honorable James A. Knecht, J., Honorable Robert J. Steigmann, J., Honorable John T. McCULLOUGH, J., Concurring

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Knecht

The Honorable Justice KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court:

After a bench trial, defendant Tammy Eveans, a/k/a Tammy Corbett, was convicted of four counts of murder, a violation of section 9-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 38, par. 9-1 (now 720 ILCS 5/9-1 (West 1992))). She was sentenced to two concurrent terms of natural life imprisonment and now appeals her conviction. We affirm in part and vacate in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant was charged with four counts of murder of two of her children, Robert Eveans (born July 31, 1987, and died September 25, 1987) and Amy Cecille Eveans (born August 16, 1988, and died September 1, 1988). At the time of trial defendant had already been convicted of murdering her oldest child, Ricky, whose death prompted authorities to reexamine the earlier deaths and charge defendant with murder. Defendant pleaded not guilty to two counts alleging she intentionally or knowingly caused their deaths and two counts alleging she engaged in conduct knowing it created a strong probability of their deaths.

Prior to the bench trial, defendant moved to suppress statements she made to Jersey County Sheriff Frank Yocom. At the suppression hearing, Sheriff Yocom testified he was called to the jail because defendant was crying and requested to see him. On arrival, he advised her who her attorney was and she should talk to him. She replied she knew her rights and wanted to talk to Sheriff Yocom. He again told her she should be aware of her constitutional rights and she should talk to her attorney. She replied she had not been honest with the sheriff and Lieutenant Wayne Watson of the Illinois State Police, and wanted to get some "things off her chest" about Robert and Amy. She wanted a meeting the next morning with her attorney, Sheriff Yocom, and Lieutenant Watson. She said she had not been perfectly honest with her attorney, and wanted to "get all of this out in the open." Sheriff Yocom asked no questions. She made these statements on her own. The meeting never transpired. No other evidence was presented. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, finding defendant's statements were voluntary and self-initiated.

Defendant, asserting the marital privilege, also moved to suppress testimony from her former husband concerning admissions to him she killed their two children. The trial court denied the motion. At the bench trial, the following testimony and evidence were adduced.

Richard Eveans (Richard) was the former husband of defendant. Together they had three children, Ricky, Robert, and Amy Cecille, in order. While he was away on a trip, defendant called and told him she was in the basement doing laundry and Robert had either fallen or their son Ricky had pulled Robert off a table. A few days later, Richard returned home when Robert was admitted to the hospital because he had stopped breathing. Robert was hooked to a monitor and appeared to be breathing normally. Robert never had any trouble breathing before or after he was admitted to the hospital. Richard took off work for a few days to console defendant. The first day he went back to work, Robert died in the hospital.

At different times during their marriage, defendant gave three different versions of being raped when she was younger. First, she claimed before they were married, she had been raped by her boyfriend. Later she claimed she had been grabbed as she was getting into her car, dragged to an apartment, and raped by a man who looked vaguely familiar. Later her story was the same as the second version, except this time the rapist was a black man.

Their daughter Amy did not exhibit any medical problems prior to her death. On the morning she died, Richard and defendant were asleep when the alarm clock went off. Defendant jumped out of bed, ran into the baby's room "like she knew something was wrong," and yelled something was wrong with Amy. Richard went into the room and saw Amy was cold and stiff. After Amy's death, and while consoling defendant, he asked her why she jumped out of bed that morning. She replied she dreamed Amy's name was in place of Robert's name on his headstone in the cemetery, so when she awoke she ran to see if Amy was all right.

In April 1990, Richard visited defendant in the county jail. She admitted placing her hand over Robert's mouth and suffocating him, and placing her hand over Amy's mouth and suffocating her. Defendant said she laughed when she did this and could not understand why Richard had not awakened when she was killing Amy.

Richard never saw defendant act as other than a loving mother with their children and his stepdaughter, who occasionally stayed with him and defendant. He noted on numerous occasions defendant thrashed around in bed with violent nightmares and he was unable to wake her.

William Davis met defendant while a fellow inmate in the Jersey County jail. She told him she placed a pillow over the face of her "other child" (apparently Robert) and killed the child. Defendant told him at least a dozen times what she had done, and said, "there was no witnesses, so she couldn't go to jail." She also told him she had been raped when she was younger by a group of black men in an abandoned building.

Charles Enneian met defendant while a fellow inmate at the Jersey County jail. In a telephone conversation with her in the summer of 1990, she told him "when Amy and Robbie died, they both kicked their legs real hard like a little baby would kick their legs trying to swim in the water." Defendant also recounted a rape ...


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