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January 31, 1996


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable James Flannery, Judge Presiding.

The Honorable Justice Tully delivered the opinion of the court: Rizzi, P.j., and Cerda, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tully

The Honorable Justice TULLY delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a bench trial, defendant, Raymond Hammerli, was found guilty but mentally ill of first-degree murder in violation of section 9-1(a) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a) (now 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a) (West 1994))) and was sentenced to a term of 35 years' imprisonment for that crime. It is from the judgment of conviction that defendant now appeals to this court pursuant to section 6 of article VI of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, ยง 6) and Supreme Court Rule 603 (134 Ill. 2d R. 603).

For the reasons which follow, we affirm.


This case involves defendant's strangulation of his former wife on Valentine's Day 1990, in their home at 801 South Emerson in Mount Prospect, Illinois.

Defendant earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1980 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While in Champaign he met Diane Bothrom (hereinafter Diane), whom he married in 1983. In 1988, defendant earned his master's degree from the University of Chicago, after having worked as a project manager at Quaker Oats Company. Diane and defendant began seeing a therapist in an attempt to save their marriage but eventually they separated in May 1989. Their divorce was final on January 30, 1990.

On February 1, 1990, defendant tried to purchase a shotgun. The following day he instructed his broker to sell all his Amoco stock for over $31,000. Several days later defendant picked up some eyeglasses he had ordered in October 1989, and purchased a sleeping bag, toothpaste, razor blades, shampoo, shaving cream, briefs and socks. He also tried to buy another shotgun. The next day defendant closed out a money market account held jointly by him and Diane in the amount of $640.84. During this period of time defendant also prepared his income tax returns.

On February 10, 1990, defendant withdrew all the money from his and his former wife's IRA accounts which amounted to over $13,000 including a penalty. On February 12, 1990 defendant cashed a $15,000 personal check from a joint account he kept with Diane. None of the tellers involved in these transactions stated that defendant behaved in an unusual way.

According to defendant's account of events, he placed a hammer and knife in the house on South Emerson on February 13, 1990. Diane was moving away with her new boyfriend, and defendant told his doctors that she was slipping away from him and that he had wanted to kill her on February 13th, but controlled his behavior.

Defendant changed a 1 p.m. appointment he had regarding the sale of the South Emerson house, stating that he had other plans for the day and signed all the documents at 11 a.m. The secretary, who explained the documents to defendant, said that he was attentive and calm as he completed them. She observed nothing unusual in his behavior.

Diane called her mother the morning of February 14, 1990, to tell her that she was meeting defendant at their former marital residence because defendant had asked to borrow Diane's Isuzu Trooper vehicle to move out some of his belongings. A neighbor across the street watched as they loaded the Isuzu. At 1:45 p.m. snow was accumulating inside the Isuzu. At 3 p.m., the door to the Isuzu was closed and defendant's Toyota was gone.

Diane's parents drove to the house on South Emerson when they could not locate their daughter. Diane, who had been strangled, was found in the bathroom; her feet were bound at the ankles by a belt, her head was in a pool of blood and she displayed bruises and scrapes. Her blood was found on the front door and screen and her bloodied jacket was hanging on a nearby bookshelf. A lens from defendant's glasses was on the bathroom floor.

According to defendant's account, he struck Diane's head with a hammer because he hated seeing all those things from his life with Diane being packed into boxes. He subdued Diane several times as she attempted to run out the front door; he told her to remove her coat and asked her to write a check for half the value of the Isuzu. He also explained to her that he was taking all their money and that he would let her go if she gave him an hour to flee.

After Diane ran into the bathroom, he let her hold the hammer while he tied her legs together. She struggled with him and knocked his glasses off and said "I want my mommy." Defendant then strangled Diane until the telephone rang which startled him. He fled in his Toyota after closing the door of the Isuzu.

The following day defendant's Toyota broke down in Oklahoma. Defendant arranged to have it towed to a dealer in Amarillo, Texas, because the car was still under warranty. Defendant used the name Bill Hauli on the towing bill but signed his real name at the bottom. The Oklahoma mechanic described defendant as "normal."

The service manager of the dealership offered to provide defendant with a "goodwill" rental car because nothing about defendant seemed abnormal. The mechanic, who explained the needed repairs, stated that defendant seemed annoyed but otherwise like someone who was on vacation.

Defendant then drove back to Mount Prospect but did not enter his mother's house when he saw cars outside. He then drove to Champaign, Illinois, where he stayed at a motel using an alias. He called the Texas dealership on February 23, 1990, the day his rental agreement expired, and explained that he would return the car in a week. When he did not, the situation was reported to the local sheriff's department. Telephone records finally placed defendant at the motel in Champaign where he was arrested with razor marks on his wrists. On the way to the police station defendant ...

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