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10/23/97 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. LILLIE MAE

October 23, 1997

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
LILLIE MAE JAMERSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit, Knox County, Illinois, No. 95--CF--208. Honorable James B. Stewart, Judge, Presiding.

Rehearing Denied December 16, 1997. Released for Publication December 16, 1997.

Present - Honorable Michael P. McCUSKEY, Justice, Honorable Kent Slater, Justice, Honorable Thomas J. Homer, Justice. Justice Slater delivered the opinion of the court. Homer and McCUSKEY, J.j., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Slater

The Honorable Justice SLATER delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a bench trial, the defendant, Lillie Mae Jamerson, was found guilty but mentally ill of three counts of forgery and sentenced to a four-year term of imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends that: (1) the cause should be remanded for a new trial because the trial court failed to conduct a fitness hearing despite evidence that defendant was taking psychotropic drugs under medical direction at the time of trial and sentencing, (2) her sentence of four years imprisonment was excessive and an abuse of the trial court's discretion given the mitigating circumstances, and (3) the mittimus should be amended to reflect four, not three, days credit against her sentence.

FACTS

At trial, the State established that on October 10, 1995, defendant knowingly delivered three forged checks drawn on the First Galesburg National Bank, which was not then in business. Defendant purchased saddle straps, three pairs of boots, a Western-style coat, perfume and ten 50-pound bags of horse feed from a store in Galesburg called Pinebrook Western, and horse supplies, barbed wire and a go-cart from the Galesburg Farm King, where she paid with two checks. Defendant signed the checks "Mary Sherman," and told the police officer who arrested her that Mary had asked her to purchase feed for Mary's horses. Defendant also claimed that Mary gave her permission to purchase gifts for her (defendant's) children.

Mary Sherman testified that she met defendant two years prior to the check forgeries when defendant came to her home to sell insurance. Sherman testified that she and the defendant were not friends and that she had not given the defendant permission to sign checks on her behalf.

Dr. Shirley Eyman, defendant's treating psychiatrist, testified that she met defendant in April 1994 for the purpose of conducting a psychiatric evaluation and has been treating her regularly since then. Dr. Eyman diagnosed defendant as suffering from adjustment disorder with depressed and anxious mood. Defendant told Dr. Eyman that prior to the offense she had stopped taking her medication, had gone three or four days with little or no sleep, and had heard voices and thought she was Mary Sherman. Although Dr. Eyman was unable to confirm that defendant suffered from brief reactive psychosis and multiple personality disorder, she testified that due to defendant's mental state at the time of the offense, defendant's ability to understand the criminality of her conduct was questionable. Finally, Dr. Eyman testified that at the time of trial, defendant was taking psychotropic medication called Mellaril.

Defendant testified that Dr. Eyman had initially prescribed three medications--Mellaril, Trazodone and Prozac--but that she was taking only Mellaril at the time of trial. Defendant testified she had no recollection of the incident involving the forged checks, although she acknowledged that she recognized her handwriting on the checks. The last thing defendant remembered was driving to Minnesota with her son. Defendant explained that in order to make the drive, she stopped taking her medication because the medication made her sleep. Without her medication, defendant went without sleep for three or four days, including October 10, 1995, the day defendant delivered the forged checks.

Dr. Anthony Caterine, a licensed psychiatrist, was called as a rebuttal witness by the State and he testified that he examined defendant prior to trial in order to determine if she was insane when she forged the checks. During the interview, he learned that defendant was taking Trazodone, Prozac and Mellaril, but testified that she appeared coherent and was not delusional or acting oddly. In Dr. Caterine's opinion, defendant suffered from chronic depression, personality disorder involving difficulty adapting to life's stresses and polysubstance abuse. However, Dr. Caterine did not believe that defendant was legally insane or that she lacked the ability to appreciate the criminality of her conduct at the time of the offense.

At the close of testimony, the court found defendant guilty but mentally ill of the three charges of forgery.

ANALYSIS

Defendant first contends the trial court erred when it failed to conduct a fitness hearing despite evidence that defendant was taking psychotropic drugs at the time of trial and sentencing. Because the applicable statute was amended twice since defendant's offense, we cannot reach the merits of defendant's contention without ...


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