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11/12/97 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. RALPH H. SYVERSON

November 12, 1997

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RALPH H. SYVERSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, La Salle County, Illinois. No. 94--CF--322. Honorable H. Chris Ryan, Judge, Presiding.

Released for Publication December 23, 1997.

Present - Honorable William E. Holdridge, Justice, Honorable Kent Slater, Justice, Honorable Thomas J. Homer, Justice. Justice Homer delivered the opinion of the court. Slater, J., concurs. Justice Holdridge, dissenting.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Homer

The Honorable Justice HOMER delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial, defendant Ralph H. Syverson was found guilty of home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12--11(a)(1) (West 1994)) and guilty but mentally ill of second degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9--2(a)(1) (West 1994)). Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court concluded that consecutive sentences were mandatory. The court then sentenced the defendant to a 15-year term of imprisonment for home invasion and a consecutive 10-year term for second degree murder. The defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in concluding that consecutive sentences were mandatory. We affirm.

FACTS

At trial, it was established that the defendant was an Illinois state trooper. In 1976, he married Marianne Wielgopolan, and the couple had one child. In May of 1994, Marianne told the defendant that she had been seeing another man and wanted a divorce. Approximately one week later, Marianne moved out of the marital home.

Over the next few months, the defendant attempted to reconcile with Marianne. In late July of 1994, Marianne agreed to go to joint counseling with the defendant. She also told the defendant that she was leaving her paramour, Gale Rapp. However, a few days later Marianne began to see Rapp again. When she informed the defendant, he became angry.

On August 14, 1994, the defendant arrived at Marianne's apartment in the early morning. He brought doughnuts and asked Marianne to give him another chance. After about an hour, the defendant left.

The next day, Rapp came over to Marianne's apartment. The two went to bed around midnight. They awoke in the early morning to find the defendant standing in the bedroom doorway. Marianne said, "How in the hell did you get in here?" The defendant then walked over to the bed and said: "Gale Rapp, I am--I am here to kill you, Gale Rapp. You ruined my life. We were going to go to joint counseling."

At that point, the defendant brought out his service revolver. Marianne and Rapp both reached for the gun and a struggle ensued. The defendant fired a shot and Rapp fell back, muttering something. The defendant fired a few more shots and Marianne ran out of the bedroom to the kitchen. After a while, the defendant stopped shooting, came out of the bedroom, and put his gun on a bar stool in the living room. He then telephoned the Ottawa police, who arrived at the scene shortly thereafter.

The defendant was found guilty of home invasion and guilty but mentally ill of second degree murder. A sentencing hearing was held at which the trial court found that consecutive sentences were mandatory. The court then imposed a 15-year term of imprisonment for home invasion and a consecutive 10-year term of imprisonment for second degree murder.

ANALYSIS

On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in finding that consecutive sentences were mandatory. The defendant correctly notes that consecutive sentences are mandatory if: (1) the offenses "were committed as part of a single course of conduct during which there was no substantial change in the nature of the criminal objective"; and (2) one of the offenses "was a Class X or Class 1 felony and the defendant inflicted severe bodily injury." 730 ...


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