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People v. Gill

March 19, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Buckley

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County.

The Honorable Stuart E. Palmer, Judge Presiding.

Defendant, Henry Gill, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in violation of section 24-1.1 of the Criminal Code of 1961. 720 ILCS 5/24-1.1 (West 1992). After a bench trial, the trial Judge found defendant guilty but mentally ill (GBMI) and sentenced him to a term of seven years' imprisonment. Defendant filed a timely notice of appeal and raises the following issues: (1) whether the amended insanity statute (720 ILCS 5/6-2 (West 1996)) applied to him; (2) whether he met his burden of proving that he was insane at the time of the incident; (3) whether the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he possessed an axe with intent to use it unlawfully; (4) whether he was entitled to a subsequent fitness hearing, after having been found fit pursuant to a hearing, to address whether he received his medication; and (5) whether the finding of GBMI violates his due process rights.


The following facts were adduced at trial.

Roy Wilson testified that at the time of the incident he was the assistant principal for the Gale Community Academy School (Gale School) located at 1631 West Jonquil Terrace in Chicago, Illinois. The school educates preschool through eighth-grade students.

Wilson stated that on June 1, 1995, at approximately 9 a.m., he was standing on the east side of Gale School along with approximately 400 students, who were in the process of lining up to be escorted into the building, when he saw defendant standing at a side entrance to the playground area. Defendant was holding a short-handled axe that had a wooden handle about 12 inches long and a silver hatchet blade. Wilson saw defendant begin to swing the hatchet from left to right and walk into the playground area. Wilson testified that he saw defendant strike one of the cement partitions located at the entrance to the playground with the axe at least three or four times. While defendant was swinging the hatchet, Wilson heard him say, "I am going to kill, kill all of you if I have to." Wilson stated that defendant also may have used profanity. At this time, defendant was within 2½ feet of Wilson with the children all around. Wilson placed himself between defendant and the children and yelled at the children to go into the building.

Wilson stated that no more than five minutes passed from the time defendant entered the playground to the time defendant left. When defendant left, he went north down Ashland on the sidewalk. Wilson directed someone to call 911. About 1½ minutes later, Officers Jim Byrne and Dan Herbert arrived and Wilson indicated to them the direction in which defendant headed. A short time later, the officers returned with defendant in the back seat of the police car and Wilson identified defendant.

On cross-examination, Wilson stated that defendant did not swing the hatchet at any particular person nor did defendant speak to any particular person.

Officer Herbert testified that at approximately 9:15 a.m., on June 1, 1995, he and his partner, Officer Byrne, responded to the disturbance at Gale School. After speaking with Wilson, Officer Herbert and his partner proceeded eastbound on Jonquil in their squad car to 1500 West Jonquil, where they located defendant attempting to conceal himself in between a row of bushes and in front of a house. They instructed defendant to raise his hands and come out of the bushes, which he did. They told defendant he was under arrest. Defendant responded with "belligerent comments" and profanity. Officer Herbert believed that defendant was slightly intoxicated. The officers recovered an axe, approximately one foot in length, from defendant's front waistband. They placed defendant in the squad car and took him to Gale School where Wilson identified him as the person with the axe.

Thereafter, the officers took defendant to the police station where he was asked booking questions such as his name, birthday, address, and telephone number. Officer Herbert testified that defendant responded to all the questions. Officer Herbert spent about one hour with defendant and stated that he did not notice any unusual behavior other than the fact that defendant was using profanity.

After Officer Herbert's testimony, the trial court granted the State's request to admit into evidence a certified copy of defendant's prior conviction for attempted aggravated arson. Thereafter, the State rested.

Dr. Paul K. Fauteck, of the department of forensic clinical services of the circuit court of Cook County, then testified as an expert in forensic psychology on behalf of defendant. Dr. Fauteck stated that he first interviewed defendant on March 13, 1996, in order to make a report to the court as to defendant's fitness to stand trial and his sanity. Prior to interviewing defendant, Dr. Fauteck read a report that had been prepared by Dr. Michael Rabin, who had seen defendant on August 31, 1995. He also reviewed the police report as well as a report from a psychiatrist and a psychologist, who had seen defendant in 1993 on an unrelated matter.

Dr. Fauteck stated it was his opinion after interviewing defendant that defendant was insane at the time of the alleged offense based in part on the police report because it does not reflect "planful" organized action; rather, it describes a person who is "quite disorganized" and in a confused state of mind. In addition, during the interview defendant was "adamant" that his zip code in Evanston was 20201, rather than 60201, and that his arrest was invalid because the police were unaware of that fact. Dr. Fauteck stated this was evidence of confused, psychotic thinking. Dr. Fauteck further stated that if defendant was in such a state of mind after being in a "secure environment," there was no reason to think defendant was in any better state of mind at the time of his arrest. By "secure environment," Dr. Fauteck was referring to the fact that defendant had been in the Cook County jail from June 1995 until March 1996. Dr. Fauteck's diagnosis was that defendant suffered from an alcohol-induced persisting dementia that had developed over time.

Dr. Fauteck further testified that it was his opinion that at the time of the interview defendant was not fit to stand trial because of his confusion about the judicial process and his apparent inability to accept the reality of the charges against him and the possibility of a prison sentence. In addition, Dr. Fauteck stated that at the time of the occurrence and at the time of the interview defendant appeared incapable of appreciating the illegality of his conduct, was unable to conform his actions to the norm of society, and was insane.

On cross-examination, Dr. Fauteck stated that he reviewed the report of Dr. Rabin in evaluating defendant and acknowledged that his interview with defendant took place nine months after the incident, whereas Dr. Rabin's evaluation took place within two months after the incident. Dr. Fauteck acknowledged Dr. Rabin's opinion that defendant did not suffer from a mental disease or defect, was able to understand the criminality of his conduct, and was able to conform his conduct to the requirements of law. Dr. Fauteck also recognized that defendant has not been diagnosed with a psychosis, but stated that defendant has been diagnosed with a dementia. Dr. Fauteck also stated that a diagnosis of deteriorating alcoholic means that the person's mental functioning and physical state are deteriorating. Dr. Fauteck believed defendant had deteriorated.

Dr. Fauteck did not interview the arresting officers but did read the police report. The police report did not indicate that defendant was having delusions or hallucinations. In addition, in reaching his opinion, Dr. Fauteck had no knowledge of defendant's responsiveness during the booking process.

Since Dr. Fauteck's interview with defendant, defendant has been at Chester Mental Health Center where he was diagnosed with dementia due to a head trauma and substance abuse. Dr. Fauteck's focus was only on substance abuse. The medicine that defendant is on at Chester, Haldol, is used to treat alcohol abuse but it is also used to control psychotic behavior. Dr. Fauteck did not diagnose defendant with a psychosis and neither did Dr. Rabin nor the doctors at Chester.

On redirect examination, Dr. Fauteck explained the difference between psychosis and dementia. He stated that the distinction between the two is very small. According to Dr. Fauteck, psychosis has many of the same characteristics as dementia. They are caused by different things but have "pretty much" the same result. For example, a person with dementia is more likely to have memory deficits whereas a person with schizophrenia, a psychosis, is more likely to have hallucinations. Dr. Fauteck stated if a person has substantial dementia, like defendant, he could have less ability to appreciate the illegality of his actions.

Dr. Fauteck stated that Dr. Rabin did diagnose defendant for dementia but found him able to appreciate the illegality of his actions. Dr. Fauteck also stated that Dr. Rabin concluded that defendant was not suffering from a mental disease or defect; however, it is Dr. Fauteck's opinion that this was a misstatement on Dr. Rabin's part because it is inconsistent to find that a person has an alcohol-induced persisting dementia and then find that the person does not have a mental disease or defect.

The defense rested and the State called Dr. Rabin in rebuttal. Dr. Rabin, a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in forensic psychology, testified that he examined defendant on August 31, 1995. He reviewed the records of the previous evaluations of defendant and the police report. Dr. Rabin testified that it was his opinion that on June 1, 1995, at the time of the offense, defendant was legally sane.

Dr. Rabin diagnosed defendant as having a persistent dementia related to an alcohol disorder and a history of head injuries. Dr. Rabin stated that dementia is a loss of cognitive ability due to some injury to the brain primarily characterized by memory problems and problems thinking, whereas psychosis is a mental disorder involving a loss of contact with reality. Dr. Rabin also stated that if dementia is severe it can cause a loss of reality. Dr. Rabin characterized defendant's dementia as "mild."

Dr. Rabin testified that defendant had the ability to understand the nature of the criminality of his acts and had the ability to conform his behavior to the requirements of law.

On cross-examination, Dr. Rabin stated that defendant suffers from mild dementia and that dementia is a mental illness and a mental defect but not a mental disease. At the time of Dr. Rabin's evaluation defendant was on baxteron; however, Dr. Rabin was unaware of this. Dr. Rabin stated that defendant showed signs of loss of cognitive ability, signs of memory problems, and was dysfunctional in his thinking.

At the Conclusion of the trial, the trial court rejected defendant's insanity defense and found him GBMI. Defendant was sentenced to ...

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