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People v. Stack

December 30, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Quinn

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Themis Karnezis Judge Presiding.

Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, Richard Stack, was convicted of the May 11, 1980, murder of his wife and 13-month-old son and then sentenced to concurrent terms of life imprisonment. This was defendant's third trial. Previously, this court reversed defendant's first conviction on several grounds and remanded for a new trial. People v. Stack, 128 Ill. App. 3d 611 (1984) (opinion of Buckley, J., Campbell, J., dissenting) (Stack I). The State appealed the appellate panel's decision, and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed this court's opinion in part and remanded for a new trial. People v. Stack, 112 Ill. 2d 301 (1986) (Stack II). A second jury trial resulted in another conviction. Defendant appealed his second conviction, and this court again reversed and remanded. People v. Stack, 244 Ill. App. 3d 166 (1993) (opinion of Buckley, J., Campbell, J., specially concurring) (Stack III).

Defendant filed a timely appeal from his third conviction and sentence and contends that the trial court erred in the following: (1) by allowing testimony concerning his post-Miranda silence in violation of both his state and federal due process rights; (2) by finding that the State proved defendant sane beyond a reasonable doubt; (3) by improperly limiting the testimony of Laura Doise; (4) by improperly denying defendant's motion to take an evidentiary deposition of two witnesses; (5) by restricting the testimony of defendant's psychiatric experts; (6) by not allowing defendant's treating physician, Dr. Jane Caseley, to testify as to her opinion of his mental condition shortly after the murders; (7) by not allowing Detective Foley to testify as to a prior consistent statement by Father Lutz; and (8) by limiting defense counsel's questioning of the prosecution's expert witness. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm defendant's conviction and sentence.

The evidence elicited at defendant's third trial was substantially similar to that presented in both of his prior trials. Therefore, in the interest of brevity, we adopt, with the exceptions discussed below, the recitation of facts from Stack I and Stack III.

Officer William Christopher testified that, along with Officer Thomas Scott, he arrived at defendant's residence on May 11, 1980, at 2:50 p.m. and saw defendant leaning out of a broken window and yelling. As part of his testimony describing the scene at defendant's residence, Officer Christopher acknowledged that he made a number of requests or commands to defendant. Officer Christopher testified that defendant had no difficulty with the requests or commands.

Officer Thomas Scott testified, as he had at the two previous trials, that as he approached defendant's residence on May 11, 1980, defendant was leaning out of a window, naked to the waist, yelling "something about devils." Scott testified that sub-sequently he was with defendant in the emergency room of Holy Cross Hospital. Whenever a nurse or doctor would walk in, defendant would immediately start talking about demons and devils. Defendant said nothing about devils and demons when he and Scott were alone. On cross-examination, defense counsel asked Officer Scott whether defendant said anything when the two were alone at the crime scene. Officer Scott stated that defendant was silent.

Former priest Robert Spielman, an associate pastor to Father Robert Lutz in 1980, testified for the State. Although he had not testified at either of the two previous trials, Spielman stated that he had witnessed a conversation between Father Lutz and defendant during the early morning hours of May 9, 1980, at the rectory of St. Mary Star of the Sea. According to Spielman, he remained behind a glass partition while Father Lutz answered the door. Spielman testified that he did not recall hearing all of the conversation between Father Lutz and defendant, but did remember that Father Lutz said that defendant appeared to be intoxicated and had complained about his troubled marriage. However, he did not remember Father Lutz saying anything about defendant's concerns re-garding evil in the world.

Dr. Henry Lihmeyer testified as an expert in the field of psychiatry for the State. Dr. Lihmeyer interviewed defendant on April 25, 1996. Prior to the interview, Dr. Lihmeyer reviewed the grand jury testimony, the testimony from the two previous trials, the testimony from defendant's prior fitness hearings, psychological and psychiatric reports, and medical reports. He conducted interviews with the family and friends of both defendant and his wife Carol, and referred defendant to Dr. Linda Grossman for psychological testing. Based on his review and analysis of the above information, Dr. Lihmeyer was of the opinion that defendant was sane on May 11, 1980, and was able to appreciate the criminality of his act.

According to Dr. Lihmeyer, defendant told him that he had been violent towards Carol during their marriage and that he often hit and beat her. Defendant also told Dr. Lihmeyer that whenever he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he would become more abusive, both verbally and physically. Dr. Lihmeyer testified that he believed that the version of the events of May 11, 1980, that defendant related to him differed from prior accounts. In other versions of the murders defendant had insisted the devil was in Carol, but defendant never told Dr. Lihmeyer that he killed Carol because he saw the devil in her. Dr. Lihmeyer noted that defendant had admitted to drinking and using drugs, including PCP and cocaine, in the days before May 11, 1980. Dr. Lihmeyer testified that if defendant used drugs up until the week before the murders, he may have had some psychotic symptoms during that week that would still have allowed him to function normally. Defendant told Dr. Lihmeyer that he had significant financial problems at the time of the murders. Carol was pressuring him to get a job and his in-laws were pressuring him to get a job and pay back some of the money he had borrowed.

Dr. Lihmeyer disagreed with the medical professionals who reported that defendant suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and he testified that defendant was sane at the time of the murders, basing his opinion on the following beliefs: (1) defendant's varying accounts of the murder were inconsistent with an individual suffering from a serious mental disease; (2) because defendant's delusions changed, Dr. Lihmeyer did not believe they were truthful; (3) defendant's calm and cooperative behavior at the time of his arrest was inconsistent with that of someone who had just experienced a psychotic episode; and (4) defendant's behavior at Holy Cross Hospital following the murders differed depending on who was in the room. Instead, Dr. Lihmeyer believed that defendant suffered from a conduct disorder evidenced by events in his childhood, including alcohol abuse beginning at a young age, poor school performance, prior treatment for attention deficit disorder, and aggression.

Dr. Lihmeyer also noted the significance of defendant not having a history of mental illness and no member of his family having a record of mental illness. There is a definite correlation between schizophrenia and heredity but a low correlation between antisocial personality disorder and heredity. Dr. Lihmeyer testified that defendant's records from Chester Mental Health Center indicated that in December 1980 the Chester treatment team felt that defendant was fit for trial and he exhibited no psychotic symptoms. Yet when Dr. Stipes came to examine defendant in Chester on December 15, 1980, defendant began to act unusual. By January 1981, the Chester team thought defendant was taking a psychology and the law course and defendant was orchestrating an insanity defense.

Defense counsel disputed Dr. Lihmeyer's credibility and argued to the trial court that he was biased. Dr. Sheldon Miller of Northwestern University Medical School testified that, contrary to Lihmeyer's resume, he was no longer a professor, having resigned in 1994. However, the trial court refused to let defense counsel question Dr. Miller as to Dr. Lihmeyer's reason for leaving his professorship.

Anthony Grau testified for the State. According to Grau, he had known defendant for several years prior to 1980 and sold drugs to him for 2½ years before the murders. He saw defendant under the influence of drugs and alcohol on numerous occasions and stated that defendant was often violent, aggressive and outspoken. While in custody on a murder charge of his own, Grau attempted suicide and was sent to Cermak Hospital. There, he saw defendant. Grau testified that while in custody together defendant never said anything about demons, devils or God. In fact, defendant and Grau talked about "acting crazy" and defendant told Grau that he was going to use the Bible to prove that he was crazy. Defendant and Grau observed other inmates who were mentally ill and learned how to act and what to say. They discussed how they needed to persuade the doctors at the Psychiatric Institute that they were unfit for trial. They would then be transferred to Chester, where they would build a psychiatric history. Their ultimate goal was to be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

When questioned about his motivation for testifying, Grau explained that he had 37 months left on his 40-year murder sentence and had not come forward before because he had no reason to testify. He stated that he expected nothing in exchange for his testimony and had come forward to testify because he was "tired of the games" and knew defendant was not crazy.

John Bohr testified as he had in Stack III. He met defendant while they were both inmates at Menard's psychiatric unit in 1986. Defendant told Bohr that he would tell the psychiatrists the same thing each time he saw them. He told them that he saw demons and devils coming out of people's faces. Defendant said he would continue "bugging up" until he had the staff, doctors, judges, lawyers and everyone convinced he was insane. Defendant told Bohr that on the day of the murders, he and Carol had an argument about his drinking, drug use and lack of a job. Defendant said he lost his temper and he and Carol began to fight. Defendant said that during this fight, he beat and stabbed Carol repeatedly with a broken pool cue. Defendant explained that his son then got in the way, and defendant grabbed him and hurled him against the wall. Defendant explained that he tried to appear insane almost immediately because he knew he was in deep trouble.

Joyce Kopecky, a nurse, testified for the defense. Kopecky treated defendant at Holy Cross Hospital on May 11, 1980. She stated that at the time of treatment defendant appeared psychotic and agitated, was oblivious to pain and talked about demons.

Laura Doise, defendant's niece, testified as to defendant's behavior at her engagement party on May 3, 1980. According to Doise, defendant stood in the middle of the room, alone, dancing and lip-syncing with a microphone for about an hour. No one paid attention to defendant's behavior, but Doise had not seen defendant act that way before.

Prior to Doise's testimony, the State raised a motion in limine to exclude a statement defendant's wife made to Doise. According to the State's motion, Doise would testify that days before the murder Doise was present when defendant whispered something to Carol, who then said, "yes, Richie all the little devils are going to get us." The trial court granted the State's motion in limine on the ground that the statement was hearsay.

Dr. Nageswararo Vallabhaneni testified that he treated defendant from October 1984 until 1993, while he was a patient in the psychiatric unit at Menard. He diagnosed defendant as suffering from chronic paranoid schizophrenia based on conversations in which defendant acted in a bizarre manner, suffered from delusions and talked about conversations with God. Dr. Vallabhaneni had no opinion as to defendant's sanity on May 11, 1980, the date of the murders.

Doctor Albert Stipes of the Psychiatric Institute testified as he did in Stack I and Stack III. Dr. Stipes opined that because defendant suffered from schizophrenia at the time of the murders, he lacked the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his acts or the ability to conform his conduct to the requirements of law.

Doctor Robert Reifman also testified as he did in Stack I and Stack III. Dr. Reifman testified that, at the time of the murders, defendant suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and as a result was legally insane.

The State called Dr. Linda Grossman, a clinical psychologist, as a rebuttal witness. In April of 1996, Dr. Lihmeyer referred defendant's case to Dr. Grossman for a psychological assessment. This was the first time since May 11, 1980, that a complete set of psychological tests had been administered to defendant. After evaluating the test results, Dr. Grossman concluded that defendant was exaggerating symptoms of mental disorder in a manner consistent with malingering.

On surrebuttal, defendant presented the testimony of three witnesses. Dr. Roni Seltzberg, of the Psychiatric Institute, testified that defendant suffered from a chronic psychotic mental disorder known as schizo-affective disorder bipolar type. Dr. Seltzberg said that this disorder has the symptoms of schizophrenia in addition to those of depression. She also stated that defendant had a "thought disorder" in 1980. Dr. Seltzberg determined that her conclusions were consistent with defendant's behavior, including hallucinations and delusions that a devil or demon had taken over the bodies of his wife and child.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Rabin testified that during the four occasions he examined defendant for the purpose of determining fitness for trial, he diagnosed him as having apparent schizophrenia. Dr. Rabin also evaluated the psychological tests conducted by prosecution witness Dr. Grossman. He concluded that the test results showed that defendant had schizo-affective disorder bipolar type, but did not indicate that defendant was malingering.

Dr. Jonathan Kelly, medical director of the Isaac Ray Center, testified for the defense. Dr. Kelly conducted a four-hour examination of defendant on September 16, 1996. It was his opinion that defendant suffered from paranoid schizophrenia on May 11, 1980. He rendered this opinion based on events in the days before May 11, 1980. Primarily, Dr. Kelly referred to defendant's conversation with Father Lutz, a conversation with defendant's parents concerning "grandiose beliefs," other strange behavior towards family members, and a sudden interest in church and religion. He also testified that on the ...

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