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People v. Bellmyer

July 03, 2001

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
DAVID BELLMYER DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from the Circuit Court for the 14th Judicial Circuit, Rock Island County, Illinois No. 99-CF-54 Honorable Larry Vandersnick Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McDADE

UNPUBLISHED

David Bellmyer participated in a bench trial which commenced on February 29, 2000. The bench trial was continued to April 7, 2000, sua sponte, to allow the parties to produce additional information requested by the court. Although the parties had presented the judge with the supplemental information, he ruled at the continued trial that the stipulations were not sufficient for him to make a decision. The court offered the defendant the opportunity to withdraw his waiver of jury trial, but the defendant refused to do so.

On April 12, 2000, the defendant filed a motion to compel the verdict. The state raised no objection to the defendant's motion, and agreed that all available evidence had been presented to the court. Defendant's motion was denied on April 13, 2000. At that time, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss based on double jeopardy. The State objected to this motion, and it was denied. On May 8, 2000, defendant moved for reconsideration of his motion to dismiss, which also was denied. The defendant appeals from the denial of the motion to dismiss based on double jeopardy.

FACTS

The evidence presented at the stipulated bench trial showed that at all relevant times the defendant was living with his parents, George and Waltrud Bellmyer, his daughter, and his girlfriend. Defendant's girlfriend would testify that the defendant had an argument with his parents on January 23, 1999. The evidence would also show that the defendant had been cleaning the gun on that day.

Defendant's mother would testify that the defendant had an argument with his girlfriend early in the day on January 24, 1999. Defendant's brother would testify that he had been at his parents' home earlier in the day, and that the defendant was upset at that time. Defendant's mother, girlfriend, and daughter would testify that the defendant was angry because he had misplaced a gun, which he eventually found. The defendant had begun pointing the gun at his parents and girlfriend, but not at his daughter. In fact, he had told his daughter to go to the basement.

When defendant hit his father with the gun, his mother, girlfriend, and daughter fled through a window to the defendant's brother's house across the street. The daughter told the brother that the defendant was beating up her grandfather. When the mother and girlfriend arrived at the brother's house, the police were called.

When the police arrived at the home of the parents, they tried unsuccessfully to talk the defendant out of the house. They were eventually able to gain entry to the home, where they found the father shot in the entry way. He was dead. The defendant was sitting on a couch in his bedroom with a Bersa .380 handgun beside him. An autopsy disclosed that the father had died as a result of three gunshot wounds to the head. It was also stipulated that the projectiles found during the autopsy came from the Bersa gun found next to the defendant when the police arrived at the scene.

When the defendant was taken to the station, he was read his Miranda rights, and he invoked his right to counsel. The defendant first appeared before the court on January 25, 1999. At that time, he was asked to sign a form which advised him that he had a right to an attorney, warned him of the possibility of trial in absentia, set bond, and informed him of the date of his preliminary hearing. The defendant would not sign this form, indicating that he did not understand it. On January 26, 1999, the State filed, and the court granted, a motion for a fitness hearing to determine if the defendant was fit to plead or stand trial.

The fitness hearing was conducted on March 5, 1999. At that time, Dr. Eric Ritterhoff testified that he had seen the defendant seven to eight times since his incarceration. He had at first found the defendant to be "in the throes of psychosis." However, Dr. Ritterhoff testified that, on his last visit, the defendant was calm, his face was relaxed, he had put on some weight, he maintained direct eye contact, and he was not hearing voices. Dr. Ritterhoff concluded that the defendant was not fit to plead or to stand trial at that time, but that he would be fit within one year.

Dr. Ritterhoff submitted a second report to the court on June 7, 1999. At that time he advised that the defendant's mental state was improving, but he continued to be unfit to stand trial. On September 1, 1999, the defendant was found fit to stand trial.

On November 30, 1999, the defendant filed notice that he intended to raise an affirmative defense of insanity. Defense counsel had the defendant examined by Dr. Chapman, who found that the defendant was insane at the time of the shooting. Given this report, the State sought a second opinion from Dr. Witherspoon. Dr. Witherspoon also found that the defendant was insane at the time he shot his father. On January 6, 2000, the State and the defendant informed the court that because both of their experts believed the defendant was insane at the time of the offense, the parties would proceed by a stipulated bench trial based on these reports.

On February 29, 2000, following the presentation of evidence by stipulation, the court heard closing arguments. The State argued that despite the reports submitted by Dr. Chapman and Dr. Witherspoon, the court should find the defendant either guilty or guilty but mentally ill. It was the State's contention that the facts that the defendant had been cleaning his gun and had argued with his parents and his girlfriend the night before the shooting showed that the incident was planned. The State further argued that ...


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