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People v. Ramsey

February 07, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE
v.
DANIEL RAMSEY, APPELLANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Thomas

UNPUBLISHED

Docket No. 92214-Agenda 21-November 2001.

At issue is whether the State, in defendant Daniel Ramsey's first trial, proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he was eligible for the death penalty. We hold that it did.

BACKGROUND

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Hancock County, defendant was convicted of two counts of first degree murder; three counts of attempted first degree murder; and one count each of aggravated criminal sexual assault, home invasion, and residential burglary. The jury determined that defendant was eligible for the death penalty based on the cold, calculated, and premeditated manner of the crimes. 720 ILCS 5/9-1(b)(11) (West 1996). The jury also concluded that no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the death penalty existed, and the trial court sentenced defendant to death.

On direct appeal, defendant argued, inter alia, that he was held to the wrong burden of proof for his insanity defense because the public act that raised the burden of proof was passed in violation of the single subject clause of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, §8(d)). See People v. Reedy, 186 Ill. 2d 1 (1999) (invalidating Pub. Act 89-404, eff. August 20, 1995, in its entirety). This court agreed with defendant and reversed his conviction and remanded the cause for a new trial. People v. Ramsey, 192 Ill. 2d 154 (2000).

In the trial court, defendant moved to preclude the prosecution from seeking the death penalty at retrial. Defendant argued that the State failed during the first trial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was death eligible. Thus, allowing the State a second chance to prove his death eligibility would subject him to double jeopardy. Specifically, defendant contended that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was at least 18 years old when he committed the crimes on July 8, 1996. See 720 ILCS 5/9-1(b) (West 2000).

At the eligibility hearing in the first trial, the State relied on evidence from the guilt phase of the trial to establish defendant's age at the time of the offenses. Defendant's adoptive father, Marion Ramsey, testified that defendant was born in 1978 and that the adoption was final in 1979. Ramsey is also defendant's biological grandfather.

Additionally, the State relied on the testimony of Officer William Petentler of the Illinois State Police. Petentler interviewed defendant after the crimes. When Pententler arrived at the crime scene, defendant was being treated for a large, superficial gash on the back of his head. Defendant received the wound when, after killing his victims, he pointed a shotgun at the back of his head and pulled the trigger.

Petentler testified that defendant led the police to a grain bin in which he had disposed of one of the bodies. Petentler described defendant as being "very alert." After defendant took the police to the grain bin, they decided to take him to a medical clinic, although there was no fresh blood coming through defendant's bandage. After defendant was treated, the police took him to the Hancock County jail, where they read him his Miranda rights and interviewed him. Defendant waived his rights and spoke to the police about the incident. Petentler asked defendant his date of birth, and defendant replied that it was March 30, 1978.

To counter defendant's and his adoptive father's statements as to defendant's birth date, the defense presented the testimony of John Condon, a probation officer with the Ninth Judicial Circuit. Condon testified that he was asked to prepare a presentence investigation report on defendant. Condon requested a criminal history of defendant from the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC). When Condon received the report from the NCIC, he noticed that it had conflicting dates of birth for defendant. In one place, it listed his birthday as March 30, 1978, and in another as March 30, 1979. The defense argued to the jury that Condon's testimony created a reasonable doubt whether defendant was 18 when he committed the crimes.

Following a hearing, the trial court determined that a rational trier of fact could have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was 18 when he committed the crimes. Accordingly, the court denied defendant's motion to preclude the State from seeking the death penalty. Defendant appealed pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(f) (188 Ill. 2d R. 604(f)), which allows appeals to the appellate court from orders denying a motion to dismiss based on former jeopardy. The State moved to have the appeal transferred to this court, as a matter of public interest requiring our prompt adjudication. 134 Ill. 2d R. 302(b). We granted the motion.

ANALYSIS

Defendant argues that, in his first trial, the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was 18 when he committed the murders. Accordingly, defendant contends, the State is precluded under double jeopardy ...


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