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The People of the State of Illinois v. Terris E. Stahl

February 19, 2013


Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 09-CF-567 Honorable Jan V. Fiss, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Chapman


Decision filed 02/19/13.

The text of this decision may be changed or corrected prior to the filing of a Petition for Rehearing or the disposition of the same.

JUSTICE CHAPMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Welch and Goldenhersh concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 The defendant, Terris E. Stahl, is unable to remember any of the events surrounding the incidents leading to charges of home invasion and aggravated unlawful restraint due to brain damage resulting from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was found unfit to stand trial. After a subsequent fitness restoration hearing, the court again found that the defendant was unfit to stand trial and that it was not reasonably probable that he could be fit within one year. The State appeals, arguing that the defendant's inability to recall events does not render him unfit to stand trial. We affirm.

¶ 2 The events at issue occurred shortly after the defendant's former wife, Erin Kruep, filed for divorce. According to testimony presented at a discharge hearing after the initial finding of unfitness, Kruep spent the evening of April 5, 2009, at her home with Chuck Smith (a friend of both Kruep and the defendant), Alyssa Schmitt (Kruep's 17-year-old babysitter), and William Marshall (Schmitt's boyfriend). At 1 in the morning, Kruep went to bed and invited her three guests to stay overnight. Marshall left some time later, but Smith fell asleep in Kruep's guest room and Schmitt fell asleep on the living room sofa. Kruep and the defendant had a four-year-old son, Owen, who was asleep in his bedroom when these events took place.

¶ 3 At 4 in the morning, Kruep and Schmitt woke up when they heard glass break and Kruep's burglar alarm go off. The defendant pointed a gun at Schmitt and demanded to know where Kruep was. He then found Kruep in her bedroom, pointed a gun at her, and threatened to kill her. The defendant woke Smith by going to the guest room and pointing a second gun in Smith's face. With one gun pointed at Kruep and Schmitt and the other pointed at Smith, the defendant told them that they were all "gonna die" that night. Kruep managed to call 9-1-1 on her cell phone and ask for help before the defendant knocked the phone from her hand.

¶ 4 The defendant ordered Kruep, Schmitt, and Smith into the basement. He continued to hold all three at gunpoint, with one gun in each hand. He told Kruep that if she would take him back, he would change. However, he then fired a shot into the wall and told her, "Now you know I'm serious, bitch."

¶ 5 Owen woke up and turned on the bathroom light. The defendant allowed Schmitt to go upstairs to take care of him. While Schmitt was upstairs with Owen, she looked out the window and saw a police officer outside who had arrived in response to Kruep's 9-1-1 call. Schmitt motioned to the officer through the window. She held her hand in the shape of a gun and pointed to her head, then pointed down the hallway towards the basement door. The officer returned to his squad car and called for backup. Schmitt took Owen and left the house.

¶ 6 The defendant continued to point the guns at Kruep and Smith. He told Kruep that if he could not have her, he would kill her. Later, the police tactical response force arrived at the house. An officer attempted to talk to the defendant with a megaphone. The defendant eventually decided that he would be willing to talk to a police officer he knew if that officer was at the scene. He sent Smith upstairs to find out whether the officer was there. Some time later, the defendant told Kruep that he did not want to go to jail. He told her what kind of funeral he wanted and what he wanted her to tell their son about his death. He then told her to leave. As Kruep was leaving, she heard a gunshot. She ran from the house and told the officers that the defendant had shot himself.

¶ 7 The defendant was found lying facedown in a doorway on the main floor of Kruep's home. He was taken to the hospital. A trail of blood led from the defendant down the stairs leading to the basement. Two guns were found in the basement, including a .22 that was found in a pool of blood with its hammer cocked.

ΒΆ 8 The defendant was arrested in May 2009 and charged with home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(1) (West 2008)) and aggravated unlawful restraint (720 ILCS 5/10-3.1(a) (West 2008)). He was conditionally released to live with his parents because the county jail could not meet his medical needs. He was indicted on both charges on June 12, 2009. On October ...

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