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In re S.R.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

December 11, 2014

In re S.R., a Minor The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,
Tarah H., Respondent-Appellant)

As Corrected December 19, 2014.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois, Circuit No. 12-JA-62. The Honorable Kirk D. Schoenbein, Judge, Presiding.


The trial court's decision to terminate respondent's parental rights was affirmed, since the record showed that respondent's son had resided in the same foster home since he was born, his foster parents provided for his safety and welfare, and they indicated that they wanted to adopt the child and provide permanency in his life, while respondent is unable, currently and likely ever, to provide any permanency; furthermore, nearly all of the statutory factors weighed in favor of termination.

Louis P. Milot, of Peoria, for appellant.

Jerry Brady, State's Attorney, of Peoria (Laura E. DeMichael, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

JUSTICE McDADE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Lytton and Justice Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion.


Page 64


[¶1] The circuit court of Peoria County found respondent, Tarah R., unfit to parent

Page 65

her child S.R. The court also found it was in S.R's best interest to terminate respondent's parental rights. Respondent appeals, arguing the court's findings were against the manifest weight of the evidence. We affirm.

[¶2] FACTS

[¶3] On November 5, 2012, S.R. was adjudicated neglected on the basis that respondent suffered from schizophrenia and was currently in a nursing home. On June 28, 2014, the State filed a petition for termination of parental rights. The petition alleged respondent was unable to discharge her parental responsibilities and there was sufficient justification to believe that such inability to discharge parental responsibilities would extend beyond a reasonable time.

[¶4] At the hearing on the State's petition, the State moved to admit the medical report of Dr. Terry Killian. Respondent's objection was sustained and the State continued the hearing to secure the in-person testimony of Killian. Ultimately, the hearing commenced on May 28, 2014.

[¶5] The parties stipulated that Killian was an expert in the field of forensic psychiatry. Killian testified he interviewed respondent on June 26, 2012, at the Sharon Woods Health Care Center (the Health Center). At the time of the interview, respondent was residing at the Health Center. Killian testified that he was appointed to conduct a forensic psychiatric evaluation of respondent, which focused on four questions: (1) was respondent fit to stand trial in her pending criminal case, (2) were the previous mental diagnoses that respondent received correct, (3) was respondent fit to care for S.R., and (4) whether treatment could help respondent improve to the point where she could develop minimum parenting capabilities.

[¶6] Killian testified that he reviewed the documents sent by respondent's attorney and respondent's medical history and had noted that respondent had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. He explained that schizophrenia is a biologically based severe and chronic mental illness, lasting " for a very, very long time, probably permanently." It involves deterioration in function, including becoming more withdrawn and social interactions becoming more autistic, and experiencing hallucinations and delusions. Schizoaffective disorder is " essentially schizophrenia with some significant mood symptoms added, especially manic symptoms."

[¶7] Killian testified that he interviewed respondent for about an hour and a half. Respondent was not very interested in the exam and repeatedly wished to stop it. Respondent stated her date of birth that was different from the one in her medical records. She did not know why the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) took S.R. away but believed that to regain custody, she only had to tell the judge that she was ready. She adamantly insisted that she did not have a mental illness and that she had never been diagnosed with one. Killian opined that if a person suffering from schizophrenia does not acknowledge the mental illness, he or she is unlikely to stick with treatment.

[¶8] Respondent was unable to do abstract thinking or to name any recent presidents or states that share a border with Illinois. Killian believed respondent's IQ was near the normal range, but her performance was impaired by her psychiatric illness. Respondent had very flat ...

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