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People v. Romero

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division

May 24, 2018

RAMON ROMERO, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 10 CR 18297 Honorable Thomas V. Gainer Jr., Judge Presiding.

          PRESIDING JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McBride and Gordon concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 Following a bench trial, defendant Ramon Romero was found guilty of attempted first degree murder, aggravated vehicular hijacking, attempted aggravated vehicular hijacking, and aggravated battery. The circuit court of Cook County then sentenced defendant to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 45, 30, 8, and 3 years, respectively. Prior to trial, the court held two fitness hearings. Following the second fitness hearing, the court found defendant fit to stand trial without medication. Defendant's chief defense at trial was that he was mentally unfit and suffered a psychotic episode at the time of the offense. The court rejected defendant's insanity defense and found that he had the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct at the time of the offense. 720 ILCS 5/6-2(a) (West 2014).

         ¶ 2 On appeal, defendant does not contest the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his conviction but contends that the court erred in rejecting his insanity defense where the defense expert was more qualified than the State expert and considered defendant's entire mental health history. Defendant also contends that the trial court judge improperly assumed the role of the prosecutor in questioning defendant's expert witness and was biased against defendant, denying defendant the right to a fair trial. Defendant further contends that the court erred in preventing his wife from testifying to statements he made prior to his two psychotic episodes. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

         ¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 Defendant was charged with attempted first degree murder, aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm, attempted aggravated vehicular hijacking, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and aggravated battery in connection with an incident that took place on September 11, 2010, in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to trial, the court held two hearings to determine if defendant was fit to stand trial.

         ¶ 5 A. Defendant's PreTrial Fitness Hearings

         ¶ 6 1. The Initial Fitness Hearing

         ¶ 7 At defendant's first fitness hearing on June 21, 2013, Susan Buratto testified that she was a fellow in forensic psychiatry at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and the court found that she was qualified as an expert in that field. Buratto testified she and Dr. Stephen Dinwiddie, the training director for forensic psychiatry at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, interviewed defendant in November 2012. The trial court noted that this report was "stale" but permitted Buratto to testify regarding the interview.

         ¶ 8 Buratto testified that she and Dr. Dinwiddie diagnosed defendant with bipolar disorder based on his medical records and the information defendant provided about his symptoms. Buratto noted that defendant was on medication at the time of the interview and that it would be in his best interest to continue taking the medication. Buratto testified that she believed that defendant would be able to understand the nature of the proceedings without medication but, due to the waxing and waning nature of bipolar disorder, he would be less able to make good decisions and may not be able to assist his counsel with his defense unless he were on medication. Accordingly, she testified that defendant would be fit to stand trial with medication.

         ¶ 9 The parties also stipulated to a report from Dr. Nishad Nadkarni who was employed by forensic clinical services at the circuit court of Cook County. The court noted that Dr. Nadkarni evaluated defendant on May 29, 2013, so his report was not stale. Dr. Nadkarni noted that defendant was currently prescribed Depakote, a mood stabilizer; Risperdal, an antipsychotic mood stabilizer; and Klonopin, an antianxiety medication. Dr. Nadkarni concluded, however, that defendant did not require psychotropic medication in order to maintain his fitness and function and found him fit to stand trial without medication. The trial court found that defendant was fit to stand trial with medication.

         ¶ 10 On April 7, 2014, defense counsel informed the court that defendant had been hospitalized for three weeks and had been taken off his antipsychotic medication. Defense counsel indicated that she was concerned about defendant's ability to assist her during the trial and noted that defendant was having difficulty remaining quiet. The court granted defense counsel's requests for a second fitness hearing.

         ¶ 11 2. The Second Fitness Hearing

         ¶ 12 At the second fitness hearing on May 21, 2014, Dr. Nadkarni testified that he was employed by forensic clinical services at the circuit court and the court found that he was qualified as an expert in the field of forensic psychiatry. Dr. Nadkarni testified that in evaluating defendant for his fitness to stand trial, he met with him on May 29, 2013, and May 12, 2014. Dr. Nadkarni also reviewed the records of two other employees from forensic clinical services who had interviewed defendant, Dr. Susan Messina and Dr. Dawna Gutzman. Dr. Messina met with defendant on December 10, 2010, but offered no opinion regarding his fitness because he was uncooperative during his interview. Dr. Messina also met with defendant on April 12, 2011, and January 31, 2012, and on both occasions found defendant to be legally fit and sane. Dr. Gutzman met with defendant on April 25, 2011, and noted that defendant was uncooperative and met with him again on June 27, 2011, and found defendant to be legally fit and sane.

         ¶ 13 Dr. Nadkarni also reviewed nearly 650 pages of defendant's medical records that he received shortly before the hearing. Dr. Nadkarni noted that these records covered 2010, 2011, and 2012 through 2014 and that some of them were duplicates of records he had already reviewed prior to testifying. Dr. Nadkarni also reviewed notes from Dr. Melvin Hess from 2009 and reviewed a report that was sent to defense counsel from Dr. Dinwiddie on February 21, 2013.

         ¶ 14 Dr. Nadkarni testified that he conducted a mental status examination of defendant on May 12, 2014. Dr. Nadkarni diagnosed defendant with antisocial personality disorder with narcissistic features and also diagnosed him with cannabis-, cocaine-, and alcohol-use disorder. Dr. Nadkarni testified that his review of defendant's medical records did not change his diagnosis and that defendant did not show a bona fide major mental illness. Dr. Nadkarni determined that defendant was fit to stand trial, that he would understand the trial proceedings, and that he did not require medication to maintain his fitness. On cross-examination, Dr. Nadkarni stated that defendant's medical records showed that defendant's behavior was consistent whether or not he was taking medication and his behavior was not indicative of a bona fide major mental illness. The court found that defendant was fit to stand trial without medication.

         ¶ 15 B. Trial[1]

         ¶ 16 1. State Witnesses

         ¶ 17 At trial, Abraham Cardenis testified that he was the Spanish pastor for the Faith Baptist Church in Kankakee, Illinois, and knew defendant because he had attended church on a couple occasions. Cardenis testified that defendant called him on September 11, 2010, and told him that he needed help and needed him to pick him up at Midway Airport. Cardenis drove his blue Mazda Tribute with his brother-in-law to Chicago to pick up defendant. Before getting into the vehicle, defendant smashed his phone on the ground. Cardenis drove around for about an hour looking for the entrance to the Dan Ryan Expressway, but after they were on the expressway, defendant changed his mind about where he wanted to go. Cardenis told defendant that he was not a taxi driver and he would drive him to Kankakee. Cardenis pulled the vehicle over to the side of the road, and defendant pulled out a gun. Defendant forced Cardenis and his brother-in-law out of the vehicle and drove away in Cardenis's vehicle. Cardenis called the police.

         ¶ 18 Fallon Jackson testified that on September 11, 2010, she lived at 75th Street and South Shore Drive in Chicago. Around 6 p.m. that night, she was sitting in her living room when she heard her "play brother" Tyler arguing with someone in the parking garage. She went down to the parking garage and saw Tyler speaking with defendant, who told her that he needed gas for his vehicle. Jackson saw defendant standing near a blue vehicle that was damaged and leaking fluid. Jackson went back inside her apartment and called police. When she came back outside, she saw defendant walking around the outside of the building.

         ¶ 19 Chicago police officer Aaron Davis testified that he was on patrol with his partner, Tiawansa Davis, on September 11, 2010, when they received a call about a disturbance in the area of 75th Street and South Shore Drive. When they arrived on the scene, the officers saw Jackson and defendant, who was wearing a white hooded sweatshirt with a green design on it. Jackson testified that she tried to speak with the officers but defendant kept interrupting them. Defendant pulled an orange bible out of his pocket and told Officer Tiawansa Davis to read it. Defendant approached Officer Aaron Davis, who told defendant to not "walk up" on him. Officer Aaron Davis told defendant to leave the area, but he refused to do so. Officer Aaron Davis told defendant that, if he did not leave the area, he would be arrested.

         ¶ 20 Defendant then pulled out a gun and shot at Officer Aaron Davis's chest. Jackson, Officer Aaron Davis, and Officer Tiawansa Davis ran for cover. Each heard defendant fire at least one more shot. Jackson ran into the building for cover, and the two officers took cover near the parking garage. Defendant entered the officers' police vehicle but could not start it because he did not have the keys. Officer Tiawansa Davis fired her gun into the vehicle at defendant and then took cover with Officer Aaron Davis. She noted that Officer Aaron Davis had been shot in the left shoulder. The officers lost track of defendant's whereabouts, but Jackson saw him leave the police vehicle and approach a red vehicle at the intersection of 75th Street and South Shore Drive.

         ¶ 21 Milot Cadichon, an off-duty police officer who lived at the corner of 75th Street and South Shore Drive, saw defendant through his apartment window firing at Officer Tiawansa Davis and then fleeing the scene. Officer Cadichon saw defendant stop a red minivan in the street and force the driver out of the vehicle at gunpoint. Defendant then drove the red minivan a short distance and then stopped the vehicle. He got out of the minivan and stopped a vehicle that was travelling in the opposite direction. He forced the driver of that vehicle out of her car at gunpoint and then drove away.

         ¶ 22 Sergeant Brian Forberg, who was working as a detective on September 11, 2010, testified that he and his partner were assigned to investigate an aggravated battery of a police officer and an aggravated vehicular hijacking that took place near 75th Street and South Shore Drive. Upon arriving at the scene, Sergeant Forberg spoke with Officer Aaron Davis and Officer Tiawansa Davis and learned that defendant had shot at the officers and hijacked two vehicles. Sergeant Forberg spoke with Dwayne Harris, the driver of the red minivan, who informed Sergeant Forberg that he was disabled and his vehicle had been customized to allow him to drive it. Because of these customizations, defendant was unable to operate the vehicle and abandoned it after driving a short distance. After speaking with Jackson, Sergeant Forberg went into the building's underground parking garage and saw a blue Mazda Tribute that had been damaged. Sergeant Forberg learned that this was the vehicle that had been stolen from Cardenis on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

         ¶ 23 Juan Zavala testified that in the early morning hours of September 12, 2010, he was at a club called El Tunel in Chicago Heights with a group of friends. Around 1 a.m., Zavala was standing outside the club when he was approached by defendant, who introduced himself as "Elisio." Zavala invited defendant to join his group of friends at the club. Defendant and Zavala were smoking cigarettes outside the club when police officers arrived and told them to go back inside the club. Once inside, the officers told everyone to leave and then arrested defendant. Zavala gave the officers defendant's white hooded sweatshirt, which defendant had taken off inside the club.

         ¶ 24 Chicago police officer Luis Vega testified that he learned of a Latin Kings party at El Tunel in Chicago Heights on the night of September 11, 2010. He arrived at the club around 2:30 a.m. and told everyone to leave the club so that he could check their identification. While everyone was leaving the club, he spotted defendant and took him into custody.

         ¶ 25 2. Defense Witnesses

         ¶ 26 Defendant's wife, Mandy Romero, testified that after the birth of their son on August 24, 2009, she was in the hospital recovering for five days. During their stay, defendant "freaked out a little" and would pace around the room and look out the hospital windows. When she was discharged from the hospital, defendant would not drive her home. Mandy testified that defendant was very paranoid and thought people were coming after him. Mandy did not believe that anyone was coming after him but knew defendant had been a member of the Latin Kings until he left the gang in 2007.

         ¶ 27 Because defendant would not let Mandy take their newborn son to their home, they went to Mandy's mother's home. Defendant, however, would not sleep and would pace back and forth around the house. Mandy took defendant to the Condell Medical Center, where he was treated for anxiety, but Mandy thought he needed to see a psychiatrist. She testified that defendant was not acting normally and she thought he had "snapped." After they left Condell Medical Center, Mandy tried to get defendant an appointment to see a psychiatrist, but she could not, and defendant "got worse."

         ¶ 28 A few days later, their infant son urinated on the bed, and defendant became upset because he thought Mandy was trying to kill him with their son's urine. Even though it was the middle of the night, he asked Mandy to wash the sheets immediately. Mandy put the sheets in the washing machine with some of defendant's work shirts, but defendant opened the washing machine while it was running, removed the clothes from the washer, and then ran outside and started looking in the bushes. Defendant began rambling, which scared Mandy, so she called police. The police officers who arrived were able to calm defendant down and told him to leave the house for the night.

         ¶ 29 Mandy found defendant the following morning at the train station. She drove him to the 'El' station and told him to go to his mother's house in Kankakee. The following week, Mandy learned that defendant was in jail in Kankakee. She and defendant's mother signed a petition to have him involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. Defendant was sent to Riverside Hospital for evaluation. He was there for two days before being transferred to Tinley Park Mental Health Center for further assessment. Defendant was admitted to Tinley Park Mental Health Center for seven days and was prescribed Clonidine and Risperidone.

         ¶ 30 After his discharge, defendant had follow-up visits at the Helen Wheeler Medical Center in Kankakee. Defendant continually changed his medications because he did not like the side effects. Mandy testified that defendant was doing "very well" from October 2009 until April 2010. However, in May 2010, defendant stopped taking his medication and went into a "downward spiral." Defendant started getting anxious again and would often ramble and talk about the same subject all day. In June 2010, defendant once again started to think that people were coming after him. In July, defendant became more paranoid and would not eat or sleep. Mandy refused to let defendant watch their children because his paranoia was getting worse. She last saw defendant in August 2010.

         ¶ 31 On cross-examination, Mandy acknowledged that defendant's brother was a member of the Latin Kings and defendant had been a member at least until 2009. She also testified that from September 2009 to September 2010, defendant had been "self medicating" with marijuana and was also using cocaine.

         ¶ 32 Dr. Dinwiddie was qualified in the field of forensic psychiatry and testified that, in evaluating defendant, he had been asked to consider whether or not defendant suffered from a mental disease such that he was not criminally responsible for his conduct. In his evaluation of defendant, Dr. Dinwiddie concluded that he believed defendant suffered from a mental disease and lacked the substantial capacity to understand the criminality of his conduct at the time of the offense. In making this determination, Dr. Dinwiddie reviewed defendant's medical records from the Helen Wheeler Center, Riverside Hospital, and Tinley Park Mental Health Center. Dr. Dinwiddie also reviewed the police reports regarding the offense, the reports from the doctors at forensic clinical services at the circuit court, and interviewed defendant for 3½ hours on November 6, 2012. Dr. Dinwiddie noted that defendant was very polite, cooperative, and forthcoming and noted that there was no indication defendant was malingering.[2]

         ¶ 33 Dr. Dinwiddie testified that, in his opinion, defendant suffered from bipolar effective disorder. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that bipolar effective disorder is

"classified as a major-primarily a disorder of mood and it has two characteristics. One is it's called a relapsing remitting illness, that is it comes and goes so that if you see an individual during a period of remission either because of the natural course of the illness or because they have been adequately treated, they look perfectly, perfectly normal."

         Dr. Dinwiddie noted that defendant had been prescribed some antianxiety and antipsychotic medication and noted that the most important treatment for defendant's illness would be to prescribe him medication that would prevent the illness from recurring. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that some of the symptoms of bipolar effective disorder are lack of sleep, talking a lot, and talking very quickly. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that these symptoms can progress into "clear psychosis, a clear delusion, " and he believed that defendant was in such a psychotic state at the time of the offense.

         ¶ 34 Dr. Dinwiddie testified that defendant's symptoms began with a persecutory delusion: that his wife was trying to kill him with their infant son's urine. After that, defendant was institutionalized and given medication, which improved his condition. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that the fact that defendant's condition improved when he was given antipsychotic medication was a "key finding." Dr. Dinwiddie noted that, when defendant stopped taking his medication, his symptoms returned in the summer of 2010 and, by August 2010, his symptoms had returned to where they had been one year prior when he was institutionalized. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that this history of waxing and waning symptoms narrowed down the type of mental illness that defendant could be suffering from.

         ¶ 35 With regard to whether defendant was malingering, Dr. Dinwiddie explained that it was important to look at defendant's entire mental health history. He noted that defendant's history showed signs that he clearly has a mental illness, given his long history of symptoms. Dr. Dinwiddie also observed that leading up to each of defendant's manic episodes, there was a period of build up where defendant's actions became more random and less goal-driven and defendant became more and more paranoid.

         ¶ 36 Dr. Dinwiddie stressed that it was important to look at defendant's entire history, rather than focusing on specific behaviors, such as his forcing Cardenis and his brother-in-law out of the vehicle at gunpoint. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that actions can have more than one explanation and that, although defendant may have been acting normally at one point, it does not mean that he was not suffering from a manic episode. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that a manic episode can be characterized by an overall increase in reactivity and impulsivity and also sleep disturbance, increased talkativeness, periods of abnormally and persistently elevated or irritable mood, racing thoughts, "hyper religiosity, " and an increase in activity. Dr. Dinwiddie believed that defendant exhibited all of these symptoms at the time of the offense.

         ¶ 37 On cross-examination, Dr. Dinwiddie acknowledged that it is possible that a person can suffer from a mental illness and still have the capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct. Dr. Dinwiddie also addressed a report from September 12, 2011, from Dr. Pierre Nunez, who found that defendant was malingering. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that this report was just a "snapshot" of how defendant was doing around that time but did not help relate to the long-term course of defendant's illness. Dr. Dinwiddie also opined that it was "[h]ighly unlikely" that defendant's drug and alcohol use would cause him to have a manic episode.

         ¶ 38 Dr. Dinwiddie also testified regarding his interview with defendant in November 2012. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that defendant told him that after he stole Cardenis's vehicle, he did not want to drive to his aunt's house because he was afraid police officers would be there to arrest him. Dr. Dinwiddie interpreted this belief as delusional. Defendant also told Dr. Dinwiddie that he got into an accident while driving Cardenis's vehicle, so he parked the vehicle in a parking garage and removed the deployed airbag so that it would be less easily noticed. Defendant told Dr. Dinwiddie that, after the shooting, he drove to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to go to a casino to have some fun because he knew he would be "apprehended or gunned down."

         ¶ 39 On redirect examination, Dr. Dinwiddie testified that defendant's psychotic episode began in August 2010, was present at the time of the offense, and was still manifesting after he was taken into custody. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that, although some of defendant's actions appeared rational, that did not change his diagnosis. Dr. Dinwiddie explained that, in evaluating defendant's actions, he had to determine whether these specific acts were in response to his mental illness and explained that defendant would not be unable to act rationally merely because he was in a psychotic state. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that all of defendant's activities as outlined in the police reports and witness testimony were consistent with the distractibility and over-activity of a manic state. Dr. Dinwiddie also testified that Dr. Nadkarni's diagnosis that defendant had a personality disorder was not inconsistent with his diagnosis of bipolar effective disorder and the psychotic episodes.

         ¶ 40 In regards to defendant fleeing the scene of the incident after shooting Officer Aaron Davis, Dr. Dinwiddie explained that

"[t]he act of fleeing a scene, how do you know, just based on that, looking at that little piece, how do you know that I'm fleeing because I'm fully aware of what a horrible thing I am doing and I'm trying to avoid punishment, or because I believe falsely, but delusionally and very deeply, I don't know, that the devil is after me or the Martians are going to eat my brains or something."

         Dr. Dinwiddie testified that the act of fleeing is thus consistent with a rational appreciation of the situation but also consistent with a delusional belief, and given defendant's "rich history" of persecutory delusions, Dr. Dinwiddie concluded that the most likely explanation for his behavior was that it was impelled by his mental illness and the delusions his mental illness caused.

         ¶ 41 3. State's Rebuttal

         ¶ 42 In rebuttal, Dr. Nadkarni testified that that he met with defendant to evaluate his fitness for trial on April 24, 2013, and May 12, 2014, and on both occasions found him fit to stand trial. Dr. Nadkarni testified that in his opinion, defendant did not suffer from a mental disease or defect. He noted that defendant has a history of substance abuse and personality or character pathology but does not have a history of a major mental illness. Dr. Nadkarni explained that character pathology is a personality disorder and that in his opinion defendant suffers from antisocial personality disorder with narcissistic features. This disorder caused defendant to violate the rights of others to feel "grandiose in himself" and also to lack empathy or reciprocate emotional feelings with others.

         ¶ 43 Dr. Nadkarni testified that in evaluating defendant, he reviewed Dr. Hess's report from 2009, the Tinley Park Mental Health Center medical records from 2009, the Cermak Health Services medical records, the medical records from Wheeler Medical Center and Condell Medical Center, and the reports from Dr. Messina and Dr. Gutzman. He noted that at no point in defendant's medical history had anyone diagnosed him with a major mental illness. He also noted that Dr. Nunez, who evaluated defendant in September 2011, and Dr. Gutzman, who met with defendant in April and June 2011, both found that defendant was malingering. Dr. Nadkarni had reviewed Dr. Dinwiddie and Dr. Burrato's letter to defense counsel and disagreed with their diagnoses of bipolar effective disorder, manic episodes with psychotic features.

         ¶ 44 Dr. Nadkarni testified that in evaluating defendant, he learned that he had a leadership role with the Latin Kings until 2008. After he was stripped of that role, defendant told Dr. Nadkarni that he feared members of the Latin Kings were out to get him. Dr. Nadkarni testified that this was not a delusional paranoia for defendant to be afraid that the Latin Kings were coming after him but it was instead a reality-based fear.

         ¶ 45 Dr. Nadkarni also noted that there was no noticeable effect on defendant's "reality orientation" whether he was on medication or not. This opinion was based on Dr. Nadkarni's meetings with defendant, as well as a review of his medical records. Dr. Nadkarni noted that defendant's conduct remained the same while he was at the Cook County jail whether he was given medication or not. Dr. Nadkarni observed defendant was combative and oppositional toward security personnel but that there were no reports of delusions or hallucinations or signs of mania. Dr. Nadkarni testified that these behaviors were consistent with antisocial and narcissistic personality disorder and not of a major mental illness.

         ¶ 46 Dr. Nadkarni opined that defendant's actions on the date of the incident indicated that he appreciated the criminality of his actions. Dr. Nadkarni noted that defendant fled after stealing Cardenis's vehicle, which was "goal-directed, logical and organized." Dr. Nadkarni also testified that the fact that defendant hid Cardenis's vehicle in the parking garage was "highly organized" and showed appreciation of his actions being criminal. Dr. Nadkarni noted that, after the shooting, defendant attempted to flee the area, indicating his understanding or appreciation of the illegal nature of his actions. He also noted that upon arriving at the El Tunel club, he asked Zaval if the club was checking identification, which showed goal direction and logic in attempting to hide his identity.

         ¶ 47 On cross-examination, Dr. Nadkarni acknowledged that he did not know the exact dates defendant was on or off his medication or the exact dates the combinative incidents at the Cook County jail occurred, but he nonetheless maintained that the incidents occurred while defendant was on medication and while he was not on medication. Dr. Nadkarni also acknowledged that he did not review any records of defendant's involuntary commitment at Riverside Hospital on September 29 and 30, 2009.

         ¶ 48 4. Defense Surrebuttal

         ¶ 49 In surrebuttal, Dr. Dinwiddie testified that he agreed with Dr. Nadkarni's diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder but also opined that defendant suffered from bipolar effective disorder. Dr. Dinwiddie testified that, as a result of defendant's mental illness, he had suffered two psychotic episodes: one a year before the incident after his son was born and the second during the offense. Dr. Dinwiddie noted that it was important to look at defendant's entire medical history to make a proper diagnosis, including defendant's medication patterns and reports from other doctors and mental institutions.

         ¶ 50 Dr. Dinwiddie also explained the difference between a bizarre and a nonbizarre delusion. A bizarre delusion is one where there is no further "homework" necessary to verify the veracity of the delusion. Dr. Dinwiddie gave the example of being pursued by "brain-eating Martians, " which clearly do not exist and there is no further research necessary. Nonbizarre delusions, on the other hand, may or may not be true but require more research to determine their validity. Dr. Dinwiddie explained that the delusion may be plausible but it would be important to look into the reasons behind the delusion to determine if it is true. Dr. Dinwiddie believed that defendant's fear of the Latin Kings was a nonbizarre delusion. On its face, the delusion seems plausible; however, defendant told Dr. Dinwiddie that he believed his wife and mother-in-law were part of the plot and that it also involved fears of being poisoned.

         ¶ 51 Dr. Dinwiddie also testified that the Riverside Hospital medical records were "extremely relevant" to an accurate diagnosis of defendant because they gave a description of defendant's behavior and symptoms at the time of his involuntary commitment. Dr. Dinwiddie believed that, if someone made a diagnosis without considering those documents, it could affect the reliability of their diagnosis. Dr. Dinwiddie also testified that the fact that defendant had a prior similar psychotic episode weighed "very heavily" in determining his diagnosis because during this first episode, defendant had no self-serving motivation to spin it in an exculpatory way.

         ¶ 52 5. Court Ruling

         ¶ 53 In announcing its judgment, the court observed that defendant's first contact with any sort of mental health treatment began with his institutionalization at Riverside Hospital and Tinley Park Mental Health Center. The court determined that during that time defendant was becoming increasingly paranoid about retaliation by the Latin Kings for things that happened while he was a gang member, "[n]ot because of some delusional thought that the Martians are chasing him and they're going to eat his brains but the very real fear that he could at some point be set upon by some very evil men who would do him and his family harm." The court noted that this paranoia coincided with the birth of his child, when defendant became responsible for his family.

         ¶ 54 The court noted that with the exception of the Riverside Hospital medical records, Dr. Dinwiddie and Dr. Nadkarni had reviewed the same material in evaluating defendant. The court observed that there was an argument that Dr. Nadkarni was less qualified than Dr. Dinwiddie, but noted that it found Dr. Nadkarni to be an expert and had listened to both Dr. Nadkarni's and Dr. Dinwiddie's testimony. The court found that although Dr. Dinwiddie was unequivocal with his opinion that defendant suffered from a mental ...

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