522 N.E.2d 1167 (Ill. 1988), 62785, People v. Crews

Docket Nº:62785.
Citation:522 N.E.2d 1167, 122 Ill.2d 266, 119 Ill.Dec. 308
Party Name:The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. William CREWS, Appellant.
Case Date:February 11, 1988
Court:Supreme Court of Illinois

Page 1167

522 N.E.2d 1167 (Ill. 1988)

122 Ill.2d 266, 119 Ill.Dec. 308

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,


William CREWS, Appellant.

No. 62785.

Supreme Court of Illinois.

February 11, 1988.

Rehearing Denied May 31, 1988.

Page 1168

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1169

[119 Ill.Dec. 310] [122 Ill.2d 270] Charles M. Schiedel, Deputy Defender, Robert E. Davison, First Asst. Appellate Defender Office of the State Appellate Defender, Supreme Court Unit, Robert D. Seeder, Asst. Defender, Springfield, for appellant.

Neil F. Hartigan, Atty. Gen., Roma J. Stewart, Sol. Gen., Mark L. Rotert, Arleen Anderson, Scott Graham, Asst. Attys. Gen., Chicago, for appellee.

Justice MILLER delivered the opinion of the court:

The defendant, William Crews, pleaded guilty but mentally ill to one count each of murder and attempted murder in the circuit court of Randolph County. The trial judge sentenced the defendant to death for the murder conviction and imposed a 30-year prison term for the conviction for attempted murder. The defendant's execution was stayed pending direct review by this court. Ill. Const.1970, art. VI, § 4(b); 107 Ill.2d Rules 603, 609(a).

The defendant's convictions stem from his attack on two correctional officers at Menard Correctional Center [122 Ill.2d 271] on November 30, 1984. The defendant was an inmate of Menard at the time of the offenses and was serving a 20-to-60-year term for an earlier murder conviction. The attack occurred on the gallery outside the defendant's cell. The defendant stabbed correctional officer Cecil Harbison to death with a shank and wounded another guard, Lamont Gilbert. The defendant then fled from the gallery, and he was captured moments later on the ground floor of the cellhouse.

The defendant initially pleaded not guilty to the charges here, but he later asked to change his plea to guilty but mentally ill (GBMI). As required by statute (see Ill.Rev.Stat.1983, ch. 38, pars. 113-4(d), 115-2(b)), the trial judge ordered the defendant to undergo a psychological examination, and a hearing was held in August 1985 on the defendant's mental condition. At the hearing, defense counsel presented the testimony of three psychiatrists--Drs. Pichardo, Vallabhaneni, and Parwatikar--who had treated the defendant at Menard Correctional Center or Menard Psychiatric Center. Dr. Pichardo first saw the defendant

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[119 Ill.Dec. 311] in February 1980 and last saw him in the middle of September 1984, a little more than two months before the defendant's attack on the two guards. Dr. Pichardo believed that the defendant was suffering from a mental illness during that period, but he could not say whether the defendant had a judgment-impairing, substantial disorder of thought, mood, or behavior. According to Dr. Pichardo, the defendant had attempted to commit suicide in April 1980.

Dr. Vallabhaneni saw the defendant several days after his attack on the guards and believed that at the time of the offenses the defendant was suffering from a mental illness and that his judgment was impaired, but he did not have a specific diagnosis for the defendant's condition.

Dr. Parwatikar believed that at the time of the offenses the defendant was mentally ill, in that he had a [122 Ill.2d 272] substantial disorder of mood, thought, or behavior. Dr. Parwatikar saw the defendant on December 2, 1984, two days after the offenses here, and his diagnosis then was of an intermittent explosive disorder.

The State disputed the defendant's contention that he was mentally ill at the time of the offenses. Dr. Daniel Cuneo, a clinical psychologist, testified in the State's behalf at the hearing. Dr. Cuneo had interviewed the defendant on two occasions--in March 1985 and in August 1985--and, based on those examinations, as well as on his review of the defendant's records, Dr. Cuneo concluded that the defendant was malingering and that he had an antisocial personality disorder. Dr. Cuneo believed that the defendant was only feigning mental illness.

The State also introduced into evidence statements the defendant made to authorities concerning the offenses here. In an initial statement given on the night of his attack on the two guards, the defendant said simply that he had gone berserk, and he did not provide a motive for his acts. In a statement given the next day, however, the defendant explained that he attacked the officers because he resented an order Harbison had given him shortly before that. The State also presented testimony from two inmates who spoke with the defendant in the period following his attack on the two guards. They testified that the defendant told them that he was trying to convince psychiatrists that he was crazy. Also, one of the inmates recalled that on the day of the occurrence here the defendant mentioned the name of a friend who had been killed earlier that year and made a comment suggesting that the friend's death should be avenged. Finally, the State presented evidence of the defendant's extensive history of disciplinary violations since 1974, when he began serving the prison sentence for his earlier murder conviction. These disciplinary tickets included 16 violations of rules, 10 assaults, 5 instances of damaging property, 19 [122 Ill.2d 273] instances of disobeying orders, and 11 instances of possession of contraband or dangerous weapons.

The trial judge accepted the defendant's GBMI plea, finding that there was a factual basis that the defendant was mentally ill when he committed the offenses here. The State then requested a death penalty hearing, and the defendant waived his right to a jury for that purpose. The defendant, who was born in 1952 and therefore 18 or older at the time of the offenses, was eligible for the death penalty because the murder victim was a correctional officer. See Ill.Rev.Stat.1983, ch. 38, par. 9-1(b)(2).

Dr. Cuneo testified in the State's behalf at the sentencing hearing, and he repeated his earlier diagnosis that the defendant had an antisocial personality disorder. Dr. Cuneo did not believe that the defendant was functioning under an extreme mental or emotional disturbance at the time of the offenses. Dr. Cuneo also said that he was familiar with capital sentencing in Illinois and that he did not know of any case in which a defendant received the death sentence after being found guilty but mentally ill. A victim impact statement by Debra Harbison, widow of the slain guard, was read into the record by a Department of Corrections investigator. Finally, the State presented testimony concerning the defendant's conviction for murder in Logan County in 1973, for which he was serving a 20-to-60-year sentence at the time of the

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[119 Ill.Dec. 312] offenses here. On that occasion, the defendant shot his stepfather in the head with a rifle; the apparent motive for the crime was the filing of a battery charge by the murder victim against the defendant.

The defendant did not present any testimony at the sentencing hearing. Included in a presentence investigation report, however, was a report dated August 5, 1985, by a psychiatrist, Dr. Moisy Shopper, who had examined the defendant and reviewed his prison file. Dr. Shopper [122 Ill.2d 274] described the defendant's suicide attempt in April 1980 and noted parallels between that event and the defendant's later attack on the two guards. Also, Dr. Shopper described the defendant's condition at the time of the offense as "an acute paranoid psychotic state with marked depressive features."

The trial judge sentenced the defendant to death for the murder conviction. The trial judge did not believe that imposition of the death penalty was precluded by the defendant's GBMI plea. The trial judge found that the defendant had a significant history of criminal conduct, and he did not believe that the defendant was acting under the influence of an extreme mental or emotional disturbance sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty. Also, the trial judge sentenced the defendant to a 30-year prison term for the conviction for attempted murder, to be served consecutively to any other sentence of imprisonment.


The defendant first argues that the legislature did not intend the death penalty to be available as a possible punishment for GBMI offenders. The defendant also argues that sentencing a GBMI offender to death would be excessive punishment and therefore is forbidden by the eighth amendment. Finally, the defendant contends that the trial judge, in imposing the death penalty, ignored certain factual findings that he had made earlier in accepting the GBMI plea.

We note at the outset the State's argument that all the defendant's contentions in this appeal may be deemed waived because defense counsel failed to file a post-trial motion after the conclusion of the death penalty hearing. This court has previously held that a post-trial motion should be filed to preserve issues in a capital case. (See People v. Szabo (1986), 113 Ill.2d 83, 93-94, [122 Ill.2d 275] 100 Ill.Dec. 726, 497 N.E.2d 995; People v. Caballero (1984), 102 Ill.2d 23, 31-33, 79 Ill.Dec. 625, 464 N.E.2d 223.) "The waiver rule is one of administrative convenience rather than jurisdiction, however" (People v. Smith (1985), 106 Ill.2d 327, 333, 88 Ill.Dec. 42, 478 N.E.2d 357), and is not a complete bar to review; "[p]lain errors or defects affecting substantial rights may be noticed although they were not brought to the attention of the trial court" (107 Ill.2d R. 615(a)). Moreover, our constitutional obligation to review cases in which the death penalty has been imposed (see Ill.Const.1970, art. VI, § 4(b)) would be "meaningless" (People v. Caballero (1984), 102 Ill.2d 23, 32, 79 Ill.Dec. 625, 464 N.E.2d 223) if the failure to file a post-trial motion necessarily meant that every issue must be considered waived. In this case, the defendant's convictions are based on a...

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