People v. Page

Decision Date10 August 2000
Docket Number No. 83922., No. 83921
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Patrick PAGE, Appellant.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court

John C. Greenlees and Terri L. Marroquin, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, of Chicago, for appellant.

James Ryan, Attorney General, of Springfield, and Richard A. Devine, State's Attorney, of Chicago (William L. Browers, Assistant Attorney General, of Chicago, and Renee Goldfarb and Linda D. Woloshin, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

Justice BILANDIC delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Patrick Page, was charged in the circuit court of Cook County with two separate murders and various other offenses. Defendant was first tried for the May 1987 murder of John Goodman. The jury found defendant guilty of murder, armed robbery, and home invasion. The jury then found that defendant was eligible for the death penalty (see Ill.Rev.Stat. 1985, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(b)(3), (b)(6)), and that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude a sentence of death. The trial court therefore sentenced defendant to death for the murder conviction. The trial court imposed concurrent 60-year terms of imprisonment for defendant's remaining convictions. On direct appeal, this court affirmed defendant's convictions and sentences. People v. Page, 155 Ill.2d 232, 185 Ill.Dec. 475, 614 N.E.2d 1160 (1993) (Goodman case).

Defendant was next tried for the fall 1985 murder of Charles Howell. The jury found defendant guilty of murder and armed robbery. The jury also found that defendant was eligible for the death penalty (see Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(b)(3), (b)(6)), and that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude a death sentence. The trial court sentenced defendant to death for the murder conviction and to an extended 60-year term of imprisonment for the armed robbery conviction. This court affirmed defendant's convictions and sentences on direct appeal. People v. Page, 156 Ill.2d 258, 189 Ill.Dec. 371, 620 N.E.2d 339 (1993) (Howell case).

Defendant filed a pro se post-conviction petition in the Goodman case. Appointed counsel filed a post-conviction petition in the Howell case. Appointed counsel later filed a supplemental post-conviction petition that consolidated the issues in both cases. The State filed a motion to dismiss the post-conviction petition in each case. Appointed counsel subsequently filed a consolidated amended post-conviction petition that superseded all prior post-conviction petitions but refers to exhibits attached to those earlier petitions. The State filed a motion to dismiss the consolidated amended post-conviction petition (post-conviction petition). After hearing arguments on the State's motion, the trial court dismissed defendant's post-conviction petition without an evidentiary hearing.

Defendant now appeals from the dismissal of his post-conviction petition. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the trial court's dismissal of defendant's post-conviction petition.

BACKGROUND

The facts relating to defendant's trials are set forth in this court's opinions on direct appeal. Because an understanding of some of the trial evidence is necessary to evaluate defendant's arguments in this post-conviction proceeding, we present a summary of that evidence. Defendant has been convicted of three murders, the Goodman and Howell murders at issue in this case, as well as the murder of Dale Andrew Devine. On May 16, 1987, defendant was arrested by the Olympia Fields police department as part of the investigation into Goodman's murder. Over the next several days, defendant gave law enforcement authorities several statements admitting his involvement in the three murders. On two occasions during that time, defendant led Olympia Fields police officers on an unsuccessful search of the area in Wisconsin where defendant claimed that he buried Goodman's body.

On May 19, 1987, defendant gave a court-reported statement in which he confessed to the three murders. Defendant revealed that, during the fall of 1985, defendant, Kenneth Cheney, and Gerald Feinberg murdered Devine. Devine and Cheney became involved in a drug deal in which Devine apparently "ripped off" Cheney. Devine was residing with defendant at this time. Defendant contacted Feinberg and told him that Devine was at his house. Feinberg came to defendant's house, and defendant and Feinberg tied up Devine with an extension cord. Defendant then called Cheney and told him that Devine was at his house. Cheney came over and, using a hypodermic needle, injected Devine with barbiturates. Defendant took approximately $100 from Devine's pocket and gave it to Cheney.

Defendant, Feinberg, and Cheney then transported Devine to a wooded area near Wilmington, Illinois. Cheney asked Devine how he wanted to die, either by being stabbed with a knife or by being injected with a hypodermic needle. Devine indicated that he preferred the injection. Cheney attempted to inject an air bubble into Devine's bloodstream. When this did not kill Devine, Cheney slit Devine's throat with the knife. Cheney then directed defendant and Feinberg to stab Devine, which they did. After the murder, defendant, Cheney, and Feinberg drove to Cheney's home, where they drank alcohol and smoked marijuana. Two days later, defendant and Cheney returned to the murder scene, and Cheney poured gasoline on Devine's body and set it on fire. Defendant was convicted in the circuit court of Will County of the murder of Devine, and was sentenced to a 60-year term of imprisonment. The appellate court affirmed defendant's murder conviction and sentence. People v. Page, 196 Ill.App.3d 285, 143 Ill.Dec. 46, 553 N.E.2d 753 (1990) (Devine case).

Defendant also confessed to the fall 1985 murder of Charles Howell. Defendant stated that he and Feinberg killed Howell because Howell had been a roommate of Devine, and Devine's disappearance would make Howell suspicious. Defendant and Feinberg decided to murder Howell and bury him in a forest preserve in Park Forest, Illinois. Defendant and Feinberg planned the murder in advance by drawing a map of the area where they would bury Howell, taking shovels from defendant's home and from the home of a neighbor, going to the planned burial site in advance to dig a hole, and luring Howell to the site under the pretense of having a party and engaging in a drug transaction there. Defendant stabbed Howell, and Feinberg hit him in the head with a large stick. Defendant and Feinberg laid Howell in the hole that they had dug, covered him with dirt and branches, and started a fire over the grave with lighter fluid. Feinberg, who had taken Howell's car keys from the pocket of Howell's jeans prior to burying him, gave the keys to defendant as they were leaving the forest preserve. Defendant stated that he wanted the keys because Howell's car was parked in front of defendant's house. After the murder, defendant and Feinberg went to defendant's house, smoked marijuana, and drove around in Howell's car. A few days later, defendant sold Howell's car to a junkyard.

Defendant's statement also included a confession to the murder of John Goodman. Defendant stated that, on May 6, 1987, he and Feinberg made plans to rob and kill Goodman. Defendant originated the plan because he had a grudge against Goodman. On Thursday, May 7, 1987, defendant and Feinberg visited Goodman's home in Olympia Fields. When Goodman was in another room, defendant displayed a knife to Feinberg. Defendant then approached Goodman and asked Goodman about some photographs that Goodman had taken of defendant. When Goodman began to laugh, defendant stabbed him in the chest four times. Defendant said that Goodman had not touched him prior to that.

Defendant and Feinberg then put Goodman's body in the bathtub while they wiped the house clean of their fingerprints. They stole credit cards and cash from Goodman's wallet. They wrapped Goodman's body in a sheet and a rug and placed the body in the trunk of Goodman's car. Defendant and Feinberg obtained a shovel and a can of gasoline and left in Goodman's car. After stopping at a tavern in southeastern Wisconsin to eat and play pool, they drove to a rural area in Wisconsin, dug a hole, and buried Goodman's body. They then burned the sheet and rug over the grave.

Defendant further stated that, on May 9, 1987, he and a friend transported some electronic equipment from Goodman's house to defendant's father's house. Defendant described his and his friends' use of Goodman's credit cards during the weekend following the murder. Defendant and Feinberg abandoned Goodman's car at a commuter station the following Tuesday or Wednesday.

As discussed, defendant was convicted of all three murders and received the death penalty for the murders of Goodman and Howell. This appeal follows the dismissal of defendant's post-conviction petition without an evidentiary hearing in the Goodman and Howell cases. For the reasons set forth below, we hold that the trial court properly dismissed defendant's post-conviction petition without an evidentiary hearing. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.

ANALYSIS

The Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 1998)) provides a remedy to criminal defendants who claim that substantial violations of their federal or state constitutional rights occurred in their trial or sentencing hearing. People v. Towns, 182 Ill.2d 491, 502, 231 Ill.Dec. 557, 696 N.E.2d 1128 (1998). A post-conviction action, however, is a collateral proceeding, not an appeal from the underlying judgment. Towns, 182 Ill.2d at 502, 231 Ill.Dec. 557, 696 N.E.2d 1128. The purpose of the post-conviction proceeding is to allow inquiry into constitutional issues involved in the conviction and sentence that have not been, and could not have been, adjudicated previously on direct...

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